Archive for category Canada

Calgary’s Low Carbon Future – The Summit

I haven’t had too many opportunities to stream live video since WireCast days at Cambrian House, so Calgary’s Carbon Summit was to be a live test of my new configuration:

  • Dual core MacBook
  • Wireless microphones feeding both the live stream, and HDV capture
  • 3G iPhone with tethering capabilities (and my strong desire to max out ROGERS 6 GB data plan)

UStream.TV had broadcast flawlessly from my house the night before. What could go wrong? Well apparently SAIT’s WiFi was blocking ports to which the UStream responded by crashing the browser. Any browser.

Fortunately I had a ROGERS 6 GB data plan, an iPhone 3G, and a deep burning desire to use up as much bandwidth as possible. Do you know how HARD it is to eat up 6 GB with an iPhone? Finding a reasonably priced ROGERS data plan is IMPOSSIBLE, so I took SAIT’s blocked ports as a blessing in disguise. 753,100 KB later, and UStream.TV had rebroadcast the summit.

I’ve since had a chance to upload HDV coverage of the event to YouTube, and also to Internet Archive. The most viewer-friendly copy can be found at R4NT.com entitled “Calgary’s Low Carbon Future”, it is cut down from 101 to 56 minutes and follows the narrative woven by Skid Crease.

Outcomes
The summit adds value to other City of Calgary initiatives including the development of a Community Greenhouse Gas Plan, The City Manager’s Office Sustainable Development Strategy and the World Energy Cities Partnership. This is an opportunity to develop a multi-stakeholder developed and ratified action plan to address future energy challenges.

Bios for keynote speakers can be found here. Rob Macintosh’s presentation is also available as an isolated YouTube video, and downloadable MPEG-4 from Internet Archive.

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Comedian Allyson Smith’s Creative Process

In November 2008, a co-worker talked the office into checking out a comedian named Allyson Smith at Calgary’s Comedy Detour. Being a video guy I asked “should I tape it?”

Obviously I was impressed, or there’d be no blog post about it. She was crazy funny, and when she returned to Calgary to headline at Yuk Yuk’s, D4V of R4NT.com agreed to interview her.

The interview and article at R4NT.com was created thanks to the laid-back attitude of Comedy Detour, Yuk Yuk’s and Broken City (all hosts to Allyson’s stand-up).

If you’re looking for some b-roll to help supplement an Allyson Smith interview, feel free to ping me (anything possibly objectionable I’ll bounce off Allyson). I’ve also posted the raw footage from my walk-and-talk Allyson Smith interview to Internet Archive, available for recycling under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-ALike license.

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Green Party’s Elizabeth May in Calgary

July 2nd to 4th, the leader of Canada’s Green Party, Elizabeth May visited Calgary to attend fund raising and community events. After a fundraiser, Elizabeth allowed me to record a quick Q&A with her regarding one of my concerns: The Pirate Party launching in Canada.

The Pirate Party’s platform is not as outrageous as many assume. They don’t want to abolish copyright, rather limit its duration and focus its impact on commercial (for-profit) activities. The Pirate Party also wants to abolish software patents, which many software programmers consider a restriction on free speech. However, many of its policies are closely mirrored by the Green Party’s platform.

What is Elizabeth May’s response to Swedish Pirate Party members being elected to European Parliment?

I’ve posted my concerns in a R4NT.com article. Single issue candidates can not get elected to Parliament under Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system. If a Green MP will defend consumers (and the economy) against Bill C-61 horror shows, is splitting the digital-rights-minded vote a smart move?

Another interesting moment during Elizabeth May’s visit was during her Saturday morning visits to a series of Calgary Stampede breakfasts. People started tweeting that she’d caved on animal rights for a photo op, thinking that her attendance at a Stampede function implied she was attending a calf roping type event.

Elizabeth May’s daughter, Victoria Cate May Burton was monitoring Elizabeth May’s Twitter account. They discussed and responded to the tweet in 15 minutes. I have no idea how other political parties manage their social networks, but clearly a tech-savvy daughter is one effective approach.

Stock footage of Elizabeth May’s visit to Calgary can be found on Internet Archive concerning copyright and volunteering, fund-raising and the economy. Elizabeth’s Twitter and Facebook collaboration with her daughter Victoria Cate is also recyclable via Internet Archive. All footage is creative commons licensed.

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Alternatives to the CBC?

The above video is R4NT.com’s coverage of a April 17th Calgary rally protesting cuts to the CBC. A downloadable remix is available at Internet Archive. See OpenSourceVideo.BlogSpot.com for more footage links and Creative Commons licenses.

As CBC’s ad revenues fall (forcing the sale of $125 million in assets & 800 job cuts), the federal government is considering subsidizing Canadian private broadcasters with $150 million in aid.

While promotion of Canadian culture is important, the entertainment landscape has remained relatively unchanged over the past decade. Many download BitTorrents of pirated movies and music, pay to download legal copies, but by-in-large simply pursue pre-broadband forms of entertainment: People mostly watch TV, and rent DVDs.

Newspapers and news programs are where the real changes are occurring. Historically sustained by advertising revenue based on their subscriber base, newspapers have been losing audience share to television and now news aggregation services such as Google News and blogs (say 95% news aggregation and 5% original content). Newspapers cannibalize their own content as they find it necessary to post their stories online to retain brand loyalty (and hope of attracting new readers).

Conglomerates such as CanWest reduce costs by cutting local reporting in increasingly larger and larger municipalities. This again, makes free online alternatives (Twitter being an example of tools for local news monitoring) even more attractive.

That has been the slow, steady decline of the news media as broadband internet spread across Canada. No one is certain how the average Canadian will be absorbing news 20 years down the road, but it is clear very few will be reading newspapers or watching the same insert-your-city-name local news coverage on television as their neighbors.

Creative destruction will certainly be part of the evolution of news. The conservative government’s decision to potentially supply private broadcasters with $150 million in aid can’t be a easy one… the typical conservative mantra of “let the market sort it out” could result in job losses which would lengthen the current recession.

For simplicity sake, let’s create a false choice. The federal government can spend $150,000,000 on either supporting private broadcasters or the CBC. Which is a smarter move?

Support the CBC.

CBC shows itself to be extremely flexible in this broadband era (offering up podcasts, tweets and an iPhone friendly news page) which multiplies the value of every news report they file: A news story is only valuable if its consumed, and CBC News is by far the easiest to receive.

This flexibility comes at the cost of profitability. CBC does not launch such services with the goal of monetizing every new news feed. CBC’s goal is to simply service Canadians. This it does remarkably well.

Will any Canadian private news organization ever be able to match CBC’s effectiveness? The gap is widening, not closing. Conglomerates are reducing local news coverage to cut costs as people migrate from newspapers to online services (and video news in various forms).

What I would like our government to consider, is that perhaps no profitable model will emerge to replace the in-depth news coverage offered by newspapers.

There will always be news. But will there always be the same quantity and quality of investigative journalism? From this point forward, there will always be bloggers and “citizen journalism”. But a dozen hobbyists don’t fill the gap left by a salaried employee.

I’m hopeful a new profitable model will soon emerge. But until it does, it is extremely reckless to allow the CBC to diminish in any way. In the long run, it may be institutions like PBS, BBC and CBC are the only reputable news gathering organizations left standing.

“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”
- Thomas Jefferson after 5 shots of Jagermeister.

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