Blog - Unity Behind Diversity

Searching for beauty in the dissonance

Tagged: youtube

Dave Borins at the Mariposa Folk Festival this summer

I’ve been playing violin with Dave Borins for two years now, and it’s been a blast. This April, we played an audition in Orillia, and secured ourselves a spot in the Mariposa Folk Festival this summer. Now that some of the audition videos are available online, I thought I’d share ours in anticipation of our upcoming showcase.

(We’ve got some other good videos on YouTube too.)

Details on the July 11th showcase are available on the the events calendar I’ve been hacking together recently, and the full Mariposa schedule has details on the other folk goodness happening throughout that weekend.

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Fishkiss, Alive

Last night, Victor Swift asked me to play a set at the first Hart House Open Stage event of the year at the U of T. As far as songwriting goes, I’ve been performing mostly solo lately, but last night was different: My good friend and co-writer, Alex Palmer, joined me. We used to play together in our band, Fishkiss, but we’ve been on indefinite hiatus since our last gig in June 2007.

Hiatus, no longer!

We have video of two songs: Cedars and Stars, and Bancroft County.

Expect to hear more soon… (I hope!).

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My Comments at the Copyright Consultation Toronto Town Hall

Thursday night, I had a chance to speak at the government’s Copyright Consultation Toronto Townhall. I’ll post more detailed thoughts shortly, but in the meantime, Nick Dynice was kind enough to upload a video of my comments to YouTube.

I wasn’t expecting a chance to speak and hadn’t prepared much, but my name came up in the lottery in the last half hour or so. I’m not particularly happy with how I spoke — some parts felt awkward, and I had to cut other points due to time — but I’m glad could provide a different perspective compared to the ~80% of speakers who were folks from the music industry arguing for some combination of locks, levies and legislative responses to their business model problems.

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Life — Imagine the Potential

This post originally appeared on the UofT Students for Life blog.

I’m not usually a fan of any pro-life arguments that focus on potentiality, because it tends to obscure the fact that from the moment of conception we’re dealing with actual life (and just potential growth)… but that caveat aside, this new ad from is amazing (via AmP):

This is the second ad they’ve produced (here’s the first). Can’t wait to see what else they come up with.

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Video: Last Kelly’s Korner

Almost every month for the past four years, I’ve performed at the St. Michael’s College open mic. at the University of Toronto. It has an extremely friendly atmosphere courtesy of the supportive community of friends, musicians and music lovers. It’s a great place to try something new, or to goof around. For my last performance, I played two songs: one of my own (The Limit) and an Emilaise + JP Diddy medley.

The Limit

Beyonce, Jay-Z, Vitamin C Medley (honestly, not sure why I’ve uploaded this… I think I left my dignity at the door…)

Thanks Kelly’s Korner!

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Vatican Considering New Media Document

The Vatican is considering preparing a document on new media and how the Church’s communications strategy is affected (via @popebenedictxvi). In a seminar sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, bishops from 82 countries me to discuss “modern media and the new culture of communications that has arisen in recent years.”

The Church has been keen on embracing new communications technologies, grounded especially in “the Second Vatican Council’s 1963 decree “Inter Mirifica” on the instruments of social communications and on the pontifical council’s 1991 pastoral instruction, “Aetatis Novae” (“At the Dawn of a New Era”).” Just a few months ago, the Vatican launched a YouTube channel and last July in Sydney, the Pope was sending updates to pilgrims at World Youth Day via SMS. Last September, he sent a message to Catholics through the Xt3 social networking website launched at World Youth Day. Past documents from the Vatican, such as “Ethics in Internet,” have not only provided guidelines and encouragement, but have illuminated surprising sympathies with free software. Sister Judith Zoebelein, who runs the Vatican website, has given talks at tech conferences in the past.

That said, the Vatican’s website design could use a “refresh”, and — more importantly — it still hasn’t figured out many meaningful ways to enable the kind of two-way communication that the Internet enables.

But it appears that many bishops understand this.

“The church today cannot only give information — which is certainly useful, but we cannot limit ourselves to that,” Archbishop Celli said.

“I think the church needs to enter into a dialogue that is increasingly rich and proactive, a dialogue of life with people who are seeking, who are distant and who would like to find a message that is closer and more suitable to their path,” he said.

For that reason, he said, his council has been pushing bishops around the world not only to have their own Web sites, but also to make sure these sites are interactive.

Unfortunately, the Vatican doesn’t think it can do this itself.

Unfortunately, Archbishop Celli added, it’s been impractical for the Vatican to make its own Web presence interactive because it would be flooded by questions and comments from all over the world. It’s something more easily done on the local level, he said.

I agree that this should be encouraged on a local level, and there are some great examples of Catholics converging on various social networking sites (e.g. TweetCatholic) and creating their own (e.g. Xt3 and flockNote) as well, but I think there’s a different kind of interaction the Vatican could enable. I don’t doubt that the the YouTube channel would be overrun if they enabled comments, but there are still lots of other ways to experiment. For example, in October, someone suggested to Pope Benedict that he start a blog. Again, comments might be pretty unsustainable, but even if communication with the Vatican is tough using social media, there must be ways to experiment with enabling communication among Catholics on a global level. Though I can appreciate the challenges of scale, language, staff, etc…

Encouraging is great, but I hope they don’t shy away from experimenting more themselves.

Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ communications committee, did indicate that it’s important for the Vatican to have a presence where young people are (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc), and with their help.

Archbishop Niederauer said the change in new media was in some ways like the change from the horse to the car a century ago.

“Because 100 years ago, if an old man bought a car, who could fix it? His grandson or his son, because they learned the machinery. They headed straight for it; they didn’t look back,” he said.

In a similar way today, he said, young people have seized on the communications opportunities of new media, and the church should welcome their talents and expertise.

I’m more than happy to help. 🙂

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Small Business Owners Track Down Dumb Criminals Online

This post originally appeared on Techdirt

Looks like cops aren’t the only ones looking online for evidence of crime. Just in the past week, we’ve seen two stories of small businesses using the web to do some detective work of their own. Canadian retailers in Cape Breton are hiring loss preventional specialists who are making use of social networking tools to track down shoplifters, finding dumb criminals bragging about items they’ve stolen on YouTube and then using Facebook to help identify the thieves. When a shoplifter has been identified, that information is shared with other members in the retail association who may choose to block that person from their stores. One of the mall owners interviewed also notes in the comments that Facebook is especially useful in checking for potential accomplices (friends who were there at the time of the theft). Despite the effectiveness of using the internet as a crime fighting tool, politicians elsewhere have been trying to get evidence of crime removed from YouTube even though it helps police — and now retailers — to catch dumb criminals.

The second story involves an Australian restaurant owner who tracked down bill dodgers using Facebook. The group of five diners stepped outside for a smoke and never returned after racking up a bill of $340 USD. Restaurant staff recalled that one of the diners had inquired about a former waitress when the group arrived. They contacted the waitress, searched a few names on Facebook and came across a profile belonging to one of the diners, who was pictured with his girlfriend (also in the group). Facebook showed that they worked at a restaurant down the street. They contacted the manager and, within hours, the diner returned to pay the bill (along with a generous tip and an apology). Later, the restaurant was notified that the man and his girlfriend had both been fired. No criminal charges were filed.

Whether it’s dumb criminals who can’t resist bragging or sloppy criminals giving away clues to their identity, the web makes it a lot easier for law enforcement and victims to track them down.

Read the comments on Techdirt

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Toronto Police Seek To Solve Murder Cases With Online Tips

[This post originally appeared on Techdirt.]

Last week, the Toronto Police Homicide Squad launched a new website containing profiles of unsolved murder cases and wanted persons. Each profile contains details of the investigation — a written synopsis, photos and links to Google maps or even YouTube videos — and allows visitors to submit tips directly to the police. It serves not only as an appeal for information, but also as a resource for grieving families. Some of the “cold cases” date back decades, and the police are hoping that increased attention on the web (or even from the press on the website launch) might lead to a break in an investigation.

Police have long since used online tools to search for evidence themselves, but we’re starting to see them engaging online communities and developing tools and methods to appeal to the public for information through the web. A few years back, a cop from a neighboring city received a lot of press for uploading a surveillance video to YouTube, and now Toronto’s Crime Stoppers service has its own YouTube channel and Facebook page. Though, in the surveillance video case, the media coverage of the YouTube angle seemed to help a lot more than the actual video (and comments on some of the Crime Stoppers videos make you wish the comment audio preview was mandatory.) The Toronto police have found a lot of success in solving and preventing crime using these tools, and they recently presented their methods to an Interpol audience.

It’s great to see law enforcement embracing the web as a means of two-way communication with the public, though it may take some time before these latest efforts pay off. The new site looks like it could use some more design work, and previous success has involved engaging a largely younger audience on social networks, rather than trying to draw witnesses to a separate site. As long as they continue to experiment, police are bound to find the right methods to make these tools useful.

[Read the comments on Techdirt.]

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St. Augustine the Hip

The Confessionz of St. Augustine in a way you’ve never heard them before.

Hat tip to Briana.

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Kevin Fox is my hero

In March 2006, the Hart House Chamber Strings had their first pops concert (photos). I play bass with the chamber strings, and I’ve since taken over as administrator for the pops concert, but that first concert really left an impression on me.

Especially Kevin Fox.

He closed the night and played a song called “Phone Booth” off his upcoming album, Songs for Cello & Voice. Unreal.

I’ve since run across Kevin many times. He worked as musical director with Shaye for a while, and I met Damhnait Doyle through the Humber Summer Songwriting Workshop, so I saw him perform with them. I swear I saw him in a Jann Arden music video, and I saw him play with Andy Kim at Hugh’s Room. He also played cello on some of Robyn Dell’Unto’s recordings.

As a songwriter and cellist, he’s doing exactly what I’m trying to do with songwriting and violin. Kevin Fox is my hero.

I’ve had Phone Booth stuck in my head for years, and yesterday I finally got to hear it again. After finding his Facebook Musician Page, I came across this YouTube video and found more tracks from his upcoming album on his website.

Definitely worth a listen.

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