BarCamp: Toronto’s Tech Unconference

BarCamp TorontoTechWeek (aka BarCamp Toronto4) is happening this Saturday, May 26th. This time, we’re bringing out the BarCamp noobies and sharing the real BarCamp experience at University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information Studies.

In line with the counter-culture ethos of the unconference, this BarCamp marks the un-official un-launch of Toronto Technology Week, which features both Enterprise 2.0 Conference & Camp and the Mesh Conference. I will be attending BarCamp and plan on facilitating a conversation about the future of Mozilla as a product or a platform, based on Chris Messina’s recent rant on the subject.

If you’ve never attended an unconference before, you really need to try it. (Hint: DemoCamp IS NOT a BarCamp) Once you’ve had an unconference, your expectations for what a conference should be will never be the same. Participants only. Bring a presentation you want to share, or sometimes participation means active listening, engaging presenters, bringing a question you want to explore or an intention to meet some like-minded folk. It’s about sharing and learning in an open creative environment.

Register by adding your name on the wiki. (Click “edit page”, password: c4mp)

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Joost, Remarkk at nextMEDIA: Join the Net Neutrality Town Hall

This is exciting. Joost is going to be at nextMEDIA in Banff, which takes place June 8-10, 2007.

Joost is the most significant potential disruption and threat to the traditional video content distribution model in a long time, an innovation built on the architecture of the open Internet as we know it today and built on P2P technologies.

Is it television? Sort of. It has the potential to be way better than television. Rogers or Bell could decide to throttle Joost to the point of being unusable for their Internet customers, reducing consumer choice while protecting their cable and satellite oligopoly from competition. Is that risk real? What should we think about it? What is the future of the Open Internet? What should Canadian content creators expect?

I will be attending nextMEDIA and have been asked to participate in a “Town Hall” panel and conversation about Network Neutrality:

All media has become digital. Is the Internet a lucrative and profitable playing ground for a new generation of creators and consumers of media or a new and potentially extremely profitable channel for old gatekeepers? How independent is the relationship between user, content creator and media conglomerate and how will this affect the distribution revenues and expenditures? How have these relationships been changing over time and how will they affect your business? Explore the frontlines of the digital media landscape through a town hall meeting where everyone is invited to participate.

Many of us have been arguing that the industry in Canada needs to start opening up the conversation about net neutrality, and nextMEDIA organizer Mark Greenspan responded by adding the session into the schedule. This is “nextMEDIA” after all, and net neutrality is THE central issue in the development of the architecture of the media platform of the future, so it’s a natural fit.

The “Town Hall” is scheduled opposite Heritage Minister Bev Oda’s speech. Off to the side and away from the view of the politicos, but at least the conversation is happening, which is some small measure of progress. If you’re in Banff, please join us for what will no doubt be a stimulating discussion.

Now if Kevin McArthur could finally give over to a good home!

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Teh Messina on Mozilla: After Firefox, Now What?

Chris Messina (BarCamp godfather, Mr. Tara Hunt and open web evangelist) has posted a lengthy, provocative and thoughtful video rant on the state of Mozilla, makers of the Firefox browser. In it he argues that Mozilla needs to stop thinking of itself as a browser company and become “a platform for innovation, creativity and the advancement of civilization and societies“. (WOW!)

Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corp would collapse without the Mozilla community. That community is united by shared beliefs and sense of mission. It was catalyzed by a common purpose to take on a juggernaut in the form of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. It’s goal was to offer an alternative. With that purpose and goal now largely accomplished and IE7 a much improved competitor, it begs the question: What next?

Messina’s critique needs to be understood as being broadly about the kind of web we want and it’s place in society, just like the net neutrality debate. Chris’ recent launch-point is his concern that the next generation web dev platforms (Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Apollo) are curtailing “view source”. Chris and others credit web standards and view source as the primary propagating forces behind the rapid innovation on the web today. Messina is looking to Mozilla to lead the development of open alternatives in line with its mission to ensure choice on the web.

Analysis after the jump…

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Startup Resources: Innovation Synergy Centre in Markham

I was invited by Catarina von Maydell, formerly of the Toronto Angel Group, to attend a gathering of investors (mostly angel) at ISCM, the Innovation Synergy Centre in Markham north of Toronto. Investors learned about the services that this hub of so-called “4th pillar” organizations offers to small-medium sized growth companies. The invited investors had an opportunity to learn about and meet with some of the companies that ISCM helps prepare for investment.


What does collaboration feel like?

We know it when we experience it. The fluid coordination of many disparate parts. It can be like jamming or improv. But sometimes you need planning and a choreographer. While I have an interest in the self-organizing nature of creative communities, we must recognize that the application of skill and talent in a more formally coordinated fashion is the only way to experience the seemingly effortless flow of collaboration like this (via Luis Suarez):

Technorati Tags: , Canadian Startup News by Canadian Startup People The Life, and Death, of Canadian Startups has launched. Stories from the leading edge of startup life in Canada.

It’s a place to share the real stories of Canadian innovators that are creating a buzz; lessons from the trenches; resources, criticism and commentary from the edge. I will be making contributions there about some of the bigger policy questions, where entrepreneurs can go to find support and maybe even sharing some of my own experiences.

Let me know if there’s something cool or helpful that you think should be covered there.

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Banning Employee Use of Facebook? Your loss.

The Ontario government has banned Facebook for all Ontario Public Service employees. This is bad information policy, bad organizational strategy, bad public policy and bad political strategy. Of course Facebook will continue to strike fear into the autocratic management style that tends to occupy the corner offices, and other large organizations will surely follow.

This is part of a bigger issue of IT policy: employee access to basic Internet tools, including personal email. As Tom Purves has argued, “If you can’t trust your own employees and knowledge workers to use the tools you give them responsibly, who can you trust?”. Colin Henderson at put the strategic alternatives in sharp relief: Web 2.0 or 1984?

Technological change is blurring the lines between home-life and work-life. How many employees banned from checking in on their friends during the day are expected to return emails on their Crackberry during their personal time? This is about real breathing human beings and their relationship to work; a new generation of employees who increasingly refuse to subsume their independent identity to that of The Company. Employee Internet access policy needs to be carefully rethought in the context of an organization’s talent, communications and innovation strategy.

Interestingly, the Ontario government’s ban scoops up government MPPs while opposition MPPs and their staff escape the ban by virtue of their network segment being controlled separately. So the Liberals have put themselves at an electoral disadvantage in the months leading up to a fall election by eliminating a communication channel with a growing section of the electorate that is increasingly difficult to reach through traditional media. Dumb.

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Enterprise 2.0 Conference, May 29th in Toronto

Corporate Canada will have a tremendous opportunity to get an intense dose of education and practical advice on the emerging set of social media tools that are changing the nature of work and the future of competitiveness. Enterprise 2.0 is happening the day before the Mesh Conference in the middle of Toronto TechWeek.

Tom Purves has lined up two amazing speakers in Anthony D. Williams, co-author of Wikinomics and John Bruce, CEO of iUpload which recently received $7 million in US VC funding. The event will be a fascinating hybrid of the traditional CEO breakfast followed by an intense day of workshops that will tap the expertise of the participants, including the best and brightest from the Toronto Barcamp community. That’s how 2.0 is done!

I am looking forward to hearing case studies from companies that are in various stages of implementing wikis, blogs, social networks, new collaboration tools and other Enterprise 2.0 practices. It is a great opportunity to innovate, get some new ideas and perspectives and find people to help companies innovate the new world of work. I’m going to propose a session myself, maybe a couple. Join us!

OCE Discovery07: Remarkable?

I attended the Ontario Centres of Excellence Discovery07 event at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre yesterday, May 1, 2007. Is it worthy of mention? One major wow moment: disembodied 3D holographic virtual Ray Kurzweil addressing the audience live from the podium:


Take me to your leader.

The Good, the Bad and the Indifferent after the jump…

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