Noah Bloom


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Time to panic Canada. In 32 days, your fate #Quebec2014

Posted by on Mar 6, 2014 in Canada | 0 comments

Just 18 months since gaining a minority leadership, Quebec’s separatist premier Pauline Marois has called a snap election within 33 days. Tick tock. From today, 32 days to go.

Let’s not be vague about this.

If you live in Quebec, please don’t even think about missing this vote. Here are two reasons, for example, not to vote for Marois’ Parti Québécois government:

1) Their secular charter: a proposed law that would ban the wearing of overt religious symbols by any government employee or by workers at institutions. Really?

2) Separatism. This might have been fathomable 20+ years ago, but now Quebec is far from Canada’s economic engine. Today, Alberta is in the driver’s seat, as Quebec dawdles with its bloated welfare, dysfunctional infrastructure programs, impotent energy resource development, and absurd language laws repelling investors. More below.

Actually, no matter for whom you vote, don’t miss this one.

If you can’t vote in Quebec, but are Canadian, let’s consider separatism again:

1) PQ wins majority = likely. They are ahead in the polls. Also, the opposition’s new leader, Philippe Couillard, is generally seen as a weak leader, even by some of his own Liberal party members.

2) PQ calls a referendum to secede from Canada = likely

3) Referendum squeaks by and passes by 50%+1 = likely

4) Quebec secedes from Canada = likely

5) Canada cannot withstand a truncated geography and crumbles = likely

6) No more Canada, one of this past century’s greatest nations

I’m no political scientist. I don’t even live in Quebec anymore. There’s a lot about this election that I don’t understand. But here are two things everyone should be doing for 32 days:

1) Vote if you can

2) Visibly show your love for Canada and Quebec

I love Montreal and Quebec and Canada. Thanks. Please panic now and do your part.

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Wins and losses from #sochi2014 and lessons for future Olympic Games

Posted by on Feb 26, 2014 in Lessons, Rants, Sports | 0 comments

I continue my love – hate with the Olympics. The Games in Sochi just came to a close, and while they were full of horrifying politics, pathetic media coverage, and IOC bureaucracy, they were also full of incredible human triumphs through sport, by these incredible athletes.

The world, connectivity, and significance of these athletes as role models are changing quickly, so I’m hoping those who are part of crafting such an important amateur sports event will consider how to stay relevant in the Games to come. My thoughts on the winners and losers and lessons:


LOSER: Big media for spoiling the results. News, apps, scrollers, and TV felt they had to be the first to announce winners (and disappointments of course), and considering the time change from Sochi to North America, didn’t seem to care that some people sometimes enjoy watching sport without knowing the outcome. Consider that many events were broadcast time-delayed, this was so painful. even titled their online videos with the result.

WINNER: CBC for broadcasting on-demand streams (often live) of all of the events, without titling the video with the outcome.


LOSER: Judged sports. There were no loss of controversy over who won and who didn’t in judged sports, from freestyle skiing to, worse, figure skating. There was no shortage of fuming about Russia’s own Adelina Sotnikova “stealing” the gold from favourite and defending Olympic champ Yuna Kim of South Korea. Lesson: if you can’t stand the uncertainty of judged sports, don’t play them; enter a race. Otherwise, realize how part of your fate is decided by other people’s opinions, tastes, and maybe even wallets.

Sotnikova Kim

WINNER: Snowboarders who put into perspective the realities of judged sports, like bronze medal, easy-going, Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris, “but it’s a judged sport, what can you do?

It’s easy when you’re the gold medalist to be the one to put it in perspective, but you gotta love Sage Kotsenburg’s interview on Conan:


LOSER: NBC focusing on American athletes only during coverage. They would often skip an A Final in favour of showing the B Final with the American, or only report on the America’s result, not even the medalists.

WINNER: NBC improving by doing some great profiles on international star athletes, nearly making them heroes to Americans. NHL Revealed will even broadcast “NHL Revealed has two-hour behind the scenes special on Olympic hockey tonight” — I hope for Rio 2016, media with access could do the same for other sports, and build up personalities, history, and rivalries weeks maybe before the events take place. I can only think this would bolster their viewing interest.


LOSER: Russia and its $50B wasted. The glorification of the Putin Games did manage to gloss over the travesties of lack of human rights, burning Ukraine, and corrupt $50B spending during the Games. Media became pretty quiet on calling Russia and Putin out.

WINNER: Safety of athletes and fans. It’s almost hard to believe with all that friction and animosity, that no tragic incident took place in Sochi. Amen.


LOSER: Legacy of the Games. The new world-class facilities built for the Games will likely be wasted, or shut down, or moved, and will likely not help future athletes in their pursuit of excellence. Shame.

WINNER: Conan’s “Sochi’s PR Rep Says Everything Is Going Great”


LOSER: Too much figure skating on TV. And their ridiculously over-thought and over-sparkly outfits and haircut strategies. Is TV changing their approach to the viewing demographic? Do women watch TV and men watch streaming video online?

WINNER: Hero athletes, i.e. cross country skiing heroes. These incredible men and women push themselves so hard, right to the finish line, to their absolute limit, and cannot even stand after crossing the line. True heroes for grit and determination. Wow.



LOSER: NBC presenting their coverage as if it’s reality TV! Great read from Slate: “Why You Hate NBC’s Olympics Coverage: It’s reality TV masquerading as a sporting event.”

WINNER: The real, often overlooking stories of the athletes. I was watching the men’s slalom, and way, way back in the results and start list was this guy: Hubertus von hohenlohe, the one man Mexican Olympic team. He is also… a German prince, 55 years old, a world-class photographer, a professional musician, fluent in five languages, and an heir to an automobile fortune. And participating in his fifth Olympics. Despite his fortunate upbringing, he is valiantly trying to bring attention in Mexico to Olympic sport. In his mariachi suit, however, he was struggling, 17 seconds back of the winner. (NBC video)



WINNER: Bringing back Canadian former Olympians as commentators: Jenn Heil, Ashleigh McIvor, Adam van Koeverden, Kelly VanderBeek, Clara Hughes, Beckie Scott, Kristina Groves, Jennifer Botterill, Kerrin Lee-Gartner, etc. Nearly every event had a former great in the second seat calling it for TV. This was incredible not just giving an insider look, or even appropriately lionizing our Canadian heroes, but also giving them exposure to this world and a potential for some future work in media, for people who had dedicated so much, and often had to neglect their career in the past to pursue that level of sport.

WINNER: Canadians acting like champions. Canada had no reason to apologize and confirm to our “I’m Sorry” stereotype. They crushed it. Nice job.


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3 things everyone needs to do better

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 in Rants | 0 comments

Come on. It’s 2013. Learn to deal with the world and people around you.

1) How to take a decent photo. Step one: aim. Is your subject in the frame? Have you looked at your four edges that they don’t cut off their feet or head? Do you have a big massive space of nothing for no good reason? Move with your legs to a better spot, and fix it. Step two: on a camera, press the shutter halfway, let the camera focus, then when you’re ready press the rest of the way. No more shutter jabs! On a touchscreen / mobile phone, press and hold the shutter, and when it’s good, release to shoot. Step three: only use zoom if moving the position of your camera doesn’t do what you want. I mean use your legs and walk. Zoom doesn’t just move you closer, it’s changes a lot more. Save that lesson for later.

Bad Photography Example 6

2) Grammar. There is no excuse to confuse “it’s” and “its” or “there” and “their” and “they’re” or “your” and “you’re.” Take 5 minutes, and teach yourself.

3) Don’t get on an elevator if people are still getting off.

Now we’ll all get along. Thanks for reading.

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The contentious Bill O’Reilly with sound life advice

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 in Lessons | 0 comments

“You don’t rely on anybody. You make your way. And you’re gonna get slapped down. And that’s okay. You get back up. Sometimes you’re gonna succeed, sometimes you’re gonna fail. But somebody pays you a wage — you go in, you do the best job you can, and you take your pay home. You don’t like the job, you get another job. But that’s what I want people to be: I want them to use their talent to be self-reliant, to be honest, to give to charity, to be fair — all of those things.” -Bill O’Reilly on Q with Jian Ghomeshi

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Jiber ● Blog: The Next Facebook: The House Party

Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Tumblr | 0 comments

Reblogged from my Tumblr page. Check the original post here.

Jiber ● Blog: The Next Facebook: The House Party:


Isn’t the Internet so much more than just a place to hang out with friends? Many of us grew up on the Internet using services like forums (BBS, IRC) and interacting with strangers. Now, it seems, so much of our online socializing is with our real-world friends, our contact list, our existing social graph. Wouldn’t it seem more appropriate to use the Internet for the exciting powers and connectivity it enables?

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The Google Glass era has begun. Will it last?

Posted by on Apr 28, 2013 in Future, Tech | 0 comments

The first public Google Glass povsmartjewelries have shipped. It’s drumming up some real emotion about the social appropriateness of it being pervasive and mainstream. The issue is that it’s not just about the one wearing Glass — for him or her, it’s pure usefulness, once they get past the self-consciousness of their current awkward appearance — it’s about everyone else being always watched, from up close, from the point of view of a person with whom you’re interacting. Are we ready for this? Does it forever cross our comfort line, or will that, like so many other conventions during the Internet, mobile, and social era, slowly push that comfort line further?

We just don’t know; it’s great technology, but perhaps it’s not everyday technology.

What is he looking at exactly?

Some preliminary early product thoughts:

Robert Scoble:

I will never live a day of my life from now on without it (or a competitor). It’s that significant… The success of this totally depends on price. Each audience I asked at the end of my presentations “who would buy this?” As the price got down to $200 literally every hand went up… Most of the privacy concerns I had before coming to Germany just didn’t show up.”

Drew Olanoff:

Some will see this device as a fad, something that isn’t really “necessary” in today’s world, and others will see this as the beginning of an adventure for users, developers and Google, of course. I tend to lean towards the adventure side, as it’s not fully known what impact Glass will have on society, your day-to-day activities, or the future of technology and hardware.”

None other than Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt actually said:

Talking out loud to control the Google Glasses via voice recognition is “the weirdest thing… There are obviously places where Google Glasses are inappropriate”

Some of the best behavioural insights come from Jan Chipchase, Executive Creative Director of Global Insights at frog:

His article You Lookin’ at Me? Reflections on Google Glass is a heavier read about the implications of wearing Glass in public. It makes us think more about how Glass may break the unwritten rules that govern socially appropriate behaviour.

It brings up the famous Milgram subway social psychology study from almost 40 years ago: “But Dr. Milgram was interested in exploring the web of unwritten rules that govern behavior underground, including the universally understood and seldom challenged first-come-first-served equity of subway seating.” It was a rare study on the delicate subway order.

“Milgram’s idea exposed the extremely strong emotions that lie beneath the surface,” he said. “You have all these strangers together. That study showed how much the rules are saving us from chaos.”

From Jan Chipchase’s previous research while at Nokia about actors wearing a Glass-like product in Tokyo:

[During experiments about social/tech interactions], our actors and actresses felt extremely self-conscious about wearing nonstandard glasses, and awkward about acting out the scenarios, particularly in contexts where there were others in close proximity. A number of the things we learned from this study surprised us.

What will induce an odd response to usage of Google Glass or other tech device interactions in the future?

Glass has four design principles for developers that focus on the Glass wearer’s user experience: “design for Glass,” “don’t get in the way,” “keep it timely,” and “avoid the unexpected.”
Two complementary principles will go some way toward accommodating the concerns of people in proximity and lower social barriers to adoption:
Proximate Transparency: Allow anyone in proximity to access the same feed that the wearer is recording or seeing and view it through a device of their choosing.
Remote Control: allow identifiable people in proximity to control Glass’s recording functionality and have access to the output of what was recorded.

What a great way to consider how we might accomodate the privacy concerns of people nearby: let Glass usage be transparent and let people collaborate on its created content.

One could argue that the form taken by Glass offers up a lazy futurist’s vision of what might be Glass has a certain inevitability about it.
In due course, the technologies to deliver Glass’s emerging functionality will truly disappear from view — this is a window of opportunity for discussion, debate and a reflection.

Final thoughts:

Yes, we are always being watched, but we’re starting to accept it. There can be value in that, like the surveillance coverage and user generated visuals around the Boston Marathon bombing. That led to a citizen-led detective hunt for the suspects, and you may disagree with how that happened, but isn’t it incredible that we live in that sort of era.

We’re still grappling with our individual privacy in a social-world-gone-online, which is only a fabrication of the last 9-12 years! Remember when we banned cameraphones from locker rooms? The discomfort was recognized, reasonable guidelines went up, and social norms were easily swayed. What happens when Glass of the future will be hidden and covert: people will have it, and there’s nothing anyone else can do, and that’s why we should be worried.

Even now, the product is not fully recognized in the real world, which is why Robert Scoble doesn’t get much backlash about wearing it all the time.

We ought to talk about this openly. Otherwise, could it be “too late”?

In the meantime, I’m bullish on shared experiences on mobile and their inevitable evolution to an always-in-view experience. In terms of people around us, that’s something like my company’s current iPhone app Jiber, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on all this.

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How to make people happy with tech (get rid of the tech)

Posted by on Apr 2, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

[Reprinted on the Jiber blog]

A couple weeks ago, I gave a presentation for an anthropology course called Anthropology and Digital Media at the University of British Columbia. It let me bring back all these thoughts I have about my university degree in anthropology, and how I’ve seen its value over the years. I figure it can be best distilled, for me personally, as 1) the process of examining a situation from a blend of science and culture, and crafting words to understand it holistically, and 2) the understanding of how innate and cultural human behaviours determine our reaction to new products.

Here’s the presentation I threw together (slides and bullets and all that mighty scary stuff) and a few thoughts. It’s called “How to make people happy with tech (get rid of the tech)”:

My shtick seems to have become “mobile + anthropology” which has spanned my higher education and career to date. I’ve been part of building products for mobile since back in the days when they were fully controlled by mobile carriers, and working with carriers was the best (and only) way to have an impact there. Mobile was, and still is, the future. And I’ve always approached product development from the perspective of human drivers of behaviour.

What is the Internet? It’s about people. Or, more specifically, about connecting people. Danny Hills’ TED Talk puts this in perspective:

Danny Hillis has a book. It’s a directory of everyone in the world who had an internet address in 1982, including the names, addresses and telephone numbers. And it was a very thin phonebook. That was the community. It was a tight community where everyone knew and trusted each other.

Hillis has been a fixture of the tech world (see his TED Talk from 1984 on DNA and its uses). He registered the third domain name in existence: But he only registered that one, thinking it wouldn’t be nice to take more than he needed…

The drivers of human behaviour can be analyzed by things like genetics, community, and culture, and these are exactly the holistic pillars of the study of anthropology. To make people happy with your tech development, you need to consider all of these things, these “primary” and “secondary” drivers: food and sex firstly, and then narcissism, design and skeuomorphism, intuition, sharing, and magic, etc.

But then… PUT THE TECH AWAY. “Use the Internet to get off the Internet,” someone once said. Let the tech enhance your life and experiences, and then put it away and live your life fuller and maybe more engrossed. Tech, and its rapid changing and superphones and always-on-connectivity, can cause anxiety (Martin Scrocese), awkwardness (never let me see you taking a glorious photo on an iPad), and separation from reality (thinking about that Strava KOM instead of enjoying the scenery and the joy of suffering).

Technology has also often been a compromise or a stop-gap. Still photography originated because we obviously didn’t have the means during the days of the daguerreotype etc to capture moving images and sound. Now as we figure out how to capture, publish, and consumer it more digestible ways (YouTube to Socialcam to Vine), will photography last? Cars, roads, and the combustion engine — will those magnificent and ubiquitous technological innovations disappear soon?

Will “pull knowledge” — actively seeking answers to your questions — be more and more replaced by contextual push information, so that what you want (based on your schedule, your location, and your interests) will be tailored to you at that very moment? Check out Google Now, Foursquare, and Tempo.

Now that the processing power in our pocket is about what you had on your desktop ten years ago, will the desktop become a relic of the stop-gapped past? And then, what’s next after mobile devices in our pocket? Well, just have a look at Google Glass, with all its scrutiny about privacy and privilege and dorkiness, yet it still pushes relevant information to your peripheral vision, and then it gets out of the way.

Well, that’s what we’re building with Jiber — helping you make the most meaningful connection with people you’re meeting in the real world. The vision is social interactions to create a collaborative (and fun) connection between people, and we’ve only just begun.

Tech is entering every market, and community is entering every tech. These are just more guidelines to approaching tech from an anthropological perspective.

My last thought was some inspiration to the anthropology students (in the classroom and out in the world). From the days of building early-Internet websites in college, I’ve always enjoyed building things for people. At the same time, programming (on a scale of intuitive language computation to complex systems I personally still don’t understand) will become a unavoidable part of the workload of the future, so I urged all these great students and critical thinkers to jump into learning to code. Don’t fear that it’s onerous. Check out:

And at least one has already signed up.

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