Diigo Bookmarks 05/21/2008 (p.m.)

May 21, 2008 at 5:30 am | In links | Comments Off on Diigo Bookmarks 05/21/2008 (p.m.)

Two videos about Victoria’s technology scene

May 20, 2008 at 10:13 pm | In business, victoria | Comments Off on Two videos about Victoria’s technology scene

Last Thursday evening (May 15), VIATeC hosted its annual awards ceremony to honor local companies in the high tech sector. There’s one video from that event, which anyone interested in Victoria’s economy must watch: Clayton’s speech at the Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Center Awards (click to watch the video, Youtube). The Clayton giving the speech (did I already tell you to click through to watch it?) is Clayton Stark, VP of Engineering at Flock. For all those who still think that tourism and government jobs are the only thing that keep Victoria’s economy humming, please click through on the video and get enlightened. Clayton lays it on the line. Pay attention. (I am especially talking to all you neighbourhood community association types who are thinking of running for Victoria City Council.  Please get a clue, and don’t take us back to the stone ages!)

The other video is, I guess, a VIATeC in-house production designed to show people that the technology sector is both important, as well as neglected by mainstream thinking — and reporting. There’s a wonderful scene where a rather corpulent Times-Colonist reporter gets b-slapped by the great foam finger of Victoria’s #1 industry (tech!) to ensure that he’ll finally get the story and report things straight. See “Whatever it Takes” VIATeC Awards Video Spoof 2008. There are some very funny scenes, particularly if you know Victoria. I’m not sure if it’ll do the trick in terms of attracting people outside of the tight-knit circle here, but it’s an improvement on what must have been last year’s promo, which focused on dissing Toronto. Negative ads, people, are so weak — we’re better than that. “Whatever it Takes” is definitely a step in the right direction.

But if you want it straight from the horse’s mouth (the techie’s brain?), don’t miss Clayton’s speech at the VIATeC Awards.

Who is writing Victoria 2020? And why call it that, given that DV2020 already exists?

May 19, 2008 at 6:13 pm | In victoria | 2 Comments

Edit/update (8:12 pm): see end of post.

Second update (May 22/08, 7:30 am): see end of post.

Here’s something that’s rather upsetting, and totally contrary to 21st century solutions to political discourse. There’s a new site in Victoria that calls itself Victoria 2020, which in turn happens to copy the name of an already existing entity called Downtown Victoria 2020. I want to give the former the benefit of the doubt, but when I tried leaving a comment on its “About” page just now, I got the message back that I have to be logged on to comment — but no where on the site is there the option to log on. So — hello? — how is anyone supposed to comment if they can’t log on?

My comment was already about this blog’s anonymity (there’s no blog author, and the “About” page is blank), but not being able to comment gives me an additional reason to distrust this blog. Here’s what I wrote:

Your “about” page is quite sparse — any chance of updating it with some real information?

I found you via an entry written today by Sean Holman on Public Eye Online, and while I’m thrilled to see a broadening of the political conversation in Victoria, I’d like to know who the blog author(s) is (are). It’ll make the potential for conversation more real if it’s happening with an identifiable person, vs. a blank template.

The other thing I’m very curious about is why you chose the name Victoria 2020, given the existence (and recent resuscitation) of the Downtown Victoria 2020 site, which (if you click through) you’ll see is again fully live and functional.

It seems there’s some brand duplication here, which is kind of unfortunate — and awkward if it’s true (as per Holman) that this site’s owner is Harbourwerks, a business in the branding / PR field.

I agree with what you’ve written in the blog entries about leadership — and the need to have people with a 21st century perspective (vs. a 20th century one) step up. But, like I said, I won’t leave comments if I think I’m just talking to an anonymous “professional” (i.e., paid) blogger vs. someone who actually is personally invested (and at least somehow identified) in this city.

By the way, you might get the “Preview for comments” plug-in for WordPress — it’s helpful for commenters, lets them see if links go live, formatting is ok, that sort of thing.

So, that’s the comment that never was. There’s no option for feedback to this site — except for me to blog about it here myself. I meant what I said about welcoming more voices to the conversation. But, ya know, it ain’t a conversation if you don’t know who’s talking and you can’t talk back.

Edit/update: Perhaps some changes are already afoot at the site. I see that the “About” page has disappeared entirely, its place taken by a (very very brief and vanilla-esque) Mission Statement. (Sorry to give you guys a hard time, but you can do better than simply writing, “To promote ideas related to growth and development in the City of Victoria as a livable urban centre for the Capital Region of British Columbia” as your Mission Statement. That’s not yet entirely sufficient as the start of a 21st century conversation…)

Additional update: I should add that I find Sean Holman‘s comments board pretty obnoxious, too. It wasn’t the case some months ago, but now — should you want to comment — you have to sign in to a TypeKey account. Sorry, that’s too much. I will not create an account on yet another site (giving them my data), let’s call it Site B, in order to comment on Site A. That’s retarded. If you’re running WordPress, you can add the Akismet spam plug-in, and in addition require that comments are moderated (as they are on my blog). That should be spam protection enough — why the TypeKey sign-in? Is there an advantage to having a TypeKey account, as there is to having a Disqus account (which is portable, and works across comments boards, and aggregrates your comments bread crumbs across blogs)? If not, why bother?

Second update (May 22/08): I’m pleased to note that Victoria 2020 now has a functioning Join Victoria 2020 page, and that it has made commenting possible without requiring log-in.

Diigo Bookmarks 05/20/2008 (a.m.)

May 19, 2008 at 5:32 pm | In ideas, links | Comments Off on Diigo Bookmarks 05/20/2008 (a.m.)
  • Informative review of Bill Bishop’s new book, The Big Sort. It’s intriguing to juxtapose this to the Knute Berger article that discusses transumerism, which I also bookmarked today. It’s almost as if two things are at work here: on the one hand, people “sorting” themselves demographically, and on the other, people circulating (and becoming a site of circulation), just like capital. The new physics of social data sets, with the transumers being a special case of relative sorting? 🙂

    Also of course fascinating in Stossel’s review/ Bishop’s book are the observations on “the big sort”‘s effect on politics, and that homogeneous communities tend to be more cantankerous because they’re so bloody convinced that they have it right, whereas heterogeneous communities are forced into conversations with people of opposing views, which in turn informs all parties and makes “solutions” less “obvious,” but also makes people more willing to compromise and/or put their shoulder to the wheel to keep things rolling in the right direction.

    I personally believe that my hometown (Victoria BC) would benefit if more people here had more awareness of all the different things — vocations, careers, lifestyles, EVERYTHING — going on, instead of thinking that everyone else surely must think just as they do. You see this again and again when the question of urban development comes up: the same tired gang with the same tired cliches runs to the forefront, claims to represent the majority (which in a sense they do, as the passive majority is just as ignorant as the vocal gang), and bemoans all change coming to the city because they believe it “hurts” what they see as the primary economic engine here (tourism). They’re totally unaware, it seems, that the high tech industry overtook tourism several years ago in terms of how much revenue it generates (something like $1.2b for tourism, and nearly $2b for high tech in Greater Victoria). This clinging to homogeneity (which is an illusion here: see the tech and the arts and the “different” communities) dominates discourse to the city’s economic detriment as well as its political detriment. We have political gridlock up the wazoo here, with people sorting themselves into camps (“defenders” of the traditional Victoria on the one side, determined to thwart all change; and what the defenders project as the “opposition,” whom they typically malign as “greedy developers” — it would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic). Meanwhile, I’m sure the Provincial leadership (mostly all from Vancouver, even if they have to do their work here, as this is the Provincial capital) laugh at us, since all we seem to do is run in circles.

    tags: big_sort, demographics, democracy, trends, bill_bishop

  • Berger is on another tear here (albeit being inconsistent, as the first comment points out), but I’m totally intrigued by his illustration of the “transumer” trend. It makes so much sense, when you think about it, even though it’s almost creepy at some level. (I’m not impressed by Berger’s rants against transumers, though; those diatribes fail to ring my bells.)

    Years ago, I recall learning that Mick Jagger never traveled with luggage because he just “acquired” whatever he needed wherever he was (and left it behind when he left). He didn’t need to trail a score of cases of possessions when he hopped from place to place. In a sense, the wealthy people that Berger describes here exemplify a kind of Jaggerism-trickle-down effect. You don’t need to be a rolling stone anymore to be “free” of possessions (and fashion mistakes). You just rent the appropriate materials for brief moments of time. You become an occasion, occasionally dipping into things, and just as quickly escaping their hold again.

    The really really important thing about capital, after all, is that it circulates. Of course people will be the site of that circulation, not just the site of accumulation.

    tags: crosscut, knute_berger, trendwatch, transumerism

Hypnotized: I think I need a vacation…

May 19, 2008 at 2:06 pm | In architecture, just_so | Comments Off on Hypnotized: I think I need a vacation…

Musical interlude for this holiday Monday….

I realize that Hypnotized by Fleetwood Mac (here on YouTube) is about something as stupid as UFOs & paranormal shit, but …oh man, I just LURVE this song (words & music)…

I can still remember where I first heard this song: in somebody’s suite (bed-sit) somewhere in Fairfield, a mostly empty living room with nowhere to sit, some arts & crafts-inspired dark-wood-wall-paneled and depressing cave of a room.

But that song! What else suited it? What else but Carlos Castaneda’s tall tales of Don Juan, for to my mind the song’s most enduring lines are “They say there’s a place down in Mexico where a man can fly over mountains and hills — he don’t need an airplane or some kind of engine, he never will…”

YouTube – Fleetwood Mac – Hypnotized

I certainly find this staircase …hypnotizing:

Found via Protein’s feed, which points us to an amazing article in Treehugger, Design for Deconstruction by Alberto Mozó.  This staircase, and the entire building it’s in, is deconstructable, meaning that it can be taken apart and reconstructed on a different site.  Why?  As Treehugger explains:

Zoning determines the value of land, and if your site is zoned for a twelve storey building you can be pretty sure that anything that is a lot smaller is not going to be around for long. You could build it cheap and fast (like they do in North America) or you could design for deconstruction, as Alberto Mozó did for BIP computers in Santiago, Chile. The entire structure is made from laminated timber and can be dismantled and reconstructed elsewhere.

So, if the land is zoned (or upzoned in future) for higher density, but present economics don’t allow maximizing that zone, then instead of building a cheap piece of tear-down, you could build something amazing like Alberto Mozó’s building for BIP, and when the time comes to upzone or increase density/ expand, you take the building apart and reconstruct someplace where it will be useful again.

Diigo Bookmarks 05/19/2008 (a.m.)

May 18, 2008 at 5:32 pm | In land_use, links, urbanism | 1 Comment
  • Barber’s article links the ideas expressed around the demise of suburbs due to rising fuel costs, the benefits of densifying the cities (by building up, not out), and discussions around carbon taxes. “Meanwhile, the free market is applying its own time-tested solution to the problem of overconsumption, with salutary political as well as social consequences. Hillary Clinton never stooped lower than when she promised a summer ‘gas-tax holiday,’ joining John McCain in the promise. Barack Obama never looked better than when he condemned it.” One answer? Live downtown, preferably on a public transit line.

    tags: globeandmail, toronto, carbon_tax, urbanism, cities, condos

Diigo Blog » China Earthquake ~ A picture is worth a thousand words

May 18, 2008 at 10:21 am | In links | Comments Off on Diigo Blog » China Earthquake ~ A picture is worth a thousand words

Maggie Tsai of Diigo has kept the Diigo community up to speed on her and the Diigo team’s experience of the recent earthquake in Sichuan province. Diigo is headquartered in Reno, Nevada, but also has a development team in Chengdu. Maggie herself has been traveling in the area, and it has been reassuring to hear that while the team can’t yet return to its high-rise offices (which have cracks and are too unsafe since there are still aftershocks of magnitudes up to 6), they’re back at work in temporary facilities.

Today I opened my browser and saw this new post from Maggie, via the Diigo blog: Diigo Blog » China Earthquake ~ A picture is worth a thousand words. Maggie’s source for the photos she posted is a Chinese-language news source, and not knowing that language I would never have seen the pictures if Maggie hadn’t blogged them (I gather they’re also on flickr, but still…). They’re so incredible because of the conjunction of special or extraordinary events (wedding, earthquake) and the photographer’s ability to continue shooting photos throughout, I felt I should repost her pointer.

Click through on the link to see the before shot of bride and groom, followed by portions of the church facade coming down in huge chunks, the rubble, and a poignant photo of the bride, covered in dust, sheltering with her hand the head of a man (the groom?) near the ground, while she sits upright in her white gown (now covered with rubble dust) and surveys an incredible scene of jagged construction debris. Her hair color has gone from vibrant black to coated-in-dust gray.

Steven Pinker on “dignity” (Diigo Bookmarks 05/17/08)

May 16, 2008 at 5:32 pm | In ideas | Comments Off on Steven Pinker on “dignity” (Diigo Bookmarks 05/17/08)

    This is a great essay by Steven Pinker, which skewers the conservatives’ “latest, most dangerous ploy,” namely their “defense” of “dignity.” Pinker proceeds from bioethicist Ruth Macklin’s 2003 challenge to the conservatives, her essay, “Dignity Is a Useless Concept.”

    From his essay:

    The problem is that “dignity” is a squishy, subjective notion, hardly up to the heavyweight moral demands assigned to it. The bioethicist Ruth Macklin, who had been fed up with loose talk about dignity intended to squelch research and therapy, threw down the gauntlet in a 2003 editorial, “Dignity Is a Useless Concept.” Macklin argued that bioethics has done just fine with the principle of personal autonomy–the idea that, because all humans have the same minimum capacity to suffer, prosper, reason, and choose, no human has the right to impinge on the life, body, or freedom of another. This is why informed consent serves as the bedrock of ethical research and practice, and it clearly rules out the kinds of abuses that led to the birth of bioethics in the first place, such as Mengele’s sadistic pseudoexperiments in Nazi Germany and the withholding of treatment to indigent black patients in the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study. Once you recognize the principle of autonomy, Macklin argued, “dignity” adds nothing. [Source

    Exactly. Autonomy should be the key driver — not some “wooly” concept of dignity, which, as Pinker points out, is usually used as a weapon to keep “uppity” people in place (women, for example, or gays wanting to marry, and so on). From “dignity of…” to “sanctity of…” is just a small shift, after all. And once they’ve cowed people with the godawful sanctity stuff, the authoritarians have won.

  • tags: bioneering, bioethics, ethics, dignity, steven_pinker, autonomy

Diigo Bookmarks 05/16/2008 (a.m.)

May 15, 2008 at 5:31 pm | In links | Comments Off on Diigo Bookmarks 05/16/2008 (a.m.)
  • An article by Eric Savitz that sums up the panel presentation by Steve Jurvetson, Vinod Khosla, Josh Kopelman, Roger McNamee, Joe Schoendorf, and Tony Perkins on the top 10 tech trends to be aware of. Lots of buzz around mobile phone technology, mobile computing in the manner of what The Economist called Nomads at last (Diigo’d earlier & blogged) “who are defined not by what they carry but by what they leave behind, knowing that the environment will provide it.”

    Speaking of modeling the new urban connected classes on nomads (and Bedouins), another trend identified by the panel was that water is the next peak oil. See Wired Magazine, Peak Water.

    Jurvetson talked about how “evolution trumps design,” which seemed to me like he is channeling Janine Benyus and Lynn Margulis. Microbes are drivers of evolutionary biomass viability on Planet Gaia; we’re part of that game; and we will figure out how to engineer matter at the nano level of microbial life to “hack” evolution’s code and make those organisms work for us. Dangerous, but inevitable. (As Margulis and Dorian Sagan point out, however, if Gaia is a living thing and if living things are defined by having the ability to reproduce, then our role on earth may well be to help Gaia reproduce: i.e., create viable biospheres that can be sent away from Earth into space. What better place to fulfil that mandate than to tinker with microbes and evolution?)

    tags: trends, technology, futurismo

  • This is the portal page of Elizabeth Goodman, one of the “explorers” mentioned by Nat Torkington in his O’Reilly Radar article, “Ghandi on Ubicomp.”

    tags: egoodman, ubicom, urban_design, ubiquitous

  • In one paragraph, Tarkington uses Austin Williams’s critique of “technology-driven products” that don’t solve “more urgent urban problems …such as the loss of social connections between city dwellers” as an example of criticism missing the point (or perhaps putting the cart in front of the horse?). Can’t say I disagree, although Williams (who is technical editor of the Architects’ Journal and director of a forum called Future Cities that “critically explores city issues”) has a point if he is in part reacting to the hype that usually accompanies new technologies.

    Torkington’s riposte, on the other hand, is really worth noting: “I think Williams is wrong because he fails to allow for the rate that technology matures.” But then of course, some of the people who hype the technology also focus way too much on its present state and don’t take its rate of development (change) into account. This is why Torkington focuses on what he calls “the explorers,” who one hopes are hype-resistant.

    tags: ubicom, ubiquitous, cities, technology

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