Search This Blog


CCE in brief

My Photo
Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

What OpenGov and Steve Roger's Notebook Have in Common

Captain America: Winter Soldier is a film that speaks to our times. 

The security apparatus meant to keep seas of troubles from lapping at our shores is impeding internal flow as well; the State cure doesn't always seem better than the national threat disease.  Lies are told to justify incursions, or to countenance support for bad people, etc.  The State creeps in to the data back end of the people as its own doors get firewalled shut. 
Which is why there was something so appealing about a man out of time, a soldier with an unwavering code of personal ethics and a focus on empowering and trusting people, not controlling them.  The idea that this figure would be vulnerable, open to ideas on what he needed to know to get up to speed with the times was a brilliant stroke by the directors/writers.
Best part about crowd-sourcing Steve Rogers' list of things to catch up on - they took one basic theme and empowered people from around the world to crowd-source and vote on their top localized items.
It was a bit of engagement, a bit of sharing and a whole lot of community, all catalyzed by this idea of an historical (or comic-book historical) figure coming back to help society renew its sense of societal ownership and community engagement.  Everyone added their unique voice to a whole and the people's choice ended up reflected right there on the screen.
Which is kind how Open Gov and Open Data are supposed to work. 
The big trouble Open Gov folk have is knowing where to start - they have a lot of data, and need to know which sets to work on first.  Getting people to understand the power of Open Data and request sets that matter to them is a big, unresolved challenge - so far.
So here's a question.  The idea of crowd-sourcing the kinds of data people want open first is tricky, because the concept is so unusual to them.  But if people were to make recommendations on what someone else might want access to - someone who's back in our world after time away, perhaps - the recommendation levels might come up.  You're helping that person who's out of time, literally.
There are plenty of firms that could do something like this out there, domestically and internationally - gamify open data direction consultations.
The questions is, who would be our Captain America?

Friday, 19 September 2014


ISIS really wants a global war.  They're totally focused on catalyzing the Apocalypse.  To get what they want they are turning to increasingly extreme recruitment tactics, including deception.  At the same time, their methodology is brutal; they do unto human beings all kinds of things not permitted by the book they claim to follow.

They have spun the words and tried to redefine terms like "crusader."  It's worth recalling the actual crusades - Christians were called to the Middle East to fight off the Mohammadians in the Holy Land.  The kinds of people who answered that call to duty weren't always in it strictly for the cause; many of them didn't have better prospects at home.  Others saw opportunity for power.  More just wanted to get their hands dirty.

As ISIS issues it's call to arms, bringing in foreign money and foreign fighters to occupy the Middle East, it seems pretty clear that they, not the US, are the occupiers.

One more reason why it behooves those being targeted for recruitment to really think through the options being presented to them.

It's quite possible that they're landing on the wrong side.

After all, it won't be the one-eyed ISIS kings in a land of blind terror that pass the final judgement.  

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Public Service: Putting Cognitive Surplus to Work

Love it.  In fact, I may be having related conversations with a bunch of folk in and around government at a couple of levels.
There's a community, you see, of virtuous schemers committed to this concept of maximizing personal potential, empowered individuals for a stronger society and tech/digital not as a solution, but a platform for engagement.
Now, instead of asking "what if we" why don't we ask "how might we"?
There's a science to motivating this kind of work, you see.  Cognitive labour - it's a thing.

Manufactured Deadlines: Gog and Magog

If you've ever had a bully for a boss, you'll probably have encountered the phenomenon of the forced deadline.  And if you're familiar with forced deadlines - or real ones, for that matter - you'll be familiar with the concept of crunch time and pulling out the stops.
The more significant the deadline, the bigger the potential win or loss, the greater the pressure becomes. 
Good bosses empower teams to manage the pressure, plan out accomplishment and offer inspiration.  People want to be part of the team because of what people can build together.
Bad bosses go with the "no gain without pain" mantra - look to your left, look to you right, not everyone's going to make it so you damned sure be willing to work hard and pull out the stops to get there.  I'll be watching you, and pushing you - whatever it takes.
Good bosses build sustainable communities and empower.
Bad bosses destroy communities and consolidate power into an insider's club.  And man, do they love their manufactured deadlines.
The Apocalypse is a pretty intense deadline.  You really gotta have your ducks in a row if you want to survive it, don't you?
This is in no small part because you never really know when it's coming.  It could be soon, though - there are signs to look for, warnings that should be interpreted as cause for people to be prepared.
But people don't cause the Apocalypse, the day where the bad are separated from the good, nor can they hurry it.  That's a divine thing, out of the hands of man.
Particularly in Abrahamic religions, though, there's a recurring theme of a force not God, not man that comes forth to muck up the natural progression of things by suggesting only they have the keys to the door of paradise.
These doom-bringers tend to have a functionally fixed, cyclopean view of the world as being black and white, with those who are bad being in the way.  They are powerful.  And they lie.
As in, bend the truth, even to the point of using information out of context so as to deceive people into believing they're not the false messiah, but the real deal.
Those who are weak in faith will flock to these boss-like beings and fall for their spin and push towards bad behaviour as justified because, you know, the deadline's looming.  They won't realize it, but they'll have been duped into doing things strictly forbidden by the company policy (or religious text).
The faithful, however, aren't fooled - they know a manufactured deadline when they see one and won't be sucked into the "us vs the zombie hoard" mentality.  Because they are patient, the devout are hard to anger.
Their focus isn't on endings, but on what can be built in collaboration.  They don't look at the world through one strictly narrow lens - they connect the dots between all things and recognize the bigger picture - including temporal - of which we're all part.
Real leaders aren't about endings and control - they're about empowering and letting go.
It's the bad bosses you have to watch out for - faking deadlines, lying and spinning, using fear to get what they want in the shortest timeframe possible.
It's funny how our metaphors evolve, isn't it?

The Real Enemy

Cancer does not recognize partisanship.  It doesn't care about wealth, entitlement, how hard you've worked or what harm you've done.

It kills indiscriminately.

Individuals cannot be strong enough on their own to destroy cancer.  When we make it a one-person battle, we doom every generation that follows to fight the same fight, and lose.

That's the thing about disease, and natural disaster, etc; they don't follow the rules of free-market capitalism.
The only way to win against cancer is research, testing, support of family and friends, treatment - in short, community.

The moral of the story should be clear enough not to need stated - but I will state it anyway.

Live together, die alone.

Living is better.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Mr McGuinty, We Should Talk!

I have zero concerns about the notion of a former Premier acting as a lobbyist.  The truth is, most lobbyists are former politicians, or political staff, or political organizers.  Government speaks a unique language and has a closed culture - we need people familiar with that space to serve as bridges between the public, not-for-profit and grassroots sectors and policy makers.
There are easier ways to make a lot of money and be a power-broker, if that was McGuinty's interest. 
It isn't.  If anything, his decision to support Desire2Learn is an indication that he's never wavered from the things he's always believed in.
Remember, this was the self-styled Education Premier; strengthening our education system was a priority he spent a lot of time and political capital on.  McGuinty was also all about the long-game; the whole purpose behind a Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal or a Ministry of Health Promotion was to start heading off some troublesome structural issues before it was too late.
McGuinty was also the kind of guy who loved tech and engagement (despite his social media ban, but nobody's perfect).  One of my favourite memories of the former Premier involves him sitting down at CCVS in Cornwall with my former boss, Jim Brownell, chatting candidly with students about music, iPods and how tech and InfoTech was offering a wealth of opportunities he wanted them to be well-positioned to seize.
That's what he believed when in office; it's what he believes in now.
Funny enough, it's the same thing a number of social innovators, community catalysts and virtuous schemers inside and outside government believe, too.
Andray Domise is developing a Youth Entrepreneurship Centre in Etobicoke intended to provide a safe space for youth to learn practical skills like sales, financial management, supply management, etc. with a focus on helping them turn their passions into careers.  Andray has a particular interest in coding and the emerging opportunities of Open Data.
Chloe-Marie Brown, Policy Advisor to Toronto Youth Council, has some ambitious projects on the go with a focus on improving mentorship opportunities for youth (particularly from Neighbourhood Improvement Areas), improving civic engagement and mapping out youth spaces and services for easier access.
Speaking of mapping - Caitlin Blundell has a really cool GIS project in the works with multiple applications; imagine youth being able to do infrastructure audits of their community by uploading photos and comments to a digital platform using Apps on their phones.
That's the kind of platform for engagement that folks like AJ Tibando (who McGuinty may remember as a former Liberal staffer) of SoJo and Abdullah Mayo of RaiseAnAim are also working on.
All this ties rather organically to the move by all levels of government to Open Data, making public information available for public consumption, possibly as a resource from which to build profitable products and services.  It's what amazing folk like Sameer Vasta at MaRS facilitates every day.  It's what Microsoft CSR Make Web Not War is looking to support in their work - which is why they backed Richard Pietro's Civic Engagement tour, #OGT14.
This is before you get to the individual civil servants, design thinkers and community consultation folk also looking to empower youth to be their own best advocates.
There are so many cool people with great ideas and varied skill sets, all working in the same space - but they aren't Dalton McGuinty. 
I bet they'd love to work with him, though.  I'd be happy to make the connections.
Just think of the positive impact we could have if we're all moving forward together.


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The #OGT14 Round-Up

Embedded image permalink

All the posts I have done, to date, on Richard Pietro's epic Open Government on the Open Road tour.

Other people might right books; I blog.  Richard travels, and meets, and films.

It's all been possible thanks to the patronage of Make Web Not War who believed in Richard's vision of civic engagement as art.  It's paid off for them, it's worked out for Richard and I actually do believe we've all been able to catalyze some change.

So, potential corporate patrons out there - if you'd like to see an actual book, or here Richard talk about his experience in person, or maybe support #OGT15 - let us know.  We'd be open to that conversation.

Embedded image permalinkMarch 17 - Open Government on the Open Road

May 24 - Building Brand for the Journey Ahead

May 30 - #WeAreOpen to Memes!

June 23 - @RichardPietro needs a Bigger Boat

July 3 - #OGT14: The Adventure Begins

July 4 - @RichardPietro and an Affair at Queen's Park

July 25 - Why You Want to Be #WhereWorldsCollide

July 30 - Why @RichardPietro Deserves Your Support:

Aug 20 - The Most Interesting Person in Canadian Politics Right Now

Aug 29 - Please help me set my #OGT14 table! 

Sept 2 - This is Big: #OGT14 gets endorsed

Sept 9 - The Open Sausage: Inside #OGT14

Sept 15 - #OGT14 It Doesn't End Here

Embedded image permalink