January 10, 2008
New Year, New Company
I’m going to be blogging about more personal and pop-cultural matters at my new Wordpress joint, ajkandy.wordpress.com.
Professionally, I’ve launched a new sole proprietorship called Marks & Pixels. I’m specializing in interface design, user experience consulting, usability testing, and presentation design. As of this writing, there’s just a bare-bones site up now, but it’ll fill in very soon.
I’m continuing to work with Ken as a Creative Director on many projects for existing and new clients. If anything, the past year has taught us a lot about how to adapt in order to pursue new opportunities, and I look forward to what 2008 has to bring.
That said, will the last reader please turn out the lights? I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, and it’ll remain here as an archive as long as the electricity still flows.
Cheers, and sayonara,
Posted by aj_kandy at 3:46 AM
September 15, 2007
Can A Shopping Mall Save Griffintown? Find Out At Pecha Kucha Night - Tuesday Sept. 18th
Recently, Quebec developer Devimco partnered with Toronto-based RioCan to build the suburban Quartier Dix30 “lifestyle centre,” a drive-in power-centre big-box shopping mall located in a greenfield development at the intersections of Highways 10 and 30 on the South Shore.
Devimco is now working with the City of Montreal to push through a similar $1B development near the Peel Basin section of the Lachine Canal. The Gazette’s Mary Lamey reported that a parcel of land west of the Bonaventure Expressway and south of Ottawa Street, comprising 18 hectares, was to be developed. By my rough estimate, that would seem to indicate it will be sited on the former Canada Post sorting plant, but also possibly combined with other land adjacent to the Peel Basin itself. Reportedly, Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire are to be anchor tenants. Essentially, it’d span an area from Guy to Peel streets.
A suburban mall at the feet of two of Montreal’s central boulevards, in the middle of Griffintown and adjacent to Old Montreal, ignores both the “retail DNA” of Montreal and the history of a proud neighborhood. It’s anti-urban, representing low density and sprawl, and there is serious doubt that it will contribute positively in terms of built space, eyes on the street, and other issues.
Even if there is a residential tower attached, as the current proposal includes, it’s still likely going to be a lot of cheap car-dealership-style sheds separated by acres of parking lagoons… It’s an odd decision in a neighborhood that is moving towards drastically increased residential density and good urban design, and which is likely to be enhanced by the Harbour Commission’s plans to demolish the elevated portions of the Bonaventure Expressway to create a pedestrian-friendly urban boulevard and tramway links. With Peak Oil on the horizon, are big-box malls of national chain retail even viable, anyway?
We — being Stephanie Troeth and yours truly, AJ Kandy — are proposing an alternative, urbanist vision for the project in a quick six-minute presentation at the upcoming Montreal Pecha Kucha Night, Tuesday, September 18th at the SAT, starting at 8:20pm. We hope to see all of you there, and for those who can’t attend, we’ll be republishing it online with narration, background articles and links, and providing tools for action and discussion.
In the meantime, interested citizens should get in touch with the Sud-Ouest borough mayor’s office about an upcoming series of public consultations on the project.
Originally posted at Urbanphoto.
Posted by aj_kandy at 2:41 PM
December 11, 2006
Notes from the road
Andrew Potter picks up the exact thread of something I wrote about. In his column in the latest issue of Macleans, Potter bemoans the tendency for Québec politicians and public figures to view the rest-of-Canada as a monocultural monolith — when it’s really more of a food court. As I’ve argued, there are several nations within Canada and it’s possible to have poly-citizenship; joining the umbrella organization of Canada doesn’t negate membership in any of your other tribes — in fact it even enhances, protects and reinforces those memberships by providing common civil amenities and institutions.
Posted by aj_kandy at 8:56 AM
June 12, 2006
antispam, volume 2
I’ve turned off commenting on posts older than 30 days, thanks to a flood of comment and trackback spam intended to fool bayesian and other filters. Thanks spammers, you’ve made using the Web that much less fun!
Posted by aj_kandy at 1:07 PM
March 19, 2006
Secret Illiterates, Blogs, and the Québecois Media
Scriptwriter and bloggeuse par excellence Martine Pagé notes a strong disconnect between people working in mainstream Québec journalism / media and the blogosphere. What's more, she's in disbelief about how much people are still in thrall to the telephone - there are still lots of people that don't read their email.
I have a theory about this latter point: that there are more secret illiterates and/or dyslexics in the workplace than we are generally aware of. It is so necessary to succeed today, and such a stigma to be found out, that they will spend enormous amounts of time and energy to avoid being "caught."
You know these people, perhaps: Those people whose computers are always mysteriously "down," and can't get your message. The ones that you send 10 urgent emails to, until you break down and phone them. They always prefer to schedule a phone call or meeting to sending a quick email, much less use instant messaging. Those managers or clients who don't read anything printed you give them, and ask you to summarize it verbally. And those that use instinct, bluster and aggression to bluff their way through decision-making situations.
Dwight Silverman of the Houston Chronicle's TechBlog noted that there seems to be a "hardcore" percentage of people who are in the potential Internet-using demographic, yet stay steadfastly offline. In 2002, actor James Earl Jones testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, quoting statistics that tallied 92 million Americans as functionally illiterate, topping out at a 6th grade reading level.
Are these statistics somehow related? I think so.
Posted by aj_kandy at 5:49 PM
February 9, 2006
brief notes from the interweb
- If you've posted a comment here and it doesn't appear immediately, it's because we're running an older version of Movable Type that has an email notification bug. We'll be moving servers soon and migrating to a spiffy new install.
- About 10 of the top 10 Google hits for "guitar manufacturing industry" are all related directly or indirectly to Garrison Guitars, a Newfoundland company (started when the owner was just 19) that started in the custom guitars and repair business. Their breakthrough: acoustic guitars made with single-piece, injection-molded composite frames, which can be made in merely 45 seconds on their custom machinery. It's an Industry Canada success story!
Posted by aj_kandy at 9:26 AM
February 6, 2006
Anniversaries & Updates, Merges and Purges
This blog is a strange hybrid (no, not Lycan and Vampire).
It started life on Blogger, then moved to TypePad, then earlier this year I unsubscribed from that account because $200 a year for blogging is a bit much.
It was all saved away on a corner of my hard drive while I started this new, professional Movable Type blog. Recently, I imported all those old posts but set them all to Draft mode as I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with them.
Tonight, I purged nearly a hundred older entries. And it felt good.
Some were destined to die for outdatedness. Some for cringe-inducing writing, Some from the winnowing of redundant categories. Some because, well, they looked at me funny.
Mostly, a lot of the purging was really to help shorten the right-hand sidebar, which keeps overrunning the main content div. Shortening those lists was possible thanks to a useful MTArchiveList reformatting I found online that uses span tags to make paragraphs from lists.
The monthly archives were organized with Adam Kalsey's MT-ArchiveDateHeader plugin.
Kevin Shay's Compare plugin is now used in the comments to distinguish mine from everyone else's with alternate CSS.
It's worth noting that as of today, even at version 3.2, there's still no yearly archiving in Movable Type, and neither is there a way to change the sort order of MTArchiveLists, even though the "sort_order" attribute applies to pretty much everything else in the system - MTCategories and MTEntries, for instance - otherwise I'd have those months going from January to December and not vice versa.
All this mucking around under the hood reminds me of how InDesign grabbed a chunk of Quark's business while they were out golfing. Lately, I've been pondering the possibilities of pMachine's ExpressionEngine, because it seems to do everything MT does with a bunch of plugins, out of the box, and more.
First one to get a really good, working e-commerce module out the door wins!
January 30, 2006
Canadian Bloggers: Young, Male, Educated, Anglo - and Conservative?
Some time ago I wrote a post partly in response to a comment from a fellow YULBlogger, who noted how 'anglo' the group listing seemed to be. Where were the Francophone bloggers, she wondered? Was this some sort of vindication of the theory that Montreal was not really "Québecois?"
My answer was more about the latter, but on re-examining the issue, the question remains; are there actually fewer French bloggers than English in Quebec?
The question is frustrating because there's almost no well-compiled statistics about Canadian bloggers.
Blogger and graduate student Aaron Braaten compiled an informal survey last year to try to remedy the situation. You can download the entire survey there in PDF format.
There are some interesting assertions made from a sampling of about 1150 responses: Nearly 80% of blog readers don't click on ads in blogs (yup). Most don't use RSS readers (interesting.) Quebec was under-represented in the survey - which he takes to mean that there are fewer Quebec bloggers in general. His general stats puts the average Canadian blogger as male, 30ish, university educated, urban, and supporting the Conservatives (with NDP the close 2nd).
That said, there are some real statistical issues with the sampling. The list of the blogs he gives thanks to in the credits are pretty much a) conservative and b) part of self-linking communities of conservative blogs, so I would expect people who found out about the survey from them to be of a similar persuasion. Literally none of the blogs listed were French, and none of the English ones were from Quebec (at least that I could recognize.) I don't think the survey was translated into French at any point, so (following the old viral/memetic vector model) it never jumped the gap between the English and French Canadian blogospheres to any great degree. It's perhaps worth translating and pinging to the Quebec blogger community, to see how those stats reflect the province, and perhaps change the weighting of the national survey.
These issues also relate to the closed-community "echo chamber" effect of blogging; links tend to be to other people with the same politics, persuasions, musical taste, and mother tongue as yourself. It's not surprising, then, that the survey didn't reach Quebec to any great degree - it certainly wasn't on the radar of the YULBloggers I read on a daily basis - because Quebecers in general are more small-l liberal or social-democratic in their outlook - certainly the YULBloggers I've met, anyway.
Looking at the YULBlog member rolls, it doesn't seem that English dominates - it seems evenly split 50-50. That in and of itself is interesting because anglophones represent 10% of the population of Quebec at most, and even if they're concentrated in the Montreal region, it would seem that they're blogging disproportionately more than franco Quebecers.
There's a couple of factors to consider here.
1. Most of the original group from back in 2000 were Anglos or writing in English, so their blogs and meetups probably attracted other anglo bloggers before franco bloggers.
2. Blogging started out more-or-less as an Anglospheric phenomenon and the nascent blogging industry is pretty American
3. It is the "default language of commerce" at least until the balance of power shifts elsewhere, so if you want a broad North American readership, English is a strong contender.
4. We do have two English universities here and blogging is a 20-30something activity at the moment.
5. There's a not insignificant English-speaking minority which is tight-knit, and blogging is definitely a "joiner" activity for new Anglo arrivals.
6. Relating to (3) above, a lot of blogs are topic-specific, so given a relatively small population and then even smaller subset of blogs on your topic likely to come from Quebec, you'll be linking to English blogs at some point and if you work in the field, possibly writing in English too, even if your mother tongue is French.
December 1, 2005
Best of the West
A selection of the best posts from my old blog, West of the Expressway, have now been imported here. This represents two hosting moves in about three years of posting, from Blogger to TypePad to Movable Type. I've kept some posts where we had some lively debate going, for posterity, and got rid of a lot of pointless, dated drivel, shrill screeds, and otherwise lame filler. I'm a ruthless editor these days. And I like it.
As usual, image links may be broken and formatting may be weird - if you encounter that, drop me a line with the URL and I'll attend to it.