Initial Report. 14 May, 2010
CANADA 2017 – Digital Nation The gathering of Canada's digital media leaders in Stratford on May 10-‐11 2010 produced intense discussion about this country's accomplishments, plans and capacity to expand our performance as a digital nation. The collective ambition? Nothing less than to identify a transformative national vision, a compelling shared goal of a society empowered and connected through the creative use of new technologies; an innovative, informed and engaged society which is a leader in the new global digital economy; a society in which our governing institutions, our health care and educational institutions model the benefits and in which our private sector, drawing inspiration from the creative arts, markets Canadian ingenuity to the world. Canada is well advanced in many areas but a sustained, collective national effort is required to build on this foundation. It may be a dream but it is a noble dream, worthy of Canada as it celebrates its 150th birthday in 2017. This is Canada’s ‘moonshot’: an aggressive target for our joint efforts, inspiring and energizing all Canadians to ensure that we can do anything online, from anywhere, anytime, at reasonable and appropriate cost by 2017. Conference delegates were charged with assessing the legitimacy of this goal and discussing the barriers, tools, requirements and processes of ensuring that Canada becomes a truly digital nation. They quickly realized that the discussion was about more than the digital economy: it is now about a digital society. The issues can no longer be left to technological experts and specialists: the digital now underlies how we create, communicate and store information in all media at home, amongst our friends and associations and through our institutions. Our workplaces are being transformed, old business models and habits are challenged and replaced and our children, the digital natives, function in significantly different ways than generations who have gone before. This is a transformative technology. It is not some passing fad. And we are still in early days. “ The times they are a changing”. Canada has difficult choices to make. All Canadians need to understand and engage in forming Canada of the 21st Century. For two days, over 2000 Canadians – entrepreneurs, government officials, academics, students, members of the general public, creators, service providers, international business leaders and others – debated the most fundamental questions about Canada's capacity in the digital media space. With frankness and passion, some nervousness about the intense global competition, a measure of frustration with our progress to date, and a unique determination to overcome barriers, Canada 3.0 delegates worked hard to move beyond general objectives and problem identification. The conference sought, instead, to develop practical and achievable goals – what can we do collective in the short-‐term – that would move Canada quickly and decisively toward the central objective. The conference was suffused with realism – this was not a meeting of dreamers promising immediate achievement and global leadership without massive effort – and determination. The 2000 participants at Canada 3.0 had come together because they believe in
Canada, understand the digital media landscape, know that coordination and cooperation are essential, and understand the urgency surrounding this fast changing sector. To succeed, an unprecedented level of collaboration is essential across all sectors of society. If Canada 3.0 last year was dominated by a formidable commitment to Canada's digital media future, this year's meeting focused on the global situation and the widely shared perception that Canada is falling behind. Canada 3.0 2010 addressed the formidable challenge of charting this country's path toward global competitiveness and engagement in digital media. The participants found general consensus in defining the challenges and opportunities and identifying options for governments, businesses, post-‐secondary institutions and citizens seeking to prepare Canada for a digital tomorrow. The discussions oscillated between optimism and concern, frustration and commitment, an enthusiasm for innovation and a preoccupation with barriers to change. There was no doubting the collective passion, the enthusiasm for real and sustainable growth, and the belief that Canada had the human, intellectual and entrepreneurial resources to carve out an impressive place in the global digital economy. The benefits of an inclusive, digitally literate society were clear. But there were concerns, about everything from digital divides to the difficulties involved in mobilizing the national political will for the decisions that are needed, the challenges of our education and training systems and the difficulties involved with launching new companies in Canada. The real issues are not technological but cultural as we seek to transform our institutions, our habits and our workplaces. In the process we must respect and carry forward the values that define Canada. Conference attendees refined our collective understanding of the digital media revolution in Canada. At the highest level, they agreed that: • • • •
The focus in the new economy has shifted from the digital tool makers to the digital tool users. The emerging foundation of the digital era is not digital media (the technology) but rather connectivity (the social and cultural outcome of the new technology). Canada faces formidable international competition in the digital media space and has to rise to the challenges of a fast-changing, intense global environment. Responding to the realities of the digital age carries great urgency. Canada does not have the luxury of time in developing comprehensive, collaborative and integrated approaches to education and training, business development, infrastructure provision and policy-making.
Canada can assume an important position within the global digital environment, but has to chose carefully and then move decisively. The country's response has to capitalize on Canada's creative, cultural, economic and policy advantages. With this context, the Canada 3.0 Conference has identified the following top priorities as being the best means of advancing the Canadian digital agenda: 1. Canada must ensure that Canadians have access to world-class Internet connections at rates that are affordable and appropriate. This could come through either a more competitive
private sector environment or the development of the Internet as a public good or public utility. 2. Canadian culture and heritage must have pride of place on the Internet. We must pursue the systematic digitization of existing Canadian content so that people in this country and around the world have ready and appropriate access to the film, television, music, writing, photography, art, research and other content that defines who we are as Canadians. This material must be delivered in a manner that protects and preserves copyright and creator privileges and that ensures the long-term preservation of these assets as the integral core of our intellectual capital. 3. The development of viable, sustainable and Canadian digital media enterprises and new dynamic Canadian digital products must be a top priority across the country, with careful attention to the regulatory issues, incentives and entrepreneurial development efforts necessary to make Canadian firms and creators visible and competitive internationally. 4. Canada must remain globally aware and responsive, developing its programs and initiatives with a view to international activities and innovations. The digital media sector is one of the fastest-changing and most globally-connected economic, social and political environments in history. Borders have no meaning online or to digital natives. Canadian firms, governments, universities, colleges, students and the media need to find new means to collaborate, identifying emerging opportunities and threats around the world. Canada 3.0 consisted of a series of elements: plenary sessions that drew all the delegates together, a digital media showcase, informal network events and activities, and a five dedicated discussion streams In the latter, delegates met over the two days of the conference to explore what it means to aspire to be a Digital Nation in each field. They were charged, under the direction of co-‐Chairs, with identifying practical and immediate action steps that could advance the digital media agenda in Canada. Each of the streams reported to the last plenary session of the conference, offering all delegates an opportunity to share in the learning, energy and ideas from the thematic sessions. Each stream provided the Canada 3.0 conference with three action items for collective deliberation and rapid implementation. In each instance, they identified dozens of other priorities and possibilities -‐-‐-‐ many of them medium and long-‐term ideas –for further consideration. (The longer report on the conference, available at the end of May, will incorporate many of the more detailed suggestions from the streams). Learning, Talent and Research: The thematic stream examined the state of digital education (K-12 and Post-Secondary Education) and the development of the Canadian digital research eco-system. The three main recommendations from this group were: 1. Canada requires a federal/provincial/territorial digital literacy initiative, with an emphasis on the development of a K-12 and post secondary open source digital learning repository. 2. Given the importance of industry/business in supporting digital media training, the country should create a national facilitator for digital media cooperative education programs and placements.
3. Given the importance of accelerating research and development, there is the need for increased collaborative research funding and commercialization support for digital media at the federal and provincial level. The program innovations launched by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada provide a model for action. Changing Policy: The stream emphasized the manner in which digital rights, regulation of the digital sector and the Canadian policy environment needed to change in order to facilitate the development of digital media in Canada. Their top three recommendations were: 1. Take immediate steps to spark public understanding and debate about the importance of digital rights management; 2. Create a strong sense of urgency surrounding the need to address this issue. 3. Take clear action on the regulation of digital media materials, even if the solution is less than elegant or ideal. Action is needed now. 4. Not able to limit themselves to the three requested items, the stream also suggested that the country realize that scale does matter in digital media commercialization, that a concerted effort had to be made to retain talent in Canada, and that the country adopt a more strategic approach to Canadian content in the digital space. Empowering Mobility/Infrastructure: This theme focused on the developments of networks, digital infrastructure and digital mobility, all of which are key elements in any effort to advance the digital media sector in Canada. Their top three recommendations were: 1. This country requires a Next Generation Internet service available to all Canadians as a public utility. On this much can be built. 2. WiFi, following the lead of the City of Stratford, should be widely available in Canada. 3. Canada requires a stronger focus on the development and provision of technologies for innovation. Governments and the business sector need to provide focus and motivation. Content: This theme concentrated on the issues involved in developing and commercializing digital media content in Canada. Their three top recommendations were: 1. The country needs an “online concierge,” which will provide creators and companies with direction regarding the availability of funding and other support for creative initiatives. 2. There is a need for changes in Canadian copyright law to permit greater flexibility in changing for creative content. 3. Establishing a Creative Risk/Idea Experiment Fund to launch new entrants to the digital media field. Revolutionizing Health: This stream emphasized the development of digital media solutions within the critical e-Health sector. Their three top recommendations were:
1. Canada should continue its electronic health records implementation, with a strong emphasis on serving patients. 2. Governments should collaborate on the development of harmonized standards and practices in eHealth. 3. Canada should leverage its formidable investment in health care and develop an Health Information Technology strategy for the country, with that policy ready for implementation by May 2011.
Final Thoughts: Canada 3.0 has tapped into a powerful combination of global awareness, technological understanding, appreciation of social change, and commitment to Canada. Delegates agreed that the country has great potential but is not yet well-‐situated to capitalize on international opportunities and meet global competition. Nor are we making full use of the technology our governments and institutions have already acquired in coordinating action, building our knowledge base or providing efficient citizen-‐oriented services. There is uniform agreement of the need for intense collaboration between the academy and business and unified action by all levels of government. Conference attendees agreed that Canada can compete -‐ but that a new level of engagement, determination and cooperation is required for the country to rise to the challenge of the global age. The Honorable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, launched the Canada 3.0 conference by announcing a national consultation on digital media strategy. The Government of Canada has established a very aggressive time-‐line for garnering responses to the consultation document, with a view to having a digital media strategy ready for release in Fall 2010. Conference delegates took Minister Clement's call to action to heart, and his sincere request for input animated much of the discussion in the following days. Over the next two weeks, conference organizers will expand this report into a comprehensive statement on the state and future of digital media teaching, training, research, regulation, application, commercialization, entrepreneurship and awareness of societal impacts and implications. That larger document will, after review by the 2000 person Canada 3.0 community, be forwarded to the Ministry of Industry for inclusion in their national consultation. Delegates to the Canada 3.0 2010 conference indicated a determination to compete on the global level, to collaborate and innovate in the national interest, and to seek the means of rising to the challenges and opportunities of the digital age. This is no easy challenge. Despite impressive performance in certain areas, it is well-‐known that Canada has started to lag behind in the digital race. Concerted action – fast, thoughtful, cooperative, commercially-‐driven, socially-‐aware – is essential if this country is to remain among the elite digital nations in the world. If nothing else, delegates left Stratford and Canada 3.0 2010 with a firm determination to work together on common problems, to seek shared opportunities and to challenge each other to rise to the central challenges of the 21st century: global competitiveness, technological innovation, rapid
commercialization, socially-‐responsible change, and sustainable transformation of Canadian society. We share a powerful and compelling vision. It is time for action.