I am on my phone constantly.

And if it’s not the phone, it’s the laptop, where I simultaneously run my Twitter and Facebook feeds, while listening to a TED Talk and reading a lengthy New York Times article. That, or some other combination of over-stimulation and attention deficit disorder.

I’m always plugged in. And on the occasion that I decide to check out – or my mental breaker goes – I am in one way or another connecting with another person. When I’m physically alone, I’m connected to others through books or music, in a literary or melodic transcendence of time and place.

That’s the ultimate goal, whether it be in one’s personal life, social life, or professional life: To connect with others, and to feel connected. Psychologically, it boils down to our need for acceptance; Journalistically, it’s the ability to tell powerful stories that open eyes, warm and break hearts, and cause people to feel. And it’s this ability that can make or break a career. It is the difference between a story having a dramatic political impact, and it’s physical form being re-used as fried fish wrapping paper.

I attended a Kwantlen University GDMA event in Vancouver recently. It featured Terry O’Reilly, who spoke to the power of storytelling. In a nutshell, he iterated that in communication, it simply isn’t enough to make people understand: You have to make them feel. Feeling, he said, calls people to action more than facts and figures. (Which explains the impact the #Kony2012 movement was able to have in such a short period of time, before the world decided to check the facts: A classic case of action based on emotion, which is then followed by rational, critical, logical thinking. This, I’ve argued, is why the creators of the 30-minute video were successful: They achieved exactly what they wanted to achieve, by telling a powerful story that opened eyes and broke hearts, albeit temporarily.)

When you tell a story, you add value. Value, in turn, creates margin, and margin means profit. While O’Reilly was talking specifically about communication in advertising, the same principles are applicable not only to journalism, but to how we communicate in our day-to-day, hour-to-hour, text-to-text lives. At the end of the day, we relate to other people through a series of stories, through feeling, through making a connection.

So today, as I sat at the beach in front of a million-dollar ocean view with my eyes glued to my iPhone, I had a bit of a long-awaited epiphany: That through apps and social media sites and digital devices, I am able to instantly connect with any other human being on the planet. I can follow the successes of an old high school peer as they actively construct the timeline of their life, and I can let someone living thousands of miles away know that they are missed, and have them instantaneously share my feelings in that same moment. I can see the trends of what is being talked about globally, and know when anyone I’ve ever met, living in my area, has checked-in nearby.

What an incredible time it is to be making connections, and communicating ideas. So here I am, connecting with you.


Here are my thoughts on today’s headlines. Everything but the titles is written by yours truly.

Britons spending almost half the day plugged in by Neil Midgley:

About 45 per cent of the average Briton’s waking hours are spent using some type of technology, whether it’s surfing the Internet, watching television, listening to the radio or texting friends, according to Ofcom’s annual Communications Market Report.

If we assume that the average sleep time is eight hours, then half of the 16-hour waking day is spent plugged in.

That’s eight hours spent communicating with friends and reading, listening and watching the news, among other things.

Needless to say, it seems like the world is shrinking in size as we grow closer through technology.

Research team develops method to test police Tasers by Matthew Pearson:

Researchers have established a specific set of procedures that can be used to determine whether Tasers and other conducted-energy weapons used across the country are functioning the way they are supposed to.

The testing system is a result of the difference in beliefs of the manufacturers and commissioner Thomas Braidwood who, in his 2009 report, concluded that “conducted-energy weapons do have the capacity to cause severe injury or death.”

Taser International maintains that the weapons pose no danger if deployed correctly and in accordance with their specifications.

The testing procedures are thorough, an example being that the maximum and minimum electrical pulses should be reported to ensure that they fall within the weapon’s average electrical range.

It’s nice to see that precautions are being taken to ensure that the weapons Canadian police are using are void of defects, but it almost seems as though these safety measures are being put in place to prevent any future lawsuits directed at Taser International.

The emphasis of studies regarding Tasers should be shifted away from the weapon itself, and redirected towards the people actually deploying them.


Here are my thoughts on today’s headlines. Everything but the titles is written by yours truly.

How the Supreme Court keeps information from us by Peter McKnight:

The right to information is not acknowledged in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, meaning that it doesn’t exist.

Having access to public or government records falls under “freedom of expression:” in other words, the only way to gain access to information is “where the access is necessary to permit meaningful discussion on a matter of public importance,” according to the Supreme Court.

Another thing that doesn’t exist is a clear and concise definition of the words “meaningful” and “importance.”

What all of this means, is that access to information will be granted on a case-by-case basis.

It also means that what is considered “meaningful” and of  “public importance” can be interpreted to include a wide and varied number of cases, or to exclude almost any case.

At the heart of Facebook is an old-fashioned kaffeeklatsch by Shelley Fralic:

An interesting observation: the fastest-growing demographics on Facebook are women aged 35 to 50 and people over the age of 55, according to David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect.

As older generations begin using newer technologies and social networking sites, will new media apps, sites and technologies be created to cater to the baby-boomer population?

Fortress Toronto: Loss of civil liberties part of an absurd price by Craig McInnes:

The G8 and G20 summits are underway in Toronto, with the help of $1-billion in security measures.

The six-kilometre long, three-metre high security wall complete with metal sheeting and concrete blocks, and over 10,000 police officers to guard it, is just a little menacing. However, the most menacing measure to protect the world leaders was not a part of the $1-billion budget.

From June 21 to June 28, police can arrest anyone who comes within five metres of the wall and refuses to provide identification or submit to a search.

The person “trespassing” on public property does not have to have been doing anything suspicious either.

But isn’t this a violation of our civil liberties?

Of course it is, but that doesn’t matter: the Ontario government passed the regulation June 2.