Tag: Canadian

Canadians and Putin: Craven and Courageous

Tuesday, 18 February, 2014 0 Comments

The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, visited Team Canada House at the Olympic Park in Sochi at the weekend and was “treated like a rock star”, writes Sharon Terlep in the Wall Street Journal. Her report is graced with a photo of Putin being embraced in a bear hug by the president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, Marcel Aubut.

That’s the craven Canadian bit. For Canadian courage, here’s Cathal Kelly, sports columnist with the Toronto Star newspaper. Snippet:

When Putin showed up at Canada House on Friday, it was a frenzy. He stood up on a small stage, modeling his own wax statue. The Canadians on hand treated him like Jesus returned.

For one terrible moment, it seemed as if COC boss Marcel Aubut might embrace the tyrant.

“I want to tell you how much we appreciate what Russia is offering…. great Games. Probably the best ever,” Aubut gushes.

Wait. What?

It is one thing to be polite. It is another to pawing the guy who has his foreign enemies radioactively poisoned.

Those on hand, their voices peaking like groupies, rushed forward for selfies. Putin’s expression does not change. He is not after love. He wants tribute. Canada is happy to provide.

Kelly’s report is titled “Canada’s swooning over Putin the tyrant all too common sight at these Games” and what makes it particularly readable is the way in which the writer places the global and the local in context. Seeing Putin in action has helped Kelly better understand the controversial, aberrant Toronto Mayor Rob Ford but, says Kelly: “Where Ford is feckless, Putin is purposeful. Where Ford is bumptious, Putin is regal. And where Ford is kind of a knob, Putin is full-on evil… Even though the average Canadian here has no idea what Putin is really about, they instinctively sense it — the combination of power and malice.”

Marcel Aubut is the craven Canadian who embraced evil. Cathal Kelly is the courageous Canadian who named it.

Putin


The rights and wrongs of Big Data visualization

Tuesday, 1 October, 2013 0 Comments

Let’s start with the wrong way to do it as we have been gifted a perfect example by that fine Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail. In an exemplary piece of reporting on the RIM nightmare titled Inside the fall of BlackBerry: How the smartphone inventor failed to adapt, readers are offered a pop-up “INFOGRAPHIC” labeled “The roller-coaster ride of BlackBerry’s shares”. Those who click on the thumbnail image get a smudgy JPG image of a graph so totally lacking in interactivity and imagination that one assumes it was created by the very same RIM engineers who have driven BlackBerry to the edge of its cellular grave.

An example of the right way to do data visualization is provided by Natalia Rojas, a “Creative Technologist”, who was born in Buenos Aires and now lives in Miami. Her “Faces of Facebook” maps the profile photos of the social network’s 1,276,388,529 (and counting) users on one web page and is organized from top left to bottom right by the date each user joined. The result is a fascinating interactive image that rewards pixel clicking with a user’s name and position in the Facebook chronology. For example, face #6,145,640 is that of Stuart Knott.

Faces of Facebook

For those challenged by the visualization of Big Data, there’s hope on the horizon. The Danish Design Center will hold “The Big Data Visualization Seminar” on 24 October in Copenhagen. It’s not just Canadian journalists who would benefit from attending. Meanwhile, Al Boardman shows how to take some data about mountains and turn it into something beautiful.