Tag Archives: travel

heading to LIFT08


v v happy to be flying back to geneva this year for the ever-awesome LIFT conference. huge props to laurent, nicolas, sylvie and the rest of the LIFT team for putting together another really fantastic program. bruce sterling, bill cockaynelee bryant, julian bleecker, fabien girardin, stephanie booth, henriette weber andersen and noel hidalgo will be among the many giving talks, leading conversations and workshopping. tom is also giving what looks to be awesome workshop on the future of wireless. oof, unfortunately with the conference last week and project applications all over the place, i missed the deadline to submit…

regardless, i’m looking forward to catching up with friends, meeting new people and having my mind saturated with absolutely fantastic conversations. a new element this year is the venture night – where new startups give us their pitch! and there’s the threat of switzerland’s biggest. fondue. evar. <cheese glee>

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return to yyz

img_2067.jpgsacher torte & ruby port

back from vienna a week already, followed by days of unpacking the new house and wrapping up loose ends for work. it was an interesting trip, and an interesting conference.

while the content was good and engaging, i hate to say it but knowledge, creativity and transformations of societies was poorly organized and not very well thought out, which is a shame as it could have been so much better with just a bit of different effort, ironic given it’s name and mandate… a few things that bothered me…

panel locations weren’t advertised (even general street signage was lacking) and were spread across the city, there was little in the way of networking and meeting with your fellow attendees. and there wasn’t any wifi, which, isn’t so important in the long run.

but those were the little qualms. the biggest problem was that the organizers rescheduled the panel i was on about 6 days before the conference began. originally set to go on friday, we were moved to sunday, which meant that some people missed the panel as their flights were leaving sunday afternoon, or that they were rescheduled to present at 8am. yikes!

beyond that, the content was really really great. mark rectanus, from the university of iowa, spoke about the tensions between institutional knowledge and emergent knowledge (universities and wikipedia, for example), and ways to reconcile this through teaching, dialogue, active participation with one’s students, etc.

and tatjana chorney, from st mary’s in halifax, spoke about transformational teaching methods that also speak to mark’s themes – that while instructors still need to communicate a historical or contextual knowledge base in their curriculi, there’s also an increased need to facilitate and broker knowledge acquisition, insight and analysis as well – the skills and creative impetus to understand and act upon information.

my paper touched upon the underlying dynamics that aid in that facilitation – how groups form, how they trust and read each other so that knowledge can permeate throughout a community. three overlapping areas, and i’m honored that i was able to speak to theirs and the others work. well done, everyone!!

vienna itself is a lovely city – bourgeousie architecture and winding laneways, grand palaces and wiener wurstl stands everywhere. i completely fell in love with the food – especially apfelpunsch, and the people were kind and hospitable. looking forward to another trip in the future!

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el vampiro and intuition

in august i spent a couple of days in nyc, in search of conversations and connection. this post is a bit delayed, but such is the nature of being what tom calls pathologically busy. it was really fantastic to touchbase with friends and colleagues, old and new, and flow into the local velocity, and belated thanks is due to those who put up with my questions over lunch or dinner (thx scott, john, elena, baker!). nyc is one of the few places where i feel like the pace of the external environment is matched with what’s going on inside. it would more likely than not make me bonkers to stay for any extended length, but refreshing in short spurts.

i dropped by eyebeam research lab during their open studio hours and chatted with a few of the residents and fellows about what they’re up to. i highly recommend pinging them if you’re in the neighbourhood on tuesday afternoons. it’s a fantastic space, with really incredible people who are fully engaged in their work and totally open about what they want to do. amazing.

michael dila, a fellow overlapper and perpetual troublemaker, was also in the big apple that week and was kind enough to organize an nyc overlap meetup, as serendipity encouraged all those little ducks to line up. an awesome conversation with michael, dave walczyk, paul pangaro, vic lombardi and manuel toscano ensued – somewhat raucous and always inspiring.

conversation eventually turned to innovation, creativity, imagination, the strengthening relationship between business and design practice, and passion. what fuels these things? where do they come from, and what conditions encourage and cultivate them? a recurring conversation that i hope to continue having.

the gem in this conversation was this. to some degree, we are all guided by intuition, the immediate, somewhat difficult to communicate compass that shapes our behaviour in more ways than we perhaps are conscious of.

intuition is tacit knowing – it is an unmediated process of pattern recognition and a reconciliation of complexity (internal/external, systems, ideas, histories, etc, etc) that influence future perceptions and actions.

it is direct, instinctive, perceptive – a form of knowledge that can be fiendishly difficult to communicate or validate because of its resistance to analytical metrics or quantitative definitions. which i think emphasizes its importance in how we construct and share knowledge and ideas – we engage in multi-layered communication of which we’re only partly conscious, and our intuition picks up the subtleties as an unending flow of incoming signals, some strong, and some weak.

our discussion was fuelled by vampiros, the house specialty of a little place called paladar, on ludlow south of houston. perfect for fiesty conversations and exuberant autumn evenings.

el vampiro

  • tequila
  • hibiscus flower  nectar (bought at health food stores, fresh or brewed as tea from the dried flowers)
  • ground chili
  • salt

mix tequila and nectar, in proportion to evening’s intent.

rim  glass with mixture of chili and salt


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the luck of seven needs you


or rather it needs your $11.11.

and actually it’s noel hidalgo who needs your money. and you should give it to him.

noel left nyc on july 7 2007 to travel the seven continents for seven months, talking to people and “documenting free culture, social innovation and global change.” he’s been through europe, the north of africa, the middle east and is currently in delhi. this journey has been funded entirely by noel asking for donations of $11.11 from 700 people around the global. his adventures – in the form of microblogging, vcasts, photos and blogs – can be found here, here, here and here.

why should you donate? because i don’t know anyone else with the passion, brains and balls to take on such a journey. that’s the biggest reason. scott trudeau can provide you with a few others, but honestly, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to contribute to an amazing project. it’s crazy, mind you, but noel inspires and challenges us all to reconsider what kinds of change we’re capable of. dude. he rawks.

donate here

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if you happen to be in seoul next month…

383583009_2cd45268ab_o.jpg photo thomas purves

the wonderful people at LIFT are organizing a free event to take place sept 12, 2007 in seoul, korea (venue tbd). if you happen to be there, i strongly suggest to go – it will change you. and if korea is too far or too soon, LIFT08 happens in february. congrats to laurent, nicolas and team on the launch of LIFTlabs

Join us for a night in Seoul with Adam Greenfield, Bruce Sterling and Korean architect Yoo Suk Yeon to discuss real and digital spaces.

Topic: Spaces: From Real to Digital. How technological developments in both the physical worlds and virtual environments are reshaping our buildings, our games, and soon our web browsers.

When: 12 September 2007 in Seoul, South Korea. The precise location will be announced later.

Adam Greenfield will show us the opportunities and problems of living in a world where technologies pervaded the physical space.
• The upcoming hybridizations of the digital and the physical will be tackled by Bruce Sterling, who will also present what he, as a science-fiction writer and technology journalist expects.
• Korean architect Yoo Suk Yeon will then talk about the latest trends in architecture and how this hybridization is of importance.
• Virtual spaces and usage of massive multi-player platforms would also be addressed by a fourth speaker coming from the video gaming industry.

Registration: the event will be free but registration is required. To register, email your name to info@liftconference.com (a better system is coming soon).

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it’s really hot. like +35 with the humidex. it’s making me sluggish and woozy to move betwixt the arctic climate at beal and the rainforest of my apartment (yeah, the east and west windows have a great crossbreeze on the third floor. SURE…:P ).

although a thunderstorm is currently on route (eta: 2hrs), the past few days have not been very conducive to my recent resolution to eat at least 80% of my meals from food that comes out of my kitchen, as a way to save a bit of cash and not get tempted by instant gratification delectables. so i’ve been pulling out the recipes that do not involve even making eye contact with the stove. or toaster. etc.

this was from monday, when i was in need of a super boost of energy from the weekend’s perpetual travel (friday pm to sunday am: tdot>nyc>nj>nyc>tdot. by bus/train. :\ ). super easy and extremely tasty. and i find that the kale has noticeable brain results (clarity and energy) immediately!

summer salad

  • bunch of kale, washed and chopped, stems and ribs removed
  • apple, cored and chopped
  • can of beans (pigeon peas are my recent fave, tho romanos are also good. and use fresh if you’ve got ’em)
  • chopped walnuts (optional)


  • extra virgin olive oil (preferably a fine finishing olive oil, infused with lemon or ginger. neat site)
  • lemon juice
  • mustard seed
  • fig vinegar (or apple cider, white wine, etc)
  • honey
  • salt and pepper

add it all together and toss with dressing. enjoy!

i just learned how to make fresh goat’s milk cheese in an artisan cheese workshop – updates to follow soon!

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interlude – canal du midi and languedoc

a few nights ago over dinner we had a wine from languedoc, an area in the south of france alongside the pyrenees. this brought back some pretty strong memories of an autumn cycling trip i took a few years back – how beautiful the countryside and the people were, and what a serene experience it was to have nothing but your bike and a map. a bit of a change of pace (especially given the prior rant), but what i hope to be a sweet and recurring interlude…

canal du midi, languedoc

autumn 2004, canal du midi, languedoc. from my journal…
The ride was incredibly wonderful, this region is beautiful. The first 45k were along the Canal du Midi, built in 1681 in order to link the Atlantic to the Med (240k). The canal still functions, though not for trade; there are over 300 bridges and 90 écluses (locks), little stations and villages at each écluse. The cycle path, well-maintained and semi-paved (no cars!), that hugs the canal in the fairly flat section I travelled. A double row of huge maple trees lined the canal the whole way, sheltering you in a gorgeous and secluded green nest. Animal count: herons, ducks, and a turtle. I ate my lunch, which included some cured Basque sausage and cheese and figs from the area, on the banks – completely in awe of the beauty of this country. I forgot how quiet and peaceful it is to ride like this, after a week of cities and people and trains.

Eventually the bikepath finished and I moved onto the road, although it was smooth sailing and little traffic. The landscape is something else… I rode in a rolling valley, with huge foothills rising up on either side of me, blue and smudgy with rain. This is Pays de Cathar, and their ruins are everywhere- churches, castles, houses, windmills, all made with gold stone that jumps out of the landscape in overcast light.

Languedoc translates into “Language of Oc”, from the Occitans, a culture whose roots reach back to the Romans. A woman I met in Toulouse whose family had been in the region for generation upon generation shared a little history over a pain au chocolat and espresso before I headed south. France is a country full of wonderful storytellers. (And a bit more history of the region here.)

About 25k outside of Carcassonne the Armagnac vineyards appeared, giving off a redolent, musty smell. I had a bite to eat in a little farmer’s lane between a vineyard and a small patch of tiny sunflowers, probably seasonal seconds which won’t make it past another month. I arrived in Carcassonne with about an hour of sunlight left, tired and stinky and good. It was my longest ride since I’ve been here- 120k! – though when I arrived I was not exhausted… satiated and at peace.

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