Category Archives: Uncategorized

And the crowd says Yaaar. How Hollywood is losing the War on New Media

On Monday, it started with a few scattered pranksters shouting Arrr at the opening screen of the film premiers at this year’s Toronto International Film festival. By week end the meme had caught on. I just caught the best part of it mid-yarrr, but I love this piece of film I shot, of the screen you can’t record or capture, here is the entire capacity of Ryerson theatre (500 or so?) almost as a unified chorus shouting YAAAAR and other pirate noises, followed by rolling in the aisles. We kill us.

Two or just one year ago, the industry’s anti piracy sermoning was met with a mix of either incomprehension or guilty staring at the feet. Not the case anymore. Public sentiment has clearly turned against Big Media. Maybe the common ticket buying public, the 99.99999% that didn’t bring Cam’s to the theatre are sick of being pointed at like criminals. Maybe their just tiered of the silly analogy that sharing media is somehow a crime on par with pillage, rape and theft at the point of a cutlass.

The war on piracy has turned into a rout.

Dear Hollywood: we’re ready for our new media now.

When are you going to step up and distribute your fare at any price, in any format or distribution scheme half as sensible and practical as bittorrent?

Please consider as creative commons licensed. Feel free to copy and distribute this footage as much as you like.

oh and the film? Nothing is Private. Quite good. It will be out soon. I’d recommend you go buy a ticket…

iPhone would cost $300/mo in Canada while U.K.’s 3 launches 10£ mobile broadband

Thanks to Michael O’Connor Clarke for the tip:

The biggest game-changing element of the iPhone, however, is that Apple is reportedly forcing operators to offer generous voice and data plans along the lines of AT&T’s, so that the customer’s experience isn’t hobbled. AT&T’s basic monthly service plan offers 5,450 voice minutes and unlimited data for US$59.99. In Canada, where Rogers has the only network compatible with the iPhone, a plan with anything resembling unlimited data would be closer to $300; even providers in Rwanda offer unlimited data plans for less than $50. That may be an unbalanced example, but Lawrence Surtees, vice-president and principal communications analyst for research firm IDC Canada, says it highlights how bad Canadian rates are here.

“These guys have the old monopoly pricing mentality where you will pay for everything, it’s my network, my phones, I will control you,” he says. “It’s to the point of losing the big picture where none of us are going to use this stuff much or at all.”

Funny that the Rwanda meme is catching on. You heard it here first. Mobile Data Rates in Canada are worse than central Africa.

Meanwhile if the contrast was not stark enough: 3 Launches Mobile Broadband From £10 Per Month

Canadian carriers is it not time you offered 21st century data plans in this country? or are you waiting for the regulators to impose a solution?

The U.K. has a highly competitive wireless market.

FaceBookCamp is going to be massive

260 people signed up on the wiki already and still a week to go. Significant amount of media and corporate engagement as well. This will make an interesting “camp”. It’s no joke that Toronto is crazy for Facebook.

Are you signed up yet?

I’m on the list but it also falls on my vacation time at the cottage -arg. This may be worth coming down from the dock for. Should I bring my beaver?

UPDATE Michele and I won’t be at FacebookCamp though we’ll be sad to miss it (don’t worry too much for us we’ll be out sailing in Muskoka). This is a major development in the evolution of the (TorCamp) community in Toronto. have fun all. Note Alan sez:

“Just a quick reminder about FacebookCampToronto tonight and some of the logistics.

The maximum capacity of the MaRS main auditorium is 350 so if/when we reach maximum capacity MaRS is going to setup a 2nd Room with an additional 70 person capacity and an audio/video feed.

The main room should be available @ 6pm and it will be first come, first serve until capacity.

We’re looking for some volunteers to help with directing people and some of the logistics. If your interested and available at 5:30pm today contact me directly via Facebook or at csmillie [at]

Thank you and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone tonight”

Negative Space in Product Design – Value from things that things don’t do.

I figure the single sound that must bring the most collective happiness to people the world over is exactly the sound your alarm clock doesn’t make as soon as you hit the snooze button.

I’ve been trying to think up, ever since my alarm came back on this morning, some other examples of this principle in practical action. In visual design negative space can be as important to a composition as the subject.

1. (When it works) Google search creates it’s value from the search results that it doesn’t return.

2. Desani creates value by not putting all that sugary Coke crap in your Coke water – and just giving you not flavored Coke water in a handy portable container.

3. Of course the iPod shuffle was most distinctive features were the ones it didn’t have.

4. Tokyoflash makes a (awesomely cool) business out of not making it easier to know what time it is.

5. Strategic nuclear weapons

8. What else there must be lots? What softwares or products are handy for features they don’t have or, for features they do have, are handy for the negative not-uses of those features?

Heading to Reboot!

I’m off to Reboot9 in Copenhagen. Very excited as this will be my first reboot. This means I’ll be dashing from Enterprise2.0Camp on the 29th to catch a flight straight to London then Copenhagen. I’ll have to miss Mesh this year 🙁 , but ces’t la vie. I’ll see if we can connect Mesh+Reboot with a little live shared backchannel swarming.

Just a few of the people forward to seeing on this trip: Francesca, Riccardo, Stowe, Lee, Lars, Euan, Stephanie, Thomas Mygdal, Dianne, Magnus, Peter, Laurent, Rob… and about 500 others that I haven’t event met yet.

I’ll be pausing a few days in London on the way back (June 3 to 6th or 7th). I’ll be busy working during the day but if you are in that town lets connect. Francesca(who I think can’t actually make it to reboot) and I will be trying to organize a little meetup in London on the evening of Sunday the 3rd…

NextMEDIA coming in June


EnterpriseCamp has teamed up with NextMEDIA to cross-promote our events. nextMEDIA is happening June 8 – 10 in (gorgeous) Banff, AB. If I was out west in June, I’d definitely be at nextMEDIA.

nextMEDIA is where the world’s leading edge content creators, aggregators, and most influential solution-providers meet to develop key business relationships. Set in spectacular Banff, Alberta the conference (June 8 – 10, 2007) once again links schedules with The Banff World Television Festival (June 10 – 13, 2007) to take advantage of the synergies connecting these two media communities.

“Content” industries being among the most shaken up by new media forms and social means of production, distribution etc. Interesting times, and many opportunities ahead. You can Register for NextMEDIA here.

Enterprise 20 Conference and Camp happens of course May, 29 Toronto, and you can get tickets here: (update: only about 30 left for the whole day).

Where are we? Mobile Geolocation and Social Presence

Someone at a party the other night was trying to explain what you could do with geolocation on your phone. The conventional wisdom is, it would be “great” because if you are standing on street corner your phone could tell you the nearest pizza restaurant. Or it blink at you with “offers” from the nearest pizza restaurant .

No, I said, the killer app is not about where I am, it’s where my friends are. Sure, often times we don’t want to run in to each other, but sometimes we do. And when we do, it would be great to see who from my buddy list (my real buddy list) might be nearby and we could ping each other, want to meet up? or hey, the movie is about to start are you almost here? where are you?

We try to do this manually with social presence apps with twitter, or for the truly brave plazes. Once it gets easy enough, “social location” services will be huge, and may just be the missing piece in social presence we’ve been wondering about.

Businesses already make fairly extensive use of gps to track vehicle fleets and sometimes personnel, but the consumer/social applications are just scratching the surface. (of course lots of juicy privacy and location-based-gossip issues will be waiting for us…)

Thought Experiment: CommunityCamp

Rules of CommunityCamp:

Rule 1: You must actually have a vibrant community to present at CommunityCamp. Like, for real.
Rule 2: You are not allowed to present your own community at CommunityCamp
Rule 3: You must find an (unpaid/volunteer/enthusiastic) member of your community to present your Community/Application for you, explaining why -to them- your community is great/exciting/important, what they think it is, what they think is neat about it.
Rule 4: You are encouraged to provide all sorts of other commentary (but only stuff that isn’t obvious by inspection) such as metrics, lessons learned, future plans etc.
Rule 5: No Tag Clouds.

How to Save $150 or so a Year on Bank Fees

Here’s the tip that your Bank doesn’t want you to know about

step 1: Open a regular line of credit (got income? you qualify)
step 2: Attach the line of credit to your debit card in the “chequing account” slot
step 3: Change your payroll deposit and any pre-authorized debits to your line of credit account
step 4: Close your old chequing account, and never pay anymore bank fees.

A typical major bank (in this country) will charge you upwards fo $13/month for unlimited banking transactions (withdrawals, bill payments, debit payments, cheques etc.). However, they also tend to waive all of these exact same fees on line of credit accounts. To encourage borrowing (one supposes).

And guess what, lines of credit have all the properties of your chequing accounts including cheque writing (for people who still do that), ABM withdrawals, debits etc.

But here’s the kicker, lines of credit allow unlimited positive balances as well (that’s the part they don’t advertise).

You won’t earn interest on your positive balance, but heck you don’t on a chequing account these days either. So there’s no reason not to keep all of your (personal) banking in one account.

And as an added bonus, no overdraft fees, your cheques will always clear (assuming you don’t hit your credit limit) and the lowest interest you could get on any negative balances.

And if you do revolve credit from month to month, having one account will ensure that every cent of your money is minimizing your interest. Trust me, your Bank loves it when they can earn spread on some deposits you have in account while, at the same time, earning interest on your revolving credit in another account.

Why don’t the banks fix this? The last time (a few years ago) that I was looking at this very same issue for one of the big banks, the cost of changing the policy (as you can imagine expensive systems changes plus customer disclosures, staff retraining, brand impact, expected support calls etc. etc.) far exceeded the revenue leakage from the tiny segment of savvy customers who seemed to have it figured it out.

I know this works with CIBC, TD and probably your bank too. Ask your banker.

And yes, before you say it, switching to a discount bank like PCF, ING or a credit union and you can escape fees too. But, for reasons rational and otherwise, nearly 90% of the Canadian population keeps an account with one of the majors. So, if you like to keep your full service bank, this tip is for you.

And caveat #2, this doesn’t help you with those $1.50-$2.00 ABM surcharges, those fees aren’t charged by your bank (rather by 3rd parties or somebody else’s bank, depending on the machine).


I’ve decided to cover a little more on this blog about the world of the world of mystery that is retail banking and global electronic payments. It’s a subject, by accident of history, that I am steeped in. (Disclaimer, I’m not unbiassed. I still actively consult in this space so there some topics I’ll need to skate around for confidentiality reasons, some players I may always play with as they could be paying my rent in the present/future. And lastly some services out there I’ll always have a soft spot for (hint: Interac Email Money Transfers) as I may have once, er, invented them.

So without further ado, your quick, insider, personal-banking tip of the day… enjoy!

Upcoming shows and musical links

national on Thomas Purves Flickr streamThe National, last I caught them at Great American Music Hall, SF 2006.

# I do believe that this is the truth. Especially the bit about Wilco.

# M asked today if there are shows coming up locally soon, and indeed there are.

# MELIGROVE BAND 4-MAY-07 MOD CLUB (one of the best live shows I saw all last year)

# Tapes ‘n Tapes: 16-MAY-07, LEE’S

# The National: 5-JUN-07, OPERA HOUSE. Their new album is good in a quiet sort of way. Not the anthemic knock-the-roof-off-awesomeness of Aligator. But lovely music to sleep to, or wake to. Pretty girls (well at least one) seem to love this album, so you’ve got that going for it 🙂

# Lastly, if you’re looking to keep up with shows in Toronto, Rotate This keeps a good list, and don’t forget I’ve cobbled together for you an rss feed of this page as well for you which you can have for yourself by copying this secret address.

Toronto RSS Concert Updates

Reminder: Democamp 13 Tonight

DemoCamp is back with an all new format tonight and packing in the quality content. DemoCamp is the premier event for connecting with the tech community in Toronto. More info, and don’t forget to sign up on the wiki. (Also don’t forget to give Dave and Jay a big thanks, 13 times).

# Invited: Mike Beltzner Mozilla (15 minutes)
# Invited: Betsy Weber TechSmith (15 minutes)
# Break (10 minutes)
# Demos – 5 minutes each (these should not be sales demos)

* Opensource Game Platforms
* NotSoSo
* ViaVol
* ProductWiki
* Hosinux | Ad-Hoc Mobile Networks
* OpenID
* TeeVee
* Onyx-VJ

Venue: we’re back at No Regrets. Googly-x-marks-the-spot linky here. 6:30 is the time, but a few min earlier if you want a hope of catching seat and a full beer before the festivities begin.

Tag your photos and posts with DemoCamp, TorCamp and/or DemoCamp13

It begins, canada’s newest Wireless Carrier: Quebecor Canada’s newest Carrier

(At least in Quebec). It’s about time, and it had to happen. Pierre Peladeau, CEO of Quebecor just announced his intention to enter the wireless market in Quebec. With fighting words describing the existing “players in the cellphone industry as a three-headed oligopoly with no interest in providing customers with innovative products or competitive prices”

He even compares Canada’s wireless penetration (unfavorably with 3rd world countries). Clearly, Pierre has been reading my blog.

The government is currently wrapping up consultation on how to auction off the next tranche of spectrum.

Lets hope they do the right thing, and set the conditions for Quebecor – or any other new entrants to enter the market.

Better yet, just send it my way…. Who wants to start a wildly disruptive all flat-rate, all-voip, carrier in the rest of Canada with me?

I don’t think the timing could be any better for disrupting this industry. You’ve got a market that’s the second from most under-penetrated in the industrialized world. You’ve got all manner of exciting and disruptive change on the horizon from new technologies from voip, web and other data services. You’ve got three competitors laden with debt, setting an absurdly high price umbrella and all hhooked on their legacy voice minute revenue.
Bring it on.

Thanks to Kevin at the Seabord group for tipping me off to this story in the National Post today.

(this post originally composed in the departure lounge of terminal 3 in Toronto, which lacking any wifi, and any piratical mobile data option, here I am posting 8 hrs later. Sometimes this country feels like the stone age.)

How Tag Clouds Suck and struggling for an intelligent design of ‘Aboutness’

technorati suxSome time long ago, back when the last of the compact discs still roamed the earth, when Web 2.0 was first shimmying it’s glassy, bubbly, lime-green flippery toe out out of that primordial soup of long-shattered dotcom dreams, there was, at that time, The Tag Cloud.

And the Geeks saw the tag cloud. And the geeks said it was good.

And boy they were wrong about that. really wrong. And like Chlamydia, it spread.

Somehow this sexy-looking, but, -in reality- sordidly abused miscarriage of functional information design became the standard bearer of Web 2.0. Yep, pump up your form size elements, round those corners, slap tag Tag cloud on ‘er and you got yerself a Web 2.0 app.

So there was a reason. The reason is that tag clouds are supposed to convey a sense of “aboutness”. Oh are you new around here? here, take a glance at this, you can “see” what this place, person, blog, group, whatever is about by checking the tag cloud. Right…

But tag “clouds” suck. You can feel this is true in that pained space in your forebrain as your eyes grapple desperately to make sense of jumbled mess of disconnected semantics.

Tag clouds are like what if I said I was going to write this paragraph -but instead of in the regular order- I would put all of the words in alphabetical order instead. But then I’ll adjust the size of words I think are important in a highly arbitrary way. Wouldn’t that be awesome?!

I’ve not wanted to have to write this post for a long time. But people are *still* coming out with new sites loaded with tag clouds. So if you must have this feature to suggest “aboutness”, here’s what I would suggest (if this reminds you of there’s good reason, maybe the only sane tag using site on the internet)

Let’s take technorati’s data and replot it:

Tag cloud awesome

Hey now we can see not just what tags are more “about” this blog, but also in proper order, and by how much each differ. At a glance. If space is a premium, here’s how you might shave a few pixels and still convey all the data while squeezing it in a sidebar.

awesome cloud 2

Anyway, this is my best efforts. let me know if you have inspirations.

File under “Tag Clouds: the Mullets of Web Design or Ontological Venereal Affliction?”

Reactions to my wireless data piece. 24 hrs in

I had no idea this story would strike such a nerve:

1300+ diggs
10,000 visitors to this blog in the first hour
1,300 flickr views, and 18 favourites
185 comments on Digg
60+ comments and trackbacks on this site
50+ links from other blogs according to technorati

I’m amazed and impressed by the quality and volume of commentary the post has generated.

Some key points:

Apollo says: “Rogers has added a new data plan with the launch of its HSDPA network that is $210 for 500 MB.” (Note that this plan would take Rogers rates from 40x New Zealand prices to “only” 5x as expensive. hooray…)

Somebody started a petition.

A few people noted that the CRT C doesn’t regulate wireless in Canada. Which, if true, would clearly be part of the problem. We do know that it took an act of parliament to bring in number portability in Canada and that only years after it had been mandated in the US.

Barry provides the following very helpful advice on what you can do:

Thomas, I suggest you put this up at the top of this thread, may and be as an update to the original and post.
It’s easy to take action. So please do it. Here’s who you write to:
Email Maxime Bernier, Minister of Industry
Email the Prime Minister:
Find and email your member of parliament.

In addition my two cents: Historically, things were MUCH better. Only a few years ago you could get unlimited data for about $20/mo from Fido. This is gone. It was also available via Hiptop, as mentioned above. The interesting thing is that as the 3 (or 2 depending on how you look at it) companies that control all of Canada’s wireless communications realized they had an oligopoly they raised prices. Even SMS is 15 cents/message, while everywhere else in the world it averages 5 cents/message. We pay three times as much here as well. Please write your MP as well as the others above and let’s see if we can change things.

And many, many more comments over on the digg page.

Tickets now on sale for Enterprise 2.0 Conference, May 29, Toronto

e20Final speaker list is still being firmed up but the basic event website is now live at

Capacity is strictly limited and this event is going to sell out so get your tickets while you can. More details coming shortly on this site and the site on how to sign up to propose a workshop.

more about the event:

Anthony Williams, co-author of internationally renowned “Wikinomics” and a second keynote speaker (TBA) will be leading a breakfast seminar talking about “How Enterprise 2.0 is Changing Business”. From a top manager’s perspective, this session will explore how “social media” and new collaborative models are already changing business and what lies ahead for the future. Cost to participate $29 in advance $39 at the door (includes breakfast).

The morning program will be followed by an interactive Q&A session. Afterward, feel free to stick around for a day-long series of participant-led workshops.

Participants may register for one or both of the breakfast seminar and the day workshops.

Packed with examples from organizations that are walking the talk right now, these sessions will explore the role of the business and technology leaders implementing “2.0” in the enterprise. Specifically:

* Social networks and “community” in business
* Leveraging Wisdom from the edges of the organization
* Why social media are the future of communication.