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Canada 3.0 Blog

Monday, May 11, 2009

Creatively Digital/Digitally Creative

You know the digital revolution has taken firm root when it slips from the hands of the engineers, programmers and business people and into the creative realm. Digital media is far more than a technological innovation; the new technologies have already transformed the creative enterprise with the prospect of even more radical changes in the offing.

From the first video games - remember Pong? - to the latest computer assisted graphics in blockbuster movies, digital technologies have had pronounced effects on the creative world. Many of these have emerged as formidable artistic and commercial forces. Video games challenge the movie industry as a money spinners. Computer controlled lighting and sound systems embellish even the most basic community theatrical production. In Asia, in particular, art created specific for mobile Internet devices has found a ready audience. Even in book publishing, where the Kindle and Sony e-book present both threats and opportunities, digital text is rising to challenge traditional print. Japanese e-books, written specifically for cell phones, routinely make the best seller lists. Digital arts, entertainment and creativity are already a wide-spread reality.

The story, of course, is not all one of creative opportunity. From Napster to BitTorrent, digital technologies have permitted the ready theft of creative property, particularly music, movies, television programs and prose. The losses to creators and publishers runs into the billions of dollars - and the new technologies have manufactured a culture of theft and fraud that must certainly be having a prolonged impact on societal values. Digital rights management - the process of ensuring that creators and their agents get paid for the work that they produce - is perhaps the most fundamental battle line in the new economy. The fact that some countries, most notably China, do not make a concerted effort to protect intellectual property rights is a serious impediment to the commercialization of digital creative products.

Part of the creative impulse - appropriately - is a critique of the very technologies that underpin the digital revolution. Just as some videographers use youtube to share their creations with wide audiences, so do others capitalize on social networking sites, websites and other digital systems to document, decry and challenge the growing role of digital media in the contemporary world.

Creators - artistic, commercial and otherwise - have only begun to explore the potential of digital media. Innovations in such diverse areas as animation and motion capture, biofeedback and holographic imagining, virtual reality and outdoor projection,wearable computers and mobile Internet, web design and telematic theatre among many others promise to stand creative expression on its head. We will see many more public art forms, mass international transmission of art, collaborative acts of creation, interactive artistic events and critical re-interpretations of existing art (think sophisticated photoshopping).

The Internet and digital media promise, as well, to revolution the distribution and sale of art. Creative personnel who struggled to find audiences and consumers can use the new technologies to reach out globally. While most will not prosper - such is the lot of the lonely artist - many more will discover that easily shareable art forms can find an international audience.

Perhaps most significantly, the digital revolution needs content. The fiber optic cables, hard drives, processing memory, video cards and other countless hardware devices and pieces of software are only useful if there is something to move over and through the system. As the power of the Internet shifts from the tool makers to the tool users, creators and content producers will play an increasingly dominant role. The material that capitalizes on the technology, more than the technology itself, will drive the expansion of the digital economy.

As the technologists and creators converge - a process that is well underway - a vital feedback loop is emerging. Creators using technology pressure the engineers and programmers to innovate. The technological innovations, in turn, generate more and different forms of creative expression. The interaction between two sectors that are often separate, if not antagonistic, is central to the unfolding of a competitive and transformative digital economy.

Ken Coates
Dean of Arts, University of Waterloo

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Innovate or perish, Canada warned

The Science, Technology and Innovation Council released its State of the Nation report and notes that "We have the knowledge, but aren't converting it to wealth."

Full report available at:

Monday, May 4, 2009

Will Canada miss the next wireless revolution?

Canada 3.0 Mobility and Media stream co-chair and OCAD President, Sara Diamond on Canada and the next wireless revolution:

Why Canada 3.0?

We've been asked why we called this forum 'Canada 3.0', particularly when most of the country is still in 1.0 and trying to figure out what all the hooplah is about this thing they call 2.0. To put it simply: to spark discussion about Canada’s digital media future.

Canada is currently a world leader in digital media. Canadian talent is pursued by some of the world’s largest technology and entertainment companies. Home-grown firms like RIM, Open Text, and Christie Digital (to name just a few) prove that we – as a nation – are digital media artists, innovators and entrepreneurs. As digital content and capability become globally ubiquitous, the opportunity for market penetration of existing and novel products, services, art and processes is massive. (Global, to be exact.) And Canada is in an excellent position to capitalize on the potential of 3.0. If we’re ready.

The Canada 3.0 Forum is designed to bring together everyone – corporations, government, researchers and associations - with a vested interest in Canada’s “world domination” of digital media to begin imagining Canada 3.0 and planning how we will get there. So, can Canada say that we’re ready for 3.0? Not yet, but few competitors are and the opportunity to grasp mindshare and marketshare begins now, before 3.0.

The Canada 3.0 Forum is for you if you believe that Canada can be the global leader in digital media and you’re interested in answering these questions:

  • We have wonderful pockets of activity across this grand country of ours, but how do we communicate that Canada is a leader in digital media?
  • We have incredible technological and business success in digital media, but do we have the infrastructure to support growth?
  • We have the systems in place to help build momentum, but are they the right systems to foster the growth of “natural resources” (inventors and entrepreneurs)?
  • We have talent, but to leverage our strength in digital media in 3.0 do we have enough? How do we develop more? How do we keep talent here in Canada?

Got an opinion on this? Want to be part of the discussion?

Be at Canada

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Take Advantage of Special Pricing - 10% off until May 8th

Register today at and take advantage of 10% off! But only until May 9th, so act now.

Be a part of the digital future. Join industry leaders, academics and government in determining where Canada is going in digital media. Don't miss this's the discussion for you!

Re-enforcing the Creative Triangle

The rapid development of the digital media sector has startled observers for the last few decades. Time and time again, a new twist emerges which transforms the commercial potential of the digital economy. It was only in the mid-1990s that the Internet emerged as a viable electronic platform. The emergence of e-commerce sparked the boom (and subsequent bust), just as the expansion of mobile telecommunication sent the digital industry off in new directions.

The transformations continue, with social networking, file-sharing, mass digitization, and eventually ubiquitous computing spreading the impact and enhancing the possibilities of the digital sector. This makes it, of course, extremely difficult to anticipate future directions in the digital economy, although one main trends seems quite clear. For the past twenty years, tool makers have held the upper hand, particularly in North America. The fascination with technological fundamentals has focused attention on the development of Internet backbones and new devices. The result has been impressive, with faster speeds, new devices, and improved delivery systems.

Perhaps, however, the greatest change has been the emergence of content -- the creative element -- as the fast-growing sector of the digital universe. At the level of the delivery systems, the Internet and devices--desktops, mobile devices, and the like, there remains an enormous amount of under-utilized capacity. While technological innovation must and will continue, the fastest changes will likely occur on the content/creative side. At present, companies like Facebook, Myspace and LinkedIn have emerged as dominant players (although one hopes that there proves to be a limit to digital narcissism).

The future, it seems, will be strongly influenced by increased development on the content side. Content-rich sites like have the potential to transform the television sector. Clearly, news and information sites have undercut the viability of traditional newspapers. With governments, universities, special interest groups, google books, digital publishers, and others rushing to place content on line, content has become king.

In general, the digital torch is being past from the tool makers to tool users Telematic theatre - using the Internet to enhance the theatrical experience -- has real potential. User generated content, like YouTube, continues to grow, albeit without viable business models. The development of professional content, combined with micro-charging systems, will likely emerge as a centre-piece of the 21st digital economy.

To date, few companies, regions or countries have capitalized on the potential of the "creative triangle," the intersection of technology, international business and the creative sector. The unique cultures of these three areas -- each with different concepts of innovation,
radically different approaches to the cultivation of talents, and very different business models -- it is not surprising that natural unions have not emerged.

There is, however, a virtuous connection possible in the digital content sector. The technology firms need content to capitalize on the investment in infrastructure, creative organizations and people need markets and income from their work (particularly as traditional audiences continue experience pressure), and businesses need new products and services to capitalize on global opportunities. Bringing these sectors together and search for the sweet spot that draws on the
unique contributions from each is one of the core challenges of the new economy.

Ken Coates
Dean of Arts, University of Waterloo