Shared posts

27 Aug 18:09

Waffle on Social Media

Community Services:

The reason I don’t like social media is that it takes two things that are polar opposites and duct tapes them together. Your own utility – to save links, to write text, to move files or materials, to keep notes, to communicate with yourself in the future, to communicate with some other specific people – and the social media outlet’s desire to fulfill its own objectives first.

I’ve heard blogs classified as a type of social media. Maybe that’s true, and maybe not — I don’t care.

What I do care about is that my blog isn’t part of a system where its usefulness is just a hook to get me to use it. It works the way I want to, and the company running the servers (DreamHost) doesn’t care one fig what I do.

My blog’s older than Twitter and Facebook, and it will outlive them. It has seen Flickr explode and then fade. It’s seen Google Wave and Google Reader come and go, and it’ll still be here as Google Plus fades. When Medium and Tumblr are gone, my blog will be here.

The things that will last on the internet are not owned. Plain old websites, blogs, RSS, irc, email.

27 Aug 18:02

As Others See Us: Vancouver through the eyes of West Australia

by pricetags

Kent Acott, a reporter from the West Australian, a newspaper based in Perth, was in Vancouver earlier this month to take an in-depth look at our transportation system – an issue also of keen interest in WA (West Australia).  

Here are excerpts from his coverage:


Cars come last in transport planning

About 50 years ago, two cities on opposite sides of the world faced the similar threat of a growing, car-dependent population.

Their responses could not have been more different.

Perth built roads.

Vancouver did not. …

“Saying no to the freeways in the late 1960s and early 1970s was very likely the most important decision earlier generations of Vancouver leaders ever made,” former Vancouver chief planner and urban design consultant Brent Toderian said.

“It set our city on the path of counterintuitive city-building.

“Since then we’ve built a huge amount of housing downtown, mixed-use and more compact communities and a much more walkable, public transport-friendly and increasingly bikeable city.

“It made our city more liveable, green, healthy and economically successful. Luckily, earlier generations rejected freeway thinking and our city owes them a huge debt of gratitude.” .


Car gridlock forced city to blaze transport trail

Sun Fang is considered “the godfather” of the SkyTrain, having worked on the system since its early trials in 1982.

Mr Fang, who is retiring this year, said the system was a world-first and groundbreaking.

“This system was so unique we had nothing to compare it with,” Mr Fang said. “We were at the cutting edge then and we are at the cutting edge now.

“SkyTrain has proved to be one of the cheapest and most reliable transport systems in the world.

“We still get visitors from transport authorities around the globe wanting to see SkyTrain as a fully automated, driverless and unattended transport system.”

Fred Cummings, president and general manager of SkyTrain’s governing body BCRTC, said 258 railcars operated across the 68km of the system’s three lines – including one between the city and the airport.

“There is no doubt that we are one of the best performing and efficient public transport networks in the world,” Mr Cummings said.

“There are not many other networks that can claim to recoup the full cost of maintenance and operations through fares.”


Vancouver in cycle of support

Former city councillor and bike-riding advocate Gordon Price said both initiatives (Burrard Bridge and separated bike lanes) had prompted opposition from motorists and local businesses who were concerned at the loss of parking spaces outside their shops.

But, in both cases, the concerns have proved unfounded.

“A follow-up study has shown that traffic times are virtually the same, cycle trips are way up, collisions have dropped 18 per cent and businesses have suffered very little,” Mr Price said.

Similar concerns have also been expressed by motorists and businesses in Perth.

As recently as last month, scuffles broke out at a City of Vincent council meeting amid concerns that a new bike plan would lead to fewer carparking bays in Oxford Street.

“What these businesses don’t realise is that pedestrians and bike riders are more likely to stop and spend money,” Mr Price said. “And if you can create an environment that encourages pedestrians and bike riders to spend some time in a particular area, the economic benefits are even greater.”


Pricing and choice are keys to traffic success

WA’s Economic Regulation Authority, in its landmark report into microeconomic reform, recommended that motorists be charged to enter Perth’s CBD during peak hours.

It said the State Government should investigate better use of existing infrastructure, including “demand management tools” such as congestion pricing before considering costly new infrastructure spending.

The ERA said congestion in Perth had been caused in part by “underpricing of road use”, costing the community $1.6 billion a year of increased travel times, pollution costs and extra fuel costs. TransLink strategic planning and policy director Tamim Raad said a new funding stream would allow the city to work towards an important objective of the Vancouver vision – to create compact urban areas where walking, cycling and public transport were convenient transport options.

And Mr Raad, who lived and worked in Perth during the 1990s, said fewer cars, less driving and more walking, cycling and public transport would generate many other benefits.

These would include saving about $500 a year on transport costs, reducing congestion by 10 per cent and cutting daily commute times by between 20 and 30 minutes.

“At the moment about 50 per cent of the population live within 400m of a public transport service that has a frequency of less than 15 minutes, operates for 15 hours a day and for seven days a week,” he said.

“We want to increase that figure significantly.

“But our emphasis is to get more people walking and riding their bikes.

“This is the area where we can make the greatest progress at the lowest net cost.”

27 Aug 17:03

The New Point Grey Road – 27: Build It …

by pricetags

Ohrn Images:

   . . . they really do come.  

The new Point Grey Road is a great example of advanced cycling infrastructure that forms part of a network.  It continues to attract all sorts of people on bicycles.  In fact, my personal indices of infrastructure success are in plain view there, and the number of “index events” is climbing on PGR and all over town.  

First index:   all ages and abilities riding on bikes.  Families with little kids.


Ohrn NPR - 2


Second index:  intersection events where people on bikes have to adjust their path, or give way, or wait for someone also going through the intersection.   Check out the traffic at the intersection of PGR and Stephens.   This shows bicycle traffic.  Bicycles. Waiting for the light to change.

 Ohrn NPR 3


But the nonsense continues: Spinning opinion? Vancouver installs live counters at bike paths – CTV Vancouver News


VanCity Buzz does an item on bike stats: Cycling Numbers On the Rise in Vancouver

This year, the Burrard Bridge bike lane marks its fifth year in use, seeing more than 5 million trips since its installation. This summer, the Burrard Bridge bike lane has seen record bike traffic month over month, with July hitting a record number 195,000 bike trips up from 161,000 in July 2013 – a 21 per cent increase. …

The bike network saw improvements made over the summer, with safety improvements at the south end of Burrard Bridge and a new intersection layout at Burrard and Cornwall, in addition to the extension of the bike route out to Point Grey Road. Following construction and improvements, weekday numbers jumped to 1,500 bike trips daily average in June 2014 – a 150 per cent increase compared to the averages prior to the construction of the Seaside Greenway bike route to Point Grey Road. The average weekday number of cyclist trips was 600 in August 2012.

Downtown, Hornby Street also hit a record, with 71,000 cycling trips compared to the previous record of 68,000 trips in 2011. In July 2014, the Dunsmuir Street and Viaduct bike lanes saw the second highest months on record:

  • ·         Dunsmuir Street: 65,000
  • ·         Dunsmuir Viaduct: 66,000


Here are the stats to date from the City’s website:


27 Aug 16:27

20 requirements for a great coffee shop for home office workers

by Alex

Read the original post at 20 requirements for a great coffee shop for home office workers.

Carberry's Café in Cambridge, MA (now closed)What are the ingredients for the perfect working café?

I’ve been thinking about this question because I’m heading into a period when I expect to spend a lot of time working in coffee shops.  I’ve spent a lot of my career, including my most productive periods, working in coffee shops, largely because they offer the perfect balance of solitude and simulation. I don’t work well in totally silent environments —  the inside of my brain is way noisier than any café, so the background noise of a coffee shop helps to drown that out. But unlike an office, where you know the people around you (and may therefore get interrupted by them) a coffee shop offers the benefit of background noise without the interruptions.

That said, not every coffee shop is created equal when it comes to getting your work done. My first long-term coffee shop relationship was with the now-defunct Carberry’s in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I did the lion’s share of my grad school reading and note-taking. At the time I was obsessed with Tony Buzan’s method for mind-mapping, which involved using lots of markers to turn all my reading notes into colorful trees. Since I was constantly switching colors, I left the markers uncapped on the table, so by the time I got to class my left forearm was a veritable rainbow. But at Carberry’s (unlike in my seminars) even my graffiti-ed forearm was unremarkable, because there were so many other even more colorful characters — not least of which was the man steadily filling journal after journal with tiny handwriting and meticulous drawings that (as he explained it to me) were being dictated to him by God.

In the twenty years since then, my criteria for coffee shop heaven have evolved. From the safe remove of two decades, I will confess that a major contributor to my Carberry’s loyalty was the super hot barista I used to flirt with; now I am old and married enough that flirting with young hot baristas would just feel creepy. The advent of wifi pushed connectivity to the top of the list for a long while; now, iPhone tethering and the near-ubiquity of Shaw Go Wifi (wifi service provided by our ISP, free to subscribers, and available almost everywhere in Vancouver) make that much less crucial. In my twenties, I could sit on just about any chair for hours at a stretch; in my forties, I need padded seats if I want to last more than an hour without Advil. Once upon a time, I’d park at any café with butter-filled baked goods…these days, I look for places with healthier options.

But my longtime neighborhood standby — the Take 5 on West 4th — is now closed, so I’m looking for a new office-away-from home. And as with any tech project, this has to begin with a good requirements definition. So here is my first stab at a set of requirements for a great working café in 2014:


      1. Strong, fast and reliable wifi (free in-house or via Shaw Go)
      2. Power outlets in a few different spots
      3. Location close to home (12 block radius is ideal)
      4. OK smell (we had to give up on a favorite spot because they were constantly mopping the floor with an overpowering cleaning product)
      5. Comfortable chairs with padded seats
      6. Clean
      7. Decent coffee
      8. Bar-style counter seating at a height that allows me to switch to working standing up
      9. No horrible Muzak
      10. Kindly manages disruptive customers (Take 5 unfortunately had a regular visitor who conducted loud shouting matches with an invisible interlocutor; ideally cafés find a way of respectfully addressing these kinds of disruptions — as well as those from overly loud cell phone users — without being unwelcoming)
      11. Clean bathrooms
      12. Quiet enough to make phone calls, but not so quiet that it’s obnoxious to make phone calls


    1. Nearby free/cheap parking
    2. Wheat-free lunch options (salads, soups, sandwiches on something other than wheat bread) so that I can spend enough on food to avoid being a coffee shop parasite
    3. Friendly baristas
    4. Actually good coffee
    5. Non-table seating options (sofas, easy chairs)
    6. Good music (otherwise I’ll just listen to my own)
    7. Some pleasant (but not intrusive) regulars — Rob and I actually exchanged a few business referrals with a lovely Mac tech we got to know through one of our former haunts
    8. Keyless bathrooms (seriously, is there anything grosser than a bathroom key?)

Of course, I recognize that not every coffee shop wants to attract people who might stay for hours at a time — which is why this list works not only as a set of requirements for me, but as a tip sheet for coffee shop managers who want to repel the likes of me. For these folks, omitting at least 3 of the must-haves should do the job of not only avoiding me, but others like me.

What’s missing from this list? What do you look for in a working coffee shop? And most crucially, what can you recommend as a working coffee shop in Kitsilano, Vancouver? I’d love to hear from you.

Read more about better living with social media by visiting Love your life online

27 Aug 16:18

CP suspends track work (aka ripping out gardens) while talks on with city

by Frances Bula

This just out from city hall this morning:

Track work suspended for talks between City and CP Rail


Senior officials at the City of Vancouver and CP Rail have agreed to meet to discuss the future of the Arbutus Corridor.


While the two sides meet, CP Rail has agreed to suspend all track maintenance work along the Arbutus Corridor for the next two to three weeks

27 Aug 14:10

If iPad Was A Company, It Would Be Bigger Than Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Groupon and Tesla, combined

Mossberg counters the conventional wisdom about tablet explosive growth petering out with two charts:

Walt Mossberg, In Defense of Tablets

When I first reviewed the iPad, I wrote that, to succeed, “It will have to prove that it really can replace the laptop or netbook for enough common tasks, enough of the time, to make it a viable alternative.”

For me, and for many, many others, the tablet passes this bar. And the results in the marketplace have been impressive, especially considering that the iPad was introduced only four years ago. Since then, Apple has sold 225 million of them, despite its famous premium pricing. And total tablet sales are, by some estimates, approaching half a billion units.

According to respected venture capitalist and analyst Mary Meeker, in her annual Internet trends report presented at our Code Conference in May, tablet sales have exploded in a way that PC sales — including sales of cheap netbooks — never did.

Tablet Sales Have Grown Faster Than PCs Ever Did

Mary Meeker, Kleiner Perkins — Tablet Sales Have Grown Faster Than PCs Ever Did

What’s more, Meeker said, tablets have lots of growth ahead of them.

To get a sense of how big the iPad alone has become in just four years, check out this chartby It shows that, in Apple’s last fiscal quarter — a quarter in which iPad sales declined — the tablet (not all of Apple) still brought in nearly $6 billion in revenue, an amount exceeding the quarterly revenues of Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Groupon and Tesla combined.

iPad Sales Remain Large
So the next time someone tells you that tablets are done, remind them of the relative size of the iPad market.
27 Aug 12:39

Life with the Narrative Clip. An interview with Mike Merrill

by Sarah

How long have you been using your Narrative Clip?
I started using my Clip on May 3rd.

How often do you use your Clip and in what settings?
I wear it everyday (unless I forgot to charge it)!

Please explain your decision behind getting a Narrative Clip?
As a publicly traded person ( I allow my shareholders to help me make the right choices in life. The proposal received 78% approval! That’s pretty overwhelming.

Describe what is it about the Narrative Clip that you like best?
I like when I forget I’m wearing it and it captures some element of my day that really speaks to what I was doing. Because I post a subset of the images to the web, I’m looking for images that give context to how I spent my day, who I was with, and where I went. The Clip often gives me the perfect selection.

How do you wear/use the camera?
I usually clip it to the center of my shirt or to my collar.





What’s the most surprising and/or interesting photo you’ve gotten so far?
The most surprising and interesting are obviously ones I can’t share. ;)

Do you have any stories around how people react to the Clip?
A lot of people ask what it is and I’ve explained it a few ways. I wear a few activity trackers and I really think of it as a similar product. I use it to see how I performed on any given day.

What is best moment you’ve captured with the Narrative Clip and why?
At my 40th themed birthday party I didn’t bother taking pictures. I just wore the clip and it did a really great job. It took photos that I have no memory of.

14230296771_8789e363b5_o 14233336374_1b0e930a92_o 14233587275_e2b4f2ee9e_o 14231309492_53ee97f73c_o 14046940338_72522fb7ea_o 14253760873_cc55c01e77_o

Check out Mike’s flickr account for all the day’s action caught by the Clip.

What’s a specific use case for your Narrative Clip that you’re looking forward to trying out?
I’ve tried it on my dog and I like to stick it on the dash when driving. Placing the camera where it stays in the same place and catches a lot of action is really fun because it’s so small and unobtrusive.

What’s a feature(s) you’d really like to see added to the Narrative service in the future?
I keep losing it! :( Please help me with that!

Anything else you’d like to add or other Clip photos you’d like to share?
Feel free to check out all my pics.

27 Aug 00:33

Twitter Favorites: [knguyen] A Momentary Hyperlapse of Reason

Kevin Nguyen @knguyen
A Momentary Hyperlapse of Reason
26 Aug 20:53

Twitter Favorites: [jordynmarcellus] A start-up that tracks down misogynerds and slaps them across the face with a rotting fish carcass.

Jordyn Marcellus @jordynmarcellus
A start-up that tracks down misogynerds and slaps them across the face with a rotting fish carcass.
26 Aug 20:45

Twitter Favorites: [nacin] Every time I’m asked about Uber, I say it’s a great service but an evil, contemptible company. Every day, I am further validated.

Andrew Nacin @nacin
Every time I’m asked about Uber, I say it’s a great service but an evil, contemptible company. Every day, I am further validated.
26 Aug 06:35

Twitter Favorites: [helesialuke] My blog: an essay on decade of school reform in BC. For some, it will be an unpleasant walk down memory lane. #bced

Helesia Luke @helesialuke
My blog: an essay on decade of school reform in BC. For some, it will be an unpleasant walk down memory lane. #bced
25 Aug 17:49

Twitter Favorites: [nicoleslaw] @krystynheide I guess I despise the lie that these startups are changing the world by including others in their so-called experiments.

Nicole Fenton @nicoleslaw
@krystynheide I guess I despise the lie that these startups are changing the world by including others in their so-called experiments.
27 Aug 03:43

9 Reasons Urban Cycling Makes You an Overall Hardcore Person

by tammy

9 Reasons Urban Cycling Makes You an Overall Hardcore Person

By Claire McFarlane, Illustration by Ian Sullivan Cant

When I first moved to Toronto, my dear sister (an already city-savvy cyclist) gave me her old bike, a helmet and a lock and a few words of wisdom about cycling in Toronto. Advice such as, “Always cross streetcar tracks at a 90 degree angle to avoid getting stuck in them,” have come in extremely handy since. Now, almost a year later, I am more in love than ever with cycling and rely on my bike as my primary form of transportation. Over the past year I’ve realized that cycling has allowed me to evolve into perhaps an overall better, tougher and more hardcore person, and I figure it likely helps others accomplish the same. (Please be advised that the following reasons cycling helps you become an overall hardcore person are solely the representation of my personal opinions and may not reflect the views of all or other cyclists.)

  1.  You are the epitome of efficiency. You have the power to combine your workout and your commute while enjoying an amazing urban adventure.
  2.  You develop a kind of courage that you might not normally have, the kind that allows you to yell at asshole drives that park in the bike lane and who don’t leave you enough space on the road. *
  3.  You, on occasion, may wipe out, but you pick yourself up and keep riding; a little road rash isn’t enough to kill your cycling spirit.
  4.  You develop a bit of an ego after the first few times you pass the same fancy car stuck in traffic on your commute.
  5. You are completely independent; you never need to rely on a second party to get where you need to go.
  6.  You have successfully debunked the old tale that being out in the rain causes illness because you have biked through countless downpours and never missed a beat.
  7. You are always on time for everything because almost no amount of traffic or TTC outages can slow you down.
  8. Your pants start to get worn out in the crotch but you can use the 5 minutes (or more) you saved not sitting in traffic to change out of your ‘bike pants’ and into your ‘work pants’.
  9. Your coworkers may make fun of your helmet but you brush it off because you know just how hardcore you really are (and that your hair looks great).

I strongly believe that cycling helped me to not only survive my first year living in the city but helped me to thrive and to thoroughly enjoy the past 12 months.

*Not all motorists who park in the bike lane or who are not willing to share the road are necessarily assholes, they may have a good reason for doing so (but they really shouldn’t be).

Claire McFarlane has been the dandy managing editor for the last six months and is returning to Ryerson’s journalism school in the fall.

Coming Soon: Ryerson journalism student  – and brand new city cyclist – Jenna Campbell will join the dandy team and share with readers her perspective on cycling for the first time in Toronto.

Related on the dandyBLOG:

7 Ways to Save your Lover

End of the Road for Ride For A Dream

City Cyclist: Toronto construction and bad bike lanes

dandyARCHIVE: Heels on Wheels with Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon

A new Torontonian’s first bike (coming soon)

A new Torontonian’s first bike ride (coming soon)

27 Aug 06:30

Why Community Professionals Feel Like Victims

by Richard Millington

There is an overhyped fear that members might get upset. 

I'm really not too worried if members get upset. I'd rather they didn't get upset, but it's not a big deal if they do. 

People get upset all the time. Some people have personalities where they're prone to being easily upset. 

It's whether being upset has consequences. The answer is usually no. 

I care about whether members visit less, participate less, or buy less. If being upset correlates with one of those, then it's time to take actions. 

In a large enough community, a minority will be upset about anything you do. Some just won't like you because you're the authority figure. 

The danger is spending too much time trying to make these people happy. They will never be happy. Spending your time placating the negative members will leave you emotionally drained. You feel like the victim.

Spend your time helping happy members do something great. You will feel much better.

On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?

27 Aug 05:01

Amazon – A very good turn

by windsorr

RFM AvatarSmall






Amazon has done Sony and Microsoft a big favour by acquiring Twitch.

  • Amazon has reached an agreement to purchase Twitch for $972m in cash.
  • Twitch is a YouTube-like website that allows users to upload their video game experiences and share them with other like-minded users.
  • The site has 55m users with 7m logging on every day.
  • Engagement is extremely strong with each of the 7m users spending an average of 2 hours per day on the website.
  • Twitch will become part of the Amazon group of companies but will continue to operate independently.
  • Apart from Twitch’s owners, by far the biggest winners from this transaction are Sony and Microsoft.
  • Gaming is the single biggest piece of the Digital Life pie.
  • Users spend more time playing games on their smartphones and tablets than they do anything else.
  • The Google ecosystem is the largest and strongest ecosystem in the market and it has a glaring hole in its offering: Gaming.
  • By acquiring Twitch, Google would have been a position to use Twitch’s relationship with 55m gamers to jump in and give Microsoft and Sony a really hard time.
  • This is why when it appeared that Google was going to buy Twitch, I was of the opinion that Microsoft and Sony needed to do something to head Google off at the pass (see here).
  • Amazon has very kindly done both companies a big favour and kept Twitch out of Google’s clutches.
  • I suspect that the reason why Google failed to acquire Twitch is the same reason why Amazon will get very little benefit from this acquisition.
  • I think that Google failed to acquire Twitch because Twitch insisted on remaining independent while Google knows full well that to get any value out of it, it needs to be integrated into its Digital Life offering.
  • Start-up companies like this are such hot property right now that they can insist on, and get whatever terms they like when it comes to acquisition.
  • Facebook has exactly the same problem with WhatsApp (see here) and I think that it will be unable to do anything with it while the current situation persists.
  • Consequently, I think that Amazon is going to really struggle to create a coherent gaming offering around Twitch until it can convince the founders to properly integrate into Amazon.
  • This gives Sony and Microsoft breathing space when it comes to the threat that Google presents to their ecosystems.
  • This is particularly so for Sony, whose ecosystem ambitions are almost entirely dependent on growing its influence beyond gaming and media consumption.
  • PlayStation, PC and Xbox produce almost all of Twitch’s content and these platforms are controlled by the two companies.
  • Consequently, I do not think it would be very difficult for Twitch’s offering to be recreated or even improved if the two could come to some arrangement.
  • In the immediate term this is very unlikely and both companies can be very thankful that Twitch has gone to a far less dangerous competitor in the digital ecosystem world.
27 Aug 01:24

Thomas Lukaszuk’s $20,000 roaming bill paid by taxpayers, says ‘this was an expensive lesson’

by Ian Hardy

Over the years we’ve seen everyday Canadians rack up massive wireless roaming charges. However, it’s not just ordinary people making increasing carrier revenue, but high-profile politicians.

Alberta PC leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk is coming clean before the big election, admitting he amassed huge charges during a 2012 vacation as part of the “Compassion to Action” program. Lukaszuk, who was Deputy Premier at the time, said, “there really isn’t private time” and he had to attend to urgent legal file “that required my attention…[and] needed to be dealt with.”

Upon finding out the monetary damage, which was over $20,000, his staff contacted TELUS to reduce the charges, but was unsuccessful and “the bill was begrudgingly paid.” In retaliation, Lukaszuk has since changed carriers.

“Absolutely I made a mistake, and for that I apologize. I did not check the data plan myself, and I did not confirm that my office had done so. The result was that accomplishing a task cost the government more than it should have. This was an expensive lesson,” said Lukaszuk.

Yes, the taxpayers paid his wireless charges.

Source Lukaszuk, Star
26 Aug 20:22

What a good iDEA!

Earlier this year, The Duke of York and Nominet Trust announced the launch of a new initiative to encourage young people to start their own business ventures.

This week, KPMG, one of the leading providers of professional accounting services in the UK, announced they will be backing the initiative, which is aiming to help more than one million UK youth develop digital skills and business ideas over the next five years:

KPMG plus Barclays, MicrosoftTelefónica (O2), Mozilla,, Silicon Valley Bank and University of Huddersfield have given their support to iDEA – the inspiring Digital Enterprise Award, which has been devised by The Duke of York and Nominet Trust – the UK’s only dedicated tech for good funder.

iDEA has been created to help 14-25-year-olds develop their digital, enterprise and entrepreneurial skills, boost the confidence of young people and increase their employability status.

Young people taking part in the iDEA award scheme will have their skills and achievements recognised through open badges - a new global standard to recognise skills and achievements across the web. In addition to the three core iDEA badges, many of the new partners will sponsor their own open badge and offer participants in the programme the chance to carry out online tasks in order to earn one.

A full launch of the initiative will happen in October 2014.

For more information, visit

26 Aug 20:46

While the Burning Man people are away

Why can't we live a generous sharing life 52 weeks a year, all around the globe, without burning prodigious amounts of fossil fuels to get to a remote place in the middle of the Nevada desert, one of the most empty places on the planet.

It's relatively easy to live in a cooperative way if you remove all the noise and distractions of our lives. Things need to work a lot better if we're going to survive. And we lose so much time and evolution because we have our individual priorities so wrong.

Maybe it's time to live a different kind of life the whole year round.

26 Aug 20:26

The lament for Canada’s middle class

by Michal Rozworski

I’ve been posting more sparsely lately for a number of external reasons but this should change soon I hope. For now, here is the first major piece I wrote for Ricochet. In some ways, it’s the obligatory piece on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, but really it’s my way of trying to think through the hand-wringing about Canada’s middle class. Below are the first couple of sections, read the rest here.

The US is in the throes of a debate about inequality: It’s the Waltons versus the Walmart workers on food stamps, the runaway rich in the 1 per cent versus everyone else. Meanwhile, Canada’s inequality discussion has been largely confined to the woes of the middle class. Even the New York Times added grist to the mill by proclaiming Canada’s middle class better off than its US equivalent.

Similarly, while the US has made a veritable rock star out of French economist Thomas Piketty, whose 600-page economics tome Capital in the Twenty-First Century has topped best-seller lists, Canadian reception has been much more muted. This is a bit surprising because Piketty, in drawing out the link between capitalism and inequality, tells the story of a new Gilded Age replacing the post-war Golden Age that saw the middle class establish itself. One reason Piketty’s book may have left less of a mark on Canadian debate is that more of a middle class has endured in Canada. But will today’s middle class survive?

What exactly is the middle class?

Hold the champagne corks and the gloating over that New York Times report — perhaps Piketty has something to say to Canada after all. Here is a passage expressing a thought rarely mentioned in discussions of his work:

Make no mistake: the growth of a true “patrimonial (or propertied) middle class” was the principal structural transformation of the distribution of wealth in the developed countries in the twentieth century.

By the mid- to late-20th century, alongside a “social wage” provided by the welfare state (insurance schemes, health care, higher education and more), a significant number of workers had gained access to some wealth, primarily in the form of houses and some private savings, including pensions. They acquired property that could be used and passed down to heirs, thereby becoming “patrimonial.”

By defining the middle class in terms of wealth (rather than income), Piketty focuses attention on long-term social position rather than more transitory changes. Today the middle class comprises the 40 per cent of the population between the poorest 50 per cent, who have never had access to wealth, and the richest 10 per cent, who are increasingly dripping in it.

In essence, this analysis in terms of wealth is what more radical economists refer to when they speak of the development of different strata in the working class. (If the language of the “working class” seems dated and quaint today, it is because we are accustomed to an industrial caricature that no longer applies to most workers in the North.) The middle class is not so much the rich neighbour who moves in next door as it is the sibling who strikes it moderately rich. Like the wealthless bottom 50 per cent, the middle class continues to earn its livelihood largely from work, not from investments in land, stocks or other assets.

Nevertheless, this partial access to wealth has kept radicalism at bay; once implicated into wealth ownership, the middle class was more easily rallied behind political and institutional changes that favour the wealthy, such as low inflation, public debt management and sustained growth in the prices of stocks and other assets (at times via bubbles)…

Parts of the middle class rose even higher, helping form a new professional, managerial and “supermanagerial” elite, which Piketty describes as increasingly moving into the top 1 per cent.

At the other end, these changes took place in a context of discrimination based on factors such as race, immigration status, gender and First Nations status. The creation of a middle class helped entrench discrimination, while further curtailing radicalization by pulling some members of marginalized groups into its ranks…

[The rest is at Ricochet here]

26 Aug 16:28

Amazon: Not an E-commerce Company

by Ben Thompson

Let’s start with the premise that Twitch, the video-game watching network, is the next ESPN – you know, the jewel in Disney’s crown that, by itself, is worth $50.8 billion. Like ESPN, Twitch is about live competition, and, like ESPN, Twitch does exceptionally well in the highly desirable young male demographic.1 Obviously this is the best possible outcome, far-fetched though it may sound. It is certainly an outcome that would make Amazon’s purchase of Twitch for $970 million an amazing deal. It would not, however, have anything to do with e-commerce.

Just a few weeks ago I wrote in Losing my Amazon Religion about Amazon’s focus on Prime Video in particular:

It’s this focus on original and exclusive content – and devices that deliver it – that concerns me, and not because it’s expensive. Rather, what exactly does this have to do with e-commerce?

Needless to say, the Twitch acquisition hasn’t exactly quelled my concerns. It has, though, led me to question my premise; if Amazon is behaving, shall we say, erratically, the issue is perhaps not with Amazon but with my understanding of the company. So I went back and reread the origin story of Amazon in Brad Stone’s excellent The Everything Store:

[John] Doerr’s optimism about the Web mixed with Bezos’s own bullish fervor and sparked an explosion of ambitions and expansion plans. Bezos was going to do more than establish an online bookstore; now he was set on building one of the first lasting Internet companies.

Over the following pages Stone documents how Amazon expanded from books to music and then to DVDs. These categories, along with packaged software (including games) eventually made up the “Media” category in Amazon’s earnings. Today this media category is about 25% of Amazon’s revenue, but, according to my understanding, almost all of Amazon’s “profits.” Said profits are reinvested into all the other parts of Amazon’s business, but, it must be asked, to what ends? Is Amazon really an e-commerce company? Or are they a company bent on dominating the world?

Returning to Twitch, I can think of three possible reasons for Amazon’s purchase:

  • Amazon is looking to buttress their media business – That Media business that underpins the Amazon machine is not in the best of shape; traditional media forms are going away, and, except for books, Amazon does not have a ready-made replacement from a revenue standpoint. In this view, Twitch offers a new revenue model (ads, primarily, although there are also premium subscriptions) that can help fill this gap.

  • Amazon wants to challenge Valve and/or Sony and Microsoft – I think this is a very underreported aspect of this deal. Steam in particular has taken a significant bite out of Amazon’s packaged software business, and I know that Amazon has at least internally considered building a direct challenger. Amazon has also included gaming capability into the Fire TV, including an optional controller, and has bought their own gaming studio, basically following the script I laid out in How Apple TV Might Disrupt Microsoft and Sony. However, as I insinuated in Gaming and Good Enough, hard core gamers are very unlikely to so easily abandon the established players. In this view Twitch is a backdoor way to “get in” with hardcore gamers; imagine a Fire TV built around Twitch and Amazon’s own games.

  • Amazon wants to rule the world – I put it this way only partly in jest, because I’m starting to suspect this is a bigger factor than anyone – including Amazon’s everpatient investors – fully appreciates. Remember, Bezos sold books not because he was obsessed with being a bookseller, but because he identified a dominant strategy; as Stone’s book suggests, perhaps Bezos’s goal was simply to build a dominant company, and e-commerce has only ever been a means to an end.

The second reason, that this deal was about gaming, is interesting from a tactical perspective, but the far more intriguing question is the weight one gives to reasons one and three. If you buy reason three – that Bezos wants to rule the world – then there is even more urgency attached to reason one. To be clear: Amazon’s continued expansion is built on the profits from its media category, but it is that category that is the most under threat from the digitalization of said media. In other words, what if Twitch is both offense and defense?

Regardless, the takeaway for me – and what should be the takeaway for all of Amazon’s investors – is that Amazon is not an e-commerce company. No more pointing at the fact that e-commerce is only 6% of U.S. retail, or that Amazon’s multi-sided network of merchants and customer base are the key factors in determining their future success. No, the company is going for something a whole lot bigger, even as their foundation is being slowly watered down by the same Internet that made Bezos feverish nearly 20 years ago.

  1. Twitch’s video game playing “athletes”, though, peak far earlier than professional athletes according to this fascinating article in The Verge

The post Amazon: Not an E-commerce Company appeared first on stratechery by Ben Thompson.

26 Aug 18:54

How to Decide on Attending a Conference

by Andre Blackman

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It never fails. After the 4th of July, summertime seems to fly by in a hazy blur of last minute grilling, family vacations and sneaking out of the office early on Fridays. Here we are in the final weeks of August where school buses are hopping back onto the roads and school supplies are scattered across various stores. So you know what that means, Fall is coming and…

Conference season will be here soon. Yay!

You know what I’m talking about. The rush of coordinating flights and hotels, connecting with colleagues and trying to figure out the best one to go for your/your company’s budget. Often times this is met with cramming in work travel before cramming in family holiday travel.

Double Yay!

So let’s dig in. The health care innovation landscape has plenty to choose from so let’s try to reduce that state of frazzlement (yep, just made that up).

How Much Will It Cost?

Let’s go ahead and get this one out the way. Often times when it comes to meetings and conferences, the question of whether you can afford to attend comes up – fast. Whether you have direct access to shape a conference/travel budget or not, this is usually a make or break situation. Here are a few questions to ask yourself that might help clarify and prioritize:

Are there Volunteer Opportunities?

Back when I was still getting started in my career, I made it a point to get involved in conferences through volunteering. Sure, they may have had a student discount but hey, free is even better. More important though, was being given the opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at how the event was put together. Also, being able to interact with speakers at the registration table and preparing them for stage time was invaluable to growing my network. Lastly, don’t think the volunteer status is just for “those young kids and interns” – whether you’re growing your influence or are already well established, having the service-minded role of a volunteer can go a long way in the eyes of your peers. Oh yeah and ask about these opportunities early – they often fill up fast.

Are there Media/Press Passes Available?

This is where having a platform and thought leadership influence can have a big impact. Often times, conferences want to make sure that people are talking about the content they’ve worked so hard to curate. This is where you come in. What platforms do you have a number of readers or a decent sized audience with? Is your Twitter account active? Do you write regularly on your blog and cover the topics that the conference has in common? This is why I talk about building a platform for yourself so much – there are a number of reasons it pays off and this is just one of them. However one of the things you want to get clarity on up front is what constitutes press for the event. Sometimes there is a difference between actual press (journalist) vs a media influencer (blogger, thought leader). Just like the volunteer, ask early.

Apart from the conference itself, what will travel cost?

Ah, travel and lodging. That sneaky little line item that sometimes can turn a smile upside down. Whether you get the actual ticket taken care of or not doesn’t really matter if you can’t get to the darn place. And the longer the conference is, the higher the bill for a hotel. Usually if you’re working at a company you might be privy to a discount at a particular chain. If you’re working as a solopreneur/consultant you may want to check out AirBnB. Lastly, if you’re staying far away from the event location, you’re going to have to consider how you’re getting back and forth. This is a big part of planning if you’re attending the SXSW Interactive event in Austin each year, for example. Having something like Uber in your pocket might be a good idea. If you have family or friends in the area, I would consider this a last resort – especially if it’s a really important event. You’ll want to stay focused. I have more to say about that as well – maybe I should write a separate post on it.


What Will You Be Doing There?

There are many reasons why you should make sure and get out onto the conference circuit. From learning, networking, being seen (yes, I said it) and of course getting up on stage to speak/present – all are good and often times necessary to become a better professional/innovator/thought leader.

Are You Speaking?

If so, congratulations! Public speaking is hands down one of the best ways for you to build your credibility and brand in the field. The visibility alone that comes from speaking at an event is worthwhile (even better when you get paid for it!). So this is obviously a no brainer. You signed on the dotted line to present something awesome and mind-blowing to the audience – let’s get it done.

Do You Want to Speak at this event?

So if this is a conference that you’d like to be able to get on stage and present material to the audience, it might be a smart idea to get immersed and get the view from the other side of the stage. Not only will you be able to see the lay of the land as far as mingling with attendees and experiencing what sessions/keynotes are like, you will have a chance to have direct contact with the conference organizers. Have a question to ask that will most likely get buried in their inbox? Now’s your chance.

Networking opportunities?

Attending a conference that you’ve carefully scoped out for relevance can be a great way for you to rub elbows with colleagues and influencers who you may only connect with online. Have an idea you want to run by someone? Want to spread the word on your new consultancy? Looking to get your foot in the door of a new job? Nothing beats those face to face interactions of a live event.

How Will It Align With Your Body of Work + Expertise?

This is more of a thoughtful question as it goes with the 30,000 ft view that I try to encourage clients to think about. At the end of the day, this is a large investment of your time, energy and (usually) money.

A few years ago I was taking a walk outside at a conference with one of my good friends Susannah Fox (formerly of the Pew Internet Project) and we were discussing the future of our respective work. I remember her telling me about how she was getting really intentional about the amount of conferences she was going to be attending and it really made an impact on me. Often times we get caught up in the hamster wheel of doing things just because or it has been a tradition. In this new world of work and ongoing busyness, it’s going to become increasingly important that you take a step back and think about where you invest your time. Especially as you continue to build your own brand and platform for great work.

As you think about how this event will build your brand, consider what the tangibles will be:

  • will you be writing about the event and takeaways on your blog? (highly recommended)
  • will you be tweeting about it during the day? (great way to build your Twitter following)
  • how many people will be connecting with afterwards that you can add to your Linkedin connections?
  • are you going to be interviewing speakers for your podcast or blog?

Hope this helps a bit with framing your thinking and provide relief as you make final plans for the crazy season. And before you know it, it’ll be time to battle masses of people around the country for space on the road for Thanksgiving (that didn’t help did it?).

26 Aug 17:34

“Wacky Mobile Cases Have Become a Serious Business”

by Federico Viticci

Adam Welch, writing at The Financial Times (via Ben Evans):

The wacky phone case made its catwalk debut at Jeremy Scott’s inaugural show for Moschino autumn/winter 2014. In keeping with the rest of the collection – kitsch, colourful, cute – it was shaped to resemble a packet of French fries.

I was in Porto Cervo last month, and I saw a Moschino boutique with the French fries case mentioned in the article. Initially, I thought it was silly, but then I looked around and all my friends and people who were checking out the store were pointing out how cool that case was because it was funny and unique.

While I'm not a case person, I've noticed an increase in popularity of these “wacky” phone cases – for iPhones and Android phones – over the past year. The numbers seem to prove that, just like old Nokia phones, the smartphone cover/case as a lifestyle accessory is back.

∞ Read this on MacStories

26 Aug 00:00

Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds


Alison Flood, The Guardian, Aug 29, 2014

So the premise here is that context has an impact on memory, and that eBooks read on the Kindle lack the appropriate context for remembering. "In this study, we found that paper readers did report higher on measures having to do with empathy and transportation and immersion, and narrative coherence, than iPad readers," said Mangen. But, you know, it's one study, with one set of readers. I've been reading online for the last 30 years. I expect my sense of context may well be different.

[Link] [Comment]
26 Aug 16:45

Instagram announces new timelapse app ‘Hyperlapse’ for iOS

by Jane McEntegart

Instagram has released a brand new standalone application for iOS users. The app allows users to capture time lapse videos that are instantly stabilized, so you shoot video from a moving vehicle, while running, or even falling.

Though there are a ton of time lapse smartphone applications out there, Hyperlapse removes the need to set your phone up on a tripod or hold it still while you shoot. You can also speed up videos, and (of course) you can share your creations through Instagram and Facebook when you’re finished.

The app is free to download from the App Store, and the Instagram team promises that Hyperlapse was created to be as simple as possible to use. In that vein, it doesn’t require an account: you just open the app and start shooting. Check out the video below for a glimpse of Toronto in the Hyperlapse demo video.

This is the first major release we’ve seen from the Instagram crew since it was acquired by Facebook in 2012. Unfortunately, though Instagram would apparently like to create an Android version, it doesn’t look like we’ll see one anytime soon. Wired reports that the camera and gyroscope APIs on Android devices need to change before that can happen.

26 Aug 14:51

I Take Photographs To Make Discoveries For Myself

by A Photo Editor

I am interested in ideas. I am not interested in doing the same thing over and over again. The reason I take photographs is to make discoveries for myself. Always trying to piece together the puzzle, that’s where I get my rush. Once I find the answer I am looking for that’s usually it for a project, the excitement and energy is gone. I move onto something else, or away from that subject matter until I can view it with fresh eyes again.

via An interview with Trent Parke – Try Hard Magazine.

26 Aug 14:32

Twitter's New Favorite: I Want Groupings, Instead

Farhad Manjoo probes Twitter’s new model for favorites, and never quite gets to the heart of the matter. But he tees it up well:

Farhad Manjoo, Save the Fav, Twitter’s Digital Body Language

There’s a kerfuffle at the moment on Twitter about what should happen when you fav something.

Until recently, when you pressed the “favorite” button on a tweet — that is, the little star below a Twitter posting — almost nothing happened. Other users, including the one who originally posted, might see that you’d starred the tweet, but Twitter’s “favorite” was different from the “like” button on Facebook. It wasn’t taken to mean that you actually liked or were interested in the substance of that tweet.

This made the fav one of the few forms of online speech that were mostly disconnected from consequence. When it wasn’t being used as a bookmark to help you remember links for later, pressing “favorite” on a tweet was the digital equivalent of a nod, a gesture that is hard to decipher. The fav derived its power from this deliberate ambiguity.

But now Twitter is slightly altering what happens when you press “favorite.” In what may or may not be a short-term experiment, the service is beginning to use faves as signals in deciding how to arrange users’ timelines. Under its new policy, if Twitter notices that a lot of your friends have faved a tweet, it may show you that tweet, even if you don’t follow the person who posted it.

The reason this feels odd is that it breaks the convention we’re used to, and replaces it with something that doesn’t follow network connections. If Twitter changed the rule so that all my followers would see my favorites it would follow the retweet model. But in that case, why have both retweet and favorite?

The new model is a popularity-oriented approach, but what about something more semantic? What if twitter allowed us to tag ourselves in our profiles, and then would direct tweets to us that matched our preferences? This is the concept of groupings, or Chris Messina’s Channels concept, inverted (see Hash Tags = Twitter Groupings). A grouping is a collection of people related through the use of a tag. You don’t get invited to a grouping, like a group: you invite yourself by tagging.

So when someone in my social scene (like friend of a friend) tags a tweet with #postnormal or #hashtags I would see that in my feed, because I am a member of the #postnormal and #hashtags groupings.

Of course, Twitter could simply develop the new favorite algorithm in a way that does the same as self-tagging and groupings would. I’d be happy with that.

26 Aug 14:11 Provides Platform for Pets Boarding and Adoption Services

by Zen Soo


Going on a holiday but not sure if your neighbor would be willing to look after your pet yet again? Owners of dogs and cats need not worry about being stuck in this dilemma any longer with, a Chinese startup that was launched in April 2013, which aims to solve this problem by providing pet owners with a list of pet stores or animal hospitals that offer boarding services.

Available as an app and website, users living in Beijing and Tianjin can simply enter the district they’re living in to pull up a list of available stores or hospitals near them. Each listing displays a collection of photographs of the venue, as well as the price range for boarding on a daily basis.

The pet owners can then indicate the type and size of their pet, which determines the cost per boarding day. Following which, an online reservation and payment is made before the owner drops the pet off at the designated venue. Owners are also required to provide their pets’ immunization records and certification (dogs only) to the venue.


A listing of one of the available pet shops that provide boarding services.

Apart from being a platform for boarding services, Bagong also allows users to list animals available for adoption, and interested parties are able to contact the owners via private message, WeChat or mobile phone and adopt a pet free of charge.


Potential pet owners can adopt a pet free of charge on Bagong.

Those whose pets are missing or lost can also put up a notice with relevant information, and others can help to spread the message by sharing the notice on social platforms such as Qzone, Weibo or WeChat.

Other sections on the site include Pet Show, where pet owners can share images or GIFs of their animal companions, and Discover, where owners can find a wealth of information about raising their pets and feature stories.

Bagong has come up with an identification tag for pets to wear around their necks, making it easier for owners to recover their dogs or cats if they run off. The back of the tag holds a QR code which displays the pet’s information, such as its owner’s name and contact number. In the event that your dog wanders away from you, strangers who come across your pet would be able to easily retrieve your information and return the pet safely. Currently, Bagong is offering a free tag for each mobile number registered, and preorders can be placed here.

The Bagong team is also looking into bringing in smart hardware for pets next year, as well as an independent app called Bagong Pets that serves as a platform for more services such as pet grooming, bathing, training, and medical services.

26 Aug 12:44

35,000 Fire Phones...

35,000 Fire Phones...:

Charles Arthur on the likely initial usage of Amazon’s Fire:

Therefore even allowing for margins of error, it seems unlikely - based on Chitika’s data and the ComScore data - that there were more than about 35,000 Fire Phones in use after those 20 days.

If that’s even remotely the case, the Fire Phone is a disaster right now for Amazon. This is a product they’re promoting on their homepage. You should be able to sell at least hundreds of thousands of anything on that page.

I’ll go ahead and renew my call for a VP of Devil’s Advocacy.

[via @counternotions]

26 Aug 11:25

26 Aug 11:03

How Norway has avoided the 'curse of oil'

How Norway has avoided the 'curse of oil':

Sarah Treanor:

For while other countries have struck oil and then binged on the revenues, by contrast Norway is continuing to invest its oil and gas money in a giant sovereign wealth fund.

The fund, worth about $800bn (£483bn), owns 1% of the entire world’s stocks, and is big enough to make every citizen a millionaire in the country’s currency, the kroner. In effect, it is a giant savings account.

1% of all the stocks in the world. Crazy (smart).

We’ll see how this plays out in the long run, but it strikes me as smart for any “boom” town to diversify as much as possible when they can — before they can’t, and they’re screwed.