Category Archives: Social Media

The Walrus Talks: Living Better

the WalrusWe recently attended another in a series of “The Walrus Talks” sessions with the theme of “Living Better”.  The sessions are put together by the Walrus Magazine and Concordia University.  On the most recent talk 7 speakers talked about living better from their personal, business, social or scientific perspectives.

Living better was presented though our identity, song, low tech social media, loss, babies and architecture.  Because of the lack of space and to keep the word count down to keep you the reader engaged here are thoughts on the speakers that left the greatest impression on me. Where there was info available I have included some Twitter ID so you might look further into the speakers I have for you.

Our individual Urban Community is recognized as a core to our living better; presented by architect Donald Schmidt, it discussed the science, politics and culture of how we live now.  Exploring Ottawa’s architecture he gave 6 examples of  buildings that bring better living to Ottawa; his list of six included the recent renovations of the National Arts Centre, The Ottawa Train Station, educational institutions uOttawa and Algonquin College, the Science and Tech Museum and the last of the six, but the one with the greatest potential – the new Ottawa Public Library and National Archives building that will rise in Lebreton Flats.

Going straight for the heart, Christa Couture, writer and broadcaster (Twitter ID @christacouture), brought the idea that personal loss can bring a ‘living better’ quality to our lives.  In loss we often think and hope about life getting better, Couture made us think that sometimes life cannot get better, but that life can be different. Different is an alternative to better that sometimes we need to embrace.  Different gives us all a grounded hope, not for better but for different – an alternative to live better.

With enhancements to how we communicate, it was enlightening to hear Nanveet Alang (@navalang) talk about how we can dial back technology. Tech is essential in today’s world but finding the human in technology allows everyone to make decisions that are our decisions, not technology’s or social media’s.  Two options we have to give us the ‘opt in’ decision are the online group chat rooms. The earliest of these group chats was launched in 1983, a very adopter of social media, but the ideas often stayed in the group forums.  In today’s social media, people’s thoughts are too often public, when they should be kept private.  His second roll back in tech communications is the newsletter, they used to be delivered by email.  The newsletter gives us the human reaction od deciding to opt in to receive a newsletter.  Too often, by simply purchasing something we are automatically part of an email group and added to a newsletter distribution – the opt out is something that should part of history. Alang publishes his own newsletter, The Purposeful Object and is available for subscription at buttondown.email/TPO.

Finally, how about a song to celebrate living better? Sean McCann (@seanmccannsings), former member of Great Big Sea described his days post-alcohol through his song “Stronger” – how now being stronger he is living better.  Have a listen: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=sean+mccann+youtube+stronger&&view=detail&mid=768E994AC200C8ED1B97768E994AC200C8ED1B97&&FORM=VRDGAR

Of course, we all make decisions on our personal ways for living better, listening to the others provides insight and perspectives how our community and personal experiences play a part in us living better – if we choose to.

NOTE: For more of The Walrus Talks: Living Better, visit their You Tube Channel for all the speakers of this event and other talks, https://www.youtube.com/user/walrustelevision.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

The Golden Rule of Social Media

Golen RuleThere are only weeks until the campaigning for the 43rd General Election in Canada starts. However the state of political discourse in Canada has never been as low as it is before an election as it is today. The language we’re speaking, the assumptions we’re making and the tone we’re using all are contributing to the discourse and really the anger in the conversations are at levels I have never heard before.

What are the origins of the new lows of our political discussions, where did we accept this behavior? Why do we accept this behavior? Have our leaders brought us to this point? Who do we hold responsible? Is all this because our new communication devices allow us, anyone to to have a personal soapbox? Our new communication freedom also brings millions of voices to us in a click.

There are voices that generate a lot of emotion, we all immediately think of @realDonaldTrump and his daily tweets – he generates strong reactions from supporters and opponents. In Canada our political leaders may not generate the same emotion, but Canadians are engaging. What concerns me is that we can’t engage without some people confusing opinion with information. As an example, this post and blog is based on my opinions and where ever possible I will insert information that support my opinion.

I cannot the only one concerned with this, I think that many Canadians share this with me, and now Parliamentarians must share this opinion as well; The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Parliament Hill is currently studying “Online Hate”. The committee has been hearing from witnesses since April. With Parliament approaching the summer recess the study will be wrapping up so that a report can be written and tabled before the House rises. The report will include recommendations that might be the basis for campaign promises during the upcoming election.

It is easy to compartmentalize hate as coming from one side of the political spectrum; one side claims to be on the side of good, automatically labeling the other as hateful. Online its easy, some people are faceless and nameless. Can you imagine if school playgrounds were treated the same as social media? If that were the case the principal’s office would have a line-up of combatants having to ‘explain themselves’ and their actions. If we never tolerated this type of activity in schoolyards, why do we allow it online?

I’ll wait for the report from the Justice and Human Rights Committee and read it with great interest. The committee heard from witnesses from many faiths, ethnic groups, LGBT groups, Gender groups, Human Rights, government departments and agencies and Individuals came and provided testimony. Will this provide an insight into how or if the government should regulate hate speech online.

Interestingly, the week the Justice Committee was meeting, the International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy and Democracy was also meeting in Ottawa. The second Grand Council of the committee was in Ottawa to have the tech giants talk about data security, #fakenews and privacy. The meeting had the understated question if FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) should be required to do more that they are? The meeting was overshadowed by the decision by Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg ignored a summons to appear in front of the committee.

Parents, teachers, principals, school administrators and others wouldn’t allow faceless and nameless bullies on school property during recess to harm the children, why do we tolerate them on social media where more harm can be done with words, images and videos – where people we don’t even know have access to influence others? Don’t we deserve a safe social media playground?

Isn’t it time we took into consideration the audiences, known and unknown, we have online and started to police our own words and actions and call out others who cross a line? Can’t we all use a better language online? Surely (mostly) everyone doesn’t use the same language in person that is used online. We all need to use the golden rule of social media, use the language you want used on your posts when you post and comment on others.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Digital Disruption

Liz and I have started attending #WalrusTalks, evenings put on the Walrus magazine.  Our first was October 16thof this year and the topic was Cannabis – 7 speakers talking for 7 minutes.  Why October 16th?   The next day was unique for on October 17thmarijuana was legal.  Fast forward to last week and we attended our next Walrus talk, an evening of disruption.  

I’ve heard of these disruption nights but never took part, but in our efforts to learn from listening to others; we couldn’t resist the opportunity to be part of a disruption. We didn’t know what the disruption would be or how it would be sound.  The ‘disruptors’ included a Librarian, Radio Producer, a Doctor, Cannabis expert, a Daemon follower and a mentor to tech girls.

On this evening this was a digital disruption.

Of the six speakers (one was unable to attend) I’ll focus on the disruptors that brought the left the greatest impression on me, and it doesn’t mean the impression was good.  But the overall message of the speakers was that of how disruption makes us think differently. 

The Librarian

Books and the written word have been disrupting the world since the printing press was invented.  The public library as we know it, courtesy of Andrew Carnegie, has been a disruptor giving everyone who dared to enter the doors of a Carnegie Library knowledge, imagination and dreams.  Guylaine Beaudry (@GuylaineBeaudry) is the Librarian of Concordia University and was responsible transformation of the university’s library. 

Guylaine’s message was, the library is not dead, it continues to disrupt, and that alone should change what some may think of the future of the library.  Whether you read from a bound book, take in a visualization of a story or listen to an audio book libraries will continue to create the change it has since ink first made it to paper.  

Beaudry insists that the library evolves as we evolve and how we communicate changes.  Paper and digital co-exist, or rather can and should.  Though she didn’t mention it, the new Calgary Library could be an example of the disruption that a library can cause in the 21stcentury.

The Cannabis Expert

As I mentioned earlier, our first #WalrusTalks was on the eve of legalization on marijuana. I was surprised to see another cannabis speaker, or a disruptor.  I won’t take anything away from Lisa Campbell (@qnp); she is very accomplished and is now assisting others through the new reality of a marijuana consumer.  Her experience of helping those who needed marijuana for medical purposes had led her though to where she is today.   

Through her seven minutes the highlight of her talk was her epiphany that she had to break the law to make good happen.  I don’t begrudge her success or the good work she is doing – but I do oppose her view that breaking the law makes all things good.  Her disruption of challenging the laws in place is noble – but it should always be the exception not the rule.  If it becomes the rule, disruption turns into disorder. 

The Mentor

The final speaker was Saadia Muzaffar, a tech mentor for girls, a promoter of an inclusive future and advisor to the Canadian government for access to skilled talent.  Take the time to scroll through her @ThisTechGirl Twitter feed and you’ll find someone that talks about fairness in a world of digital growth. 

This evening though Saadia focused on tech, the boom of tech and of tech jobs that might not be all that they seem.  On this evening her message left the greatest impression on me.  

In a digital world of apps and online business; owners, shareholders, investors and customers are the winners.  I compare the digital revolution to the industrial revolution of earlier last century.  The bosses were the winners, the workers not so much.  It took decades for workers to gain equality and earn a salary that were not ‘slave wages’. Flash forward to the explosion of apps that control our lives from our phones.  The new digital revolution has had the same effect on workers as 100 years ago.  Low wages without benefits, today people work for themselves and not for a company on a contract workers and in some cases working conditions that lack humane concern.  

In an era where contract workers are becoming a larger part of the workforce Saadia suggests that we need to recognize that the moves cost us and governments.  Social programs lose revenue from corporations that would pay into CPP, EI, and other programs that Canada has been praised for.  That government will rely more on revenues on contract workers is a concern future governments must be aware of.   Contract workers relying on the digital economy now have a greater reliance on themselves to be able to save for retirement.  

Her message should echo with us when we hear of large companies like Amazon come to town promising jobs, we should be asking not only about the number of job but also about the quality of the jobs and working conditions.  Are these the skilled jobs we need?   These questions remain with me weeks after this #WalrusTalks, the need to dig deep and question what communities receives when a company comes to town.

I don’t know that I will ever fit into a mould of being a disruptor, but I do know that I will always consider where my #RedHeartBlueSign values stand. 

Interested in more of what the Walrus magazine presents across Canada?  Visit the Walrus on You Tube to view previous #WalrusTalks presentations or visit http://www.walrus.ca/video

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker@rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

My Best of 2017: The Best of #RedHeartBlueSign

 

This year I have written over 60 posts, this is post number 199 on #RedHeartBlueSign since October 2010.

thank youOver the past 12 months I can say I am happy with each post, though some I have greater pride in writing. The five posts below represent what gave me the greatest pride. Each has its own beginning, that being, what was the motivation for me to write and post each of them.  Thank you for taking the time today and throughout 2017 to read #RedHeartBlueSign.

The Battle for Vanier (November 2017)

The city of Ottawa had two big battles with its residents this year. The first was the relocation of the downtown/main branch of the Ottawa Public Library; the second was a proposal from the Salvation Army to vacate its Byward Market building for brand new building on Montreal Road in Vanier that would house almost all it services under one roof, include approximately 350 beds (some long term and some emergency shelter beds. The response from the community was SOS Vanier, a well coordinated effort of raising the community’s opposition to a plan that goes opposite of the city plans. The big battle was strictly a fight between building use and land use – two very different concepts.

This was my most widely read post of the year, if you haven’t already you can click here to read it: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/11/26/the-battle-of-vanier-land-use-vs-building-use

Choose your healthcare cycle (September 2017)

The healthcare system in Ontario and across Canada is at a crossroads. Also at a critical point is the population of Canadians as the Baby Boomer Generation retires and the Boomers’ children and grandchildren are going to be relied upon to work and fund pension programs and healthcare needs for seniors. The point of the post was to emphasize the need for each generation to support the healthcare they need now, through fundraising, radio-thons and telethons and not necessarily the care that was used in the past. More and more provincial budgets will spend more on healthcare that all other departments combined. Hospitals and healthcare organizations count more on donations from the public to close the gaps left from reduced government funding.

My thoughts about this are here for you to read: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/choose-your-healthcare-life-cycle

When did it become legal to do illegal things (October 2017)

The line between helping others and protecting property is a thin one and easily causes words and sometimes actions that have a ripple effect. At the heart of this post was the opinion that the City of Ottawa was not acting fast enough to help stop the opioid crisis and prevent needless deaths. What been approved was a safe injection site in Sandy Hill, but was not ready yet, so Opioid Prevention Ottawa (OPO) set up a tent without approval and permits in a neighbourhood park where children and families played – they refused to close up and not many in City Hall would force the closure including the Police who said they were waiting for the city to tell them to shut it down. I wanted to include the a bit about the illegal Pot Shops that are opening up ahead of the legalization of marijuana but if I had I would have had to leave too much out of the OPO story.

To read all about OPO and the fight for safe neighbourhood and the fight to save lives from overdose clink on this link: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/when-did-it-become-legal-to-do-illegal-things

Confessions of a casual commuter cyclist (August 2017)

2017 was the summer that I became a cycling commuter, taking my bike to work almost everyday. I have to say I got my money’s worth in the spring tune-up. I wrote about my experiences on two wheels, observing not only other cyclists and pedestrians but also drivers of cars and trucks. I had one close call, but I transferred my defensive skills to my bike and stayed safe. I have to say though that cycling defensively is not as well received by other cyclists,

Read my Confessions of a casual commuter cyclist here: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/confessions-of-a-casual-commuter-cyclist

836,484 (December 2017)

This post came about from big news on two fronts. First was that the Toronto Star and the National Post were ‘flipping ownership on a large number of small local newspapers and few free daily papers (Metro and 24 hours). The other show dropped when 40+ of these papers were being told that they were closing, a few on the same day that the announcement was made. The largest of the local papers affected was the Barrie Examiner, which has been in operation longer than the British North America Act has been in force. All told I estimated that almost 840,000 Canadians lost a newspaper in one day. Since the day the presses stopped, many independent local papers have spoken loudly to reinforce the fact that local newspapers are still printing and distributing news.

Read 836,484 here: https://redheartbluesign.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/836484

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

The new look of a newscast?

CBC unveiled its new look of its flagship newscast, The National this week. While it is being broadcast as the main change in how the Canada’s public TV network, but is one in a chain of changes that is meant to transform how Canadians view the news. It’s goal, ensure that we have our eyes glued to the CBC.

In the “New” National it is a “deliberate decision” to have fewer longer pieces of news as one of the new four hosts, Andrew Chang tweeted to me.

Personally I am a quantity person when it comes to news. Through a workday I can’t get to a newscast. I rely on social media to get the breaking stories of the day. The news I get, because of where I work is nearly all political, other news is not something I would catch. If something breaks I then tune to a news channel on TV to catch the story.

The CBC made some subtle changes (subtle in the grand scheme) to their news line up recently, but since the launch of the revamped National it has all come to me. The subtle changes were all part of the big plan. The CBC has worked to make it the place we will end up for financial news, political news, world news and breaking news – at the end of the day the source for the breakdown of the 5 or 6 major stories. They are counting on us getting our news in drabs through a day and then wanting to go deep behind the headlines.

On the second night of the new National, I watched at 9pm and then went to CTV National News at 10. The differences were expected and very noticeable and that is what the CBC was going for. Gone from the CBC are the traditional 10 stories in 22 minutes. No more top stories with 90 seconds to give you enough information to want to hear more. You’ll get the in-depth story from the very start of the broadcast.

As mentioned, this is one of several changes. First was the move of “On the Money” from 7pm to 4pm. I tweeted about the move, host Peter Armstrong replied that the show would be available in its entirety on the Facebook page, encouraging me to watch there, “whenever I was free to do so”. The second change replaced the Vancouver based early evening news, previously hosted by Ian Hanomansing, show from 8pm to 11pm with the standard host/presenter of CBC New Network. Carol MacNeil now hosts a 2 hour block from 7pm to 9pm.

Finally the new National is dropped into its place in the schedule. New for the National will be the flexibility of having live updates inserted into the taped broadcast. It will be like having breaking news and the previously recorded news all in one – seamless and not noticeable to those tuning in.

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 11.31.51 PM

What I get from this is that the CBC is expecting its viewers to get their ‘bits of news’ from new sources like Twitter, Facebook, Huffington Post and Buzzfeed (among others) while some old guard news watchers may have listened to the radio or had the TV on in the background for news.

It seems that the CBC wants to flip how the news is delivered. You might recall not too long ago when the internet was where you went to read/view the in-depth reporting and TV gave you the headlines and maybe a little bit more. Has the CBC been surveying how Canadians are receiving news and current events? Now they want you to go in deep on TV and only scratch the surface on the Internet. The CBC wants users of Facebook and Twitter as their news source to consider the National as a one hour fix for the deep coverage of top seven stories of the day.

I see the value of their theory, I understand the theory, I get the concept. I get it. Will other Canadians? Will Canadians have the energy for the attention at the end of long day needed for the one hour of the National whether it will be through the Cable/Satellite/Fibre TV provider or online? The CBC is counting on two things, one, that current viewers of the National will accept the challenge and two new viewers will flock to the challenge of fewer and longer reports.

Success will not be in only what the traditional TV ratings will reveal, but what traffic has gone to CBC’s online presence (website, Facebook etc.) Has the CBC driven people to watch where ever they might be?

The concept will grow on me. What will pull me away will be the longer world news stories. While I know what is happening in Syria and the Middle East is important to the world it is not enough to me to watch 7-9 minutes and wait for the next story.

The editors, directors and hosts will have to balance Canadian news watchers needs of Canadian, American, World and Financial news. Too much of one of the others and not enough Canadian could be what moves people to another channel for news in their country.

This first week will not reflect what the National will be like in 6 months, by the second or third week we’re told we’ll see the hosts out of the studio and in the field and gathering news. Then we’ll see how the new National will deliver on the “New” in the new National.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

A virtual walk in the snow

RHBS 172There is something to be said for walking away from something you enjoy. Not like Trudeau v1.0 and his walk through the snow on the second last day of February in 1984 (it was a leap year). I took a walk in my mind and made the decision on Friday to not post on social media for the weekend. It was surprisingly easy, but I was tempted.  We had a great weekend, I didn’t post on Twitter or Facebook at all about a Saturday at Lake Opinicon and the great music we heard.  However as difficult I thought it might be that day, it was quite easy and I focused on the music, the food, the beautiful surroundings in and around Chaffey’s Lock and the company of Liz, who posted a few photos on Facebook and Twitter.

I took a virtual walk in the snow after what I thought was a tough weak in social media. To those that say that I should have known what I was getting into because of the two topics I was posting about – it was the overall tone of the discussions of the day that took a toll, not so much what people what commented on after I posted. I think that many would agree that in Ottawa it was a perfect social media storm when the debates over the Ottawa Pride parade requesting the Ottawa Police not wear their uniforms in the parade collided with the Omar Khadr settlement rumours and then the government announcement.

The tone of the two conversations clashed and I burned out.

In the ashes was a weekend of feeling free, no pressure, no need to make a comment – only to read and see what other people say. It turned out to be an opportunity to see how others react, comment and rationalize on the two issues. Having eyes and not allowing your voice to be heard does permit for thought. There was no “I have to comment right away or else it’s old news” to worry about. I also saw that extreme comments and tweets were emotion over logic. The Khadr affair is clearly the best example of this – it should be, and I hope someone picks up on this, a separate lesson in the teaching plan of anyone that instructs students in the use and influence of social media. I see this being the pinnacle of a debate on the usefulness or the drudgery of Facebook and Twitter.

What lies ahead is still unknown, what I thought was going to be a weekend in virtual hiding was a weekend awakening and the thought provoking self-analysis of my own way I use my social media feeds. It have been ‘tempted’ to post on Instagram since Friday, but I had to be true to my self-declared sabbatical. I haven’t posted today (Monday) and haven’t had the burning desire to do so.

As a confession, I did post on my #RedHeartBlueLife blog (see link below) Sunday night but that’s it. I’ll post this blog – but I don’t see how this is the same as posting on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. My plan is to stick with it, the sabbatical, for the rest of this week.

I have vacation planned in Thunder Bay next week and then I’ll be travelling for work the week after in Western Canada. Those two weeks seem like they most certainly will be ‘Instagramable’ opportunities for me, lord knows I will want to be sharing it all. Maybe it will be baby steps, but for now it’s okay, I’m okay and I am okay with not being slayed by people who don’t know me because I have (in my mind) a logical opposing point of view.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.