Nice suit, Mark. Now, let’s take this privacy matter out of your hands.

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“I’m shocked, shocked to find that tech companies are selling users’ data.”
“Your sales proceeds, sir.”
“Oh, thank you very much.”

As I’m writing this, Mark Zuckerberg is making some interesting stops on his apology tour.  Zuckerberg, the beleaguered head of Facebook, has been invited to explain to legislators in the US, Britain, and other jurisdictions, just what exactly Facebook has been doing with its users’ personal data.  My expectation is that the current congressional hearings will achieve little more than providing an opportunity for representatives to do a little grandstanding, and getting Zuckerberg to wear a suit and tie.  Those representatives are not prepared to take the steps necessary to guard individuals’ privacy when dealing with not just Facebook, but thousands of companies.  Continue reading “Nice suit, Mark. Now, let’s take this privacy matter out of your hands.”

When Technophilia Rules: From Coffee-pot Cameras to Smart Appliances and Beyond

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Diet courtesy of Amazon

 

In a recent Globe and Mail column, Sylvain Charlebois, dean of the Faculty of Management at Dalhousie University, wrote about how technology is revolutionising food distribution and consumption.  He suggests that online ordering and home delivery is making consumers more rational, more informed, and even healthier. A dubious claim, but let’s go with it for a minute.  The professor wrote excitedly about the prospect of automatic ordering of groceries and delivery to a consumer’s fridge.  He imagined companies delivering to our kitchens the food we need to better our health, based on data downloaded from people’s portable devices.  He calls this sort of diet management the “fitbitization” of food, after the ubiquitous wrist-worn reminder of people’s inactivity.

Picture a scenario whereby Amazon analyzes personal data from our wrist-worn devices, determines our nutritional requirements, and has Alexa order us to eat more broccoli.  It’s technology run amok – the result of technophilia. Continue reading “When Technophilia Rules: From Coffee-pot Cameras to Smart Appliances and Beyond”

A Suggested Bid for Amazon HQ2

“My offer is this….nothing.”

Ever since Amazon.com announced that it was searching for a location for its “second headquarters,“ cities across North America have been falling over each other trying to make a case for their own sites.  In Canada, representatives from Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Waterloo, Montreal and Halifax have all said publicly that they should be considered, and committed to submitting a “bid” for the privilege of hosting a company that promises tens of thousands of jobs, a new focus for technology-driven business, and bragging rights associated with hosting one of the world’s most valuable companies.

To those developing lucrative packages with possible tax holidays, direct incentives, subsidies, and other contributions, I suggest that they instead offer the Michael Corleone package…nothing. Continue reading “A Suggested Bid for Amazon HQ2”

The IKEA Effect: Why Going Digital May Not Be All It’s Cracked Up To Be

A few years ago police in Sweden were called to what they were told was a domestic disturbance.  Neighbours had heard all sorts of banging, yelling, screaming, swearing and crying coming from a house where a couple lived with their young son, and feared the worst. 

The police did not walk into a domestic disturbance; rather, what they found was that the couple had merely been trying to assemble a piece of IKEA furniture, and had run into some difficulty.  Hence the banging, the yelling and the swearing.  The young child was frightened by all the commotion, and started crying and screaming. 

That is the Ikea Effect. 

Well, actually it isn’t.  Continue reading “The IKEA Effect: Why Going Digital May Not Be All It’s Cracked Up To Be”

Social Wellness and e-commerce – Lament for a Local Hero

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“We can do all of this by phone and telex”

 In the 1983 film Local Hero, Mac (Macintyre) was sent to Scotland to buy a village, so that his employer, a global oil and gas company, could build an oil refinery on the ridiculously picturesque Scottish coastline.  Instead, Mac fell in love with the village, the scenery, the people, the northern night skies and the lifestyle of the place.  He couldn’t complete the deal as originally planned, and returned to Houston.  But, the final scene suggests that he hadn’t really left the town of Ferness.

The movie didn’t make much of an impact at the box office, but its warmth, charm, and subtle messages of empathy and understanding make it a continuing favourite of many.  Al Gore apparently named Local Hero as his favourite movie, perhaps because of its fit within a narrative of environmental stewardship (the oil refinery gave way to a marine institute).    The real charm of Local Hero, however, is in its gentle presentation of a narrative whereby Mac realizes that there is much more to life than his Porsche 930, his watch alerting him to conference calls, and an apartment full of high-end quadrophonic audio equipment (the 80s, remember?).  The movie presents a storyline whereby Mac starts mixing directly with the locals, and emerges far better for the experience.  In a time when we seem to be using technology to reduce and even eliminate human contact from our daily lives, it’s a theme worth revisiting.     Continue reading “Social Wellness and e-commerce – Lament for a Local Hero”