Geek Life

GovCamp: Ottawa, May 31 – June 1, 2010

 Photo of the Peace Tower in Ottawa: "GovCamp: Ottawa, May 31 - June 1, 2010" Creative Commons Photo by the Poissant Family.

Open Government / Government 2.0

The intersection of the internet and politics has given rise to many things, including the concept often referred to as “Open Government” or “Government 2.0”. To borrow a couple of lines from Mark Kuznicki’s keynote at ChangeCamp Toronto, its goals are twofold:

  1. For governments to become more open, transparent, participatory, innovative, efficient and effective
  2. For citizens to become more connected to each other around their civic passions in the place they call home

Events like ChangeCamp, TransitCamp and Metronauts – unconferences where ordinary citizens, government officials and representatives of organizations that receive public funding meet to exchange ideas – have been happening across Canada. At these events, people have thought about, discussed and built new relationships with their local governments, often through the use of technology.

Most of these events focused on a local community, municipality or occasionally, a province, but none of them have had a discussion at the federal level. Could this be done at a broader level?

GovCamp: May 31 – June 1 in Ottawa

GovCamp logo

That’s where GovCamp comes in. It’s an “Open Government”/”Government 2.0” discussion where the topics will be centred around Canada as a whole, the interactions between cities and provinces, and how our provincial and federal governments can help cultivate the growth and prosperity of Canadians and their vibrant communities.

John Weigelt, Microsoft Canada’s National Technology Officer, is putting together this event, which takes place on Monday, May 31st and Tuesday, June 1st in Ottawa. It’ll be a gathering of local citizens, public sector employees, service delivery leaders and policy people with an interest in having a conversation about engaging citizens and businesses and making government at all levels more open, responsive and efficient. It won’t be a trade show or product-oriented discussion; instead, it will be a workshop-style unconference where participants establish the agenda and explore the themes that they care most about.

GovCamp is being hosted by CIPS – the Canadian Association for Information Technology Professionals – and sponsored by Microsoft Canada on behalf of the community.

Who’s Coming to GovCamp?

In putting GovCamp together, we’re reaching out to a number organizations and communities including:

Who is GovCamp For?

This event is for:

  • IT People –Technology is one way that governments are transforming how they deliver services externally and internally. Technology people are needed to explore the art of the possible for these new services. Mash-ups, Open Data, social media are but a few of the possible areas for discussion.
  • Policy People – We need you in the conversation so that you can share your expertise on the realm of the possible from a policy perspective. Privacy, Security, Access to Information, Information Management are all key considerations for successful government transformation.  Come share your knowledge on how to make these policies enable new services.
  • Government Services leaders – Ultimately, government delivers value through the many services that are provided. GovCamp is about exploring the realm of the possible for service to individuals, services to businesses and services to other departments. Your voice is essential to inform the community and to guide those ideas that the community may have for you!
  • Community – We are fortunate that there’s a passionate and creative community with vibrant ideas about how they can help create a closer connection between governments, individuals, businesses and even among government itself. Your participation at the Canada Gov Camp will provide you with a venue to share your great ideas and, if all goes well, interact with some of the people that can take your idea further.

How Much, and Where do I Register?

Registration for GovCamp is free! To register, visit the registration page.

GovCamp will be held at the University of Ottawa, in a location to be determined.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Tom Brokaw Explains Canada to Americans

At the start of every Olympic games, there’s always an extended news piece – if you can call anything under 10 minutes “extended” – describing the host country to the viewers. The 2010 Winter Olympics is no exception, and in this video, NBC’s Tom Brokaw introduces American viewers to us, their neighbours to the north. In his voice-over, Brokaw says:

In the long history of sovereign neighbours, there never has been a relationship as close, productive and peaceful as the U.S. and Canada.

Speaking as the husband of a very lovely American woman and an employee (and most prominent blogger) of the Canadian subsidiary of an American multinational corporation, I’m inclined to agree.


Mathew Ingram Joins GigaOM

mathew ingramIt’s another “local guy makes good” story: Mesh Conference co-founder, Globe and Mail writer and editor for the better part of two decades, all-round respected Canadian voice in tech journalism and fixture of the Toronto tech scene, Mathew Ingram is leaving the Globe to join GigaOM as one of its full-time reporters.

This is great news all ‘round: for GigaOM, who are getting a great writer to join their ranks, for Mathew, because this is a great opportunity, and for Canada – whose techies since Alexander Graham Bell have been punching above their weight class – who now has a voice in one of technology’s most important and influential blogs.

Congratulations, Mathew, and see you online!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

Geek Life

WIND Mobile’s Videos: Funny. Canadian Mobile Phone Situation: Not So Funny.

I have no idea if WIND Mobile is going to be able to deliver what they promise – a mobile phone company that listens to its customers and provides better service than the sad players in the Canadian mobile phone oligarchy – but they’ve got the right ideas and some rather funny videos that perfectly illustrate what the Canadian mobile customer has to contend with.

What if Toronto’s hot dog vendors had a pricing model like Canadian mobile phone companies? Buying a hot dog would be like this:

Canada is the only country in the world where mobile companies lock you into three-year contracts for mobile service, and this situation is illustrated in the video titled Bike Lock:

I always look at the service packages offered by U.S. mobile companies with envy. Here, the mobile companies love nickel-and-diming you:

WIND is a new entrant into the Canadian mobile phone market and a branch of Globalive Communications, who already have a presence in Canada in the form of Yak Communications, an alternative phone and internet provider. They seem to be taking a very “social media” approach to their marketing, what with the “viral” YouTube videos and a “conversational” website in which readers are encourage to actively participate in online discussions.

They look like an interesting company to watch, and hey, if they can get me a better deal than Rogers, I’ll switch.

Recommended Reading

Tom Purves has been one of voices leading the battle cry against Canadian mobile companies for the past couple of years. Back in 2007 at DemoCamp 17, he gave what I consider to be the best ignite presentation ever given at a Toronto DemoCamp, The State of Wireless in Canada Sucks. Here’s the slide deck from that presentation:

He recently revised his presentation for 2009 when he presented it at the FITC mobile conference in September, which mentions WIND mobile:

This article also appears in Global Nerdy.