Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Response to M.P. Bob Rae's G8/G20 Summits Statement

Mr. Rae,
All your points are well-taken. I can’t disagree with a one of them. Full stop. Except you have omitted something, something I believe is very important.
You have omitted to positively call out a broad category of what are in my mind extremely important concerns: all the evidence which points to illegal excesses in the response of law enforcement the G20 protests. The only real reference to these is that half of the space taken for your statement here is dedicated to directing citizens where they can go to launch a complaint. This is telling…telling me what it is you have decided not to address:
Thanks to the ubiquity of video and still cameras these days, there is every appearance, and plenty of evidence, that law enforcement went beyond its legal bounds in its response to protests at the G20 in Toronto.
Your NOT joining the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and others as well-informed, in decrying what appears obviously to be shocking abuse of Charter Rights has consequences as follows:
- the majority of Canadians felt justifiable anger and outrage at the vandalism by a minority of protesters and then, without further thought, dismissed all ‘rights’ issues about the protests as unworthy of consideration. Corrosive.
- a sizable minority of Canadians, who have poured over the ample evidence of law enforcement’s actions at the G20, are shocked and believe Charter Rights were clearly abused. Corrosive.
In BOTH cases, we have a deeply corrosive situation to Canadian values, *particularly* when you and other senior parliamentarians do not directly acknowledge the issues. If you leave these vital concerns unacknowledged and un-addressed, you:
a) leave the majority with the unexamined belief that Charter rights may be a quibble and a triviality, easily dismissed for a whole group when some of their number act in a reprehensible way.
b) send the greatly disturbed minority away with the belief that what they believe happened (a shocking abuse of Charter Rights) is of little or no concern to you. This is heart-breaking, and poisonous – you lose their participation in civic life.
I pray you, do not let this happen.
Our rights either apply to every citizen, including those to whom we may have no personal affinity, or to none of us. We can not ignore a single abrogation of these rights. One so public and fully documented as this is particularly corrosive to the tone of public life. Think about all those you lose by ignoring this, lose to the ‘conspiracy theorist’ nonsense – whose advocates use this event as evidence our Charter is mere words on paper, a soporific notion.
As the Party of the Charter, I believe the Liberal Party should be its champion. It is deeply disheartening to see the Liberal party side-stepping these critical issues. Until now, at least. Please find your strong voice, sir.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sceneing. What I really do (for a living)

Blogging is relatively new for me.  My friend Cheryl McKinnon told me months ago I had to have a blog, and I listened.  In recent months, you've seen almost nothing here that reflects what I do for a living.  Civil Rights talk, yes, Web 2.0 software development - hardly anything.

I made the connection between what am doing and my deep personal conviction to civil society while reading open source guru Ben Werdemuller (why do I like that surname?). He wrote in his blog entry Blowing up markets a few weeks ago that:

It all comes down to one simple rule: People want to be free.

The Internet is opinionated: as a medium, it inherently works to empower people and eliminate hierarchies in society. It shouldn't be a surprise that the most popular Internet companies hail from California; their philosophies are direct descendents of the civil rights activism that took place there in the sixties and seventies. In many cases, it’s even the same people. (Or – and here I put up my hand as the son of Berkeley “radicals” – their children.)

Since October of 2009, Neil LaChapelle and I at DANE Partners have been passionate about a new Web 2.0 software platform Neil conceived, which would enable people to live more meaningful lives and to leave a legacy. We have been designing software that employs an emerging web paradigm, which was without a name until we identified it and named it. We call it: "Sceneing". In the mobile and PC browser world our platform idea becomes The Sceneverse. OK, might sound a little hokey. I'll forgive you for thinking that.

We continue to grow our collaborator network looking for people who share our vision of a web that enables the full expression of the real human metaverse, and who have the wisdom and skill to help us build it.

Let me explain. I will start with a description of building a personal family scene. You upload securely and privately into the Sceneverse the story of your life bit by bit:
  • placing events at the location they occurred
  • at the date and time they happened
  • tag them with a theme (my childhood, my days in the army, my days in the circus),  
  • connect them with other people who shared the experience with you (or not)

You might link a photo, video, just text, or all of these to help describe an event in your personal life scene. You might invite one or several people who participated in this event to have access to this recollection, to a chapter of your life, or to your whole personal life scene. Or grant them read-only access to a chapter of your life, but never to this particular scene. If you allow it, they could add their comments or photos etc to your description of the event. And only if you allowed it, they could invite others to see what together or you alone you had created there. Personally, I imagine my daughter when she is much older and I am gone, perusing the scene of my life. I might edit out a few embarrassing events. :)

Much of what we need to make this possible is already available on the web. Mostly what we will do is to bring together existing applications in a new way to enable this new kind of activity, sceneing. Really, it is as old as time. It's just that, until now, the stories of our personal lives have generally disappeared like smoke with the passage of time. We would need to charge people for storage who uploaded massive amounts of information into their personal scenes.

Using an Augmented Reality ("AR") view of my personal scene in the Sceneverse, my daughter could actually walk through Vancouver, Yellowknife, London, Kitchener and Waterloo reading, seeing and hearing what I and those closest have left about the story of my life in these places. I'd sure love to be able to do this myself in Cologne, Glasgow and across the Canadian Arctic, where my father spent his childhood and then his adult life - even connecting with his old friends, or their descendants (handed the digital keys to the Scene of their lives).

If I were a Lifecaster, I might make my whole life story accessible for anyone interested. (I don't happen to be one of these.) I would hope that others would choose this option - it would be so interesting for example to be able to trace Hemmingway's record of the scenes of his life Paris and Havana, or perhaps the life of a heretofore unknown person who survived the Holocaust and then built a life with many descendants in Toronto.

You might see why we are excited about this.  We make sense of our lives by telling our story. In some ways, this story is our primary legacy to future generations.

Before we came upon the potential for sceneing to express and extend a person's own life story to their family and closest friends, we thought about cultural scenes. These and other kinds of scenes will be the subject of my next blog post.