John Sobol’s take on today’s media cultures is unique. His unusual professional fluency in oral, literate and digital media gives him a holistic perspective that cuts through the hype to demonstrate exactly how and where different communication technologies yield different values, different social relations, and different risks and opportunities. His useful insights are based on a lifetime of professional cross-disciplinary practice and a busy imagination.

As an oralist, John is a professional saxophonist, performance poet and public speaker with over 1,000 gigs to his credit in a dozen countries since 1979. He has traveled widely to apprentice, record and perform with renowned artists and elders from diverse oral traditions. He has been a producer for CBC national radio and run his own record label called Word of Mouth. He also co-curated a major performance art festival, created Canada’s largest spoken word event at The Banff Centre for the Arts, and toured an acclaimed one-man show called Two Million Years of Technology.

John’s literate credentials include five books published by Canadian publishers, including Digitopia Blues – Race, Technology and the American Voice (Banff Centre Press). He has published hundreds of articles in magazines (Canadian Geographic, BorderCrossings, Shambhala Sun, Downbeat, etc.) and newspapers (Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, Georgia Straight, Montreal Mirror, etc.). He has also written scripts for many television series (seen on Bravo, History, Nickleodeon, CBC, PBS, Vision, etc.) and the libretti for two multimedia operas.

As a digitalist, John was the Co-Founder of Globalhood, a digital playground for at-risk youth in downtown Toronto (1999-2002) and was the Co-Director of Digifest, Canada’s leading festival of digital art and design in 2003, 2004 and 2005, produced by the Design Exchange in partnership with Harbourfront and the Ontario Science Centre. He was commissioned by Apple Canada to create the New Media Circus digital fair in 2001, and he curated and produced Canada Goes Wild!, a national design showcase at the Aichi World’s Fair in 2005. He has planned and completed dozens of interactive projects for cultural and business clients as a senior consultant at a pair of digital agencies, and has provided digital strategy to executives at CBC, Telefilm, Heritage Canada and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, among many other clients.

John is currently the Manager of Brand and Digital Strategy
at the Canada Council for the Arts