Internet

Kipochi Hopes to Ignite a Bitcoin Revolution in Kenya

Across the African continent there is incredible innovation and ingenuity with regard to how technology is used creatively. Kenya in particular is a technology hotbed, as well as a leader when it comes to mobile innovation. Specifically mobile payments in Kenya have taken off in a massive way:

Ever since Safaricom, Kenya's largest mobile-network operator, launched the mobile-payment system M-Pesa in 2007, some two-thirds of Kenya's adult population have subscribed, and an astonishing 31% of the country's GDP is now spent through mobile phones.

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.

If you find it entertaining please share widely.

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:

Stop Being Tracked and Maybe Try a New Search Engine Too

Data Privacy Day

Today is Data Privacy Day and to honour it, the search engine DuckDuckGo has setup a nifty new site to help people reduce the tracking their are subject to while surfing the web.

FixTracking.com lists plugins and settings you can use for your browsers to limit the ways people can track you, and shift your surfing to secure sites when and where available.

DuckDuckGo is itself a search engine that tries to stand out by embracing privacy as a feature. Further they don't have the implicit customization that might foster a filter bubble of only showing you results that fall within a narrow world-view. As an alternative they certainly seem worth experimenting with when you want to compare and contrast search results or just find an alternative to the other near-monopoly.

Tweets Plus Gifs Equals Vine

Vine

Twitter has recently introduced a new video feature to their service called Vine. With a limit of six seconds or less, it emulates the brevity of a tweet, and has the looping characteristics of a gif. The hope is similar to the way a 140 character limit has in some cases evoked a new poetic rhythm to the internet, perhaps six seconds of video will add a profound vision into our various lives.

Through the Eyes of Youth

Today I had a fantastic time at Humber College in North West Toronto. I was invited to give a talk as part of their President's Lecture Series.

The topic was supposed to be social media and privacy. While this is certainly what I spoke to, I didn't want to address the topic as if we are victims. I wanted it to be empowering, so I used my current frame of "Getting Paid in the Knowledge Economy".

Rather than expose yourself by blindly sharing personal information, construct a persona that you deliberately put out into the world.

We talked about the value of personal information, and how to protect one's privacy.

One on One with Peter Mansbridge

No, we didn't play basketball, but I did have the opportunity to sit down with CBC's Chief Correspondent, Peter Mansbridge, to talk technology, privacy, and politics.

Peter wanted to start by looking at what is up with Research in Motion, and whether they can and in fact are turning things around. The only way to answer that is to also look at Apple and Google. From there we got into Facebook, social media, and the broader question of privacy.

I tried to synthesize the issue of privacy down to the importance of the secret ballot as a pillar of our democracy. How the more we share, the more we become vulnerable to political identification and manipulation. This seemed to catch Peter's attention, as he understands just what's at stake when it comes to who rules and why.

The Keith Davey Forum on Public Affairs: Is Social Media Good for Democracy?

The 2012 Keith Davey Forum on Public Affairs, moderated by Steve Paikin and featuring Lee Rainie and myself, was held on October 17th 2012 at the Isabel Bader Theatre at Victory University at the University of Toronto.

We addressed the question, Is Social Media Good for Democracy? Neither of us answered a complete yes or no, but instead offered nuanced answers that encourage both cautious optimism and chilling alarm.

The discussion overall was far reaching, and fascinating. In particular it was a treat to spend time with Lee Rainie who is the Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, a non-profit, non–partisan “fact tank” that studies the social impact of the internet. Lee is also a co-author – with a close friend of mine and University of Toronto sociologist Barry Wellman – of Networked: The new social operating system, which was released in 2012.

Trolling Does Not Require Anonymity

Muppet Identity Crisis

I find it rather sad that many in the mainstream media believe that trolling will be eliminated if Anonymity is not possible. It's not only a belief based in ignorance, but also a reflection of a bias that leads them to believe that their personal and professional experience is universal.

It's partly a reflection of the culture of comments on mainstream media sites. The vast majority of which have a horrific comment culture in which trolls haunt their sites and terrorize journalists and users alike.

Explicitly this has come up over #IdleNoMore coverage as the racists and xenophobes have been out in force to denounce attempts by Canadians to stand up for treaty rights and the environment.

Health Mallick writing in the Star seems to argue that the only reason the racist comments are there is because the posters are able to hide their identity. She asserts this as a reason why real names should be a requirement for posting online. (While I agree with her the racist comments are deplorable, I don't agree they would stop if the racists had to post under their own name).

Google and Facebook feel this way as well. Though I suspect their reason is less one of online civility and instead part of their business plan and pursuit of profit. They want real names so they can connect your interests, friends, and online activity.

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