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The web is transforming the future of our communities, on- and offline. Whether you’re thinking about how to build a better online support system for your neighborhood or workplace, or wondering about how networks are affecting our political system, you can find resources here that will deepen your understanding and help you make a difference.

NSF Political Science cuts fail to predict the unpredictability of research

March 22, 2013

On March 20 the Senate de-funded political science grants from the National Science Foundation “except for research projects that the Director of the National Science Foundation certifies as promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States.” Since political science research, like most scientific research, is seldom undertaken to promote national security or [...]

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Which Facebook updates could you live without?

January 19, 2013

The beauty of being married to a man with absolutely no interest in sports is that I would remain blissfully unaware of the start of hockey season, at least until I get to the office Monday, were it not for Facebook and Twitter, which are suddenly overflowing with Canucks-related blah blah blah. That’s a problem [...]

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How to talk about tragedy online

December 15, 2012

Time out, people. In the past 24 hours we have been have been inspired, informed, comforted and mobilized by the unfolding conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. But it’s clear that we have also had moments of feeling attached, horrified, angered and shamed. So let’s take a moment to stop and think about how we [...]

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The trouble with resilience

December 14, 2012

Today’s shooting is one of those moments when time, and our hearts, break. How can we go on? How will life ever feel the same? What should shock us is not only the moment of tragedy, but how quickly tragedy fades. I remember with icy-hot clarity the morning of 9/11, and the sense that the [...]

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Smartphones have transported us from an offline third place

November 16, 2012
Man texting on bus

Public transit used to be a version of what Ray Oldenburg calls a “third place”: a neutral space, neither work nor home, in which conversation and community can unfold. Have smartphones changed that?

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Talk back to Vancouver’s rain on Twitter

June 7, 2012

Tired of Vancouver’s eternal rain? Talk back to @YVRrain, a Twitter account for Vancouver’s rain clouds.

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Does social media have to make you happy?

January 30, 2012

At Simply Zesty, Lauren Fisher asks a provocative question: why happiness? Her point is that social media is frequently challenged for its (purportedly) negative impact on happiness: What’s also strange, is the idea that social media in some way owes us happiness, that this is what it was created for. Yet when we look at [...]

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For the National Geographic Assignment Blog: The Great Online Migration

January 23, 2012

In any migration, there are those who go ahead to settle the wilds, and those who linger to ensure that nothing gets left behind. While each of us now makes a different choice about how much of our lives to live online, those differences should not be turned into an ideological divide between “digital utopians” [...]

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Unlocking the door to usability

January 17, 2012

  This is the sign on the inside of my hotel room door. I love the fact that a traditional door — you know, of the lock-and-key rather than magnetic card variety — now requires documentation. It’s a great reminder that usability is entirely contextual. It’s not just about what a user has previously experienced, [...]

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Updating Canada’s Election Act so you can tweet the results

January 13, 2012

Today the Canadian government announced its intention to table legislation that will bring Canada’s Elections Act into the 21st century. Tim Uppal, the junior minister for democratic reform, tweeted today to share the news. That’s right: next election night, Canadians will be able to discuss election results with all the immediacy, humour and clarity that [...]

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Blockbuster reminds us to make way for the new

January 11, 2012

Ever since it was announced that Blockbuster would close its remaining stores, I’ve wondered what would happen at the corner of Broadway and Blenheim. A wifi-wielding coffee shop? A wildly out-of-place H&M? An all-you-can-eat, gluten- and sugar-free cake buffet? Our local Blockbuster was the source of many fond memories — and many late fees, until [...]

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