Vancouver TransitCamp

Well, it looks like the TransitCamp meme we launched in Toronto back in February has gone round the globe and landed right back in Canada with Vancouver TransitCamp coming up fast on December 8th. Congratulations to Karen (Quinn) for surviving the existential angst and politically charged atmosphere just getting to launch. Karen was at the first TransitCamp in Toronto and has been passionate about bringing it back to her home city of Vancouver ever since.
Vancouver Transit Camp
When David registered the domain last year, we envisioned that maybe someday many subdomains might propagate for cities around the world that wanted to look at transit and community in a new way. I’m really glad to see someone has taken the ball and run with it.

In February, TransitCamp returns to BarCamp ground zero at Bay Area TransitCamp. We heard some rumblings from Australia, Boston and Washington DC. Time will tell if they surface. If you need advice on organizing a TransitCamp in your city, just send an email. And, hopefully, Toronto TransitCamp ’08 will be bigger and better.

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Richard Florida on “Every Single Human Being is Creative”

The most recent column by Richard Florida in the Globe and Mail triggered a small storm of confusion and vitriol by commenters on Some context from the article:

I recalled those Saturdays recently when I had my hair cut in Toronto. It turned out that the hairdresser, a stylish young man in his late 20s or early 30s, was once a resident of Birmingham, an upscale suburb of Detroit that I knew well because my wife lived there when we met. Without thinking, I said, “My wife used to get her hair done in Birmingham; what salon did you work in?” “I wasn’t a hairstylist then, man. I worked for General Motors,” he said. “Really?” I said, trying to dig myself out of a hole. “What plant did you work at?” “Plant?” came his reply. “I didn’t work in a factory — I’m a mechanical engineer and I worked on new product development.”

My jaw dropped. This man had quit a high-paying job in a good company so he could cut people’s hair. He had left the creative class because it wasn’t creative enough for him and had gone into a service industry to express his creativity.

Commenters were confused and took Florida to task for mixing the idea of a creative class with the idea that we are all creative. No question, there are tensions between these ideas and I think Florida himself would acknowledge them. The language is slippery. Many people who cite Florida haven’t read him fully, and don’t pickup on this second idea in his work at all.

It is a problem that is partially of Florida’s own making by emphasizing the word “class”. By drawing a huge circle that puts starving artists living in poverty and investment bankers in the same economic class, we lose some key distinctions that are beyond industry and occupational classifications. I argue that to understand who the creatives are, we need to look at another level of analysis: that of values.

There are a set of creative values that tend to be held by creative people. Our companies, industries, economies and societies have for too long ignored those values as frivolous – or a necessary evil when working with creative teams on ad campaigns. As the cultural/brand/design value of products and services in the economy increases relative to functional value, the values held by those that create culture are increasingly difficult to ignore. The group of people who hold this set of values (25% of the U.S. population) is the subject of The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World, by Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson. Cultural Creatives share values that distinguish them from Traditionalists and Modernists. I just picked up the book and look forward to digging deeper.

I believe further insight into what is emerging can be seen by combining Florida’s economic lens with Ray and Anderson’s values lens. It is the combination of these two ideas plus the impact of enabling web technologies that I’m interested in exploring in what I call open creative communities.

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Arts Consultants 2.0: Where are you?

At Greg Baeker‘s invitation, I was asked to speak to Arts Consultants Canada, an emerging association of consultants to arts organizations. I introduced them to some ideas about how the web is transforming the context and (perhaps) the practice of arts consulting and the work of arts organizations.

I am concerned that the lack of awareness in the arts community in general about the changes happening as a result of the Web is putting at risk their long-term sustainability and relevance. There is a massive generational shift underway, and I am concerned that because of profoundly different uses of media, much of our cultural heritage is at risk of not making the leap across the chasm in a way that can sustain relevance for the future.

We’ve had the Cluetrain Manifesto for 8 years now.
Who is developing a Culture Manifesto for the Web Age?

Are you an arts consultant who needs to understand the web? Are you a web person who wants to work with arts consultants? I encourage you to identify yourself in the comments to this blog post, and hopefully we can bring these two solitudes together in some useful way.

I’ve uploaded my slides, feel free to share them:

CRTC Townhall on New Media: I’m moderating

Following up on a successful conversation on Net Neutrality at nextMEDIA 2007 in Banff earlier this year, Mark Greenspan asked me to help facilitate another of their townhall series. This is an opportunity to help the new media community to understand the issues, the stakes and the arguments, and enter the conversation.

We will discuss the regulatory environment for digital content on the Internet and this event is contributing to the CRTC’s “New Media Project Initiative”. We have a fantastic all-star panel: Richard Hardacre (ACTRA), Michael Hennessy (TELUS), McLean Mashingaidze-Greaves (Nimble) and Pierre Karl Péladeau (Quebecor Media). We also have the active participation of the CRTC, so this is setting up to be a great opportunity to talk about the need and role of regulatory and policy change in the context of the broadband and mobile Internet media environment of the future.

nextMEDIA Events

Come to nextMEDIA: Monetizing Digital Media on November 27th and 28th, and join the conversation. I highly recommend doing a little homework in advance, so please take a moment to do some reading.

The CRTC New Media site has links to all the regulatory background as well as background on the New Media Project Initiative. The focus of this consultation is on new media broadcasting and its impact on the objectives of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Acts. This backgrounder is a good place to start and includes the following definition of New Media for the purposes of this consultation process is as follows:

From social and economic perspectives, the Commission’s interest in New Media is largely one of satisfying itself that users, participants and service providers have fair and reasonable access. This includes access in fact, as well as issues of quality, pricing, reasonable commercial practices and “net neutrality”. While typically stemming from the Commission’s powers under the Telecommunications Act, access issues may also stem from the Commission’s support of Canadian programming and other objectives of the Broadcasting Act.

From a cultural perspective, the Commission’s New Media mandate stems exclusively from the Broadcasting Act and extends only to content services analogous to broadcasting. This includes predominantly audio or audio-visual information and entertainment content which may or may not be new, linear, interactive or professionally produced, but which is available to the general public on new point-to-point distribution platforms such as the Broadband Internet and Mobile Wireless. It does not however include private communications or predominantly text and graphic content.

In this context there are four major themes:

  1. Domestic content
  2. Network neutrality
  3. Business models
  4. Access to infrastructure

Two important references:

1) The 1999 New Media Decision, which basically exempted new media from regulation.
2) Section 15 Report, Future Environment of CDN Broadcasting System. In particular, look at Section IV, part J “The Commission’s perspective on the policy issues raised by parties to this process”

Full Press Release after the jump…

Continue reading “CRTC Townhall on New Media: I’m moderating”

World Cafes: Conversations with Your Creative Neighbours

The Creative Convergence Project (I’m the Project Manager) is conducting four World Cafe events to engage a broad cross-section of creative people into conversations about themselves, their creative practice and their neighbourhoods. These events allow us to gather fascinating qualitative data for our research study (take the survey) and are also experiments in new ways of engaging the so-called Creative Class into a conversation that has been stuck inside policy circles for too long.

What do an artist and a software developer have in common? What are our shared dreams for our neighbourhoods and our city? We invite you to join a unique conversation, meet the creative people in your neighbourhood and hope that you will leave with new perspective and new opportunities for your own work.

Download the invitation. Join the Facebook Group.

StartupCamp Toronto sells out faster than the Stones

Startupcamplogo SmallWhile I was in Vancouver, Jevon, Jonas and co-conspirators over at StartupNorth announced and quickly sold out StartupCamp Toronto1.
For those curious about how this “community thing” works, notice how the model is the defunct Canadian Venture Forum turned on its head. Tickets are allocated based on your community of practice: Entrepreneurs, Students and Gurus are free. Service Provider tickets are still available at $199 and you get recognized as a sponsor for supporting the community! $199 for that kind of whuffie is a fantastic deal.

Now if the Board of Trade could get hip to the model, we might see a few more tech innovators at those Tech Innovators Breakfasts! In my experience, these breakfasts are an old-skool sausagefest of service providers trying to catch a deal, and if it weren’t for the odd enlightened friend of the community like RBC, Idée, Microsoft/David Crow – you would never see a garage startup show its face in such an environment. (I’d link to the next one of their events, but the Board of Trade’s website is too painful to navigate and doesn’t use permalinks! Hello??)

I’m looking forward to putting my community co-creation ideas in front of more people in the startup ecosystem as the BarCamp community continues to gain traction in the eyes of policy, corporate and capital players. I see my role in this is to help these people perceive community and give them tools to engage with it in a way that creates new value for the whole system.