The Future of Authority: Hacking Reality

I was invited to give a TEDx talk at Western University and I decided to present some of the knowledge that has emerged via the Hacking Reality program at the Academy of the Impossible. Explicitly I focused on how the internet impacts our relationship with authority, and as a result our relationship with reality. The opportunity therefore is to hack reality, and demand the impossible.

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Discussing Bitcoins with Anna Maria Tremonti

The Current on CBC Radio asked me to come in and offer an introductory description and conversation regarding bitcoins, the peer-to-peer digital currency that continues to fluctuate wildly:

Call it a currency without a country. Bitcoins ... digital tokens that are traded over the Internet ... can't be stuffed in your wallet, or crammed in your pocket. But that hasn't stopped the virtual coinage from sending ripples through the financial world. Early this year you could buy a bitcoin online for $15. But its value has surged --- spiking upwards of $250 this week.

With more and more people looking to shelter themselves from a jittery global economy an increasing number of these virtual bucks are finding real-world homes. Just ask Alex Likhtenstein. He co-owns EVR Bar in Manhattan, and allows people to pay their tabs in bitcoin.

Toronto Star profiles the Academy of the Impossible

Toronto Internet strategist Jesse Hirsh and author Emily Pohl-Weary are hacking real life with their game-changing Academy of the Impossible.

Antonia Zerbisias wrote a glowing profile in the Toronto Star of the work Emily and I do at the Academy of the Impossible. It's refreshing when people understand what we're trying to do, and why. We believe that life long learning is the path to success, and that said learning should be fun and self-directed.

It ends with a quote from me that sums it all up nicely:

Trust in the Age of Transparency

Trust is the chicken soup of social life. It brings us all sorts of good things—from a willingness to get involved in our communities to higher rates of economic growth ( …), to making daily life more pleasant. Yet, like chicken soup, it appears to work somewhat mysteriously. (Uslaner)

I asked Sherida Ryan to host a discussion at the Academy of the Impossible about trust in the age of transparency. Here's the description and video:

Why So Serious? A Panel Discussion on Serious Games


I moderated a panel organized by IGDA Toronto and held at OCAD University on the political potential of video games. Here's the write-up and video:

Contrary to popular opinion - in the wake of recent violence in the US - not all games are about mindless, gun-based mayhem. Many games are being developed today that tackle broader, more meaningful issues: everything from environmental activism to food accessibility.

Join IGDA Toronto and a panel of industry experts for an evening dedicated to serious games: namely, games designed for a purpose other than just entertainment.

Moderator: Jesse Hirsh, CBC technology columnist.

New Common Law Tort for Invasion of Privacy

In 2012 the Ontario Court of Appeal recognized a new common law tort for invasion of privacy called "intrusion upon seclusion". This rather witty rhyme acknowledges the damage that comes when our seclusion is intruded upon, i.e. our privacy is violated by another individual. This follows upon similar developments in the United States and firmly establishes precedent for Ontario common law with regard to privacy.

This new tort reflects similar language used in the US:

One who intentionally intrudes, physically or otherwise, upon the seclusion of another or his private affairs or concerns, is subject to liability to the other for invasion of his privacy, if the invasion would be highly offensive to a reasonable person.

The Agenda with Steve Paikin: BlackBerry's Odd Future

I returned to The Agenda with Steve Paikin to discuss the pivot that BlackBerry hopes to make with the release of their new BB10 operating system. We touched upon the new operating system, the Z10 device, and the challenges BlackBerry faces moving forward.

I enjoy going on The Agenda and talking with Steve as there are no commercials and the long conversational format allows for a smarter and deeper discussion. For example we were able to get into the mythology that technology companies tend to foster and the impact this has upon their success.

Netflix, Big Data, and House of Cards

House of Cards

Like many I spent this past Superb Owl weekend watching the political thriller House of Cards rather than Beyonce or Football. The Netflix remake of the BBC adaptation of the Michael Dobbs novel is fantastic, and as it turns out, tailored to me, my friends, and our interests.

Netflix is a company driven by big data. Their service is dependent upon customization and recommendations so as to keep us watching shows that are usually old and somewhat stale.

House of Cards, while somewhat old, is actually entirely new, at least when it comes to television production. As noted by Andrew Leonard writing for Salon:

USGA To Address Pace of Play Issues in Golf


I'm an avid golfer. As someone who is constantly connected to the Internet I value the opportunity to get offline, back to nature, and spend quality time with my friends.

Unfortunately it is hard to make that kind of time available. Further I tend to be a fast player. I like the rhythm of walking, and find waiting a massive disruption to my ability to play well.

Time is also one of the most scarce resources in our society. Few people have the time required to play golf, let alone play it well. The game requires a kind of muscle memory that takes long to acquire, and takes a lot of effort, i.e. time, to maintain.

Pace of play is therefore a huge and growing concern for the game of golf as a whole, and the golf industry in particular. A five hour round of golf is unacceptable, and I personally find four hours to be too long. Yet there are some resorts and courses where rounds are regularly longer then five, which is just ridiculous.