On CBC’s Spark!

A few weeks ago, Dan Misener from the CBC contacted me, asking if I would like to do an interview for their weekly technology radio show Spark. Of course, I agreed. We did a great interview, which they posted in full, and last night the actual radio show went online. Go here to check it out. You can also use the controls at the end of this post to play or download it directly.

I felt very satisfied with it. As an audio person myself, it always pisses me off when I do something for a show, then someone bungles it in the editing stage and it sounds like crap. This did NOT happen with the CBC! They do good work. The show even started with a few samples from our warming up, alternating counting to get our recorders synchronized. I felt that gave the show a great tech touch right from the beginning. I would have found that cool even if it didn’t feature me.

The “User Friendly” program first talks about technology to try to bring the advantages of paper to the digital world. Paper gives people the more analog ability to freely write and associate things, which does not translate to digital storage. We will continue to see advances along these fronts in hardware and software design. I enjoyed using Orgmode for Emacs, now I have to find something similar for the Mac.

The program next talks about busses. I can relate to this. A few weeks ago, I had to meet a friend at a bus. I had no idea where she’d end up, so asked my sister for some sighted help. As we got in the car she asked, “Where’s the bus stop?” “Um, I don’t know, that’s kind of why I asked for your help. Don’t you know?” “No, I never take the bus.” she said. Even locals get confused by busses, and I welcome any improvements, especially with regards to accessibility, smart phones, and the like. I found it interesting that once again accessibility can become a mainstream issue, as everyone would enjoy hearing the stops and other information announced in a clear voice.

Next, the program features none other than the Dalai Lama. Wow! I saw him in Central Park in 2000. Some shady dude giving off creepy Illuminati vibes stood at the entrance, offering “Free purified water from Coca Cola!” with a false cheeriness. We all turned it down – purity doesn’t first come to mind when thinking of Coca Cola. They picked the wrong crowd, most meditators would agree I’d think. The presentation left us feeling awed. The Dalai Lama and his entourage managed to put down a sacred vibe right in the middle of Central Park, an amazing thing to feel. In this segment, he talked about his views on technology. People can have lots of stuff but still feel unhappy. Technology can bring us things instantly. Still as always, true happiness comes from within. I share in the optimism that technology can do good in the world. I decided to start a business for that reason.

After that, a cool guy came on who works as an editor for the best news site on the net, The Onion! It always cracks me up when some foolish reporter picks up an Onion headline as real news, and propagates it in an article. He talked about email lists, and their advantages over other forms of social networking. Companies control these networks, and companies fail. When the networks fail, all the information and contacts go with them. Email represents a more intimate and permanent way of communication. He said it seemed so nineties, and that made me smile. I think of that as just yesterday, but not really! I ran a dial-up bulletinboard for years, and that had private mail, so email didn’t seem especially novel to me when I made the transition. Still, he got it right, you’d feel excited when you got one. His points made me want to set up a special Behind the Curtain mailing list. I’ll have to look into that.

Following all these awesome guests came my interview. If you read my blog you probably have heard everything in it, but again I felt very impressed by their editing job. We each recorded our respective ends – a double ender as they call it. I used my Olympus DM520 Digital Voice Recorder, and just got the .wav file from there, encoded it as a .flac, and threw it on a local web server for them. They mixed it all and presented it back. We went through some iPhone and VoiceOver basics, though if you want real instruction you should check out Apple’s page. We had a great time doing the interview and it came out wonderfully.

They concluded the program by talking about something fascinating, interfacing with the brain to control a computer. A guy actually composed a tweet using an EKG. They talk about some other cool things too. This stuff really intrigues me. The mind truly represents the final frontier, as any trekker knows.