Privacy Visor and Stealth Wear

Privacy visor

As the rise of the surveillance society continues to spread into every nick and corner of our lives, fashion and technology respond to try and carve out a renewed sense of privacy. Two different but related developments recently caught my eye.

The first is the privacy visor, a goofy pair of goggles that seek to throw off the facial recognition software that is increasingly a feature of CCTV systems. The goggles are outfitted with near infrared LED lights that shine into any camera that tries to record you and distorts your face to prevent facial recognition.

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.

3D Printing to Save the Planet?


Like many, I'm quite enamoured with the concept of 3D printing. Being able to create anything has an obvious appeal, just the thought of which suggests a new era of creativity.

There's always obstacles however to such technology becoming more accessible and practical.

3D printers for example are still far from affordable, and have a way to go when it comes to usability.

On the one hand they tend to be slow. Fine for prototyping, but not for mass production or even the kind of production necessary to support a cottage industry.

The other issue is materials, the plastic filament used for most printers. They're not cheap, and you could easily go through a lot just messing around.

These are not insurmountable however, both will be solved sooner rather than later.

In particular, Filabot, the personal filament market, seeks to solve this problem and help the environment at the same time.

In a Corrupt Society, Cheaters Feel Righteous


In a society that is corrupt, cheaters are fueled by a sense of righteousness. Driving on the 401 near Brockville, listening to NPR, this is what I hear Daniel Coyle say, reacting to Lance Armstrong's interview with Oprah.

It's a fantastic insight as to why someone like Lance would not only cheat, but continue to do everything he can to deny that it is cheating.

It also speaks to the larger culture, and the impact that sensational cheaters have, given the attention and spectacle that surrounds their rise and fall.

The righteousness arises from the perception, that not only is everyone else cheating, but that by cheating more, you're beating the cheaters at their own game.

Aaron Swartz, Technology, and Mental Health

Aaron Swartz

Death in the age of social media is instant and pervasive. I remember the days when it might be weeks, months, and sometimes years before news of a death reaches you. No more. Now when someone of significance dies, their death creates a ripple of emotion that envelops all who would be exposed to it.

Certainly this is true when it comes to the death of Aaron Swartz. His suicide has sent a shock wave through the North American technology sector, and from there the world.

As the grief turns into anger, many, including Aaron's family, are pointing their fingers at the US Government, and their aggressive prosecution of his protest against restrictive copyright practices and policies.

Aaron was a dedicated activist, and it is appropriate that others take up his causes and advocacy to celebrate his life and mourn his death.

However I think we are missing a huge warning, and symptom of what was wrong with Aaron, and the technology sector in general.

CES: Consumer Education Scam

CES 2013

The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas is a necessary part of the technology world as it offers glimpses into some of the potential technology that may emerge in the year ahead. Which is to say it's less about news, and far more about public relations and marketing.

The show is necessary in that an industry needs events like this to allow its participants to come together and get a sense of what they are all up to and conduct business with each other. Similarly, the communications, marketing, and public relations people associated with all of these companies also have a job to promote and share what is going on.

What I quite dislike however is the so-called technology journalism that takes place. Not a lot of actual news happens at CES, yet you wouldn't know that given all the "technology journalists" who are doing their best to create news so as to justify their trip to Vegas.

Hacking Reality at the Academy of the Impossible

Metaviews settled into its new home at the Academy of the Impossible on January 1. Since then, the space has been the setting for regular events in the Hacking Reality series, along with headquarters for our regular Wednesday teleseminars and other professional activities.

“The Future of Health” has been at the top of the agenda in 2012, as we have moved into detailed discussion about existing and future devices designed for medical professionals to diagnose patients, along with apps being produced with the hopes of letting each individual take preventative and therapeutic measures into their own hands.

Some of the other topics we have touched on so far this year include:

Here comes the Academy of the Impossible!? is currently setting up a new project: The Academy of the Impossible, located at 231 Wallace Ave. in the Junction Triangle neighbourhood of Toronto’s downtown west end. It will partly serve as a location for our salons and seminars along with all facets of our daily operations.

The setup for the Academy is a relatively novel one. As an open source social enterprise, it will integrate both for-profit and non-profit enterprises, along with providing a physical touchpoint for our clients and broader community. This will include bringing to life many online ideas that often end up remaining hypothetical — we want to make them feel possible.

November 2011 Metaviews Update

Fall 2011 has been a fun time developing of Metaviews. While keeping tabs on the disruption of fields from advertising to academia, we have continued to develop our own projects, which has included extending our presence beyond Toronto.

A pair of salon events in Ottawa have focused on the challenges involved in the transformation to Open Government, which drew interest from all areas of the bureaucracy, as developing a more citizen-friendly approach has been pledged by the federal government.

Similar challenges are being faced by the non-profit sector as it attempts to retool its messaging for the social media age. The conversational research style of will increasingly be applied in this direction, too.

October 2011 Metaviews Update

During the past year, I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with a great team of researchers, writers and practitioners to develop into an original think tank dedicated to the relationship between media, technology and society.

Some of our efforts have been open to the public: regular posts to the website and other social media outlets, a growing library of original videos, and live events like the Monday Night Seminar series in honour of Marshall McLuhan’s 100th birthday.

Subscribers have also been able to access our insights on a deeper level, through the Metaviews Weekly newsletter, the Metaviews Telseminar and private presentations related to our research project, “The Future of Authority.”