“The spirit of innovation is strong in Canada with many trail-blazing initiatives being carried out”
How would you define e-content in Canada?
Canada is one of the world’s leading nations in technology infrastructure development. We rank second highest in the connectedness indeed; 60% of the Canadian population is online; and Canada ranks second, behind South Korea, as the country with the most broadband users. Canada is also dedicated to facilitating access through programs like School Net, Library Net, and the Computers for Schools Program, the Community Access Program (CAP), and the Voluntary Sector Network Support Program (VolNet), to name a few. Furthermore, through its support of CANARIE Inc. (the Canadian Network for the Advancement of Research, Industry and Education), Canada’s advanced Internet development organization, the Government of Canada also works to ensure that Canada is a leader in developing the next generation of information technologies. In short, Canada is committed to connecting Canadians to each other and the world.
|“Canada is taking the lead in trying to conceive of ways to marry cultural concerns with the new technological landscape within which she finds herself”|
In the 21st century, technological innovation and access are plainly pressing concerns. Equally important, however, is the issue of cultural sovereignty as we move into a global village that is increasingly becoming more connected. The issue of culture is not just about how to define and assert one’s identity, but also about what new forms of culture will be created in the future, how one share one’s cultural knowledge and products with other, and how one may need to revisit and reassert what one means by culture in a world where instant access to cultural works is the norm.
Again, Canada is taking the lead in trying to conceive of ways to marry cultural concerns with the new technological landscape within which she finds herself. Through new initiatives like the Canada Culture Online Program, the ongoing development of an International Instrument on Cultural Diversity and unwavering continued support for culture, the Government of Canada makes clear that content (read culture) and technology are intertwined, and that the creation of a Canadian Information Society requires Canadians to pay equal attention to both.
What’s the status of e-content in Canada?
Canada is a leader in content innovation and production. And for good reason we are dependant on ICTs and strive to make them more meaningful both from a practical and cultural standpoint. We have several hotbeds of technology research as well as more artistic and entertainment focused ones. Several educational and training institutions, like habitat at the Canadian Film Centre, George Brown College or Emily Carr Institute help renew the talent and idea exchange in this country. May institutions support the conditions for e-content in critical ways: funding (e.g. Telefilm Canada, The Canada Council for the Arts); collaboration or network enabling (e.g. DXNet. ATRC, and Inter Access); and mentorship (e.g. IRAP, IPL). I work in the Interactive Project Lab (IPL), collaboration between Banff New Media Institute, habitat at the CFC, and INIS in Quebec that is funded by Bell globe Media. It is a unique alliance of knowledge, resources and funding that accelerates the creative, business and technology skills of Canadian interactive media talent. As a national experiment, working in both official languages (French and English), it is but one example of the support offered in Canada (through public and/or private aid) for a population wanting to play, break extend and explore technology in a socially relevant way.
Several of the governmental bodies-both provincial (e.g. Interactive Digital Media Fund) and national (e.g. DFAIT, CFI) recognize Canada’s unique stance on the international scene and are dedicated to continued ICT development.
Because of the shared border with the United States, and the constant threat of being overwhelmed by American content, it is not surprising that we have a large investment in our own culture and art production. The need for direct and indirect governmental support to retain Canadian talent and invest in our won unique cultural and entertainment production (e.g. CFC) and distribution (e.g. CBC) has wide support.
Which area of e-content (e-health, e-biz,e-culture, e-government, e-entertainment, e-learning, e-science, and e-inclusion) is best developed in Canada?
In Canada industry clusters are not limited to major city centers, but are robust in cities across the country that have built deep business expertise and research organizations in specific sectors. E-Content is developed across all sectors including health, culture, science, learning, entertainment and business. Although Canada is known for its natural resources, it is becoming a world leader in ICT developments. Innovation in content and creativity is woven into this, which is why Canada is a main funder and supporter of WSIS. Setting the tone for innovation, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien declared: declared: “In the 21st century, our economic and social goals must be pursued hand-in-hand. Let the world see in Canada a society marked by innovation and inclusion, by excellence and justice.”
Which sector (business, private sector, government or civil society) in Canada is advance in developing e-content?
All sectors are involved in the development of e-content. As mentioned previously, the government is of central importance in the creation of cultural and entertainment sectors but is also instrumental across Health, Business, Business, Art and Entertainment, and Science sectors. KPMG’s recent study identified Canada as one of the top leading competitive markets for ICTs. Canada’s development on ICTs runs across both private and government and sectors. The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA Alliance) that supports technical entrepreneurial activity is committed to global competitive initiatives. Of note are the CATA Alliance awards for Innovation and Leadership in the Private and Public Sectors.
How would you describe the gradual progress of development of e-content in Canada?
The predominating sentiment is that Canada’s leadership in innovation is and must be based on the creation of socially relevant works. In his paper, Pathways to Innovation Michael Century looks at the historical and contemporary role of the studio lab where art, technology and science come together, as a site of innovation in Canada.
|“Although Canada innovates in content development and in wireless R &D, it has not yet adopted these technologies in the same spirit”|
Since the cultural industry is so important here, it is worth pointing out that a broad surge of popular interest in this domain begin in the mid-90s (as was true many countries), resulting from the popularizing of the tools of production of digital content (web-based or CD-ROM). As the boom of the tech industry affected the popular imagination, many people looked to the field to create new business models with highly profitable content. This led to a change in both initiative type and aesthetics. Now we are seeing this expectation level out in good proportion- the types of content being produced and the new technologies being developed are not as singularly focused on commercial success, but are coming back to the question of meaningfulness of the content itself. Unfortunately, the current economic climate continues to threaten risk-taking innovation in Canada both in the type of business initiatives and in funding allocations and sponsorship. In the culture production sector, many funding bodies are increasingly demanding proof of business case as requirement for fund procurement. In itself this seems like a straightforward request –however, in this climate of innovation in the Arts and Entertainment categories, we are use to the arts being supported despite or precisely because of a lack in business rationale.
What’s the future of e-content in Canada?
There are still so many opportunities for e-Content development across and within sectors. The spirit of innovation is strong in Canada with many trail-blazing initiatives being carried out. Networking institutions and networked project development and collaboration are areas of growth and interest. This trend is expected to continue-cross nationally and multi-lingual. Canada will continue to seek collaborations internationally as well.
Which is the most preferred medium for e-content production in Canada?
Canada is known for its innovative contributions in the content and there is a good amount of experimentation and execution on display or installation technologies in Canada and these includes cross platform and multiplatform projects using web, face-to-face or group encounters, TV, Radio and print. Two areas of relative weakness in Canada are mobile or cell phone applications for general public use and ITV. Although Canada innovates in content development and in wireless R&D, it has not yet adopted these technologies in the same spirit. Web products take precedence over both ITV and mobile phone platforms and mobile phones capabilities are probably being more mine than ITV for extraordinary e-content development. A large (but not singular) factor determining this is the issues of penetration and acceptance. Few Canadians have access to ITV
How do you recognize and appreciate e-content producers and best practices in Canada?
Beside many existing awards and recognition processes in Canada, where various ICT related initiatives get recognized and encouraged to do phenomenally creative and innovative work, World Summit Award has come as a new platform to recognize the best practices on the basis of final deliverable like content.
For this year, we developed two methods of applying to the Canadian WSA competition; open call and invitation. Both open call and invited applicants competed in six categories; e-learning, e-government, e-health, e-inclusion, e-entertainment, e-science.
The open call was distributed widely across Canada, and was open to individuals or companies who met the eligibility requirements. There was no entry fee required to submit an application. The open call projects were combined with the invited projects to form the complete Canadian WSA nomination pool that is reviewed and evaluated by the Canadian WSA National Jury panel, which were made up of educators, industry leaders and professional association staff/executive.
Applicants may also have been nominated by members of the Canadian WSA National Jury panel. Each jury member may have selected up to three projects per category. Those persons or companies whose work had been nominated were invited to submit an application which was aggregated with the open call applications into the pool to be evaluated by the jury.
Canadian WSA has also agreed to recognize two winners from the 2005 Canadian New Media Awards as pre-selected finalists for the 2005 WSA Awards competition. These are:
E-Culture: madeinMtl.com by Blue sponge & Locomotion
E-Business: Professionalism and Ethics Simulation – Zap dramatic
These two, plus the winners of the six categories mentioned above were the eight official Canadian WSA nominations at the WSA global contest.