What is TV? What is New Media?

It’s getting harder to be a policy wonk in the cultural, entertainment and creative industries these days, and the difficulty is about words and definitions. I guess I’m not alone. Mathew Ingram poses a question: What exactly do we mean by TV?

Ingram and his copy editor had to have a conversation about words. Writers and editors in the newspaper biz have been establishing the common currency of language for a long time in our culture, so I took note of their conversation.

“What’s Internet television?� she said. “Is it on TV?� Well, no. “Then what makes it television?� Good question, I said. That’s kind of the point, in fact. So we agreed to call it Internet video — but I think it’s more than that. It’s short-form, episodic, character and plot driven narrative. How is that not television? But it’s not on TV.

I share Ingram’s frustration, Now try defining New Media usefully for research and analysis purposes, a continual source of hair-pulling frustration in the cultural policy world and in work sitting on my desk right now. Are we really in a bifurcated reality between people who “get it” and those that don’t? Without a common language, how are we supposed to have the conversations we need to have during a period of rapid change in media, industry, culture and society?

Is internet video a form of “new media”, or is it “television”? What is new media? Is something delivered on the internet automatically “new media” and something on a closed proprietary network automatically “old media”? Is new media always interactive, while television is a passive linear experience? And what about user-generated media? Is it new just because I put it on YouTube instead of passing it around a videotape?

I’m seeking a useful and generally accepted taxonomy of media and their related industries that is relevant today. To start, which perspective is the most relevant: that of a user, the industry or the general public? Are these separate but equally useful analytical lenses?

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ConceptShare: collaboration sex appeal

The ConceptShare boys have been burning things up just about anywhere that gives a damn about Web 2.0 and online collaboration software.

Now ConceptShare is moving from image-based collaboration into rich media: audio, video and flash. Adding new media types only enhances the application’s value to a wide audience of designers and their customers, while retaining the key differentiator of the original: you don’t have to book a meeting to collaborate. ConceptShare is based on the simple but powerful idea that meetings suck.

At the rate they’re improving, I think we can expect them to continue impressing customers and industry watchers alike. Bernie, Scott and Chris are very smart guys who can teach the Toronto web development and startup scene a few lessons on how to do it right. Fast, agile, iterative and savvy. Luckily, you will have the opportunity to learn more when Scott comes to speak at the upcoming Mesh Conference. And, as usual, expect them at upcoming DemoCamps and BarCamps in Toronto.

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Toronto Facebook network exploding, now more than 1/2 million strong

1 in 10 people in the Toronto metro area are Facebookers, according to the stats. At 500,000 members and counting, the Toronto network is larger than NYC, London or Los Angeles which have much larger populations. This post by Ryan Feeley provides a table of statistics on Facebook network size compared to metro populations for major english-speaking cities.

read more | digg story

Openness, Freedom, Culture & Creativity

There is a growing discourse about what openness and freedom means in the contemporary context. This is the thematic question guiding the OpenCities unconference scheduled for June 23rd and 24th.

My new friend David Eaves joined us for the most recent OpenCities organizers meet-up. David is a remarkable fellow, extremely bright and talented, who shares my interests in public policy and the lessons to be learned from open source software. Add him to your feeds.


David Eaves’ recent post, If you only read one book – make it Free Culture, highlights the stakes in a beautifully succinct way:

If we are moving from an information society to a creativity society (as argued by the likes of Max Wyman in Defiant Imagination and Richard Florida in Rise of the Creative Class) then determining who is allowed to be creative, and how they are allowed to be creative, is possible the most important question confronting us. It’s answer will determine not only the rules of our economy, but the shape and nature of our culture and communities.

Read David’s review.

If you don’t know Lawrence Lessig’s work, go no further. Watch his classic Free Culture presentation. Summing up his main argument:

  1. Creativity and innovation always builds on the past;
  2. The past always tries to control the creativity that builds on it (through copyright);
  3. Free societies enables the future by limiting the past (by limiting copyright);
  4. Ours is less and less a free society.

Lessig’s Free Culture is an important starting point for a social, cultural, economic and political conversation that is increasing vocal and that is already breaking out of the hard core of those interested in the obscurities of intellectual property law. As a larger and larger slice of the population embrace the technology tools for self-expression, this debate will continue to rise to the surface of public discourse.

And there are many related debates – it’s not just about copyright. It’s also about Net Neutrality. It’s about public space.

The relatively obscure copyright debate between activists and industry lobbyists masks a bigger shift in the tectonic plates of society. Today’s copyright debate is a weak signal of something bigger beneath the surface: an emerging new paradigm of knowledge and creative development, cultural expression, economic production and political participation.

Comprehending how this new paradigm is colliding with the old and understanding the forces unleashed at the points of collision, is one of the greatest (and most fascinating) challenges in business, politics, policy and academia today. But where can the conversation begin to meet the everyday reality of most people?

OpenCities says it happens in our local communities with an open conversation among peers. Join the conversation on June 23rd, 2007.

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CONCERT Entertainment/Creative R&D Network Needs a PM

My colleague Christian Buhagiar at York University is hiring a Project Manager for a really exciting project called CONCERT: “Consortium on New Media, Creative and Entertainment R&D in the Toronto Region”. See this page for background on the project.

Download the Job Description (PDF)

CONCERT is closely related to the project I am managing, the Creative Convergence Centres Project, so you will have the added pleasure of working with yours truly. 😉

Feel free to contact me if you’re interested in this position and would like some background before applying.

Canada Worse than 3rd World Countries when it comes to Mobile Data Access

From Tom Purves:

And all levels of government say that “ICT� competitiveness is key factor in Canada’s future economic prosperity. Ya. Right. I would like to say that Canada is a 3rd world country when it comes to Mobile ICT, except you can clearly see from this chart that even *Rwanda* has orders of magnitude better Mobile Data service than Canada.

The graphic is shocking.

Travesty of Canadian Mobile Carriers

The mobile content and platform innovation and competitiveness implications are massive. Blog about it. Digg this story.

read more | digg story

CODE: Building the New Agora

University of Toronto’s Knowledge Media Design Institute’s Project Open Source|Open Access project is hosting a lecture and panel-in-the-round conversation Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon at the Bahen Centre.

CODE: Building the New Agora explores current perspectives on the contemporary perception of hardware/software and investigates how open source/open access alters our approaches to professional and social networks.

Less than five years ago the cultural theorist Lev Manovich claimed that while the 1990s were all about the virtual, the next decade might be about physical space and interactions, albeit augmented by electronic information. To explore these rapidly changing paradigms you are invited to join CODE.

CODE introduces Prof Wendy Hui Kyong Chun of Brown University and brings together an array of local speakers for a critical analysis of innovative initiatives in networked public life. The panels in the round will start with informal 5-7 minutes long presentations aiming towards an open dialogue with the participating public.

CODE’s goal is to foster discussion on these issues examining the impact of community building in Toronto and beyond.

I will be participating in one of the Wednesday afternoon panels with David Crow of Toronto BarCamp, David Humphrey of Seneca College, who has students who are making contributions to the Mozilla project and Tobias c. van Veen of the Upgrade Montreal community.

I will be bringing a political economic and policy perspective to the conversation. I am interested in how open source software development communities provide a rich source of data for social scientists to understand commons-based peer production and its application to other forms of creative knowledge work. I am interested in the places of intersection between online communities or networks and physical place and space, something I’m calling open creative communities.

I look forward to the panel-in-the-round format, which will allow for a lot of audience participation and contributions. If you are driven by similar questions, I encourage you to come out and participate in the conversation.

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This Week in the Chat Swarm, Ep.1

This week on “As The Swarm Turns”, Sandy turns to drink, Markus tries to beat his crack addiction and Walkah and Ryan C discover that they are long-lost brothers. Meanwhile, Bryce discovers a nasty surprise in the basement of his mysterious new cottage.


The TorCamp community has a stable ad-hoc always-on chat room in Skype. I thought it might be interesting to start a weekly summary of the conversation for those of you who might be interested but don’t need the distraction, or just for posterity’s sake. Or this could just be a giant inside joke, you decide.

The TorCamp Chat Swarmâ„¢ is a gathering place for smart tech blogger BarCamp types in Toronto, with special guests visiting from Vancouver, San Francisco, Atlanta, London, Rome and other places I’m probably forgetting. The Swarmâ„¢ is a virtual water-cooler for independent, creative, entrepreneurial or self-employed and community-oriented folk. Conversation varies from banal to brilliant to steamy, depending on the flavour of the moment.

Out of Context Quote of the Week:

mark raheja:
depends. if you’re both wearing baby panda costumes…then yes, definitely cute.

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