Creating Space for Community

I was privileged to be asked by Kevin Magee to speak at Tweetstock5 in Brantford Ontario. It gave me an opportunity to update and refresh my Community talk that I’ve given off and on over the years.

Now that I’m moving into a new phase of my work, it feels good to at least attempt to summarize and share what I’ve learned over 5 years of work, distilled to the key ideas in about 25 minutes.

The Moment has arrived!

I am excited to announce that I’m beginning a new stage in my changemaking journey: together with my amazing and talented partners Daniel Rose and Greg Judelman, we are launching a new enterprise focused on collaborative innovation and systems change work called The Moment. We just launched publicly for the first time June 8th, as co-sponsors and facilitators of GovCamp.

Continue reading “The Moment has arrived!”

A Night at the (#OCE11) Museum

I’m at the OCE Discovery 11 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, which showcases Ontario innovators in clean tech, digital media, 3D, health, water and manufacturing tech. As I wandered around, I had a thought: how cool would it be to be trappe…

I’m at the OCE Discovery 11 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre,
which showcases Ontario innovators in clean tech, digital media, 3D,
health, water and manufacturing tech.

As I wandered around, I had a thought: how cool would it be to be
trapped overnight in here with all this gear!

How to thrive in Zombie World

Step 1: Recognize that you’re in Zombie World.

I had a conversation with some friends, where we discussed recent events like the Arab Awakening and the triple disaster in Japan. I got a seed in my brain about the nature of 21st century life. Later, I tried to sum it up in a tweet:

I was of course referencing the William Gibson quote “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Looked at in a certain way, we already live in a post-apocalyptic world, but many of us are too trapped in bubbles of privilege or zoned out by media pablum to see this with clarity.

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Cutting the cord: life post cable TV

I have been considering cutting paid cable/satellite TV service out of my life for quite a while. With my recent move into a new place with my partner Chris, I decided it was time to kick the habit. People have asked me to share my experiences. My…

I have been considering cutting paid cable/satellite TV service out of my life for quite a while. With my recent move into a new place with my partner Chris, I decided it was time to kick the habit. People have asked me to share my experiences.

My system combines over-the-air digital TV from a rooftop digital UHF antenna together with downloaded or streamed online content, delivered to my beautiful new 50″ HD television. The TV takes content from the digital antenna as well as a first-gen Apple TV (movies, TV episodes, video podcasts, YouTube) and a Playstation 3 (Bluray, Netflix). This full post below the jump provides detail about the core piece – replacing cable/satellite with over-the-air signals for digital broadcast television.

Overall Impressions

I’m thrilled to get 80% of everything I wanted from a paid cable subscription from free over the air digital television in pristine quality. Now I’ve become an advocate for cutting the cord, telling anybody who will listen to seriously consider it. I feel that the investment in professional rooftop installation was worth it for the reliable reception I get for US channels, paying for itself compared to cable in a few short months. It also felt good directing my money to an independent local business as opposed to a oligopoly cable/telco for a change.

Hardcore sports fans may not feel the same way, although that could change in the future with more HD Internet streaming of live events. The main reason I’m not missing anything has to do with the rest of my setup, which relies heavily on Internet downloads and streaming. I’ll write that up another time, if there’s interest.

More details of my setup, some key reference links and the results after the jump…

Continue reading “Cutting the cord: life post cable TV”

Hacking for Good

On the weekend of December 4th/5th, we saw a remarkable global movement of people come together in their communities to contribute their skills and precious free time to making the world a better place. In remarkable contrast to the controversy surrounding the WikiLeaks phenomenon, there was no controversy about what these developers, designers and storytellers were up to.

Random Hacks of Kindness and the International Open Data hackathons came together in Toronto, bringing together two global movements in one face-to-face gathering of community. There was great work by Heather Leson and the rest of the organizers of RHOKTO for creating this opportunity. Please check out the RHOK site for updates on the many projects created by this global event across 20 cities focused on helping communities mitigate and recover from the impacts of natural disasters.

I wanted to highlight a few Toronto-based projects that came out of the open data aspect of this event in Toronto. Please check out David Eaves post for a run-down of the immense success of the overall International Open Data Hackathon across 73 cities around the world. Have a look at the Toronto Open Data hackathon wiki page for a full run-down of all the project ideas.

odhd-map

Hackathon Winner: IsThisBikeStolen

A great app idea given life originally by John Taranu on the DataTO Google Group. This app accesses the CPIC database for stolen goods to help used bike purchasers to check whether a bike they’re looking at has been reported as stolen. By reducing the demand for stolen used bikes and improving the likelihood of recovery, this is an app that’s built to create real impact in the community.

Where Not to Rent

Find landlord baddies and bedbugs with this web app, also featuring a mobile-friendly version. Informed renters are able to make better decisions and hopefully help make deadbeat landlords more accountable.

City Budget Navigator

Still a work in progress, but I helped kick off this audacious team to do three things: 1) to liberate the city’s budget data out of its PDF report prison, 2) implement a web-service API to this data to support developers who want to provide visualization and analysis applications and 3) demonstrate some example visualizations. The power of these tools will be to enable a more informed electorate to improve understanding and community dialogue around this cornerstone of city policy and life. Many thanks to our London compatriots who inspired us with their own budget API project, which provided a great starting point.

Special thanks to sponsorship and participation of the City of Toronto CIO Dave Wallace and the City’s open data team. Also, a big thank you to GlobalNews.ca for sponsorship and for helping explain the hackathon phenomenon to a wider audience.

RHoK & the Open Data Initiative

via youtube.com Thanks for shooting this @benlucier and thanks to @heatherloney of @Globaltvnews for good questions!

Thanks for shooting this @benlucier and thanks to @heatherloney of @Globaltvnews for good questions!