• The filter bubble : what the Internet is hiding from you - by ELI PARISER
    An eye-opening account of how the hidden rise of personalization on the Internet is controlling-and limiting-the information we consume. In December 2009, Google began customizing its search results for each user. Instead of giving you the most broadly popular result, Google now tries to predict what you are most likely to click on. According to MoveOn.org board president Eli Pariser, Google's change in policy is symptomatic of the most significant shift to take place on the Web in recent years-the rise of personalization. In this groundbreaking investigation of the new hidden Web, Pariser uncovers how this growing trend threatens to control how we consume and share information as a society-and reveals what we can do about it. Though the phenomenon has gone largely undetected until now, personalized filters are sweeping the Web, creating individual universes of information for each of us. Facebook - the primary news source for an increasing number of Americans - prioritizes the links it believes will appeal to you so that if you are a liberal, you can expect to see only progressive links. Even an old-media bastion like The Washington Post devotes the top of its home page to a news feed with the links your Facebook friends are sharing. Behind the scenes a burgeoning industry of data companies is tracking your personal information to sell to advertisers, from your political leanings to the color you painted your living room to the hiking boots you just browsed on Zappos. In a personalized world, we will increasingly be typed and fed only news that is pleasant, familiar, and confirms our beliefs-and because these filters are invisible, we won't know what is being hidden from us. Our past interests will determine what we are exposed to in the future, leaving less room for the unexpected encounters that spark creativity, innovation, and the democratic exchange of ideas. While we all worry that the Internet is eroding privacy or shrinking our attention spans, Pariser uncovers a more pernicious and far- reaching trend on the Internet and shows how we can- and must-change course. With vivid detail and remarkable scope, The Filter Bubble reveals how personalization undermines the Internet's original purpose as an open platform for the spread of ideas and could leave us all in an isolated, echoing world. Meeting format: * We meet to discuss the book after having read it beforehand. * A facilitator guides the discussion ensuring that everyone has a chance to speak, one person at a time. * Afterwards we may enjoy non-fictional food & drinks at a nearby establishment. * Warning: Participation in a book club is a dangerous activity. You may encounter opinions different from yours. By joining the group you agree to assume all risks.

    Toronto Reference Library

    789 Yonge St. · Toronto, ON

    4 comments
  • WestGTA - The Patch: Oil Sands by Chris Turner
    No RSVP is required for the first meeting. If you have any questions about the WestGTA meetings, contact Helen. The Patch is the story of Fort McMurray and the oil sands in northern Alberta, the world’s second largest proven reserve of oil. But this is no conventional story about the oil business. Rather, it is a portrait of the lifecycle of the Patch, showing just how deeply it continues to impact the lives of everyone around the world.

    This Meetup is past

    Panera Bread

    55 Square One Drive Beside LCBO & Spence Diamonds · Mississauga, ON

    2 comments
  • Red China blues : my long march from Mao to now -- by JAN WONG
    Jan Wong, a Canadian of Chinese descent, went to China as a starry-eyed Maoist in 1972 at the height of the Cultural Revolution. A true believer--and one of only two Westerners permitted to enroll at Beijing University--her education included wielding a pneumatic drill at the Number One Machine Tool Factory. In the name of the Revolution, she renounced rock & roll, hauled pig manure in the paddy fields, and turned in a fellow student who sought her help in getting to the United States. She also met and married the only American draft dodger from the Vietnam War to seek asylum in China. Red China Blues is Wong's startling--and ironic--memoir of her rocky six-year romance with Maoism (which crumbled as she became aware of the harsh realities of Chinese communism); her dramatic firsthand account of the devastating Tiananmen Square uprising; and her engaging portrait of the individuals and events she covered as a correspondent in China during the tumultuous era of capitalist reform under Deng Xiaoping. In a frank, captivating, deeply personal narrative she relates the horrors that led to her disillusionment with the "worker's paradise." And through the stories of the people--an unhappy young woman who was sold into marriage, China's most famous dissident, a doctor who lengthens penises--Wong reveals long-hidden dimensions of the world's most populous nation. In setting out to show readers in the Western world what life is like in China, and why we should care, she reacquaints herself with the old friends--and enemies of her radical past, and comes to terms with the legacy of her ancestral homeland. Meeting format: * We meet to discuss the book after having read it beforehand. * A facilitator guides the discussion ensuring that everyone has a chance to speak, one person at a time. * Afterwards we may enjoy non-fictional food & drinks at a nearby establishment. * Warning: Participation in a book club is a dangerous activity. You may encounter opinions different from yours. By joining the group you agree to assume all risks.

    Toronto Reference Library

    789 Yonge St. · Toronto, ON

    3 comments
  • WestGTA - A Higher Loyalty by James Comey
    No RSVP is required for the first meeting. If you have any questions about the WestGTA meetings, contact Helen. Comey looks back on a long career marked by such signature moments as his uncovering Dick Cheney associate Scooter Libby as the person who leaked the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame, a matter over which he came under considerable pressure to back off the case, one of the many "exhausting lessons in the importance of institutional loyalty over expediency and politics" that he would learn in service to three administrations. A modest, soft-spoken book that is sure to enrage its chief subject.

    This Meetup is past

    Panera Bread

    55 Square One Drive Beside LCBO & Spence Diamonds · Mississauga, ON

  • I know why the caged bird sings - by MAYA ANGELOU
    Maya Angelou's debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide. Her life story is told in the documentary film And Still I Rise, as seen on PBS's American Masters. Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou's debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide. Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local "powhitetrash." At eight years old and back at her mother's side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age--and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors ("I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare") will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned. Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read. Meeting format: * We meet to discuss the book after having read it. * A facilitator guides the discussion ensuring that everyone has a chance to speak, one person at a time. * Afterwards we may enjoy non-fictional food & drinks at a nearby establishment. * Warning: Participation in a book club is a dangerous activity. You may encounter opinions different from yours. By joining the group you agree to assume all risks.

    Toronto Reference Library

    789 Yonge St. · Toronto, ON

    3 comments
  • On the move : a life - by OLIVER SACKS
    An impassioned, tender, and joyous memoir by the author of Musicophilia and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. When Oliver Sacks was twelve years old, a perceptive schoolmaster wrote in his report: "Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far." It is now abundantly clear that Sacks has never stopped going. From its opening pages on his youthful obsession with motorcycles and speed, On the Move is infused with his restless energy. As he recounts his experiences as a young neurologist in the early 1960s, first in California, where he struggled with drug addiction and then in New York, where he discovered a long-forgotten illness in the back wards of a chronic hospital, we see how his engagement with patients comes to define his life. With unbridled honesty and humor, Sacks shows us that the same energy that drives his physical passions--weight lifting and swimming--also drives his cerebral passions. He writes about his love affairs, both romantic and intellectual; his guilt over leaving his family to come to America; his bond with his schizophrenic brother; and the writers and scientists--Thom Gunn, A. R. Luria, W. H. Auden, Gerald M. Edelman, Francis Crick--who influenced him. On the Move is the story of a brilliantly unconventional physician and writer--and of the man who has illuminated the many ways that the brain makes us human.

    Toronto Reference Library

    789 Yonge St. · Toronto, ON

    2 comments
  • Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ - by GIULIA ENDERS
    For too long, the gut has been the body’s most ignored and least appreciated organ, but it turns out that it’s responsible for more than just dirty work: our gut is at the core of who we are. Gut: The Inside Story of our Body's Most Underrated Organ gives the alimentary canal its long-overdue moment in the spotlight. With quirky charm, rising science star Giulia Enders explains the gut’s magic, answering questions like: Why does acid reflux happen? What’s really up with gluten and lactose intolerance? How does the gut affect obesity and mood? Communication between the gut and the brain is one of the fastest-growing areas of medical research--on par with stem-cell research. Our gut reactions, we learn, are intimately connected with our physical and mental well-being. Aided with cheerful illustrations by Enders’s sister Jill, this beguiling manifesto will make you finally listen to those butterflies in your stomach: they’re trying to tell you something important.

    Toronto Reference Library

    789 Yonge St. · Toronto, ON

    2 comments
  • WestGTA - The Effective Citizen by G. Steele
    No RSVP is required for the first meeting. If you have any questions about the WestGTA meetings, contact Helen. Graham Steele, a lawyer, analyst, former Nova Scotia cabinet minister pulls back the curtain on our political system and gives readers a look inside. A primer for anyone who wants to become a politician or influence one.

    This Meetup is past

    Panera Bread

    55 Square One Drive Beside LCBO & Spence Diamonds · Mississauga, ON

  • Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered E.F. SCHUMACHER
    As relevant today as when it was first published, this twenty-five-year anniversary edition of the classic of common-sense economics brings the author's ideas into focus for the end-of-the-century by adding commentaries by contemporary thinkers.

    Toronto Reference Library

    789 Yonge St. · Toronto, ON

    6 comments
  • The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves MATT RIDLEY
    Life is getting better—and at an accelerating rate. Food availability, income, and life span are up; disease, child mortality, and violence are down — all across the globe. Though the world is far from perfect, necessities and luxuries alike are getting cheaper; population growth is slowing; Africa is following Asia out of poverty; the Internet, the mobile phone, and container shipping are enriching people’s lives as never before. The pessimists who dominate public discourse insist that we will soon reach a turning point and things will start to get worse. But they have been saying this for two hundred years.\\Yet Matt Ridley does more than describe how things are getting better. He explains why. Prosperity comes from everybody working for everybody else. The habit of exchange and specialization—which started more than 100,000 years ago—has created a collective brain that sets human living standards on a rising trend. The mutual dependence, trust, and sharing that result are causes for hope, not despair.\\This bold book covers the entire sweep of human history, from the Stone Age to the Internet, from the stagnation of the Ming empire to the invention of the steam engine, from the population explosion to the likely consequences of climate change. It ends with a confident assertion that thanks to the ceaseless capacity of the human race for innovative change, and despite inevitable disasters along the way, the twenty-first century will see both human prosperity and natural biodiversity enhanced. Acute, refreshing, and revelatory, The Rational Optimist will change your way of thinking about the world for the better.

    Toronto Reference Library

    789 Yonge St. · Toronto, ON

    4 comments