Ontario government is panning for NextGen Jobs

Digital Media is the hot sector du jour in Ontario, and for good reason. It is one of those rising sectors that are the great hope to support economic growth in an age of de-industrialization. In case you hadn’t heard, there’s a bit of a government-led gold rush going on.

At ICE08, we learned that Ontario’s Ministry of Research & Innovation is investing $9 million in OCAD’s’ Digital Futures Initiative to expand training and research programs in digital media. Sara Diamond, President of OCAD, is a remarkable force of nature and under her leadership, OCAD is aggressively pursuing a reinvigorated research agenda and building partnerships with technology and content industry partners large and small.

We also learned that $10 million is being invested in a new Stratford campus for the University of Waterloo, bringing UW’s acknowledged strength in technology together with Stratford’s vibrant arts and culture community, focusing on digital media.


Both announcements came out of are in addition to the new Next Generation of Jobs Fund, a $1.15 billion initiative modelled after Ontario’s Auto Investment Strategy, which put $500 million into strategic projects and leveraged private investment of $7 billion. The Next Generation of Jobs Fund focuses on three broad sectors: green/clean tech, bio/pharma/health and digital media/ICT. There are three program streams:

What is a “Strategic Opportunity?”

An opportunity where:

  • A large scale global market opportunity exists, coupled with a unique strategy to deal with the competition, or a niche global market opportunity where Ontario has significant capacity and little competition and;
  • Ontario has a demonstrated competitive advantage such as strong private sector strengths including global market leadership, and globally competitive research strength.

Now, here’s an innovation challenge for the Strategic Opportunities Program itself:

How do you identify and evaluate the best strategic opportunities?

The Ministry is holding a series of workshops and doing a SWOT analysis within each of the three focus areas. (sigh)

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good SWOT analysis as much as the next strategy consultant. But have you seen a SWOT analysis yet that provides the needed insight or foresight implied by the goal of developing “next generation jobs”, particularly in an environment of accelerating tech and cultural change?

In the auto industry, panning for job gold is pretty straightforward – you call up the Big 3, the major import manufacturers, the parts and auto technology makers and you’ve got a pretty manageable group to work with. Eventually BIGCO installs some equipment or builds a plant somewhere. Now look at a map of the 11,000 enterprises in the entertainment and creative industries in the Toronto CMA, including digital media and ICT, and you’ll see the problem: 77% of this $9 billion industry are sole practitioners or micro-enterprises. That’s a mighty big river to pan in!

In order for this strategy to be successful, strategic opportunities have to be found, validated by expertise and evaluated against investment criteria in order to be funded. Is there a community engagement strategy that could support this process? What role does strategic foresight, design thinking and collaborative innovation play in its execution? I’m interested in finding out. Leave a comment if you have some thoughts.

Bell Canada hands Net Neutrality advocates a gift!


Bell Canada Associate Director of Media Relations Jason Laszlo made a real boner move, boasting on Facebook of his ability to snow journalists with his network management bafflegab, referring to journalists as “lemmings” in a recent status update. [DIGG] Clearly a super-fun guy in real life (note colourful hat and armband tattoo), he further demonstrated the Bell Media Relations department’s apparent unfamiliarity with modern web tools by leaving his Facebook profile wide-open to the public to see. Oops. [UPDATE: Profile is closed now.]

 The blogosphere, 3rd party DSL providers, regular users, technology developers, net neutrality advocates and public sector employees unions have suddenly woken up. This is all thanks to Bell’s politically stupid move to throttle third party DSL providers P2P traffic. The silent, simmering battle is now finally out in the open. Thanks to the indominatable Michael Geist for keeping the embers alive.

How bad is it about to get for Bell and other monopoly last-mile providers in this PR and regulatory battle? Very bad. It’s a perfect storm of factors:

  1. CBC was receiving raves for distributing “Canada’s Next Prime Minister” on Bittorrent file-sharing networks, being recognized as an innovator(!) in digital content distribution. CBC’s move effectively killed the argument that bandwidth throttling of P2P traffic only affects pirates.
  2. Bell Canada’s wholesale customers are now mobilized against it, into lawsuits and advocacy efforts. TekSavvy, Ontario’s technology community’s preferred DSL provider is leading the charge.
  3. The National Union of Public and General Employees (340,000 members strong) has taken on the issue with a letter to the CRTC accompanying a report it produced on the subject of network neutrality.
  4. The F2C: Freedom to Connect conference is happening Monday and Tuesday in Washington DC. This will raise the profile of the net neutrality issue in general, as well as many of the other implications of citizen journalism, human rights and beyond. At the ICE08 after-party there was talk of bringing this conference to Ottawa too.
  5. The technology developer and startup communities in Toronto, Waterloo, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver are frustrated with the state of broadband in Canada and can be mobilized to action in ways that will bring the investment community along with them. Anti-competitive broadband policies inhibit innovation and startup growth.
  6. The U.S. is making moves to open up the debate on net neutrality legislation. Barack Obama’s technology policy supports network neutrality unequivocally.

Watch this space.

Innovation. Creativity. Enterprise.

iStock_000002456857Medium[ICE08] A vision for Canada’s future in digital and interactive media and technology…

In 2018, Canada has embraced its role as a model power of digital innovation and become a key node in the emerging global network economy.

Accelerating technological change has altered human behaviour patterns and radically reduced the transaction costs of communication, negotiation and enforcement between and among firms and individual creators.

The web is us. We are increasingly aware of each other, our interdependency and the artifacts of our physical lives made digital. We are also rediscovering lost aspects of ourselves through our heightened relationship with the Other. Canada’s digital citizens have embraced the creative age and are rediscovering their individual creative agency, sense of purpose and values.

Significant private and public investment in ultra-broadband fibre and the continuous march of accelerating technological change is reducing the cost of moving bits towards zero, both over fixed and wireless networks. This inevitable technosocial reality has reconfigured the relationship between creator, content and audience.

Infinitely abundant digital content itself has been transformed. Content is currency, signal and signifier of resources that are naturally scarce: attention, the rare and valuable relationship between creator and audience, unique experiences of transcendent collectivity and the appreciation of rare social and physical objects of culture.

Canada’s media and technology industry underwent a painful transformation process, remaking the supply chain from a few large companies into open commercialization networks of micro-enterprises building social web tools and embracing the economics of abundance.

The new Canadian broadband and media conglomerates embraced their roles as pools of brand-power and capital within a broader open commercialization ecosystem. They shifted their business models and attention towards the edges, embracing the 1% as important to their future adding new venture investment arms attached to their innovation groups.

Together, this tightly interwoven but loosely structured network economy is accelerating through time, projecting the cultural creative values of Canadians into a hopeful shared global future.

Enter the DEMOCAMP/ICE08 blogging contest.

Fix the Canadian television content funding regime

annualreport0607.pdf (page 1 of 104)

This appears entirely reasonable to me:

“We don’t think it’s a radical proposal. We’re interested in Canadian eyeballs for Canadian programs,” Lind told the commission. However, he added, “It’s confusing when everybody has their hand in the pie. To maximize Canadian audiences in primetime, social policy objectives need to be elsewhere.”

[From Playback :: Rogers calls for market-driven fund]

I’m no fan of Rogers anti-competitive behaviour in the mobile and broadband arena, but I have to agree with the tenor of their approach to the much-maligned CTF. I want to see top-quality Canadian content succeed on Canadian screens as well as around the world. I don’t think mixing economic and cultural policy agendas has been very successful to date and will become increasingly irrelevant unless some drastic changes are made. The CBC should focus on its mandate of telling Canadian stories to Canadians and be well-funded to do so.


If the cablecos get their wish on CTF reform towards a more market-centric approach, then I think it is fair that those funds also be made available for indie producers for broadband distribution without discrimination or the requirement for broadcast network distribution deals.

Dear CTF: Open up the process, let viewers decide on what gets funded. Maybe the CTF (or some successor institution) could learn something from A Swarm of Angels or FilmRiot and actually innovate instead of foot-dragging on change.

This is the single biggest policy change that could support the emergence of a new generation of Canadian innovators in content and business models, who can develop quirky and compelling niche content on small budgets with potential global audience appeal. This is my dream – am I alone?

Gen Y Growing Up Online | Will Pate’s Blog

Will Pate links to a really great PBS Frontline documentary, Growing Up Online:

If you want to understand the generation gap between us Gen Y kids and our Baby Boomer parents, you can’t beat this show. You can literally see in the eyes of the parents their fear at how fast their kids are evolving, their frustration at the amount of their kids lives kept private from them but made public on the internet, their media-fueled paranoia about child predators, the pain of realizing their son used the internet to get the know how and the support he needed to take his own life before he was old enough to drive a car. Kids are changing too fast for their parents to possibly keep up, and that’s not a good feeling.

[From Gen Y Growing Up Online | Will Pate’s Blog]

And what of us Gen X’ers who only partially get it?

hand-held an [un]conference – harnessing digital storytelling to improve health

hand-held an [un]conference - harnessing digital storytelling to improve health
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HAND-HELD is an [un]conference that explores how digital storytelling and new media can be harnessed to improve health care when the tools of creation are placed in the hands of citizens.

The day-long event is the culmination of a three-year experiment in socially-engaged media-making undertaken by the National Film Board of Canada – a filmmaker-in-residence project at St. Michael’s Hospital.

The event will showcase the remarkable results of an 18-month participatory media project, I WAS HERE. We put digital cameras into the hands of young mothers who have experienced homelessness to document their lives, and their experiences with the healthcare system. Their photography and video work will be the starting point for the conversations during the day.

[From hand-held an [un]conference – harnessing digital storytelling to improve health]

ip neutral and why the ceeb will NEVER be the beeb. le sigh.

Read Michele’s post on BBC Innovation Labs initiative and the lament of our poor CBC:

so not only do they get funding from regional agencies as a means to stimulate growth in particular areas, they will then go and provide the resources to at least prototype or build a business plan out of the idea. which is great! and we do see this sort of thing at home, sort of, with good projects such as the omdc videogame prototype initiative, the innovation demonstration fund, projects at banff and any number of grants available through the canada council. BUT the bbc innovation labs provides the potential get-to-market resources, and is willing to support the project for various terms without any guarantee of making back a return – essentially paying for and supporting early stage r&d, as well as delivering the resources to where the ideas are rather than having the ideas travel to the money.

[From ip neutral and why the ceeb will NEVER be the beeb. le sigh. « shot from the hip]

Digital Journal TV: The AmberMac Interview

Amber MacArthur, Canada’s leading digital media host and tech web personality, left her gig with CityTV/Rogers a while back. Now she tells her side of the “he-said, she-said” story in an interview at Digital Journal. I think it provides great insight into the changes happening at the edge of digital content, where talent just doesn’t need the production and distribution arms of traditional media outlets to reach its audience.

[From Digital Journal – Digital Journal TV: Up Close and Personal With Internet Star Amber MacArthur]

For additional background, check out the BlogTO story and comment thread, where Amber’s fans speakout and a brave Rogers exec engages with the fans in a way that is truly admirable.