Climate Change: New Model Points to Massive Adjustment

From OpenDemocracy:

Climate change is moving up the global political agenda. Two current developments are helping to build the issue’s momentum: the Stern report on the economics of climate change (published on 30 October 2006), and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Nairobi (6-17 November 2006). A third, the mid-term election results in the United States, may also prove significant in creating space for fresh thinking and policy initiatives in the world’s largest producer of greenhouse-gas emissions.

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The article goes on to shed some light on the true nature of the challenge. It points to recent modeling by the Institute for Public Policy Research that attempts to model carbon emissions pathways for the future necessary to keep warming below 2°C. Understanding the possible paths available provides a better comprehension of the stakes.

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ICT Toronto: The “Slowly but Surely” Edition

FibreopticsparksI was asked by the City to join ICT Toronto’s Business Plan Working Group to “represent” TorCamp. Of course, you might question A) how does one represent an un-organization? and B) what makes me a legitimate representative of this community? For better or worse, my past work in public policy and economic development consulting, early participation in BarCamp and DemoCamp events and my foolhardy willingness to stick my neck out has made me the TorCamp policy wonk. This post is intended to keep the community up to date on what’s going on and to open a conversation between the community and this Working Group.

Today, the Working Group met to continue work began earlier in the year on formulating a business plan. While this process is certainly not moving at breakneck speed, I can report that today’s session showed good progress toward creating something worthy of the ICT Toronto report’s lofty ambitions. Today’s main focus was an exercise in defining the various “support services” needed for a vibrant cluster of Information Technology businesses in the Toronto region and mapping those needs to the services provided by existing organizations. It was an important first step.

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Blogs, Mobiles and YouTube: R.I.P the Gay Closet

Ohmigod, that’s so gay. (via Wonkette)
MehlmandancesJust when you thought that every Republican politician and staffer, evangelist church pastor and Catholic priest is gay, comes more of the same. Ken Mehlman, Chair of the Republican National Committee is a forty-something clean-cut single white male with good skin. YouTube captures Bill Maher outing him on Larry King. Blogactive did a parody ad (based on the anti-Ford negative ad in Tennessee) that riffed on the “Mehlman is gay” story rumour.

Is outing anybody, even a public figure, ever fair-game? I would argue that coming out is a deeply personal thing and nobody else’s business, but when a politician or somebody else with the power to influence the lives of others demonstrates their own hypocrisy on the subject, they put themselves in jeopardy. The dirty non-secret is that the public service and policy wonks, writers and commentators and the diplomatic corps are full of gay folk. Politics and policy is, after all, creative work – just like home decor.

Beyond the principal of individual privacy, all gay people (and “men who sleep with men”) in public life must realize that in a world of ubiquitous camera-phones with video and YouTube, there is no hiding who you are. I would also argue that we are all public people to some degree – we are involved in our communities, we participate in the marketplace. Human beings are social animals. In a post Cluetrain social-media enabled world, having an honest and authentic identity is a critical part of citizenship. As Jon Stewart puts it, “you can’t run from gay”.

So, before any video appears on YouTube showing me dancing with my arms up high, let me pre-empt by saying that yes your Remarkk author is a gay man. Deal.

Rise of 4th Reich Narrowly Averted

Rumsfeldresignation(Credit: BoingBoing) Many out there (judging from recently popular Digg stories) were anxious about the possible collapse of American constitutional democracy. As evidence, witness easily hacked voting machines, rampant corporatized corruption, an executive branch power grab for martial law authority, endorsement of the use of torture and the suspension of habeas corpus.

What a difference a day makes. Thankfully the Democrats manage to take the House and, it appears, the Senate. Today Rummie resigned. The world lets out a collective sigh of relief.
Here’s hoping they can restore some of the human rights that have been suspended or ignored in recent years. Luckily, the U.S. constitution was designed to resist tyranny. Recent events show how important eternal vigilance truly is.

Update: Apparently Bolton’s on his way out too. Christmas comes early this year.

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Blogging the homeless

Philip Stern, who I worked for when I TA’d “Business of Software” at University of Toronto, just started an amazing project. He has put together a blog for Tony, a homeless man in his neighbourhood, at once putting a face to the plight of the homeless in our city and giving Tony a voice. I think this is a fantastic initiative that Philip’s taken on.

There’s an election coming up, so it’s time for politicians to brush off those old platitudes about housing and homelessness. Here’s a more constructive approach.

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Enterprise 2.0 Camp

Good friend and smarty-pants Tom of Firestoker is organizing and hosting Enterprise 2.0 Camp at the Epicure Cafe in Toronto on November 7th. I hope the Epicure can handle the crowd.

I am very interested in how organizations can tap into the power of social media tools like blogs, wikis and others to improve productivity, foster creative collaboration and aid in customer and community development. Check out Tom’s recent posts to get yourself up to speed. See the MIT Sloan article by Andrew McAfee “Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration”.

One of the important concepts in this discussion is the idea of what Kedrosky called emergent structure. Letting go of control is not equal to chaos. Knowledge management has tended toward control and an imposed structure, designing ontologies and complex knowledge capture mechanisms and such. Social media is about allowing a structure to emerge from the wisdom of the crowd. This parallels the argument of people like Shona Brown that the most successful, innovative companies live strategically on the edge of control and chaos. This implies that success in implementing social media tools in the enterprise isn’t about abandoning structure, but taking a different approach to structure and fostering that tension between chaos and order. Gardening, not engineering.

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In my recent government work, I see huge untapped potential for using these tools to improve stakeholder relations, improve agency accountability, facilitate partnerships and creative collaboration across ministries and across public/private boundaries. Sean Coon wants to “2.0 the hell out of government”. Realistically, government will be much slower to adopt these tools than large corporations, because market signals for improving productivity and agility are lacking and the political environment and organizational culture of government has a strong bias towards controlling risk, which is ultimately political risk.

Lots of food for thought.

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