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Crowdsourcing the world

When Vancouverites gathered at the W2 Media Arts Centre for the second Fresh Media Remixology social, myself and the other organizers expected that conversations would be focused on crowdsourced media making. What we didn't anticipate was that attendees would have a hunger to talk about the implications of what this new form of media is making in other spheres of society.

We shouldn't have been surprised. After all, several of us conceptualized the Remixology series as something that would forward the idea of remixing our roles and society at large (society as an open platform). But it was a surprise nonetheless.


Learning from nature's design

Admit it, it's been quite a summer. Epic rains flooding swaths of Pakistan and China, fires ravaging Russia, while on this continent the plague of viscous black death has seeped into the Gulf of Mexico from BP's barely capped Deepwater Horizon, its true toll unlikely ever to be fully tallied.

Tragedy poses the basic questions: What is life really all about? Is nature trying to tell us something?

Funny you should ask.

The young discipline of biomimicry is coming into being based on a deep biological read of exactly these two questions. The good news is that this approach opens the door to radically hopeful new solutions to profound human problems.


Is Canada a mobile laggard?

There is something uniquely powerful about everyday people having access to the Internet from tiny devices in their pocket. That ubiquitous access to each other creates possibilities that are worth fighting for and saving. The mobile and wireless accessed Internet, combined with emerging open web and open data applications, has the potential to usher in a new era of connectedness, and with it dramatic changes to social practices and institutions. If we get digital public policy right, Canada could become a leader in mobile communications, leading to empowerment, job creation and new forms of entrepreneurialism, expression and social change.


Heartbleed: A heartbeat away from the death of security

Photo: KoFahu/flickr

Heartbleed started out as such a simple thing. It was a single error in a line of code meant to keep data transmitted on the Internet secure. The code was part of a 2011 update to OpenSSL and was written by German software developer Robin Seggelmann. As its name suggests, OpenSSL is code freely available to anyone who wants to encrypt communications. And, it was used by companies large and small; by cellphones; by tablets; by the "internet of things" and, by now about two-thirds of all servers on the World Wide Web. And, in every copy, the little error was sitting there, fragile and vulnerable.

Why tech needs a messy future to survive

Photo: Héctor García/flickr
The future will be more complicated than we've been led to believe. In many movies and television shows, for example, technological nirvana arrives full-blown and with startling monotony.

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The future will be messy and that's good for tech

Photo: Héctor García/flickr

The future will be more complicated than we've been led to believe. In many movies and television shows, for example, technological nirvana arrives full-blown and with startling monotony. Yes, there are class divisions. The poor and disenfranchised get the flotsam and jetsam of the glistening cybercities. But for the upper classes, immaculate clothing is woven of indestructible nano-fabrics and the flawless interfaces all run the same spartan OS on computers of similar industrial design. The screens, large and small, rarely contain more than a single window and by whatever means the future devices talk to one another, they handle the digital handshaking invisibly. When the computers speak to humans, they all do with the same calming voice.


Here come the smartwatch wars

Photo: Pierre Lecourt/flickr

This week the battle of the smartwatches began in earnest. Google announced Google Wear, a flavour of the Android operating system tailored to wrist-worn devices. On the same day, Motorola took the wraps off of the Moto 360, a stylish round smartwatch that tastefully mixes tech and fashion. 


Throwing the switch on scary myths and starting a tech revolution

Photo: Chris Devers/flickr

In their best-selling book, Freakanomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner explain that the deadly business of crack dealing in American inner cities has such attraction because it is a tournament. In a tournament hundreds of desperate youth will put up with danger, low wages and dreadful work because they believe they will start from nothing and rise to great power and wealth. Young black men see the cars, cash rolls and bling of the bosses and risk everything to be them. Likewise Canadian Idol contestants line up in the rain and face failure and humiliation because they believe they will be the next Taylor Swift. As long as you believe in the tournament, the tournament has incredible power over you.

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