CaseCamp Toronto 7

I’ve always been a big supporter of the BarCamp concept (a free self-organizing “unconference” where everyone is expected to contribute or participate), although the original BarCamps are way too technical for me to understand, never mind contribute. So I was happy to find out that CaseCamp Toronto is happening again on April 29th. CaseCamp is a marketing version of BarCamp, with people presenting case studies, and because there’s a big crossover with my favoured tribe of web nerds, there’s usually a heavy dose of social media wonkery. For some reason, these only appear to happen in Canada. My only disappointment is that it’s happening at the exact same time as two other potentially interesting events: StartupCamp 2 and Raindance’s free “99 Minute Screenwriting School.” If anyone makes it to either of those two, would you mind reporting back? And if you’re interested in CaseCamp, sign up soon. There are almost 100 people coming already!


The Net, Premiere Issue, June 1995

During the excavations that took place this past week while Brooke and I moved, I found this ancient relic from the past. My “cyberspace companion” featured some helpful articles. My favourite was “Six Myths: Unmasking Cyber Lore”:

  • Myth 1: The Internet is a single network controlled by one organization.
    • Fact: The Internet is actually a patchwork of commercial, educational, government and public and private networks, all cooperating to achieve an open, interconnected communications system.
  • Myth 2: The Internet is free
    • Fact: Don’t believe it for a moment. All of the Internet’s conduits, computers, and information resources are paid for by someone. Often an organization provides free Internet access to its members as part of an affiliation. But, for people lacking Internet access through an organization, getting on the Internet carries a price tag.
  • Myth 3: The Internet will usher in a new age of democracy, a socio-political nirvana.
    • Fact: People created the Internet, people run the Internet, people drive what happens on the Internet — and people are human. No inherent technological properties of the Internet will bring democracy or a new age of global community.
  • Myth 4: Internet users are cyberpunks and content they create is cyberporn.
    • Fact: While some consider portions of the material on the Internet to be immoral, obscene, or useless, much of it is no more controversial than what’s found at a public library or in a bookstore.
  • Myth 5: The Internet is chaotic. There’s simply no way to find anything.
    • Fact: While no Internet information-collection or resource-searching tool is flawless, there are landmark collections and tools on the Internet that you can use to find what you want.
  • Myth 6: The Internet is hostile to newcomers — the hapless newbies.
    • Fact: While a newbie can get mercilessly flamed for ignoring or flouting the Internet’s social customs, there are plenty of ways a new user can get up to speed in a hurry.

In this pre-Google world, Myth 5 was especially amusing to read. Yahoo still resided at its Stanford URL ( And I love how many times they use the prefix “cyber”! Can you remember your first experiences with the “Internet”?

Digital Recorders

Edirol R-09

Suddenly, of course, I need one. I recently enrolled in a magazine writing class, and I need something to record interviews. But I’m also attending SXSW again, and staying a few days in the hope of seeing some bands, and of course it would be great to record some music, too. As well as the panels.

So, in my usual way, I do an obsessive amount of research. The one I really really want is probably too much for me. The Edirol R-09, which is around US$400, seems to do it all and in a small package, too. It’s really well-reviewed, and works flawlessly with both PCs and Macs. If you’re mostly recording music, this is probably the one you want.

Closer to my budget is the Olympus WS-320M (around US$130), which is primarily a voice recorder. Olympus also offers the DS-30 (around US$150), which appears to offer higher-quality sound. But I doubt the Olympus units can really do music well at all.

My philosophy has always been that if you’re going to spend $150 to get something that doesn’t do everything you want, you may as well spend $400 to get something that does. As well, since my wife is a full-time journalist who also does freelance work, maybe I could convince her that she needs this thing? It would certainly qualify as a deductible expense, right? Right?


Magazine Archives on DVD

Last Christmas, Brooke and I decided that The Complete New Yorker was the present we would buy for ourselves, and it will undoubtedly keep us occupied for the next thousand years or so. How happy I was, then, to discover that MAD magazine also has a complete archive available on DVD. I think this is a fabulous idea, and I can’t understand why more magazines haven’t done this yet. Where are you, Harper’s and The Atlantic? And although National Geographic came out on about a hundred CD-ROMs a few years ago, where’s the DVD update? In fact, here’s a list of magazines I’d love to have as DVD archives:

  • Harper’s
  • The Atlantic
  • National Geographic
  • Omni
  • Life
  • Macworld
  • Popular Science

Have you got any favourites I’ve missed?

TED Talks

TED is an elite conference designed around issues in Technology, Education and Design, and is notoriously selective about who gets invited. Even with an invitation, it costs $4,400 to attend. Now, they’re making online versions of several speakers’ talks available for free. So far, I’ve only checked out one, but it’s a keeper.

Hans Rosling is public health expert and the founder of Gapminder, a non-profit initiative to bring global health and economic statistics alive. His presentation is incredible and really brings some positive news from a huge pile of seemingly boring numbers. On the Gapminder site, you can download a number of animated presentations of global reports. Rosling’s work seems to embody the perfect synthesis of technology, education and design. Check out an online version of some of Gapminder’s work.

You’ll need the Flash plugin installed to watch online, but you can also download video or audio. Other speakers in the series include Al Gore and David Pogue.