Update

Hi!
Alas, it’s been over a year since my last post, and so much has changed since then. Mostly in that I hardly focus on longform writing anymore, being firmly embedded in the microstream of content that flows past in waves of links, gestures and other semi-distracting relationship management tools…

I’m officially, at least for now, closing up shop here. All the posts will remain public, commenting will be shut down and if you want to reach me Twitter seems to be the best forum. Or email, my name at gmail.

Adios, and see you on the tubes.
xo

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!


When I first started with MEIC and OCAD University as the lead researcher on a major provincial mobile study in the spring of 2008, I had no idea where it would go. We had pretty clear objectives regarding the duration and outcomes of the study, and I expected the project to conclude after about a year. Little did we know how deep and utterly insanely transformational the impact of smartphones would be in North America, and especially in Canada. The landscape today is a very different, very exciting beast. I’m thrilled that we have been able to grow MEIC from a small consortium of committed stakeholders to a non-profit, member organization devoted to the growth of startups and the commercialization of the awesome mobile research that happens in Canada.

We’ve been able to listen to businesses, to academics, to students, to other non-profits and to government about their challenges and needs and we’ve been able to create programs that we’re hoping will serve our members in the years to come. Looking back, we’ve made an indelible mark on the Ontario mobile startup community: multiple events, including two years of Mobile Innovation Week, 22 applied research collaborations linking startups, corporations and students, international missions representing Canadian companies and a whole slew of other partnerships. There have been a number of amazing people who have nurtured this along the way (OCAD President Sara Diamond, my amazing Board of Directors, the OMDC, the Toronto startup scene and countless partners and contributors. <3). It's been a hell of a ride.

But, over the past six months, I've noticed a desire for something different and a little bit of professional envy with the amazing companies we've been working with. As an enabling force and facilitator, I am less likely to find myself with my sleeves rolled up designing products, hashing out strategy and delivering new and amazing things to the market. I have always been a maker and a builder, and I could feel that aspect missing in my work.

And so I am stoked to announce that I am moving to Transcontinental Media as their Mobile Strategist, starting next week. I’ll be developing products and services and figuring out how TCM can leverage mobile as a major channel, working with fantastic brands and some amazing talent (as well as the great folks from recently acquired Vortex Mobile and Lipso). Apps, mobile web, tablets and e-readers, oh my! I’ll be based in Toronto with time in Montreal and NY, so ping me for lunch if you think there’s something we can work on together.

As well, I’m very happy to remain involved with MEIC, and have been invited to sit on the Board of Directors for 2011. And while we’ve hired an Interim Director for the next few months, we are definitely looking for someone awesome to lead MEIC going forward. Know someone? Let me know!!!

2011 is going to be an AWESOME year.

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about a dress…

this year has flown by with a swift velocity, and i feel like there are multitudes of moments to share. meic will be launching this fall as a non-profit organization and we have an incubator going live in about 4 weeks, i’ve visited the southern hemisphere for the first time and have spoken at some really great initiatives and met some incredible people. as well, my honey and i went on a lovely sailing trip in may and came back engaged!

tom and i are in the midst of wedding planning for early next year, and one of the things we’re trying to do is bring our friends and family into it as much as possible, through design of all of the stationary and desserts, to having a custom dress made by a good friend, taessa chorny.

after meeting to discuss concepts (i was teased a bit about the google powerpoint dress idea board i made, thank goodness she hasn’t seen the gantt chart…), we met again earlier today to chat about designs and fabrics. she presented a look and some sample fabrics that are amazing and gorgeous and i can’t wait to actually see it made.

the first draft of the design is lovely (though we’ll prob go with something a bit more a-line)

and the fabrics we’ve decided on are a lovely vintage-y silk lace for the bustier, a little ribbon of dark grey chiffon for a break and layers of swoopy chiffon for the skirt. i am in love!

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Yonge St’s take on Global Ignite Week

A bit of a delayed post (it’s been a long few months… ;)

This is an absolutely kickass video put together by Rose Bianchini of Yonge St of Ignite! Toronto’s event during Global Ignite Week. She totally captured the spirit of Ignite, and we’re super proud of all the amazing speakers who worked their butts off to bring us such great talks. Thanks so much!

PS – the next Ignite is taking place September 2 – if you’re interested in presenting, let us know!

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Beyond the Desktop – SXSW 2010

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to present at SXSWi 2010 with some fantastic people. The panel was called Beyond the Desktop: Embracing new Interaction Paradigms and was moderated by the ineffable and brilliant Peter Merholz. Co-panelists were Johnny Lee of Microsoft’s Applied Sciences, Nathan Moody of Stimulant and David Merrill of Sifteo.

From the description:

Thanks to the success of Wii and iPhone, the public is getting more familiar with interaction paradigms that go beyond keyboard+mouse. We need to embrace gestures, accelerometers, sensors, and more. This panel will show you where things are headed and what do you need to be ready for them.

Big thanks to Peter for rallying us together, SXSW is always an amazing amazing time, and this time was no exception.

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futurestates: play

lovely and intriguing video by david kaplan and eric zimmerman, one of a series that imagines the future. behaviour driven scenarios, playful and delightful. highly recommended!

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transitioning material loyalty

I came across a great article on the art jewellery forum that responds to this year’s SNAG (Society for NA Goldsmith’s) annual conference, and speaks a great deal about the language and material transitions affecting contemporary craft, or rather anything made by hand.

Jewellery as an Art-with-a-capital-A form tracks closely parallel to the major contemporary art movements of the past century, becoming a forum for political, conceptual, material and embodied discourse and reflecting the issues of a material society. The rich histories of traditional techniques and contextual use have been appropriated as commentary and innovation seek out new platforms of expression. And new technologies have helped transform the industries and practices of makers with greater efficiencies and capabilities.

However the discourse and means to describe contemporary jewellery and the practices of making have not transformed. The author (who unfortunately remains anonymous) comments:

…a chronic nagging question was amplified. What, exactly, is it that I do? In passing conversations I never seem to be able to explain it to any acceptable degree without endless digressive hurdles. In the simplest terms I set out with the word “jewelry” though even this is a personal conversational concession. The litany of descriptors we can now alter jewelry with can leave a person breathless – art jewelry, contemporary jewelry, sculptural jewelry to name a few. Casual conversations always include “no, I don’t make that kind of jewelry”. And when I start using phrases like “abstract life forms” and “composite resin” people’s faces screw into frustration. When I’m feeling less motivated I just say “I make jewelry out of plastics . . . various plastics”. But it feels condescending both to whomever I’m speaking with, and what it is I like about my work. I’ve spent nine years and borrowed tens of thousands of dollars for two degrees – a BFA with the words “Metalsmithing and Jewelry Making” at the end and an MFA with the alternate “Jewelry and Metal Arts” attached. But I find none of this mixing and matching of terminology to be of any help when trying to actually articulate what it is I do with all of my time.

The challenges facing the author and their contemporaries is not uncommon – what language to we use to accurately describe the full rich emerging new 21st century spectrum of practice when the language is appropriate for traditional practice? Where’s the neologism that speaks qualitatively to the essence of practice in 2010? What is the relationship to the pop culture craft resurgence and DIY hacking? How does sustainability factor into a culture or material expression? Or class and the social strata?

As well, how does the identity of the maker change when the linguistic focus is on the materials vs the work itself? Material loyalty is valued for the connection to the earth, enabling participation in the somewhat tenuous thread of human continuity and history, its relatively analog capacity for recombination and invention and the rich availability of terminologies and taxonomies. Jeweler, silversmith, weaver, potter – these are neatly described occupational slots with comforting specificity. many makers now use general terms to describe their practices: artist, designer, hacker- that describe the active practices of making as opposed to any material loyalty or predilection. This ambiguity serves a boon to a transient industry and seemingly unending possibilities for expression.

I wonder what we lose in this ambiguity, in this liminal place between taxonomies. And what we retrieve in the emergence of new terminologies and neologisms. A great blog that I read regularly, Paleo-Future, explores failed historical visions of the future – I am waiting for the curator of lost or failed practices of making.

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