Loss and a Little Dog

liloo1My father is fond of telling the tale of how Liloo once caused a stampede. It was about 15 years ago when Liloo was still a pup. I can’t remember why, but at the time we were running two bulls with the herd. Liloo happened upon the bulls in a field next to the red barn and began circling them and barking loudly. At first the bulls just stared blankly at her. Gradually they became agitated and charged her, trying their best to stomp her under hoof. There was little I could do other than yell at Liloo as I watched events unfold. She paid me no mind as she weaved figure eights in and around the bulls, all the while barking. Eventually the bulls became spooked by her tenacity and began to run. They ran about a hundred yards down to the creek and then up a steep embankment on the other side. Liloo was snapping at their heels the whole way. They rejoined the herd on the far side of the creek and it was at this point that the stampede began. If I recall correctly, it was only about 15 to 20 head of cattle, but that is more than enough for a potentially dangerous situation. I continued to yell in vain as Liloo chased the herd into the hills beyond. She was little more than a small black dot when she disappeared over the event horizon. I stood there waiting for a good 5 minutes before that Continue reading

Come join me for Conscious Activism Documentary Series

web_tile_docseriesI’ll be taking part in a panel around a screening of #Chicago Girl at Hart House as part of the Hancock Lecture Series on February 9th from 6-9pm.

Come witness the new kind of revolution manifested in recent years through computer technology and social media with #ChicagoGirl: The Social Network Takes on a Dictator. This documentary tells the story of teenager Ala’a Basatneh who helps to coordinate the Syrian revolution from her Chicago home through Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Google maps, and camera phones. Through these means Ala’a helps to network activists on the ground in Syria to gain momentum in facing a dictator and to gather evidence through camera technology to inform the world of the human rights atrocities occurring.

This documentary illuminates how technology and media that have become part of everyday living for many young people can be used as tools for activism and solidarity with causes occurring all over the world.

Watch the trailer: http://www.chicagogirlfilm.com/#!trailer/c1aol

For more info: http://harthouse.ca/events/documentary-series-chicagogirl-the-social-network-takes-on-a-dictator/

Come join me for Lunch and Learn at Hart House

Harthouse_torontoPart of the 2015 Hart House Hancock Lecture: The Myth of Slacktivism

Lunch and Learn: How to Kickstart Your Own Slacktivist Movement

Details: Speakers will be invited to share their experience with social media in non-profit and fundraising realms in an informal lunch setting. Students will be prompted to discuss practical applications of their skills and passions, discuss possibilities and limitations of social media activism, and network with illustrious speakers in a comfortable environment.

Speakers include Sheila Sampath, founder and editor of Shameless Magazine and Brett Caraway, Professor of Digital Media and Cultural Studies at UTM and iSchool.

When: Wed., Jan. 21, 2015, 11:30 am-1: 30 pm
Where: South Dining Room, Hart House
Cost: Free / Lunch provided / Register online

http://harthouse.ca/events/lunch-and-learn-how-to-kickstart-your-own-slacktivist-movement/

ICCIT Student Samantha Holmes Featured on CBC The National

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ICCIT student Samantha Holmes was recently featured on The National. In fact, our whole class (CCT109 Contemporary Communication Technology) managed to ride Samantha’s coattails for a few seconds. See the video at the link below (10:33) and be sure to check out Samantha’s YouTube channel while you are at it.

Living the Digital Dream
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Last Lecture Series

1112We asked Brett Caraway what would be his last lecture if he were going to die tomorrow, the last lesson he would want to give to his students.

That is what the Last Lecture Series is all about. Come out on Friday, October 10th to learn about Existentialism and what it means to “be”. It will be held in IB 150 at the University of Toronto Mississauga.

Social Media & Society 2014

SMS_LOGO_mediumI will be presenting some of my current research on networked social movements at the 2014 International Conference of Social Media & Society at Ryerson University in downtown Toronto. This particular research examines the utilization of social media platforms by a number of Canadian labor unions for purposes of recruitment and labor action coordination.

Participation or Exploitation?

Wages For Facebook, 2014. Poster design by Eric Nylund and Laurel Ptak.

Wages For Facebook, 2014. Poster design by Eric Nylund and Laurel Ptak.

I’ll be leading two sessions in this wonderful reading group put together by my intrepid ICCIT comrade Nicole Cohen and Christine Shaw of Blackwood Gallery. I’ll be discussing the economics of advertising in social media and the rise of networked social movements. Be sure to check out the full schedule and suggested readings at the following link: Blackwood Gallery

2015 UDC Conference at the University of Toronto

UDC 2015 Conference

2015 UDC Conference

The Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (ICCIT) will host the 2015 Union for Democratic Communications conference May 1st-3rd at the downtown campus of the University of Toronto. The call for papers is available on the conference website: http://udc2015.wordpress.com/cfp/

We look forward to seeing you in Toronto!

A tale of three cities: Austin, Wharton, & Toronto in photos

“The space that homogenizes thus has nothing homogenous about it. After its fashion, which is polyscopic and plural, it subsumes and unites scattered fragments or elements by force.”

—Henri Lefebvre

My home is scattered across three disparate communities. Fortunately, I am able to spend time in all of them on a regular basis. Traversing these spaces has underscored for me their commonalities and departures. In the photos that follow I have tried to capture some of the distinctive elements that are relevant to my own life. Click the images to see larger photos.

AUSTIN

A_austinI spent half my life in Austin. Although my intuition tells me that Austin’s heyday was probably in the 1970s, it was as good a place as any to live. During my recent trips to Austin I have noticed a deep ambivalence among my closest friends regarding the recent transformations of the city. Change is inevitable but change is also marked by multi-directionality. Built environments are arenas of class struggle. There is an unmistakeable flow of composition-decompositiom-recomposition in urban landscapes. The fixed spatial systems created by capital in the past must be overcome by capital today. The first time I noticed these dynamics was when Austin decided to shutter Liberty Lunch Continue reading

Two simple questions can diagnose alcoholism in 87% of cases

How often do you have six or more drinks on one occasion?

As a result of your drinking or drug use, did anything happen in the last year that you wish didn’t happen?

For more see the following links:

The Two Questions That Could Determine If You Have an Alcohol Problem

Accuracy of one or two simple questions to identify alcohol-use disorder in primary care: a meta-analysis

The beginning in all things

kbartI do not take you for granted. I’ve been saying that a lot lately. I like the expression because it acknowledges contingency and change. It doesn’t necessarily imply here today gone tomorrow. It merely reflects the conditionality of all interpersonal relationships. It’s more nuanced than the trite I accept you just as you are. That phrase is too inert sounding for me. Growth is not really accounted for in those words. They are more like insulation against consequence and responsibility. I can tweak them more to my liking: I accept you as you are being. Double down on the present progressive to bring agency and development to the fore: I am accepting you as you are being. Better but still too wordy. I’ll stick to what I know: I do not take you for granted.

How does one find safe harbor in a milieu of change? There’s always the Relax! There’s absolutely nothing to hold on to! approach. But that seems like a poor fit when it comes to our loved ones. Still, there’s an inherent insecurity in not taking someone or something for granted. As humans we like to mitigate risk. And for good reason. So how is it that I have managed to derive comfort from so many interpersonal relationships as of late? Especially given the losses I have endured over the years? I’ve chalked it up to good fortune mostly but I’m beginning to think there’s more to it than that. Continue reading

The perfect moment

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A frozen Lac Tremblant

What does happiness look like? I have known it before but it would be sentimental and foolish to try and recreate it. I know where to find it. It is always there in the eternal present moment. But saying that out loud somehow makes it all the more elusive. This is why I return to the mountain over and over again. Alpine skiing is my perfect meditation. An unconcerned awareness of my consciousness and connection. Reading a book in the dark. Cheering the team in an empty stadium. I am content with all that has brought me here. I am content with where I am and where I am going. I am satisfied with my dissatisfaction. The beauty of Mont-Tremblant is staggering. Yet I have found something more.

The path

The path

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Beauty foregrounded

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L’Hôtel Mont-Tremblant et Resto-Pub Au Coin

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Chemin du Village dans la nuit

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Mont-Tremblant