Spark from CBC Radio

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Spark on CBC Radio One Nora Young helps you navigate your digital life by connecting you to fresh ideas in surprising ways.

An indepth look at the history of glass and a broader look at the circumstances that push us to innovate even with much older technologies.
NFTs could significantly shift the economics of being an artist by creating equitable structures so artists can participate in art markets they've traditionally been excluded from. And, how the psychology behind NFT valuations brings to mind 17th century post-plague tulipmania.
Technology allows us to predict most disasters, so why are we still so unprepared for them? How machine learning and social media response can help shape future disaster response.
It's no secret our devices are designed to become useless, forcing us to upgrade whether we want to or not. But where did the idea of planned obsolescence come from, and does it have any benefits? This week, we examine obsolescence: its history, how it manifests today, and the ethics …
Repeat (updated): FLUX Feb. 19, 2021
(This episode first aired in September 2020, and has been updated to reflect that.) The human brain is always changing, and that constant state of flux helps us adapt to our ever-changing world. What would happen if we built our technologies and economic systems so that they function like our …
The internet is a distributed system that's resilient and powerful because of that distributed nature, but much of our industrial era thinking is focused on centralization. We take a look at new opportunities for distribution from food to information.
A stair-climbing wheelchair might seem like a cool innovation. But for Liz Jackson, it's another example of what she calls a "disability dongle," a well- intended, but ultimately useless solution to a problem people disabled people never knew they had. Liz Jackson is a disability advocate, design strategist, and the …
This week on Spark, how algorithms and digital technologies try to predict, or even influence, our behaviour on scales both large and small. Amazon, Google and Facebook all have an image of us. John Cheney-Lippold suggests that doesn't truly reflect how we are in real life and that the profiles …
Has technology altered the way we remember things? What does knowledge mean when we use our phones to store facts instead of our brain? Evan Risko, a psychologist and the Canada Research Chair in Embodied and Embedded Cognition at the University of Waterloo, digs into these questions. Henning Beck's latest …
We rely on complex, global technological systems for our economy and society. But those systems are often hidden from us. This week, a look at two hidden systems we rely on every day. Andrew Blum, author of The Weather Machine, takes us inside the complex world of weather forecasting. And …
We rely on complex, global technological systems for our economy and society. But those systems are often hidden from us. This week, a look at two hidden systems we rely on every day. Andrew Blum, author of The Weather Machine, takes us inside the complex world of weather forecasting. And …
481: The NEW, new normal June 26, 2020
Innovation, in its purest form, comes from unfettered imagination. The simple decision to try. To be flexible. To think outside the box. But there will always be someone who says that the box is "just how it's always been." And so most of the time, we stick with the status …
481: The NEW, new normal June 26, 2020
Innovation, in its purest form, comes from unfettered imagination. The simple decision to try. To be flexible. To think outside the box. But there will always be someone who says that the box is "just how it's always been." And so most of the time, we stick with the status …
New technologies aren't neutral. They're designed by us, and they can be an expression of our values... and our biases. That doesn't necessarily mean a technologist or a tech company consciously sets out to skew technology in a particular way. But the questions we ask, or don't, about a new …
New technologies aren't neutral. They're designed by us, and they can be an expression of our values... and our biases. That doesn't necessarily mean a technologist or a tech company consciously sets out to skew technology in a particular way. But the questions we ask, or don't, about a new …
Do you "trust the experts"? Or rather, in what circumstances do you trust the experts? In a complex world like ours, expertise is important, but specialization and hyper-focus can also get in the way of seeing the big picture. On the other hand, in rapidly evolving situations where the stakes …
Do you "trust the experts"? Or rather, in what circumstances do you trust the experts? In a complex world like ours, expertise is important, but specialization and hyper-focus can also get in the way of seeing the big picture. On the other hand, in rapidly evolving situations where the stakes …
If you live in a city, the way we used to get around--at least before March-- has changed dramatically. Public transit use is way down. You can't buy a bicycle for demand. People who previously took the bus or ridesharing services have gone back to the safe isolation of their …
If you live in a city, the way we used to get around--at least before March-- has changed dramatically. Public transit use is way down. You can't buy a bicycle for demand. People who previously took the bus or ridesharing services have gone back to the safe isolation of their …
It's been a long time since many of us have stepped inside an actual, physical retail store for anything other than essentials. Across Canada, we're in different stages of reopening in a staggered, uncertain way. Many businesses have shuttered permanently. Some have filed for bankruptcy protection. Others are open, but …