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Launchpad: The Internet of Things, by Vicki McLeod

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This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching The Internet of Things, by Vicki McLeod, a guide to understanding the way soon-to-be common technologies affect your daily life and how to use these technologies for increased safety, security, convenience, and quality of life.


The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.
This book is a guide to understanding the way soon-to-be common Internet of Things (IoT) technologies affect daily life and how to use these technologies for increased safety, security, convenie …

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Books to Inspire Storytelling (With Tech Tools to Capture the Tales)

Twice a month, we invite an educator to share their perspective on essential books for your classroom. To apply to become a contributor, please send us an email!


At the beginning of each summer, as school is winding its way to the end, I inevitably pull out my books of ghost stories. I spend some quality time with the likes of Henry James, Robertson Davies, and Shirley Jackson and think back to when I was a child, roasting marshmallows and telling spooky tales over a campfire on a warm summer night. There are so many kids I see in my library with amazing and inventive stories to tell. Unfortunately some of these stories are never told, as the writing process does not come easily for everyone. Here is a list of books to inspire the oral tradition of storytelling and some tech tools that can help to capture these magical tales from the vivid imaginations of our students.


Two humorous stories about Coyote make up the book Coyote Tales by Thomas King, illustrated by Byron Eggenschwiler. In “Coyote Sings to the Moon,” Coyote causes the moon to become angry and hide at the bottom of the pond, in a tale explaining why coyotes howl at the moon. “Coyote’s New Suit” is the hilarious story of Coyote stealing the furs of animals, forcing them to steal pe …

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Exploring Space: Notes From a Children's Librarian

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.


Reading the books on this list (which complement the Grade 6 Science and Technology Unit) will result in a thirst for all-things-space, as well as a deep appreciation for the scientific imagination.


The picture book Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13, by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk, is the true story of a NASA aerospace technologist and her early beginnings as a gifted math student. Her calculations were so reliable that John Glenn bypassed the computer-generated numbers to ask if it passed "the Katherine test." When Apollo 13 exploded, Katherine calculated a safe flightpath home, while three astronauts awaited their fate in outer space.


The Amazing International Space Station, by the Editors of Yes Magazine, covers the ins and outs of this incredible scientific feat. Fascinating facts are presented in a kid-friendly way. Did you know it takes eight minutes to leave the earth’s atmosphere, and 41 hours fo …

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The Chat With Michael Harris



On the heels of Michael Harris’s The End of Absence comes Solitude, an exploration of what it means to be alone in a world constantly demanding our attention. We’re in conversation with Michael this week on The Chat.

Grant Munroe, writing in The Globe and Mail, calls Solitude “an insightful, lively meditation on why this increasingly scarce component of our lives should be preserved.” Douglas Coupland says, "I came away from this book a better human being. Michael Harris's take on existence is calm, unique and makes one's soul feel good, yet never once does he rely on feel-good techniques."

Michael Harris is the author of The End of Absence, which won the Governor General's Literary Award and became a national bestseller. He writes about media, civil liberties, and the arts for dozens of publications, including The Washington Post, Wired, Salon, The Huffington Post and The Globe and Mail. His work has been a finalist for the RBC Taylor Prize, the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, the Chautauqua Prize, the CBC Bookie Awards and severa …

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Podcast: Nora Young talks about her book The Virtual Self and how our digital lives can reground us in the physical realm.

UPDATE: After much hullabaloo, Facebook filed its paperwork for an initial public offering, the week of its eighth birthday. The company will begin trading late May 2012. Read more at Mashable. They also have a nice video to explain what this all means, in particular the increase of mobile-Facebooking.

I went back to Nora Young to ask her thoughts. What does this mean in terms of data? OUR data? Here they be:

At the most basic level, Facebook's IPO is a good example of the fact that our data has value. In fact, it's interesting just to consider for a moment that the stock price is — and will be — driven by the loyalty of users and the data they choose to contribute, more than the platform itself, which in the absence of user data really has little intrinsic value.

Does that data have as much value as today's trading suggests, though? In advance of the IPO, I found it interesting to read speculation on what FB might need to do in order to generate the revenue that "Wall Street" might expect. See for instance, this New York Times article. It points out another feature of these platforms: that exactly what use will be made of our data, is something of a moving target. We are really at a fluid period in thinking about what value personal data actually has.

At more of a cultural level, the borderline hysterical coverage leading up to FB's IPO suggests that we are really drunk on data. It's a story with an odd sex appeal to it, since as users we are in some sense 'involved' in the …

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