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Canada 3.0: Defining Canada’s Digital Future April 21, 2009

Posted by Greg Van Alstyne in Community, Conferences, Events, Future of Media: The sBook.
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SLab is working with some of the participants and organizers of this timely event, June 7-9, 2009 at Waterloo University.

“Canada 3.0 will be a highly engaged and interactive gathering of industry leaders. The two days will be devoted to breakout and priority setting sessions. Highly skilled facilitators will lead discussions and encourage the identification of national priorities and development of key stages in a Canada-wide strategy for international competitiveness in the digital media.”

… For stream overviews and working stream agendas, click on the links below:


The Future of Learning: Visualization, Collaboration, Play February 20, 2009

Posted by Greg Van Alstyne in Events, Future of Learning: PLAE INC., sLab.
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The Future of Learning: Visualization, Collaboration, Play

How can visualization, collaboration, play behaviour and other intrinsic facets of design thinking and creative practice help us to solve 21st century challenges of learning? Come join our discussion.

Friday February 27, 2009, 3–4:45 pm
Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab)
Ontario College of Art & Design
Room 600, 100 McCaul Street

About sLab Explorations
Open dialogues on design, innovation and the future.
Last Friday of the month at Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab)
Brief presentation, open discussion and creative ideation with
OCAD faculty, students, and guests from other organizations.

About sLab
Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab) is a new centre for research and innovation at the Ontario College of Art & Design. sLab integrates academic research, professional engagement, education and skills development for private, public, and not-for-profit stakeholders. We’re a growing community of researchers and practitioners, design and business professionals, teachers and students, who are passionate about envisioning possible futures.

Photos (CC) courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/dvdmerwe/316592724 and http://www.flickr.com/photos/pezz/519423109

Why the Future of the Book May Rest on Watermarking Text February 18, 2009

Posted by Greg Van Alstyne in Future of Media: The sBook, sLab Research.
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I had an epiphany arising from our recent sLab Explorations event on Rethinking the Book.

BAsedon some results from our workshop, that advocated “traceability” for quotations,  I had the idea that a means for “watermarking” digital text could solve a lot of future book design problems in one gesture. If any passage of text could be automatically traced back to its source, this mechanism could be designed to provide many valuable, even critical functions:

  • The dual function of “authoring” and “authority” can be served, not eroded
  • Text references that are cut and pasted could serve as their own footnote vectors
  • Attributions could be managed in various ways -authors could be compensated with cash or caché, as appropriate to the situation
  • Digital rights management (DRM) could be implemented in more flexible, more benign ways, leading toward a culture of proactivity, rather than what Lessig considers the crippling culture of permission of “all rights reserved”
  • It could give rise to digital archives that encourage rather than prohibiting copies; like an eternal flame that anyone can light their candle from.

The result could be lasting safety for digital culture, since few copies are vulnerable to failures and loss of various kinds. A remark was made that this idea underlies Ted Nelson’s early vision for hypertext, called Xanadu.

So, right after the sLab event I read in the NYTimes about a number of research efforts doing just this. The goal in this case was to protect recordds of the Rwandan genocide from digital rewriting of history… Check this:

A Tool to Verify Digital Records, Even as Technology Shifts
Published: January 26, 2009 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/science/27arch.html

The article discusses important initiatives by Brewster Kahle (Wayback Machine), Steward Brand (Long Now Foundation projects) and a Stanford Library initiative called LOCKSS (http://www.lockss.org/)


“What is the LOCKSS Program? LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe), based at Stanford University Libraries, is an international community initiative that provides libraries with digital preservation tools and support so that they can easily and inexpensively collect and preserve their own copies of authorized e-content. LOCKSS, in its tenth year, provides libraries with the open-source software and support to preserve today’s web-published materials for tomorrow’s readers while building their own collections and acquiring a copy of the assets they pay for, instead of simply leasing them.

“The ACM award-winning LOCKSS technology is an open source, peer-to-peer, decentralized digital preservation infrastructure. LOCKSS preserves all formats and genres of web-published content. The intellectual content, which includes the historical context (the look and feel), is preserved. LOCKSS is OAIS-compliant; the software migrates content forward in time; and the bits and bytes are continually audited and repaired. Today LOCKSS is a thriving international community-based initiative with libraries and publishers working together with the shared goal to preserve e-content for the long-term. More than 300 leading scholarly publishers have granted permission for their content to be preserved by LOCKSS Alliance members.”

Transition Plus Sustainability Solutions: Greening My Hotel February 10, 2009

Posted by logan1939 in Conferences, Future of Value: Technologies of Sustainability, sLab Research.
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Strategic Innovation Lab is working with Transition Plus Sustainability Solutions to develop a project to assist hotels to become more sustainable entitled: Greening My Hotel. Together with John Walker and Olga Bodnar of Transition Plus, Greg Van Alstyne and Bob Logan have created a brochure to be distributed at the Feb.10-11, 2009 The Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) Conference. We are looking forward to this event.

Designing Research | Research in Design, Feb. 9, 11:30am, OCAD February 8, 2009

Posted by Greg Van Alstyne in Events, Future of Media: The sBook, sLab, sLab Research.
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sLab’s Director of Research, Greg Van Alstyne, will be one of three presenters from the Faculty of Design at OCAD in this event:

Designing Research | Research in Design
Feb 9th, 2009, 11:30 am–1 pm
Ontario College of Art & Design
100 McCaul Street, Room 558

“An opportunity to learn more about the research practices of OCAD faculty Jules Goss, Martin Leifhebber and Greg Van Alstyne.” The title of my presentation is “Precedents and Architectures for the Future of the Book.”

BETT: World’s largest education technology event January 16, 2009

Posted by Greg Van Alstyne in Events, Future of Learning: PLAE INC., Future of Media: The sBook, Trade shows.
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This reference looks useful to our smartbook or “sBook” research project.

“BETT is the world’s largest educational technology event. Use this site to find products and suppliers, and discover the latest ways to use technology for teaching and learning.”

Innovation within the Obama Campaign: Inaugural Torch-sLab lecture at OCAD January 12, 2009

Posted by Greg Van Alstyne in Events, Future of Design: Designing for Emergence, Uncategorized.
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Draft design for Obama's campaign logo, by Sol Sender

Draft design for Obama's campaign logo, by Sol Sender

Strategic Innovation Lab is thrilled to be hosting the first of a series of lectures sponsored by Torch Partnership and organized by Michael Dila, sLab’s chief strategist. This subject is timely and an excellent example of the role design can play in catalyzing significant social change.

The event is now close to capacity; we expect a sold out event so please register soon and come early. We ask you to register here: http://unfinishedlectures.eventbrite.com/ (Registration is not required to attend but helps us plan and improve this event series)

Inaugural Unfinished Lecture at OCAD
Hosted by Strategic Innovation Lab
Sponsored by Torch Partnership

Tuesday January 13, 2009, 5-7 pm
OCAD Auditorium


Scott Thomas and Rahaf Harfoush will lead an interactive discussion on how Design and New Media played an instrumental role in the Barack Obama campaign. Thomas and Harfoush will explore the innovation of both campaign tactics and political strategy. In conversation, we will explore the impact of many forms of openness on participation in the 2008 presidential campaign. Are the progressive tendencies evidenced in the campaign flash-in-the-pan phenomena or a kind of sea change in technologies of engagement.

The Unfinished Lecture is a monthly event hosted by the Strategic Innovation Lab at OCAD and sponsored by Torch Partnership. Part of the Unfinished Business initiative, the lectures are intended to generate an open conversation about strategic innovation in the business and design of commercial enterprises and public organizations.

Scott Thomas is constantly seeking the simplest answer to complex problems. Scott began his design pursuits studying architecture before bouncing to graphic design and web development. In 2006, he and 5 others began a design collective, lovingly titled, The Post Family. The group is devoted to supporting each others design habits, from silk screen to letterpress, from illustration to blogging, in an effort to “get back to the hand”. In 2007, Scott’s career took a dramatic leap when he was invited to join the New Media team at Obama for America. The chance encounter led Scott to becoming the Design Director of the historic Obama Presidential campaign. Scott plans to continue designing for social causes that might just someday change the world.

Rahaf Harfoush is an Innovation and New Media Strategist who specializes in creating authentic conversations in the social media landscape. Her clients include British Telecom, Unilever, InnoSpa, and Duke University. She is also an avid blogger, writer, information junkie, web evangelist and social network ninja. She was the Research Coordinator on Don Tapscott’s “Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything” and contributed to “Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World.” Her articles have been published in The Toronto Star, CIO Magazine, NCEW Masthead, ShinyShiny.tv and Suite 101. Rahaf graduated in 2006 with an Honours in Business Administration from the Richard Ivey School of Business from the University of Western Ontario. Currently, Rahaf is working on a variety of projects including collaborating with Now Public founder Leonard Brody on his latest book “Everything I Needed to Know about Business I Learned From a Canadian.” She recently completed a three-month assignment as part of Barack Obama’s New Media Team at his headquarters in Chicago. Rahaf blogs at TheFoush.com

HOSTED BY: Torch Partnership & sLab

Torch Partnership

At Torch we think differently about the purpose and value of design. By treating business problems as problems of design we are able to develop a richer point of view on the problem itself. This creates a deeper understanding of the problem’s dynamics, and leads to a diversity of unique insights to the problem, its causes and its effects. Our greatest ambition as designers is to improve the businesses we serve. We focus our attention on creating alignment between your organization’s strategy and it’s design for creating value: from structure to processes, communications and core capabilities.

Strategic Innovation Lab
Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab) is a centre for research and innovation affiliated with the Faculty of Design at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD). sLab operates on a model that integrates academic research, professional services, curriculum and skills development for stakeholders in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors. sLab is a growing community of researchers and practitioners, design and business professionals, teachers and students, who are passionate about envisioning possible futures.

Owning the Ultrahigh Broadband Network January 3, 2009

Posted by Greg Van Alstyne in sLab Research.
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This podcast from ITConversations covers issues of direct relevance to the iWaterfront initiative: http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/shows/detail3719.html

Brough Turner, SVP and CTO, NMS Communications
Own the Network

Brough Turner says, “Don’t fight for anything above dark fiber.” Changes in telecom tend to happen on a decade’s time scale so be careful what you ask for – it will be with you for a long time. His proposal for improving internet communications in the United States is based on the paradigm of owning the dark fiber ourselves or controlling who lights the dark fiber that comes into our homes.

He describes models from Quebec and Sweden of condominium fiber and municipal fiber, and gives Sweden as the example of a successful model because of their dark fiber widely available. Telephony is not a natural monopoly as that is defined. With dark fiber widely available in a condominium or municipal model, independent ISP’s can compete and customers can control who lights their dark fiber.

Designing for emergence in US presidential politics December 14, 2008

Posted by Greg Van Alstyne in Future of Design: Designing for Emergence.
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Unchosen variation on Obamas campaign logo, by Sol Sender

Unchosen variation on Obama's campaign logo, by Sol Sender

This story combines two of my passions: typography and designing for emergence.

Sol Sender, who led a design team for the Obama 08 logo, was recently interviewed about the project. Here’s a walk through the various logo options, with some of Sol’s thoughts. The full interview videos can be watched on the website of VSA Partners (where Sol is now a strategist).


I can’t help thinking that of all the options, the final choice is clearly the most:

  • pictorial
  • small c conservative
  • “American,” and
  • effective — because the others seem, er, too “radical,” that is, unexpected, for a presidential campaign.

Special issue of Artifact: Canonical design writings December 10, 2008

Posted by Greg Van Alstyne in Future of Design: Designing for Emergence, Open Calls, sLab Education.
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Here’s an interesting call from the journal that published Bob Logan’s and my first collaborative paper on Designing for Emergence. The result should be a vital resource for design research and education

Journal: Artifact
Special Issue: Canonical writings on design

Artifact, an international peer-reviewed academic journal dealing with design, plans a special issue for mid-2009 dedicated to canonical writings on design. Any search of the literature on design reveals a burgeoning field of writing that recurrently reformulates itself according to processes of economic, social and technological change. Within this flux of ideas, however, there are certain books that warrant acknowledgment as anchor points for any investigation into their respective area of design. The Artifact special issue on canonical writings in design welcomes articles on single books or groups of books that you consider have a significant and enduring place in the literature of design.

Where some view canon formation as an expression of ideological control, the special issue seeks to stimulate debate concerning design’s essential readings by exploring the authority of highly valued texts. Artifact encourages cross-fertilization, interconnections, and crossbreeding among different scientific disciplines, the design industry, and the arts. We seek reviews that reflect the broad field of design and show how a canonical design literature is open and expanding, as new issues and influences impact on the activity of design.

The goal of the issue is to add to the design field’s intellectual robustness, to establish principles for the ongoing critical evaluation of key texts and to ensure that important works are not neglected as a result of the ongoing cycle of publication. Alternatively, we recognize that the scope of a single journal issue means any attempt at canon-identification will be neither all-embracing nor definitive. The proposed books will thus shed light on the interplay of current and enduring concerns in design.

Review essays should be no more than 3,500 words in length and are due 1 February 2009.

We already have a number of books proposed for review, so please check to see whether your intended book is free for review by contacting the special issue editor:

Carolyn Barnes, PhD
Senior Lecturer, Senior Research Fellow
Swinburne Design
Swinburne University of Technology
Melbourne, Australia


For information on Artifact please visit: http://www.informaworld.com/artifact

Augmented Social Network: Online support for civil society December 8, 2008

Posted by Greg Van Alstyne in Community, Future of Value: Technologies of Sustainability, sLab Research.
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While working in New York around the turn of the millennium I met Ken Jordan, a digital media consultant and co-author of Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality. He has been working on an idea called the Augmented Social Network (ASN) that I think may be highly useful to iWaterfront project. These ideas were articulated a couple of years before the big rise in social media in 2005, but remain relevant today. See Ken’s blurb on ASN below.

The Augmented Social Network. Could the next-generation of online community support civil society by better connecting people to others with whom they share affinities, so they can more effectively exchange information and self-organize? Could such a system help to revitalize democracy in the 21st century? These questions were the focus of a two-year process that brought together leading figures from computer science, independent media, and the environmental movement. The result is a proposal for an “Augmented Social Network” that enhances the effectiveness of social networks in the same way that the personal computer enhances individual creativity. Central to the ASN is an effort to build a civil society form of trust and identity into the infrastructure of the Internet. The paper, “The Augmented Social Network: Building Identity and Trust Into The Next-Generation Internet,” co-written with Jan Hauser and Steven Foster, was presented at the Planetwork Conference, “Networking a Sustainable Future,” in San Francisco June 6-8. It was subsequently published on First Monday.