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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.

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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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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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Upcoming Talks and Events

This fall continues to be batshit busy, and as usual I’m posting about events… Here’s a few that are coming up – if you’re in Toronto you should definitely check them out!


Ignite! TorontoPeter Horvath and I started the Toronto chapter in August, and edition #2 is coming up again on November 25 at the Drake. If you missed the first one, videos and content are here. We’re hoping for another speaker to be featured, as Mark Argo was, on O’Reilly TV. Also, follow us on Twitter, and RSVP here!

MEIC5 is coming up on November 26 – we’re still firming up the schedule but check back to the RSVP for updates!


LIFT@HomeTom, Mark, Fran, Milena and I are thrilled to be co-chairing the travelling edition of our favourite conference. Date: November 17, 6-9:30pm, Cdn Corps Hall. Topic: DemoCamp 2019. More deets and tix here.

And for a more current version of DemoCamp, #24 will be held on December 3, at the Rogers Theatre. Tix are here.

I’ll also be speaking at a few places as well, w00t!


UCLA: Mobile Media Symposium – Friday November 13
Geospatial Media, with Julian Bleecker, Mark Hansen and Ben Hooker.

Canadian Marketing Association: Experiential Marketing – Tuesday December 1
Mobile Futures, With Tom Purves and David Elchoness

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BIF5 – Session 2

Don Tapscott – Net Generation

Kids of the Baby Boom are bathed in bits. Talks a bit about Growing Up Digital, etc.

In the late 90’s he had an interview w Pamela Wallin – 60minutes of internet surfing on TV. Don’t kid wasn’t so thrilled – ‘Dad’s going on TV to use the internet for an hour? Why would anyone want to do that? Stupidest show ever. I’m so embarrassed, all my friends are going to see this.”

Interview with his son later – “Dad, you adults are obsessed with technology. It’s sort of like a TV show where you check out the refrigerator ‘technology’. Oh look, Dad found some content – it’s called meatloaf.” Kids are the authority on new technology. (heh)

Facebook group started for Wikinomics over 24hrs – growth of community and expectations demonstrative of self- organization. Build platforms to enable collaboration and creativity.

Joe O’Shea – Rhodes Scholar doing his Masters ot Oxford, President of the Student Council ot FSU, sat on 18 ctes + chaired 6, setup a health clinic in the 9th Ward on NOLA after Katrina, developed a Global Peace Exchange with 14 countries + a summit, etc. Doesn’t read books.

How you spend your time between the ages of 8-18 influences and affects your synaptic pathways and behaviours for the rest of your life. How does this portend what Millenials will be doing in 10yrs?

Bruce Nussbaum +
Talk about the good, bad and ugly of open innovation (buzz word that ppl have created when they are full of shit.)

We’re all ppl at the end of the day, and we can’t do things as we’ve always done. Open means opening the spirit. At NEstle, 37% of company works in R&D – 50M ppl in the world who are equally smart. Looking outside can be way more beneficial.

Despite the buzzword, they still represent change, and a committed to change.

BN: What kinds of problems are best solved via open innovation?

Example: Need to create an ice cream that maintains texture and taste but is not frozen until delivered to the consumer/retailer. (saves on costs, refrigeration, etc). Problem contextualized and put out to an integrated network of other business and academia – leveraging the network of expertise.

[battery time prohibitive for further blogging of this session, more soon!]

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BIF5 – Session 1

i’m in Providence, RI today and tomorrow at BIF5, and will be liveblogging as i can.

Michael Samuelson
‘he who is not busy being born must be busy dying’ – bob dylan

the great wisdom of BIF5 comes from the gestalt.
michael opens with a discussion of a male friend who had breast cancer resulting in a double mastectomy. he did a self-exam, found a lump. 2 doctors examined him, said ‘don’t worry, it’s probably just a cyst’

he followed up and had surgery to have it removed. turned out to be a 3rd grade tumour, required a radical mastectomy. (also went on tomoxofin as part of treatment – shared menopause with his wife – hilarious bonding experience – she believes every man should go on tomoxofin for at least 6 months)

men die more from embarassment than from anything else.
resulting in an insurance company partnering with him to lead an institute in cancer prevention.

his persistence in not settling with the status quo, and not ignoring the constant comments not to worry, and of being empowered by the ‘well, what do you want to do?’ response from medical professionals opened his mind to how the medical system is broken.

as an innovator you are deeply indebted to the joseph campbell’s of the world – you are on a journey, and there are shapeshifters everywhere, guardians who will prevent you from doing what you want. you need mentors to help you.
and don’t listen to anyone who tells you to be realistic, practical.

impossibility deals with physics, improbability deals with spirit. live a life of healthy uncertainty. gather smart people around you.

Paola Antonelli
Anger is a very powerful force. The truth is often dramatized.

The interview for MOMA (with Philip Johnson) started with the provocation “Design is dead.” That statement forced her to respond as to why she disagreed. The importance of a hook, of something that forces you to articulate your anger, your passion, your beliefs, was a lesson not forgotten.

Designing “design” shows for MOMA was challenging as most of the MOMA audience is taking their prescription of matisse and picasso.

there has been (changing now) a lack of critical stature for design in the US (would include Canada as well). we need to become better design storytellers. for the ‘design + the elastic mind’ show, she hired an illustrator to create small
vignettes that communicate the narrative of process, materials, idea, etc.

designers are moving towards storytelling as a means to illustrate the implications of a new idea [scenarios, etc...]. also speaks towards empathy. design transforms revolutions into objects.
“design and the elastic mind’ was successful because of the narrative.

bringing design to business, to innovation, etc… design for debate (from RCA) – design props to force ppl to reassess expectations, etc.

curating is sifting [what is your filter? where does your pattern recognition come into play? what story are you trying to tell?] also the curator is a hunter-gatherer [magpie].

Ethan Zuckerman

starts off talking about iphone transformed into an instrument via an app call the okarina. the network option, which allows you to see who else around the world is also playing.

do technologies bring us closer together or create a false sense of connectedness via globalization.

upon graduation from college with a lucrative philosphy, he went to ghana (accra) as an ethnomusicologist. idea of what his life was going to look like shattered when he was landing and the city of 3m ppl had NO electric light. hardest thing wasn’t apartment, etc – but rather that no one would talk to him and tell him what their lives were like.

that changed when he met his landlord (educated in the USSR, defected to midwest USA before returning to Accra) – who tutored him in social customs (ie – never get angry – always laugh to diffuse). patrick (the landlord) was the cultural bridge that enables you to embrace your xenophilia and ask questions [interesting phrasing].

other examples include a soweto music producer and paul simon’s graceland (boyoyo boys of soweto). what does it take now? with copious amounts of digital infrastructure ad information we are still incredibly bad at understanding how/what/why people behave.

Indie Chinese media group volunteers to translate all global media into Mandarin to understand how the rest of the world preceives them (includes Economist, NYT, also MIT Open Course Ware [WIN!])

Global Voice bloggers blog for the common project [values, understanding, etc] for purposes of solidarity as well as from a desire to tell stories, to communicate the realities from their POV.

Joey Ito (VC who is also obsessed w WoW) discusses the behaviour in his guild. Common context of guild enabled offworld problem solving and mentorship. How does that happen in a context such as Global Voices – shared cultural purpose and collaboration? And finally, does the iPhone Okarina enable or disable collaboration? Maybe it’s time to do a duet.

Jay Rogers
The doubt and disbelief that a car company cannot be reinvented are pervasive. Improbability is something to seek out – you should try to break it apart.

10yrs ago – US Marines, dropped into a war zone, made friends w Safa, a local Shiite. Jay defused bombs (!!!). One day, Safa was en rte to work w the British/US basecamp w 3 colleagues, they were stopped by thugs who shot his 3 friends in the face, killing them, and threatened to kill him and his family if he continued working with the army. he made a choice to try to improve his, and continued to go to work everyday.

transportation uses 71%of all imported oil. 60% goes to cars. he lost ppl to a war on oil that preserves that import relationship.

flip to his grandfather – former owner of Indian motorcycles. launched newsletters during WW2, crowdsourcing innovations. launched passion and commitment to cars, loves them. but going into the 21stC without the highest consumption in the development world is shameful
cars haven’t been adopted by the bobby flay-martha stewart- slow food movement – the axiom of you can do it – we can help.

applied war experience and strategy (sniping, military leadership, etc) to car industry.

Local motors – starting with the community – designing cool cars that ppl are deeply committed to loving and using.
Design-based innovation competitions – over 44K designs on the website. [BESPOKE AUTO!!!]

Can Creative Commons be applied to things in manufacturing and tangible value. Yes! All inhouse tools are open source. Big supporter and activist of open innovation.

If you want to connect with someone you need to build an experience that they will love and become angry for, that they will respond and defend. They will own the ideology and the brand, and share it for you. Keep you engaged with something that grounds you throughout your daily life.

If you want to be accurate and real you need to be on the street, you need to be local, speak the cultural language and . Micro-factories challenges the culture of centralized manufacturing [invites crowd to discuss dealing w economies of scale at break].

Local Cars = 5x faster + 100X Less Capital.

Community delivers great design meant to be enjoyed by the community. Silicon Valley is not the only place where disruptive innovation.
[This guy is AWESOME]

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MidWeek Reading x3

This Way

I came across 3 really awesome articles in the past few days, all somewhat inter-related and crossquotidian POVs of cities and urban life and experience and the future, both the near and paleo kind.

Why do I blog this? The urban design interface is perforated by the past and future, by contemporary idealisms, by ambience and aggregation, by ecology and technology and humanity and data. The 3 articles illustrate new ways of seeing, doing, breathing and living.

The City Is A Battlesuit For Surviving The Future, Matt Jones, from io9


Lord Rogers stated that “our cities are increasingly linked and learning” – this seemed to me a recapitulation of Archigram’s strategies, playing out not through giant walking cities but smaller, bottom-up technological interventions. The infrastructures we assemble and carry with us through the city – mobile phones, wireless nodes, computing power, sensor platforms are changing how we interact with it and how it interacts with other places on the planet. After all it was Archigram who said “people are walking architecture.”

We are now a predominantly urban species, with over 50% of humanity living in a city. The overwhelming majority of these are not old post-industrial world cities such as London or New York, but large chaotic sprawls of the industrialising world such as the “maximum cities” of Mumbai or Guangzhou. Here the infrastructures are layered, ad-hoc, adaptive and personal – people there really are walking architecture, as Archigram said.

Hacking post-industrial cities is becoming a necessity also. The “shrinking cities” project is monitoring the trend in the west toward dwindling futures for cities such as Detroit and Liverpool.

The Street as Platform, Dan Hill, City of Sound

Three kids are playing an online game on their mobile phones, in which the physical street pattern around them is overlaid with renderings of the 19th century city. They scuttle down an alleyway behind a furniture showroom as the virtual presence of another player, actually situated in a town forty miles away and reincarnated as a Sherlock Holmes-ian detective, indicated on their map by an icon of a deerstalker and gently puffing pipe, stalks past the overlaid imagined space. The three play a trio of master criminals, intent on unleashing a poisonous miasma upon the unsuspecting and unreal caricatures generated by the game.

Instead, this is all everyday technology – embedded in, propped up against, or moving through the street, carried by people and vehicles, and installed by private companies and public bodies. Each element of data causes waves of responses in other connected databases, sometimes interacting with each other physically through proximity, other times through semantic connections across complex databases, sometimes in real-time, sometimes causing ripples months later. Some data is proprietary, enclosed and privately managed, some is open, collaborative and public.

Yet how much of this activity is obviously perceptible on our streets when viewed through conventional means? The snapshot above, without the explanatory narrative of the systems being touched by these activities, would just like a freeze-frame of a few people and vehicles set against a backdrop of buildings. A photograph or drawing would show only a handful of people, a few vehicles and some buildings. Traditional urban planning might note patterns of flocking or grouping, when tracking the flow of people through a space, yet would they make a causal observation based on the presence of the open wifi that created a ‘flock’?

The sketch above deliberately traverses quite a few modes of activity – from private to public; individual to civic; commercial to recreational; residential to vocational. And in all instances systems are in flux, in development, or require implementing, testing and shaping.

In many of these instances there are decisions to be made about openness, responsibility, privacy, security, interaction, experience. Some of these will be directly under the aegis of government, some through public-private partnerships, some though architects of the built environment, some through architects of this informational environment, some through commercial enterprises, some through NGOs, some through municipal institutions, some through education, some through individuals or community groups, and so on. There are decisions to be made about raw infrastructure – the equivalent of transport networks and power supply.

A Talking Head Dreams of a Perfect City, by David Byrne, WSJ


There’s an old joke that you know you’re in heaven if the cooks are Italian and the engineering is German. If it’s the other way around you’re in hell. In an attempt to conjure up a perfect city, I imagine a place that is a mash-up of the best qualities of a host of cities. The permutations are endless. Maybe I’d take the nightlife of New York in a setting like Sydney’s with bars like those in Barcelona and cuisine from Singapore served in outdoor restaurants like those in Mexico City. Or I could layer the sense of humor in Spain over the civic accommodation and elegance of Kyoto. Of course, it’s not really possible to cherry pick like this—mainly because a city’s qualities cannot thrive out of context. A place’s cuisine and architecture and language are all somehow interwoven. But one can dream.

Here are some things that make a city livable for me:

Chaos and danger
To some, security means rigid order and strict rules. I do believe we do need some laws and rules to guide and reign us in a bit, and I don’t just mean traffic lights and pooper scooper mandates. But there’s a certain attractiveness to New Orleans, Mexico City or Naples—where you get the sense that though some order exists, it’s an order of a fluid and flexible nature. Sometimes too flexible, but a little bit of that sense of excitement and possibility is something I’d wish for in a city. A little touch of chaos and danger makes a city sexy.

Mixed use
This is a Jane Jacobs phrase. A perfect city is where different things are going on, relatively close to each other, at different times of the day. A city isn’t a strip of hotels and restaurants on a glorious beach; it’s a place where there are restaurants and hotels, but also little stores, fashion boutiques, schools, houses, offices, temples and banks. The healthy neighborhood doesn’t empty out at 6 p.m., as most of downtown L.A. does. In my perfect city there would always be something going on nearby.


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Canadian New Media Awards – Get Your Nominations In!

The MEIC is super stoked to be hosting the Inaugural Mobile Categories for the Canadian New Media Awards! If your company, or you know of a company, that is interested in submitting a nomination – the application forms (for all categories!) are here.

There are 3 new categories for Mobile this year:

Best in Mobile Marketing
Brand, agency or campaign who has demonstrated innovation and exceptional execution in mobile marketing. Entrees will be judged according to potential to influence consumer perception or purchasing habits.

Best Mobile Application
Any application that delivers services to a mobile phone. This application demonstrates excellent functionality, innovation, audience reach and frequency, and demonstrates excellence in the use of the mobile medium.

Best Location-Based Service
Any mobile website, application or experience that obtains a geographical location to provide enhanced services and experiences. These services may include navigation and mapping (your nearest restaurant or gas station), weather services, traffic updates, mobile commerce (location based advertising) or highlight points of interest (health, work or personal).

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