Social media moves forwardSocial media questions for Industry Canada's conference on Canada's Digital Economy

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I'm at a Canadian Government's conference in Ottawa today on "Canada's Digital Economy: Moving Forward". Over the course of the day we'll be covering the topics of business innovation, infrastructure, and e-commerce. You can read the background paper online, or watch the live webcast as it unfolds.

There's already a lively Twitter backchannel that seems to include a good number of people in the room as well as folks watching online, and I'll be live tweeting the conference myself. Since the conference seems to consist largely of folks from the "traditional" tech world, I'm curious to see how the panelists and audience engage with the question of how social media changes the challenges and opportunities for Canadian IT.

In its background paper, Industry Canada asked a few social media-related questions, including:

  • How does Canada address its current skill shortages and spur the development of nw skills, business models, innnovation in global suply chains and other entrepreneurial activities based on the further integration of ICTs, including emerging areas such as Web 2.0?
  • Should we move traditional broadcasting regulation towards the more open Internet model?
  • How should we adapt our intellectual property legislation to the Internet?
  • How can Canada address emerging technologies that may be ill-suited to the conventional consent model for privacy protection?

In addition to these questions -- which I'd love to see both industry and government tackle seriously -- I'd pose a few of my own:

  • How can the Canadian government adopt social media and online community tools in order to drive innovation and service improvement, and model the adapations that social media demands from traditionally hierarchical and siloed organizations?
  • If Canada has fallen behind in the first wave of the info. economy (as speakers have suggested so far), can we leapfrog into leadership of the social media economy? What would that entail?
  • How can user-generated content support the growth of Canadian media and culture, rather than intensifying the pressures on its survival?
  • How can Canadian business be encouraged and supported in embracing social intelligence -- i.e. using online collaboration and online customer engagement -- to drive business innovation?
  • What regulatory changes or government programs could support community-based businesses to tap the new generation of ICTs, and especially social media, in order to foster the kind of locally-based economic development that will make our economy and communiteis sustainable in the long run?
  • How can the government catalyze changes in the rates and structure of the mobile phone industry so that Canadian citizens and businesses don't get left behind in the shift to mobile?
  • Which ministries, sectors and NGOs need to be at the digital economy table in order to ensure convergence of our economic, cultural and environmental policies -- as needed if we are to use social media and ICT to develop a resilient and sustainable economy?

I hope you'll jump in with comments on this post below, or in the Twitter backchannel.


Catherine Middleton says

June 22, 2009 - 9:20am

Good questons. We also need to remember that the people in this room today, and those participating in the Twitter backchannel, webcast etc. are highly connected, highly "internet-engaged" people. But we are not in the majority in Canada. Statistics Canada data (from 2007, but it's the most recent) shows that fewer than 50% of Canadians who used the internet from home were online for 5 or more hours a week. Combine this with those also online daily, and 45% were both online daily and for more than 5 hours/week. Yes, the data is a bit old now, but there wasn't much change from the 2005 data. Also, note that only 70% of Canadians were online when these data were collected.


So, what this means is that we need a lot of focus on digital literacy, and what we could call 'capacity development'. If we're building this digital economy, people need to be able to, and want to, engage with it. Lots and lots of work is still needed to get Canadians up to speed. Social media can help here, but much more is needed to really engage a broad audience.

Catherine Middleton
Ryerson University

Canada » Imagine: Prosperity without growth | rabb says

June 24, 2009 - 8:02am

[...] Social media questions for Industry Canada's conference on …How can user-generated content support the growth of Canadian media and culture, rather than intensifying the pressures on its survival? How can Canadian business be encouraged and supported in embracing social intelligence — i.e. … [...]

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