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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.

Choosing research methods for data-driven storytelling

September 4, 2014

This blog post does not represent Vision Critical. In fact, I think some of my colleagues are going to argue with me vigorously over this one. Rigorous data gathering and analysis can get in the way of effective storytelling by non-profits. That proved to be the most controversial part of my talk today on Telling [...]

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Yelpless: What kinds of reviews get squelched by Yelp?

August 26, 2014

I’m an ardent (some might say pathological) Yelp user, and since I am incapable of putting anything in my mouth without first validating its viability on Yelp, I try to contribute back to the community by sharing my own perspectives and information, particularly on the all-important subject of artisanal ice cream. But today I got [...]

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Is the Canadian media responsible for Western Canadian alienation?

August 25, 2014

What is the root cause of Western Canadian alienation? Contrary to common arguments, it’s not because the rest of Canada fails to understand the West’s “distinct history, economy and society“, it’s not due to the National Energy Program or even (as my friend and colleague Angus Reid once noted) to the under-representation in our electoral system and [...]

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Bumper sticker conversation guide: 2×2 edition

August 17, 2014

This weekend my mind got blown a tiny bit by this unexpected combination of bumper stickers. Naturally, I facebooked the photo, and my friend Steve challenged me to fit this phenomenon into a 2×2. But as with any 2×2, the structure of the table should be determined by what it’s helping you understand…so in this [...]

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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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