The Spur Questionnaire: Nora Young

Nora Young
Nora Young

Nora Young is an author and journalist based in Toronto. She’s the host of Spark on CBC Radio, and was the founding host of DNTO. Her book, The Virtual Self, is published by McClelland and Stewart. She’ll be moderating our panel The Quantified Self, this afternoon at the Al Green Theatre.

Tell us about your participation in the 2015 Spur Festival.
I’ll be moderating a discussion on The Quantified Self, featuring Isabel Pedersen, Andre Spicer, and Will Falk. Isabel’s research focuses on the way we talk about emerging technologies such as wearables. I’ve interviewed her on my show, Spark. I’m really looking forward to hearing what they have to say.

What do you hope Spur Festival attendees will take away from your session?
The whole area of personal data generation has just exploded in the past few years. There’s enormous potential in that data to produce smarter, more responsive communities, and to use it for personal insight. There are also tons of possible problems; both are aspects I explored in my book, The Virtual Self. My hope for the session is that people will come away with a sense of the potential of these technologies, but also armed with some critical skills for thinking about personal data: what we do with it, who gets access to it, etc.

What are you most looking forward to about the Spur Festival?
My own, of course!

What is the one item you never leave home without?
I am a raging lip balm addict, and so am rarely without that.

Which book is currently on your nightstand?
Waking, Dreaming, Being by Evan Thompson. I’ve barely started it, but it promises to explore the neuroscience of consciousness alongside Western and Eastern philosophical understandings of mind. Sounds fascinating.

In the last year, what is the longest you have gone ‘unplugged’? No internet, no cell phone, etc.
Busted! I’m going to guess two days? It was last summer, and I was in the countryside for the better part of a week, but there was some public wi-fi use going on sporadically

Who was the last person you texted?
My friend Mary Anne.

The animated show The Jetsons was set in 2062. Is there anything from their futuristic world that wish were a current reality?
Those tube transporters!

How do you prefer to communicate with colleagues: by phone, email, text or in person? How do you prefer to communicate with friends?
I HATE talking on the phone. Hate it! Colleagues: in person or by email. Friends: in person, wherever possible; by text, otherwise.

What do you love about Toronto?
I love the range of kinds of experiences you can have here, and the range of people you can meet.


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