Category Archives: News

Bridging the digital divide: Internet equality is good business


via The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Jul. 18 2013, 6:50 PM EDT

In the 14th year of the 21st century, which technology do you think is more essential: public pay phones or broadband Internet access?

Funny, that. This week, when the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission rebuffed a request by Bell Canada and two of its regional operators to raise the top price of a local cash pay phone call to $1 from 50 cents, the regulator noted that “pay phone service is an important public service, especially for Canadians who earn low income and those that live in rural and remote communities.” The companies say they will probably remove phones they can’t afford to maintain, so the CRTC is thinking about making it harder to yank a community’s last remaining pay phone.

But when it comes to broadband Internet access at home, what is the commission’s position on those same low-income Canadians?

Funny, that. It doesn’t have one.

Last week, David Cohen, an executive vice-president of the U.S. cable and media company Comcast Corp., told a gathering of minority media executives that he believes broadband access may be one of the most important civil-rights issues of the current century.

According to the trade publication Broadcasting & Cable, Mr. Cohen referred to next month’s 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech. “Civil-rights advocates of 50 years ago fought and ultimately won the battle for equal rights,” he was quoted as saying. “But the battle for equal opportunity continues. And that battle won’t be won, so long as we have people stranded on the wrong side of the digital divide, because broadband technology is fast becoming the most essential tool for full participation in American society.”

To be sure, Mr. Cohen’s speech was one part tub-thumping and one part chest-beating: Comcast launched a program to offer low-income Americans inexpensive access to broadband Internet as a way of currying favour with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in the company’s effort to get the green light for the takeover of NBCUniversal. Comcast got its regulatory approval, and households with kids on school lunch programs got $9.95 monthly Internet.

But the same civic impulse that made public libraries a vital part of modern life – driven by both moral and economic imperatives – forces us to recognize that Mr. Cohen is correct: If you believe that the Internet is indispensable, then we need to find a way to make it easily accessible to all, on a 24-hour basis.

In Canada, according to telecommunications consultant Mark Goldberg, about 18 per cent of households do not have broadband access at home; that includes about half of those in the bottom 20 per cent of the country’s earners.

Last month, Rogers Communications Inc. took a first step toward helping to change things. Going one better than Comcast, Rogers announced Connect for Success, which later this year will begin to offer slimmed-down broadband access for $9.99 a month, along with a computer for $150 and free software to youth living in Toronto Community Housing. “It’s unfathomable that Canadians are living without Internet access today because they simply cannot afford it,” said Rob Bruce, Rogers president of communications.

It’s a laudable start. We don’t know all the details yet, but Connect for Success, a program of the Rogers Youth Fund, does not appear as if it will be available to households without kids. That needs to be addressed and eventually changed: Those in school aren’t the only ones who need high-speed access to the Internet at home, especially as Canada continues to lurch toward a knowledge-based economy. Industry Canada, which is now under the direction of James Moore, the highly regarded former minister of Canadian heritage, could take the lead.

Other telcos need to jump on board, especially Telus Corp., Shaw Communications Inc. and Bell, which, with Rogers, have the lion’s share of the market. (Bell’s parent company, BCE Inc., owns 15 per cent of The Globe and Mail.) And the hundreds of indie ISPs across the country can’t shirk their responsibilities here by hiding under their no-name brands.

Almost three years ago, the CRTC held hearings into the digital divide between those in rural areas and their city-slicker cousins, in an effort to prod companies to build better infrastructure in remote regions. That’s the kind of issue that pays political dividends, especially for a ruling federal party that depends on rural areas for its base.

But while government prodding has helped to shrink that gap (except in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, which are still woefully underserved), millions of Canadians living in buildings that are already cabled can’t spare the few dollars it would take to get them plugged in.

It’s time we helped them all join the 21st century. For their sake, and ours.

Nominees for the 2013 Webby Awards

On Tuesday, the 17th Annual Webby Award nominees were announced. The Webby awards highlight the who’s who of internet superstar-dom, and winners are chosen based on votes cast by world wide web.

Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times, The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet, including Websites, Interactive Advertising & Media, Online Film & Video, Mobile & Apps, and Social.

After sifting through the nominees, here are a few of my votes:

Websites: Best Visual Design

blacknegative 2blacknegative 3blacknegative 1

Interactive Advertising & Media: Online Commercials/Individual

Campaign: Hashtag Killer: WaterisLife
Organization: DDB NY

Hashtag Killer 2013-04-11 10-14-40

Websites: Best Writing (Editorial) / Features & Design

Name: The Verge
Organization: Vox Media

The Verge 2013-04-11 10-58-56

Social: Experimental & Innovation

Organization: Heimat Werbeagentur GmbH

CNN ECOSPHERE 2013-04-11 11-35-39

See them all, and vote for your favourites:

Follow: @TheWebbyAwards

“The Era of Cognitive Systems” – Computers that think like humans?

Cognitive Computing IBM

In a recent article by Paul Bloom, IBM’s Telecom Research, he discusses the new era of computing systems, those that actually take into account our physical human senses. IBM has released information on it’s new cognitive computing project called “Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE)”, where they explain the belief that a computer CAN be made to think like a human. If someone has posed this question even a couple years ago, you might have thought it’s possible one day in the distant future, but IBM says “how about 5 years from now.”

“By reproducing the structure and architecture of the brain—the way its elements receive sensory input, connect to each other, adapt these connections, and transmit motor output—the SyNAPSE project models computing systems that emulate the brain’s computing efficiency, size and power usage without being programmed.”

In a series of “Cognitive Computing” videos, researchers share 5 predictions that they believe will change our lives over the next five years. Do we believe that we will be able to experience what an object feels like through a smartphone? Will computers be able to understand and interpret what they see? Will a baby monitor be able to tell us exactly what a baby’s cry means? The exponential rate at which it seems computers are “learning” to take on human roles suggests that these predictions might just become a reality, and even faster that we have ever imagined.

Find out more about IBM’s SyNAPSE project.

Adobe attempts to “break through” the market with bold new campaign. #MetricsNotMyths

“There’s never been a better time to be a marketer.”
Adobe Systems started the roll out their new marketing campaign titled “Metrics not Myths” in the attempt to leverage the emotions of marketers in today’s digital landscape. According to Ann Lewnes,Chief Marketing Officer at Adobe – “I hope you’ll pardon our French, but we want this campaign to be honest in capturing both the passion and genuine frustration marketers feel when their contributions are undervalued and they’re told the impact of their work isn’t measurable.” Ann’s Full Blog >

The new campaign aims to prove that marketing efforts in the digital realm DO have a significant impact on consumers and the results CAN be measurable. Unlike any campaign Adobe has run before, the focus will be presenting it’s message with humor, irony, and somewhat bold/provocative statements about marketing today.

Adobe presented it’s first myth – “Marketing is BS” in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and will be releasing others in the months to come including: “Social Media is Worthless” and “Marketers Hate Big Data”. Adobe is urging social users to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter (#MetricsNotMyths). Adobe’s rich social campaign also includes fun videos like “BS Detector”:

How is the campaign doing so far? Seems like the results speak for themselves!

Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence

I am honoured to be a part of an organization that shines the spotlight on amazing Women such as the one’s listed as this year’s Top 25 Women of Influence.

In Diane Frances’ introduction article to the special issue of Women of Influence Magazine, she recognizes the extraordinary accomplishments that women in our world have made this year … “This year could be aptly dubbed the Year of the Female because women made high-profile gains in politics, business and sports. In the US election, an unprecedented 181 women ran for Congress, attempting to increase their ranks from 90 in the House of Representatives and 17 in the Senate. In Canada, four out of the country’s 13 Premiers were women: Alison Redford of Alberta; Christy Clark of BC; Kathy Dunderdale of Newfoundland and Labrador; and Eva Aariak of Nunavut.” read more

Each of the Top 25 Women of Influence™ have reached the top through their hard work and dedication to propelling themselves in their respective industries, and imprinting a path forward for women leaders of today. Each of the honorees has something that has set them apart from the rest, embraced and leveraged their strengths, and become someone that a new generation of women can aspire to become.

Also check out Women Of Influence Canada: Magazine Lists The Top 25 Women In The Country. via Huffington Post.