Nora Young is a Canadian broadcaster, writer and currently host of Spark on CBC Radio One.
When new technology comes along—or we use it in new ways—it raises questions of etiquette and ethics. With so many of us opening a digital window into our homes in an unprecedented way, are we reimagining our relationship with our technologies—and each other? And what risks are involved with so many of us repurposing our home technology for work, or using apps and tools that haven't been tested at the kind of scale that which people are now using them? + Ainissa Ramirez is a materials scientist and the author of the new book, The Alchemy of Us. In it, she chronicles eight life-changing inventions, and the inventors behind them. + Hannah Sung explores how to connect with our friends and loved ones while being mindful of their privacy—and what privacy looks like in today's pandemic circumstances. + John Scott-Railton of the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab describes how repurposing often-older home computers and using unsecure apps create privacy and security risks—that could be exploited by hackers and other bad actors.
As the pandemic continues to keep a lot of us at home, today we look at access and technology: Social access to each other as we physically isolate. Access to the devices and data that keep us connected. And securing access to the internet when networks are under strain. Even in your own home, with people working and learning remotely It's easy to see why we often think of the internet as something intangible. We talk about being 'virtual' and storing things in the cloud. It's not until something goes wrong that we're reminded the internet actually does have a physical form: routers, cables, wires. Now that we're in the midst of a global pandemic, how much of a strain is there on that infrastructure? What can we do to keep the internet working well? How can we ensure that everyone who needs access gets it? + Mark Wolff is the CTO of CANARIE, which maintains the network that connects Canada's academic and scientific research institutions. He talks about how internet infrastructure is faring under the load presented by the pandemic. + Laura Tribe is the executive director of OpenMedia, an organization that advocates for internet freedom. She says the current public health crisis is bringing the digital divide in the country to the forefront. She shares some advice on how to make the most of unlimited internet access in one's household and community now, and what needs to be done to make the internet a basic service in the future. + Aimée Morrison researches how people represent themselves online. She explores the delightful, complicated, troubling, and goofy ways we're responding online to physical distance.
This week, Spark is coming to you from five different locations across Toronto, none of which is the CBC building! Like many people all over the world this week, we're working from home. Remote work is something we've talked about a lot on Spark over the past decade, but we've never done anything like this! We recognize that many people aren't able to work remotely, and we'll be addressing that too. But for people who can—and should—be working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, we're going to explore the best ways to do this, using current technology. + Natalie Nagele is the co-founder and CEO of Wildbit, a Philadelphia-based software company, whose employees have been working remotely for 20 years, and which recently switched to a four-day workweek. Natalie explains how this works for Wildbit, and what other managers can learn from her experience. + Shawn D. Long, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of Communication at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, U.S. He's an expert in organizational communications, and he's studied how office politics plays out in virtual offices.
In an age of digital devices and near constant distractions, many of us feel like our attention spans are shrinking. The good news is: we can get our power of concentration back. So this week on Spark, a handbook on how to concentrate in a distracting world. + Stefan Van der Stigchel is a cognitive psychologist and author of Concentration: Staying Focused in Times of Distraction. He says that there's no reason to believe our ability to concentrate is being permanently eroded by digital distraction, but concentration is like a muscle you have to work to maintain. + As we age we find it more difficult to concentrate. Tarek Amer and fellow researchers found a possible upside: being scattered may help in creative thought. Tarek is also researching whether we can use older folks' distractibility as a way to deliver helpful reminders.Tarek is a Canadian Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University. + Michael Shammas, a lawyer in New York who decided to unplug his headphones for a week. After spending years tethered to his phone while working at a corporate law firm, Michael decided he needed to shake things up. So he abandoned the comfort of his audio bubble, to see what he could learn by reconnecting with his inner monologue.
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Creator Details

Toronto, ON, Canada
Episode Count
Podcast Count
Total Airtime
6 days, 15 hours