Thursday, June 30, 2011


I attended my first PAB last weekend. Even though it is in Ottawa, I hadn't heard of it until the folks at DyscultureD started to mention it. My initial thought was to crash the party a bit to meet with them while they were in Ottawa, but after looking at the schedule I decided to sign up and attend everything. It also turns out in hindsight that people wouldn't have been happy if I had crashed.

I'm not a PODcaster, and that is beyond the fact I think the term is too closely associated with my political opponents at Apple. This is an artist conference, and I'm not really an artist: I've been invited on Netcasts, I take pictures (moving and still), record audio, and I blog (really?), but I do it primarily as a form of political expression rather than artistic expression. I have attended a number of conferences in the last decade that were artist focused, and have learned quite a bit which is helpful in understanding how others see the area of policy and politics I have been focused on the last decade: technology policy, which includes things such as copyright/patent, CRTC/broadcasting, Network Neutrality, technological protection measures.

So, what did I get out of the conference?

Lets get the embarrassing thought out of the way: I would have liked to hang out more with the DyscultureD crew, but felt like I was being a fanboy rather than a friend when following them around. I listen to them every week (Multiple times for Anthony), and have come to know at least one aspect of them. It isn't a mutual interaction. This was their first time being together as a group in person, and it should be expected that they would want to focus their free time on each other. I am just some guy who happens to share some of the same interests as many of the topics discussed each week on their show.

Listening to the beginning of Dyscultured Episode 140, Andrew was suggesting he felt there was a bit of a hierarchy to the conference. I think this should be expected as it wasn't as much a conference, but a community. Some people have been participants for many years, while others (like myself) were there for the first time and were more spectators than participants.

On the boat cruise Andrew asked me if I would come again and possibly suggest a talk. I suspect I would have to wait until next year to answer that. The only thing I might have something to add to a conference is discussion of Copyright and possibly the perspective of a software author/techie, but don't think/know if either would be a fit.

There is nothing wrong with being a spectator, even at a conference that was clearly more of a community. Everyone was inviting and friendly to the new faces, and no matter how shy you were you still felt welcome.

Now if only I were less shy....

The theme of the conference was stories, but one of the most common themes of the stories was family. My favorite presentation was the less formal one Anthony Marco gave as part of Sylvain Grand'maison's "Family Jewels" talk. With some photographs and music as background, he gave an amazingly timed talk on camping with the family. I definitely felt an "Unattended Momement" (theme of his early formal talk) when listening. I grew up camping -- traveling around Canada and parts of the USA, staying in camp grounds. I had to very deliberately remember I was in public to retain composure....

I have been thinking a lot about family, camping and related things in recent years since my dad died. I think he knew how grateful I was for all those trips when we were younger, and being a very participating father.

There were things we didn't see eye-to-eye on: He was an auto-mechanic and after a knee injury he became a auto-mechanics teacher. I, on the other hand, have never had a drivers license and feel personally owned transportation is very harmful to the health of society and our species.

But... as I said when offering a eulogy, we had more in common than we were different as far as the importance we put on doing what we felt was good works for family, friends and society as a whole. His own cars never quite worked right as he spent more time fixing everyone elses (as a friend for free, not just professionally), and my own computers are often inadequately maintained (or just out-of-date) as I spend my techie time helping everyone else.

Another speaker I enjoyed was Ottawa's own Rpbin Browne who spoke about helping people with no voice to tell their stories. While I love the social justice message which is close to my heart and mind, I also like his speaking style. The style reminds me of president Obama, even if I trust Robin's sincerity -- something I can't say about Obama :-) I also liked the more familiar face at a conference where I knew so few others.

So, it is time for me to Just Hit Publish (Nod to Sue Murphy) on this post, and get to all the other writing I have in my TODO list. While I keep getting distracted with ideas for the Digital Copyright Canada blog (Access Copyright is management and not a union, Apple wants a patent monopoly on being a douchebag and remotely-disabling your camera, etc), the next thing I have to finish is my submission to the CRTC for their so-called "Fact-finding" exercise on the over-the-top programming services in the Canadian broadcasting system. Doubt they will get many facts, and don't expect my submission to have much impact, but it is always worth trying to get some new ideas in front of the commission.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Why I'm changing my vote for the upcoming Ontario election.

There is an election coming up in Ontario on October 6, 2011.

In the last Ontario election I voted for Dalton McGuinty. I like his brother David, and I thought : why not.

This election the issue that is most on my mind for provincial politics is the HST. I think it is wrong to have added tax to labour in the form of adding HST to services which previously only had GST and not PST.

There are many reasons, some simply relating to job creation and others relating to sustainability, why a tax shift from labour onto other resources such as energy is appropriate. I have been a long-time supporter of the Green Tax Shift, before there was a Canadian political party that also supported it (Greens, and temporarily the federal Liberals).

An increase in the cost of services means that purchasing products that may replace services (replace rather than repair, etc) becomes comparatively cheaper, a policy that heads us in exactly the opposite direction to what we should be doing if we had any thoughts for the future.

After the anti-Green Tax Shift of the HST being added to services I wrote a letter to my MPP in Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, saying that I wouldn't be voting for him in the next election largely due to this harmful policy.

As if to remove their candidates from my consideration, both the NDP and PC party leaders have stated that they want to remove HST from gasoline at the pump and other energy. This makes the NDP and PC policies worse than the Liberal policy, since it not only agrees to the shift of taxation onto services, but removed yet more taxes from energy.

It is nonsense to say that removing taxes from energy will "help the poor". A policy aimed at the poor should be focused on the poor -- you don't subsidise everyone for the sake of a few. You also don't subsidise people for wasteful consumption in scenarios where alternatives exist. There may not be a substitute for energy to heat ones home, but there are many alternatives when it comes to transportation.

At one point I thought I would vote for the candidate most able to defeat Dalton McGuinty, but given the PC party is promoting an even worse policy I'm not going that route. I could vote for the lesser of the candidates from these three parties which may turn out to be Dalton McGuinty, or I could return to what I did in the 1990's and simply vote Green.

I haven't met the Ontario Green candidate for Ottawa South yet, but I suspect on this area of policy there won't be any conflict given the green tax shift has been a long-time policy of the domestic and international greens.