AgendaCamp: Citizen-driven economic intelligence

The global economy is undergoing what appears to be the finance equivalent of a heart attack, the circulatory system of credit now frozen.  The policy response looks like shock therapy. $700 billion in public bailouts (or is that ‘investment’) hanging in the balance, $630 billion in new money being printed by the Federal Reserve together with central banks around the world and sudden and frightening drops in global stock markets. Meanwhile, news that talks on Canada-EU economic integration are due to begin mere days after the Canadian federal election has gone largely unnoticed. It is clear that we are not living in normal times.

How will this instability in the system affect citizens and businesses in the places they call home?  Even before the Wall Street meltdown, Ontario’s local and regional economies were under stress and changing rapidly. The current crisis appears likely to accelerate and exacerbate these changes.

It is said that all politics are local. What about economies?

Dan Dunsky, Executive Producer of TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin, believes that we need to think about Ontario’s economies in the plural and his team has identified that major sectors of Ontario’s economy correspond to our geographic landscape and its people in specific places. How do these places and people adapt to global forces that are largely outside of their control? How can we get ahead of the change curve and make our regions more resilient and adaptable to accelerating change?

To tackle this critically important question about our future well-being, TVO is launching an innovative new project that brings together collaborative events and social media together with premier broadcast journalism and expert inquiry.  I am advising and supporting TVO for this project, “The Agenda with Steve Paikin: on the Road” & AgendaCamp.

We’re looking for participants – like you. More after the jump…

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Hacking democracy, Canadian style

A broad progressive (neo-progressive?) movement is emerging on the web, rallying Canadian netizens to defeat the Harper Conservatives in the October 14th federal election.  Dozens of sites and groups have suddenly emerged in the blogosphere and on Facebook with a single unified goal – to defeat the Harper government.

I’m helping with one of these campaigns, AnyoneButHarper.ca, which is a viral media and strategic voting campaign launched from a Facebook group in less than two weeks.  The idea is to create, distribute and share viral media that will drive anti-Harper forces to take action in the form of strategic voting.  The campaign includes videos produced by community members that are hosted on Vimeo and YouTube and a strategic voting widget hosted at Widgetbox.

The strategic voting widget is a democracy hack response to the current situation that progressive Canadians face. Today, the Conservative party can achieve a majority government and push ahead a neo-conservative agenda with only 38% of the popular vote. This is due to the first-past-the-post electoral system and a splintered centre-left  composed of four parties lined up against a united right wing Conservative party. Other approaches to hack this situation include sites and groups that facilitate strategic vote swapping between progressives living in different ridings supporting different centre-left parties.

Meanwhile our friends at Fair Vote Canada are creating a home for Ophan Voters – voters whose votes do not help elect anyone in a first-past-the-post system. They hope to raise awareness of the need for electoral reform, but they are challenged in building the momentum they need when the beneficiaries of the current system control the path to reform. It appears that fundamental reform is not gaining sufficient traction, certainly not in the short term.

Why now?  I think this activity can be seen as the result of some underlying forces:

  1. The social web and the technologies of so-called Web 2.0
  2. The experience of MoveOn.org and the Obama campaign in the U.S. election
  3. A frustrated and digitally enabled electorate, looking for change but lacking a galvanizing leader (like an Obama) to rally behind

Can regular Canadians, using the tools of the web, work around the limitations of first-past-the-post electoral system to snatch a progressive outcome from a system otherwise gamed in the favour of the incumbent Conservative party?

This emerging movement is going to try. It remains to be seen what it can do in the short three weeks remaining in this electoral cycle.

Must Read: Progressivism’s End (and renewal)

I highly recommend reading my good friend David Eaves‘ article Progressivism’s End co-written with his frequent collaborator, Taylor Owen. The analysis is very strong and it is the most effectively written articulation of what I believe to be the emerging realignment of policy and politics as influenced by web technology, the creative class and the steady transition of power from Boomers to Gen Y.

david-e-close

 

Because I love it so, a couple of excerpts. On how the Left is killing Progressivism:

Seeing their hard-fought accomplishments under threat, traditional baby boomer progressives began to prioritize the survival of New Deal policies and institutions over the idealistic outcomes they were built to promote. Thus the central paradox of progressivism was born: its older-style advocates, entrenched against innovation and reform, even in the service of progressive values, had unwittingly become the new conservatives.

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