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Spark from CBC Radio


Spark on CBC Radio One Nora Young helps you navigate your digital life by connecting you to fresh ideas in surprising ways.

Spark on CBC Radio One Nora Young helps you navigate your digital life by connecting you to fresh ideas in surprising ways.


Toronto, ON


Spark on CBC Radio One Nora Young helps you navigate your digital life by connecting you to fresh ideas in surprising ways.






CBC Radio: Spark P.O. Box 500, Stn. “A” Toronto, Ontario M5W 1E6 416-205-7021


470: Access in Isolation

As the pandemic continues to keep a lot of us at home, today we look at access and technology: Social access to each other as we physically isolate. Access to the devices and data that keep us connected. And securing access to the internet when networks are under strain. Even in your own home, with people working and learning remotely It's easy to see why we often think of the internet as something intangible. We talk about being 'virtual' and storing things in the cloud. It's not until...


469: Remote

This week, Spark is coming to you from five different locations across Toronto, none of which is the CBC building! Like many people all over the world this week, we're working from home. Remote work is something we've talked about a lot on Spark over the past decade, but we've never done anything like this! We recognize that many people aren't able to work remotely, and we'll be addressing that too. But for people who can—and should—be working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, we're...


468: Concentration

In an age of digital devices and near constant distractions, many of us feel like our attention spans are shrinking. The good news is: we can get our power of concentration back. So this week on Spark, a handbook on how to concentrate in a distracting world. + Stefan Van der Stigchel is a cognitive psychologist and author of Concentration: Staying Focused in Times of Distraction. He says that there's no reason to believe our ability to concentrate is being permanently eroded by digital...


467: Music Streaming

For many of us—even without it being much of a conscious choice—buying music has been replaced by subscribing to a music streaming service. Here in Canada, streaming numbers have long overtaken physical or digital album sales. One study reported over 75 billion streams in 2019, a 30 percent increase from the year before. Compare that to sales, which have dropped by 25 per cent in the same time period. As record stores close, streaming platforms continue to crop up. Spotify, Apple Music, CBC...


466: Living Buildings

What if there was an alternative to buildings made from concrete, steel and glass? Many of those materials—especially concrete—are very energy intensive to produce. This week on Spark, we look at some of the ways architects are trying to incorporate living materials into building construction, or create spaces that seem alive in the sense that they interact with us in a fundamental way. Could our future homes be living things? + Phil Ayres is an architect in Copenhagen, and he's working with...


465: Open / Closed

We've seen an incredible change in the architecture of the internet. Not just how it operates, but how we operate within it. Think back to the days when YouTube was new, only a handful of people knew what Facebook was, and cell phones were for making phone calls! Early adopters were making podcasts and writing blogs. Wikipedia was an exciting experiment. The old gatekeepers of media were crumbling and the web seemed open to everyone. Today, however, we largely experience the internet through...


Spark special: A map of maps

Google Maps. It's turning 15. Fifteen! We're looking back at some of the many stories about maps we've covered on past seasons of Spark. We'll look back at maps for smells, maps for noises, and even how some people are using Google Street View for birding!


464: Truth Decay

Polarization and social-media filter bubbles are destroying our shared sense of reality. Does this mean society is headed toward a state of psychosis?


463: Islands in the Stream

After years of Netflix and YouTube dominating streaming video, a raft of new services is arriving, yours for the price of a subscription. What does this mean for the future of how we watch? That, plus exploring the surprising role the pornography industry has played in the technology of streaming.Spark host Nora Young speaks with Patrick Keilty, a professor and archives director of the Sexual Representation Collection in the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of...


462: In Defense of Winter

It's winter (duh). Long nights, cold days, and, for much of the country, snow. But should we be cowering inside or embracing it? This week on Spark, we look at how public design and personal mindset can allow us to make the most—and even get excited by—winter. Isla Tanaka, Edmonton's WinterCity planner, explains how her city is helping patios stay open all year, keeping parks accessible, and using urban design to mitigate darkness and wind. Michele Acuto, Professor of Global Urban Politics...


461: D-I-V-O-R-C-E

The Netflix movie "Marriage Story" has received lots of recognition, including six Oscar nominations. Critics and viewers are entranced by its realistic look at a couple who want to split up amicably, but are swayed by those around them, including lawyers. They end up in a vicious legal battle that might never have happened if they had been presented with an alternative. Separation and divorce are common in Canada. But whether you're married or common law, have kids or cats (or both!)...


460: The Future

If we've learned anything in the tech world over the last decade, it's the folly of not taking the long view. So the start of a new decade seems like a good time to talk "big picture" with Lord Martin Rees, one of the world's most prominent scientists. His most recent book is called "On the Future: Prospects for Humanity." In a full-episode interview, Sir Martin and Nora don't just look decades ahead, but also millions of years into human future.


459: Canada, Communications and a new decade

With phone scams on the rise and 5G around the corner, how well are we prepared for the 2020s? A feature interview with CRTC Chair Ian Scott.


458: Weird and Wonderful AI

How making AI do goofy things exposes its limitations: In her book, "You Look Like a Thing and I Love You," Janelle Shane eposes the pitfalls of AI dependence. Also, Musician-turned-AI-researcher David Usher talks about ReImagine AI, he effort to make a better machine-human interface.


Special: Rest and Recharge

We revisit conversations with people who've dedicated their research to helping us rest, recharge and return to nature.


457: Technology and Oppression

New technology often gets talked about as a neutral object. But technology has politics. It's designed and used by humans. And humans have priorities and beliefs and blinders. This week on Spark we're look at how technology can be used to both liberate and empower. We're going to start with the civil rights movement in the United States. Charlton McIlwain is the author of Black Software: The Internet and racial justice, from the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter. He explains to Nora how the...


456: Walden, revisited

Henry David Thoreau's book, Walden; or, Life in the Woods, is a seminal work of literature—and one of the greatest arguments ever made in favour of simple living. This week on Spark we're revisiting Walden, and looking at its elegant relevance for today's world, as more and more people seek respite from their technology-addled, fast-paced lives.


455: On Failure

Failure is having a moment in the tech industry. What can that teach us about our limitations and how we measure success?


Special: Unintended Consequences

A roundup of Spark stories from the past that explore the unintended consequences of new technology.


454: Shaking up the Status Quo

The internet offers a huge amount of information, usually for free. So how has that affected the institutions we have traditionally learned from: our schools, colleges, and universities? How does it affect health care?