Tag Archives: #WalrusTalks

The Walrus Talks: Living Better

the WalrusWe recently attended another in a series of “The Walrus Talks” sessions with the theme of “Living Better”.  The sessions are put together by the Walrus Magazine and Concordia University.  On the most recent talk 7 speakers talked about living better from their personal, business, social or scientific perspectives.

Living better was presented though our identity, song, low tech social media, loss, babies and architecture.  Because of the lack of space and to keep the word count down to keep you the reader engaged here are thoughts on the speakers that left the greatest impression on me. Where there was info available I have included some Twitter ID so you might look further into the speakers I have for you.

Our individual Urban Community is recognized as a core to our living better; presented by architect Donald Schmidt, it discussed the science, politics and culture of how we live now.  Exploring Ottawa’s architecture he gave 6 examples of  buildings that bring better living to Ottawa; his list of six included the recent renovations of the National Arts Centre, The Ottawa Train Station, educational institutions uOttawa and Algonquin College, the Science and Tech Museum and the last of the six, but the one with the greatest potential – the new Ottawa Public Library and National Archives building that will rise in Lebreton Flats.

Going straight for the heart, Christa Couture, writer and broadcaster (Twitter ID @christacouture), brought the idea that personal loss can bring a ‘living better’ quality to our lives.  In loss we often think and hope about life getting better, Couture made us think that sometimes life cannot get better, but that life can be different. Different is an alternative to better that sometimes we need to embrace.  Different gives us all a grounded hope, not for better but for different – an alternative to live better.

With enhancements to how we communicate, it was enlightening to hear Nanveet Alang (@navalang) talk about how we can dial back technology. Tech is essential in today’s world but finding the human in technology allows everyone to make decisions that are our decisions, not technology’s or social media’s.  Two options we have to give us the ‘opt in’ decision are the online group chat rooms. The earliest of these group chats was launched in 1983, a very adopter of social media, but the ideas often stayed in the group forums.  In today’s social media, people’s thoughts are too often public, when they should be kept private.  His second roll back in tech communications is the newsletter, they used to be delivered by email.  The newsletter gives us the human reaction od deciding to opt in to receive a newsletter.  Too often, by simply purchasing something we are automatically part of an email group and added to a newsletter distribution – the opt out is something that should part of history. Alang publishes his own newsletter, The Purposeful Object and is available for subscription at buttondown.email/TPO.

Finally, how about a song to celebrate living better? Sean McCann (@seanmccannsings), former member of Great Big Sea described his days post-alcohol through his song “Stronger” – how now being stronger he is living better.  Have a listen: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=sean+mccann+youtube+stronger&&view=detail&mid=768E994AC200C8ED1B97768E994AC200C8ED1B97&&FORM=VRDGAR

Of course, we all make decisions on our personal ways for living better, listening to the others provides insight and perspectives how our community and personal experiences play a part in us living better – if we choose to.

NOTE: For more of The Walrus Talks: Living Better, visit their You Tube Channel for all the speakers of this event and other talks, https://www.youtube.com/user/walrustelevision.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Digital Disruption

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. 

The Librarian

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 Mentor

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

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker@rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net