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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.    


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