All posts by Laura

Socially conscious tech and start up writer based out of Montreal.

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It feels like spring comes later to the point than it does downtown. When I go into work every day, I am always amazed by the temperature difference and the bare streets as I step out of the metro, versus the chilled icy path I took to step in. I know this is because the down town is more exposed and traveled then my small working class neighbourhood. Even then, it’s hard not to take it as some sort of slight, just another thing to think about as the residents of the area fight gentrification and maintaining affordable housing, and the yuppies holding spring condo meetings about how the trains that run in front of the homes they purchased make too much noise.

 

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To See Yourself in the World.

 

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When people ask me about being from Nova Scotia, my first response is usually along the lines of it’s wonderful and I love it and it’s very, very complicated. I have never felt more connected to the people around me while disconnected and oftentimes irrelevant to the rest of the country as I did growing up there. When you’re young in a location like that, schools, your family, your world, everything almost seems focused on grooming you for your eventual fate of going away to work. Be it in Alberta, in the oilfields, or to a white collar job in Toronto, Ottawa, or Vancouver. I understood from a very early age that my future was not where I was from, and planned accordingly. 

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Facebook Celebrates Ten Years of Embarrassing Photos and Annoying Status Updates.

 

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I tried not to write about how this is the year Facebook turns ten, if only because it makes me feel old. Once my school was finally added to the network (You still had to be in university then) all of my on campus pals posted their class schedules as status updates and which wifi enabled building they were in hanging out if anyone wanted to swing by. If they had cellphones no one called because it was school hours and texting was expensive. Yeah, it was 2003. 

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Canada in the Twitterverse: Super serious and boring all the time.

I guess Twitter doesn’t come naturally to all of us. Specifically the Government of Canada.

I know we Canadians have a bit of a rep as polite, pot smoking hippies with our free health care and our gay marriages, but when I learned today that government tweets go through a rigorous 12 step process in which the same 140 characters are written weeks in advance and then edited by dozens of different employees, I had to laugh because, well, that’s so Canadian.

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Tracking Your Lover Could Lead to Danger.

 

So by now you’ve probably heard how the Couple app is integrating location services into its app, saying it will allow couples to ‘more easily find each other.’  The site says it allows one partner to broadcast their location to the other and will only push the broadcast for 30 minutes before it is deactivated, which tones down the creep factor, but still leaves me wondering if I am the only one who thinks this will escalate abusive relationships?

Technology has created some problems with the language of love and relationships before. We already know that Facebook makes us miserable, and FOMO is real. We have created something that constantly makes us feel inadequate, and sometimes paranoid. So an app that allows people to let them know where their partner is at any given minute is bound to spiral out of control.

Abusers often need to know where their partner is and who they are with at all times, and get angry when they don’t have that information.  This app gives them that information, and although choice is a big part of the rhetoric for this application, it’s not realistic for those in abusive relationships to feel like they really have a choice in this features’ use. If your partner has already read your emails and your texts for a while, what is GPS tracking to keep the peace?

Obviously not everyone who uses this application is an abuser or is in an abusive relationship. Like Facebook does not personally make me miserable all the time, there are exceptions to every rule. Regardless, what is created and is sent out into the ether is deserving of a more meaningful analysis about its potential use, and how it may affect all of us, especially those who are in a position where the odds are somewhat stacked against them.

What do you think? Do you think this app’s new feature could escalate violent relationships?

 

 

Montreal Finally Gets Safe Injection Sites.

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So it’s finally happened. After a recommendation was made in 2011, the city has finally stopped being distracted by corrupt mayors, collapsing bridges and the mob long enough to listen to cries for a safe injection site like the ones in Vancouver. (Pictured above.)

Like everywhere though, opinions on the sites are mixed, from where they should be, to whether we should have them at all.

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EULA Hoola, and Other Dances with the NSA

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So with the NSA’s leaked documents continuing to pour out thanks to my new favourite person, Edward Snowden, all of Silicon Valley is getting a little nervous as the information keeps coming. And just a few days after Google and the other Tech giants leaned on the government to ask them to tone down the NSA’s, ya know, spying, we discover that our pals at the NSA (Hi guys.) are using Google’s cookies to gather intelligence.

And boy, is Google’s face as red.

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Can Technology Truly Pay for Its’ Sins?

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I found this article by Rana Foroohar in my inbox this morning, and while normally I am ripping the business world and the obtuseness of their whole perspective apart, I was so glad to finally see a major business publication acknowledge the oft ignored downsides of the technical world and how it affects regular users and small business owners, aka you and me.

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Googling Google’s Right Wing Connections.

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Googling Google’s Right Wing Connections.

Google is up to some sneaky business, funding some pretty militant anti government organizations. Is this just another part of the great Google Conspiracy? Probably not, but read what I think about it on Shoestring,