William Gibson, Lumberjack Chic, and the Last IP Address


(Spark 127): Way back in the early days of the internet, engineers had to come up with a number for how many IP addresses we would need. It was more or less a case of one IP address for every computer, so they picked a number they thought was big enough. Well, that number is about to run out. With so many digital devices these days, any one person could need 3 or 4 or more IP addresses. So they're disappearing. Fast. So what does that mean for us? Spark producer Dan Misener goes deep into the bowels of the internet to find out. We've been talking a lot lately about who we are online and how that affects who we are at work. Now that most of us have a personal on-line presence, businesses have to manage the legal risks of social media, and that's why social media guidelines are being adopted by almost every firm, business, organization, and institution there is. As well as keeping a watchful eye on what employees are saying and doing out in the world, many organizations also recognize the value of social media as a tool - for marketing and outreach. In both cases, the result is a set of restrictions for what employees should -and shouldn't- say on-line. So what does this mean for the individual? Does the idea of "free" speech still exist in a world where our personal and professional on-line selves are more and more combined? Nora speaks with Vanessa Grant is a Business Law Partner at McCarthy T├ętrault, one of the leaders in Technology Law in Canada. At the heart of the issue of social media use and our blurred private and professional selves is one thing: context. You know, how a photo of you drinking at a party could be OK in one context, but not in another. It's context that poses the challenge of how we are now thinking about privacy. And that's why Nora spoke with Helen Nissenbaum. She teaches in the department of Media, Culture, and Communications at New York University, and she's written a book called Privacy in Context. It seems like everywhere we look lately, someone is rocking a trendy retro item from Canada's past. Have you noticed it too? It's cool to wear a retro toque, drink beer from a stubby, have a moose-pattern chair, eat a $5 gourmet butter tart. Nostalgia for Canadiana seems to be growing in design and marketing. The aesthetic of wildlife, camping, canoes, and maple leafs can be found on everything from plates to clothing to wallpaper. Some people have even dubbed it "lumberjack chic". So what's going on? Nora spoke with design consultant Todd Falkowsky to find out. He's credited with coining the term "cyberspace", and predicting and conceptualizing all kinds of things before they actually came about, including the world wide web, virtual games, virtual sex, and reality television. More than just a science fiction writer, William Gibson is considered an icon and a visionary who elevated science fiction to another level, and whose influence has permeated popular culture. He spoke to Nora about his latest book, Zero History, a story about the underground world of luxury goods. In the past several months, we've heard a lot about a rash of teen suicides in the U.S brought on by bullying and homophobia. These suicides have really made people snap into action, especially on the web, where campaigns like It Gets Better have taken off. For LGBT youth (that's Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender), the internet is really the only safe place to get accurate information and support. And for those in rural areas it can be a beacon of hope...that is, if they can get access. Nora spoke with Andrea Chiu about why the internet plays such a crucial role for LGBT youth.

More From Radio/Spark/Full Episodes