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.

The internet offers a huge amount of information, usually for free. So how has that affected the institutions we have traditionally learned from: our schools, colleges, and universities? How does it affect health care?
453: Disability design Nov. 8, 2019
People with disabilities want to be participants in design, not recipients of design.
Everything we do is analyzed, measured, and quantified to create a model of us online, which then tries to influence our behavour. But how accurate is our quantified self?
From following GPS directions to not having to memorize anyone's phone number, it's been ages since we've had to remember things! But is that bad for our brains? This week, a look at how the internet has changed the way we know and remember.
Special: Smart Homes Oct. 18, 2019
A roundup of Spark stories from the past year that explore the past, present and future of smart home technology.
450: Synthetic Food Oct. 11, 2019
As we seek to feed a growing global population, new food technologies are opening up a world of synthetic food production: from synthesizing products at the molecular level, to stem cells grown to create flesh, to farming⁠—and eating⁠—insects. But how many innovations will move from pricey experiments in the lab …
It's election season in Canada, and this week on Spark we're taking a look at the how tools used to mislead people have developed through history.
More than half a million Canadians live with dementia—and that number is rising. From urban planning to smart home technology, we look at some of the innovations that can support people living with dementia, as well as their caregivers.
447: Rethinking Craft Sept. 20, 2019
If digital tools mean everyone's a dj or filmmaker, do those tools devalue or replace skill and craft? What does craft actually look like in an age of digital reproduction? And combining a love of craft with activism, for a new era of "craftivism."
446: From Sea to Sky Sept. 13, 2019
A look inside the black boxes of two of the hidden systems we rely on every day. Inside the complex world of weather forecasting, and a deep, deep dive to the bottom of the ocean to explore the dizzying array of undersea cables that make up the backbone of the …
Spark 445: How We Talk Sept. 6, 2019
Season 13 of Spark begins with a look at how communication has changed thanks to our use of digital and mobile tools. From emojis and abbreviations to how we talk to our virtual assistants, how do we talk to each other today?
Our virtual assistants aren't ready to give advice Do you talk to your smart speaker? Heather Suzanne Woods is an assistant professor of rhetoric and technology at Kansas State University. She's studied how humans use language to make sense of technological change and why people seem to have a relationship …
How to make your own computer: embroider it, of course! Irene Posch is an artist who uses textiles to explore electronics. She and Ebru Kurbak recently designed an embroidery 8 bit computer, using historic patterns of gold embroidery and beads. Taking birding to the streets Google's Street View has yielded …
Confused by 'smart city' hype? This expert explains what it is and why we should care As cities around the world begin integrating technology more deeply into urban infrastructure, it's still not clear what people mean when they talk about "smart cities." Urban sustainability professor Andrew Karvonen talks about how …
A new opinion in the social media echo chamber could close it even tighter Disrupting our social media echo chambers with an opposing view may seem like the best way to reduce political polarization. But sociologist Christopher Bail from Duke University found it can actually entrench people's views and opinions …
Conserve The Sound preserves the sound Daniel Chun and Jan Derksen run a film design and communication firm, based in Germany. But they're also interested in preserving vanishing and endangered sounds. They created Conserve the Sound, an online museum of vintage sounds. From rotary dial phones to a Polaroid cameras, …
Why it's wrong to take pictures of strangers You see it all the time on social media. Someone sees another person doing something stupid or looking ridiculous. They take a discreet photo and post the stranger's image to their feed, usually to the amusement and occasional mockery of their followers. …
A fake grocery store helps us learn about the real thing At the University of Guelph, there a laboratory made to look like a grocery store. Cameras watch the shoppers as they move down the aisles and special headsets track the movements of their eyes. The Food Retail Lab is …
With the growth in wearable technology, not to mention smartphone apps, it's easier than ever to count steps, monitor heart rate and more. But do all those scores really help us understand ourselves and our health? Holly Witteman is an associate professor in the department of family and emergency medicine …
The argument for Inbox Infinity Andre Spicer talks about the allure of abandoning the idea of "inbox zero" and just letting the messages stack up How to tidy up your personal tech, Marie Kondo-style Brian X. Chen shares his tips about tidying up your technology physically and digitally, Marie Kondo-style. …