Liz and I have started attending #WalrusTalks, evenings put on the Walrus magazine. Our first was October 16thof this year and the topic was Cannabis – 7 speakers talking for 7 minutes. Why October 16th? The next day was unique for on October 17thmarijuana was legal. Fast forward to last week and we attended our next Walrus talk, an evening of disruption.
I’ve heard of these disruption nights but never took part, but in our efforts to learn from listening to others; we couldn’t resist the opportunity to be part of a disruption. We didn’t know what the disruption would be or how it would be sound. The ‘disruptors’ included a Librarian, Radio Producer, a Doctor, Cannabis expert, a Daemon follower and a mentor to tech girls.
On this evening this was a digital disruption.
Of the six speakers (one was unable to attend) I’ll focus on the disruptors that brought the left the greatest impression on me, and it doesn’t mean the impression was good. But the overall message of the speakers was that of how disruption makes us think differently.
Books and the written word have been disrupting the world since the printing press was invented. The public library as we know it, courtesy of Andrew Carnegie, has been a disruptor giving everyone who dared to enter the doors of a Carnegie Library knowledge, imagination and dreams. Guylaine Beaudry (@GuylaineBeaudry) is the Librarian of Concordia University and was responsible transformation of the university’s library.
Guylaine’s message was, the library is not dead, it continues to disrupt, and that alone should change what some may think of the future of the library. Whether you read from a bound book, take in a visualization of a story or listen to an audio book libraries will continue to create the change it has since ink first made it to paper.
Beaudry insists that the library evolves as we evolve and how we communicate changes. Paper and digital co-exist, or rather can and should. Though she didn’t mention it, the new Calgary Library could be an example of the disruption that a library can cause in the 21stcentury.
The Cannabis Expert
As I mentioned earlier, our first #WalrusTalks was on the eve of legalization on marijuana. I was surprised to see another cannabis speaker, or a disruptor. I won’t take anything away from Lisa Campbell (@qnp); she is very accomplished and is now assisting others through the new reality of a marijuana consumer. Her experience of helping those who needed marijuana for medical purposes had led her though to where she is today.
Through her seven minutes the highlight of her talk was her epiphany that she had to break the law to make good happen. I don’t begrudge her success or the good work she is doing – but I do oppose her view that breaking the law makes all things good. Her disruption of challenging the laws in place is noble – but it should always be the exception not the rule. If it becomes the rule, disruption turns into disorder.
The final speaker was Saadia Muzaffar, a tech mentor for girls, a promoter of an inclusive future and advisor to the Canadian government for access to skilled talent. Take the time to scroll through her @ThisTechGirl Twitter feed and you’ll find someone that talks about fairness in a world of digital growth.
This evening though Saadia focused on tech, the boom of tech and of tech jobs that might not be all that they seem. On this evening her message left the greatest impression on me.
In a digital world of apps and online business; owners, shareholders, investors and customers are the winners. I compare the digital revolution to the industrial revolution of earlier last century. The bosses were the winners, the workers not so much. It took decades for workers to gain equality and earn a salary that were not ‘slave wages’. Flash forward to the explosion of apps that control our lives from our phones. The new digital revolution has had the same effect on workers as 100 years ago. Low wages without benefits, today people work for themselves and not for a company on a contract workers and in some cases working conditions that lack humane concern.
In an era where contract workers are becoming a larger part of the workforce Saadia suggests that we need to recognize that the moves cost us and governments. Social programs lose revenue from corporations that would pay into CPP, EI, and other programs that Canada has been praised for. That government will rely more on revenues on contract workers is a concern future governments must be aware of. Contract workers relying on the digital economy now have a greater reliance on themselves to be able to save for retirement.
Her message should echo with us when we hear of large companies like Amazon come to town promising jobs, we should be asking not only about the number of job but also about the quality of the jobs and working conditions. Are these the skilled jobs we need? These questions remain with me weeks after this #WalrusTalks, the need to dig deep and question what communities receives when a company comes to town.
I don’t know that I will ever fit into a mould of being a disruptor, but I do know that I will always consider where my #RedHeartBlueSign values stand.
Interested in more of what the Walrus magazine presents across Canada? Visit the Walrus on You Tube to view previous #WalrusTalks presentations or visit http://www.walrus.ca/video
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