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Spark on CBC Radio One Nora Young helps you navigate your digital life by connecting you to fresh ideas in surprising ways.


  • 475: Wayfinding and finding our way

    475: Wayfinding and finding our way

    08/05/2020 Duração: 54min

    Remember the olden days—like 2 months ago—when you could just head out the door and wander wherever you felt like it, exploring the world around you? We humans are deeply spatial creatures. Our sense of space is tied to how we know the world around us, and how we remember it. Nora talks to the author of a new book on the neuroscience of wayfinding, and what it means when we find our way by GPS—and our physical terrain becomes increasingly virtual. And, if you go to the heart of a city or town, you find its cultural hubs: museums, theatres, sports stadiums, which are anchor spaces that tie the community together. Now those spaces are shuttered by the pandemic, how are arts and culture adapting? + Kit Chokly, curator of Ottawa's Isolation Museum + Sara Diamond, president and vice-chancellor of OCAD University + Michael Bond, science writer and the author of Wayfinding: The Art and Science of How We Find and Lose Our Way.

  • 474: Privacy and resilience by design

    474: Privacy and resilience by design

    01/05/2020 Duração: 54min

    How can we design for resilience and privacy? From shortages of flour on grocery store shelves to a lack of personal protective equipment, we've seen how lean global supply chains can be surprisingly brittle. This week, we'll hear the case for more resilient manufacturing. And sure, tech companies may not have always had our privacy in mind when designing the apps and services we use. But with so much at stake in resolving the pandemic lockdown, is it time for Privacy By Design. + Contact tracing has long been used to slow the spread of infectious diseases, from smallpox to STIs. In the midst of COVID-19 people are encouraged to put apps on their phones that track when they've had exposure to someone with the virus. Critics worry about giving governments bodies access to potentially sensitive data, and about a future surveillance state. Law professor Richard Janda is part of a Canadian team developing an app that puts privacy first. + Mukesh Kumar is a University of Cambridge researcher in the are

  • 473: Space and place post-pandemic

    473: Space and place post-pandemic

    24/04/2020 Duração: 54min

    In software design, people talk about stress testing. Pushing things to the limit, to see how it performs at the extreme end. And it's pretty clear that right now, we're in a period of stress testing the current design of our cities. And our homes. Over the past few months, the inequalities that some individuals are typically meant to just attend to themselves, have suddenly, starkly, been shown for the structural problems they are. There are many examples, ranging from the trivial to life-threatening. Today, we're going to explore some of the things this global stress test has brought to the surface. And what we can do about it. Because whether there's another pandemic or not, there are important lessons for us about designing for resilience and responsiveness. + Professor Patrick Condon, the James Taylor chair in Landscape and Livable Environments at UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and the founding chair of the UBC urban design program. He speaks to Nora about the lessons urba

  • 472: Touch and Trust in our virtual world

    472: Touch and Trust in our virtual world

    17/04/2020 Duração: 54min

    As physical distancing and isolation continues, we're saturated with information and interaction on screens big and small, often several screens at once, and All. Day. Long. We've become desperate for tactile, analogue things: Witness the breadmaking phenomenon on social media. Or how so many of us are really, really into caring for our plants.People are sewing. Or doing physical, old-fashioned puzzles. For the first few weeks there was a different energy of connecting in a new way. Much of our day was spent in video conferences with colleagues, and then our evenings were spent on even more video conferencing platforms! Chatting with family, having virtual parties with friends, or joining hard-to-hear trivia games with glitchy hosts. Now into the second month, some of us look at our laptops and phones with exhaustion. So this week, we're looking at ways to help us survive in an world where everything has become virtual, but so many of us are craving touch. + Neuroscientist Victoria Abraira explains wh

  • April 12, 2020: Special: Proto-internet

    April 12, 2020: Special: Proto-internet

    10/04/2020 Duração: 54min

    What do ham radios, 18th-century British roadways and the 1990 film "Pump Up The Volume" all have in common? They all foreshadowed internet culture! This week on Spark: a fun and illuminating look at how early moments in Western culture hinted at our digital lives today. Featuring guests Jordan Hermant, Jo Guldi, Colin Newell, Kristin Haring, and Anais Saint-Jude. 

  • 471: Reimagining our Relationship with Tech (and each other)

    471: Reimagining our Relationship with Tech (and each other)

    03/04/2020 Duração: 54min

    When new technology comes along—or we use it in new ways—it raises questions of etiquette and ethics. With so many of us opening a digital window into our homes in an unprecedented way, are we reimagining our relationship with our technologies—and each other? And what risks are involved with so many of us repurposing our home technology for work, or using apps and tools that haven't been tested at the kind of scale that which people are now using them? + Ainissa Ramirez is a materials scientist and the author of the new book, The Alchemy of Us. In it, she chronicles eight life-changing inventions, and the inventors behind them. + Hannah Sung explores how to connect with our friends and loved ones while being mindful of their privacy—and what privacy looks like in today's pandemic circumstances. + John Scott-Railton of the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab describes how repurposing often-older home computers and using unsecure apps create privacy and security risks—that could be exploited by hackers and

  • 470: Access in Isolation

    470: Access in Isolation

    27/03/2020 Duração: 54min

    As the pandemic continues to keep a lot of us at home, today we look at access and technology: Social access to each other as we physically isolate. Access to the devices and data that keep us connected. And securing access to the internet when networks are under strain. Even in your own home, with people working and learning remotely It's easy to see why we often think of the internet as something intangible. We talk about being 'virtual' and storing things in the cloud. It's not until something goes wrong that we're reminded the internet actually does have a physical form: routers, cables, wires. Now that we're in the midst of a global pandemic, how much of a strain is there on that infrastructure? What can we do to keep the internet working well? How can we ensure that everyone who needs access gets it? + Mark Wolff is the CTO of CANARIE, which maintains the network that connects Canada's academic and scientific research institutions. He talks about how internet infrastructure is faring under

  • 469: Remote

    469: Remote

    20/03/2020 Duração: 54min

    This week, Spark is coming to you from five different locations across Toronto, none of which is the CBC building! Like many people all over the world this week, we're working from home. Remote work is something we've talked about a lot on Spark over the past decade, but we've never done anything like this! We recognize that many people aren't able to work remotely, and we'll be addressing that too. But for people who can—and should—be working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, we're going to explore the best ways to do this, using current technology. + Natalie Nagele is the co-founder and CEO of Wildbit, a Philadelphia-based software company, whose employees have been working remotely for 20 years, and which recently switched to a four-day workweek. Natalie explains how this works for Wildbit, and what other managers can learn from her experience. + Shawn D. Long, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of Communication at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, U

  • 468: Concentration

    468: Concentration

    13/03/2020 Duração: 54min

    In an age of digital devices and near constant distractions, many of us feel like our attention spans are shrinking. The good news is: we can get our power of concentration back. So this week on Spark, a handbook on how to concentrate in a distracting world. + Stefan Van der Stigchel is a cognitive psychologist and author of Concentration: Staying Focused in Times of Distraction. He says that there's no reason to believe our ability to concentrate is being permanently eroded by digital distraction, but concentration is like a muscle you have to work to maintain. + As we age we find it more difficult to concentrate. Tarek Amer and fellow researchers found a possible upside: being scattered may help in creative thought. Tarek is also researching whether we can use older folks' distractibility as a way to deliver helpful reminders.Tarek is a Canadian Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University. + Michael Shammas, a lawyer in New York who decided to unplug his headphones

  • 467: Music Streaming

    467: Music Streaming

    06/03/2020 Duração: 54min

    For many of us—even without it being much of a conscious choice—buying music has been replaced by subscribing to a music streaming service. Here in Canada, streaming numbers have long overtaken physical or digital album sales. One study reported over 75 billion streams in 2019, a 30 percent increase from the year before. Compare that to sales, which have dropped by 25 per cent in the same time period. As record stores close, streaming platforms continue to crop up. Spotify, Apple Music, CBC Listen, YouTube Music, Tidal - and that's just in North America! Their offers keep expanding too: just last month, Spotify launched a separate app just for kid-friendly songs. And it's not just that it's changed how we access music. Listening is becoming more about singles and playlists geared to moods and activities. An endless stream of music, you might say. Major music events like the Junos usually boost the streaming numbers and sales for winning artists. So with the 2020 Juno Awards coming up on March 1

  • 466: Living Buildings

    466: Living Buildings

    28/02/2020 Duração: 54min

    What if there was an alternative to buildings made from concrete, steel and glass? Many of those materials—especially concrete—are very energy intensive to produce. This week on Spark, we look at some of the ways architects are trying to incorporate living materials into building construction, or create spaces that seem alive in the sense that they interact with us in a fundamental way. Could our future homes be living things? + Phil Ayres is an architect in Copenhagen, and he's working with mycelium, the fibrous network that supports mushrooms and other fungi—and is, as it turns out, a great building material! + Philip Beesley is a Toronto architect and sculptor who leads the Living Architecture Systems Group, which explores—and pushes—the boundaries of interactive spaces, using both biological and fabricated material.

  • 465: Open / Closed

    465: Open / Closed

    21/02/2020 Duração: 54min

    We've seen an incredible change in the architecture of the internet. Not just how it operates, but how we operate within it. Think back to the days when YouTube was new, only a handful of people knew what Facebook was, and cell phones were for making phone calls! Early adopters were making podcasts and writing blogs. Wikipedia was an exciting experiment. The old gatekeepers of media were crumbling and the web seemed open to everyone. Today, however, we largely experience the internet through apps, ads and proprietary platforms. There's the decline of the open source software movement, the possibility of a fragmented internet, and the growing popularity of small, closed networks. But, is it really case-closed on the open web? And if so, why should we care? + David Weinberger is a researcher at Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. He's also the author of, most recently, Everyday Chaos: Technology, Complexity and How We're Thriving in a New World of Possibility.

  • Spark special: A map of maps

    Spark special: A map of maps

    14/02/2020 Duração: 54min

    Google Maps. It's turning 15. Fifteen! We're looking back at some of the many stories about maps we've covered on past seasons of Spark. We'll look back at maps for smells, maps for noises, and even how some people are using Google Street View for birding!

  • 464: Truth Decay

    464: Truth Decay

    07/02/2020 Duração: 54min

    Polarization and social-media filter bubbles are destroying our shared sense of reality. Does this mean society is headed toward a state of psychosis?

  • 463: Islands in the Stream

    463: Islands in the Stream

    31/01/2020 Duração: 54min

    After years of Netflix and YouTube dominating streaming video, a raft of new services is arriving, yours for the price of a subscription. What does this mean for the future of how we watch? That, plus exploring the surprising role the pornography industry has played in the technology of streaming.Spark host Nora Young speaks with Patrick Keilty, a professor and archives director of the Sexual Representation Collection in the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto; Ed Finn, the Director of the Centre for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University; Dan Rayburn, a principal analyst with Frost and Sullivan, and JP Larocque, a TV writer and journalist.

  • 462: In Defense of Winter

    462: In Defense of Winter

    24/01/2020 Duração: 54min

    It's winter (duh). Long nights, cold days, and, for much of the country, snow. But should we be cowering inside or embracing it? This week on Spark, we look at how public design and personal mindset can allow us to make the most—and even get excited by—winter. Isla Tanaka, Edmonton's WinterCity planner, explains how her city is helping patios stay open all year, keeping parks accessible, and using urban design to mitigate darkness and wind. Michele Acuto, Professor of Global Urban Politics at Melbourne University, explains how we can improve "the other 9-to-5": the urban nightscape, to make it more pedestrian and worker friendly. Mark Hadlari, a digital producer with CBC North's current affairs unit, describes sunrise at the end of the polar night. And Kari Leibowitz, a Stanford psychologist, describes what she learned by spending a year in Tromsø, Norway, where residents have very low winter depression and seasonal affective disorder rates, despite being 300 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. (Spoil

  • 461: D-I-V-O-R-C-E

    461: D-I-V-O-R-C-E

    17/01/2020 Duração: 54min

    The Netflix movie "Marriage Story" has received lots of recognition, including six Oscar nominations. Critics and viewers are entranced by its realistic look at a couple who want to split up amicably, but are swayed by those around them, including lawyers. They end up in a vicious legal battle that might never have happened if they had been presented with an alternative. Separation and divorce are common in Canada. But whether you're married or common law, have kids or cats (or both!) splitting up is never an easy thing. Now, though, new online services and tech tools aim to make the process easier. They range from online mediation, to apps that help with co-parenting. The overarching goal is to keep the process of splitting up and co-parenting *out* of the court system. To simplify and demystify the whole process. And that's what we're exploring on this Spark podcast. Guests this week: Rebecca Jaremko Bromwich is a lawyer and the National Diversity and Inclusion manager at Gowling WLG in Ottawa, and i

  • 460: The Future

    460: The Future

    10/01/2020 Duração: 54min

    If we've learned anything in the tech world over the last decade, it's the folly of not taking the long view. So the start of a new decade seems like a good time to talk "big picture" with Lord Martin Rees, one of the world's most prominent scientists. His most recent book is called "On the Future: Prospects for Humanity." In a full-episode interview, Sir Martin and Nora don't just look decades ahead, but also millions of years into human future.

  • 459: Canada, Communications and a new decade

    459: Canada, Communications and a new decade

    03/01/2020 Duração: 54min

    With phone scams on the rise and 5G around the corner, how well are we prepared for the 2020s? A feature interview with CRTC Chair Ian Scott.

  • 458: Weird and Wonderful AI

    458: Weird and Wonderful AI

    27/12/2019 Duração: 54min

    How making AI do goofy things exposes its limitations: In her book, "You Look Like a Thing and I Love You," Janelle Shane eposes the pitfalls of AI dependence. Also, Musician-turned-AI-researcher David Usher talks about ReImagine AI, he effort to make a better machine-human interface.

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