I Still Remember The First Time that I Saw Public Enemy…
Note: This post is an edited version of the introductory section of a paper (Internet Governance and the Informational Economy: Challenges and Opportunities*) that I presented at the International Studies Association Annual Conference 2012 (San Diego, California, USA) as part of the panel “Perspectives on Global Governance and the Internet”, 2 April 2012. For a full copy of this paper, please contact me (@joefturcotte or firstname.lastname@example.org).
From 3-14 December 2012 the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) will convene the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT). This conference and the ongoing preparatory meetings of the ITU throughout 2012 could have far reaching consequences for the international governance of the Internet and, in turn, the burgeoning digital informational economy. The WCIT process includes a review of the International Telecommunications Regulation (ITRs) treaty that was signed in 1989. That this treaty was created long-before the impressive growth of the Internet as a facilitator for rapid technological and social change necessitates contemporary action to ensure that global Internet governance meets the challenges and opportunities of the Digital Era.
However, as is evident from a column from Robert M. McDowell, a commissioner from the United States’ (US) Federal Communication Commission (FCC), this process will be far from simple. According to McDowell (2012), the WCIT process could “upend the Internet’s flourishing regime…[which has]…insulated the Internet from economic and technical regulation and quickly [become] the greatest deregulatory success of our time.”
It is hard to argue with McDowell regarding the Internet’s success as a medium for economic growth, social and cultural transformation as well as global democratic engagement. Since its launch in the mid-
1980s and through its rapid development in the 1990s and early 2000s, the Internet has facilitated seemingly unprecedented changes in the economic, social, cultural and political realms.
However, has been pointed out, the Internet’s rapid growth has been far from unproblematic. While helping to usher in a number of beneficial results, the Internet has also enabled illicit activities as well as technological and social changes that have called into question traditional social, economic and business modes of practice. The double-edged sword that is the ongoing development of the Internet requires coordinated global responses to Internet governance in order to stimulate beneficial and sustainable growth the world over.
The fractured international governance system of the post-Global Financial Crisis (GFC) era makes coordinating states with varying domestic priorities and perspectives increasingly difficult. Mirroring the deadlocks found in the Doha Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) trade talks, differing perspectives and priorities amongst Western countries, most noticeably in the United States and Europe, and between their rising counterparts, such as China and India, have made global cooperation and coordination elusive. Amidst this backdrop, cleavages between developed and developing countries are spilling into the realm of international Internet governance and complicating efforts for forging a harmonized front.
Various states within the international system are seeking different goals for Internet governance within the informational economy. Countries at varying levels of development and social stability have divergent perspectives on key issues including the intersection(s) of intellectual property (IP), privacy and security as they relate to global economic growth and development. Domestic and transnational industries and corporations seek different levels and types or protection while a host of civil society groups and actors seek to protect rights-based freedoms for the global citizenry by contributing to policy processes.
Technological and social changes are calling into question traditional and historic conceptions of IP, privacy and security, creating both opportunities and challenges for economic innovation and cultural creativity for developed and developing peoples alike. Therefore, there is a need to devise democratic and equitable forms of Internet governance that account for the heterogenous nature of the global system and protect and promote sustainable economic development while attending to the needs of various social and cultural communities as well as actors.
Meeting the global nature of these challenges and capitalizing upon the promises offered by the Digital Era and the informational economy while respecting normative and rights-based claims requires international harmonization and coordination. The aftermath of the GFC illustrates that sovereign state are incapable of drafting or enforcing national/domestic laws to confront these problems on their own.
The challenges and opportunities facing Internet governance for the digital informational economy highlight the need for coordinated mechanisms to promote and protect balanced governance of the Internet. Three interrelated issue-areas – intellectual property, privacy and security – demonstrate this with respect to Internet governance and the informational economy and centre around technological and social changes that are disrupting traditional notions of access (or openness) and control.
In the global arena, developed and developing states as well as private and public actors from industry and civil society need to be taken into account when formulating international Internet governance mechanisms. To do so, a multi-stakeholder approach for Internet governance that compliments existing international forums while generating and reinforcing common norms for global economic growth and stability as well as rights-based protections based on democratic frameworks.
The creation, promotion and dissemination of core Internet Governance Principles under the auspices of the existing international system will allow the myriad international bodies involved in Internet governance to harmonize their efforts towards promoting globally sustainable socio-economic growth and development.
For more information see:
* This paper has been funded in part by grants from the Canadian Media Research Consortium and the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, the York University Graduate Students’ Association Conference Fund, and CUPE 3903 Professional Development Fund.
Recently, prior to a highly contested by-election in Calgary-Centre, two prominent Liberal MPs effectively shot the party in the foot. Both David McGuinty (MP for Ottawa South) and Justin Trudeau (MP for Papineau and presumptive favourite in the ongoing Liberal leadership campaign) had to address comments that they made, which were perceived as being ‘anti-Alberta’.
At a time when the financial power of the Canadian federation is moving westward, these comments hurt a party that has long been thought to hold a bias towards Central Canada.
Recognizing the importance of Albertans for the future success of the Liberal Party, both men responded fast. McGuinty was forced to apologize and resign from his role as energy critic, while Trudeau made a quick apology and clarification of his remarks. Either way, though, the governing Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) has yet to let them off of their respective hooks.
The Harper Government is now pressing to have both McGuinty and Trudeau appear before the House Natural Resources Committee to explain their remarks. While this may or may not come to pass, it appears that the CPC may be running scared.
Justin Trudeau’s presence in the Liberal leadership campaign seems to have lifted the party’s fortunes, as some polls show a Trudeau-led Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) competing to win the next federal election. Having finally secured his sought after majority, Prime Minister Harper seemed to have lifted his foot off of the pedal that had been firmly in campaign mode during his time in 24 Sussex Drive.
Now, with a seemingly resurgent Liberal Party, Harper and the Conservatives seem to be back into campaign mode.
PM Harper’s previous Liberal opponents were deluged by a storm of hard-nosed advertisements. Both Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff were battered by aggressive advertisements from the Conservative Party. Comparatively, the New Democrat Party (NDP) Leader of the current Official Opposition, Tom Mulcair, has had to deal with relatively tame attacks as the Harper Government seemed to turn their attention to, well, governing.
The Government’s attempts to bring the two Liberal MPs to task seem to demonstrate two things: 1) Harper’s resolve to break the Liberal Party remains intact, and, 2) the CPC might be taking Trudeau’s, and the LPC’s, bump in the polls seriously. The Harper Government seems to be going to great pains to cast the LPC as anti-Alberta and, in doing so, has opened itself up to criticisms over past anti-Canadian statements. This stands in stark contrast to the soft-glove approach that the NDP received after moving into Stornoway.
The CPC may be doing themselves a disservice by opening up their own members to criticism and apparently discounting the Official Opposition NDP. What is apparent though, is that the Harper Government will go to great pains to paint the Liberals and Trudeau as anti-Alberta in order to sow longstanding beliefs about the party.
All things considered, if Trudeau continues to do well in the Liberal leadership campaign and in the voting preferences of Canadians, it looks like the Harper Government might move back into perpetual campaign mode in order to take as much wind out of his and the party’s sails as possible.
That, unfortunately, may lead to poor policy decisions that will hurt the governance of Canada and the Canadian public’s interests.
Earlier today Mark Goldberg posed an interesting question on his blog and Twitter: “Will Liberal leadership race advance digital economy issues?”
Mark’s comments fall on the day that George Takach, a prominent Toronto lawyer and Osgoode Hall professor who specializes in technology issues, has entered the Liberal leadership race; and comes a day after Dr Marc Garneau, Canada’s first man in space, announced his long-anticipated campaign to lead the party. Judging by the backgrounds of both men, technology-related issues will likely become front-and-centre issues going forward.
That these two men will (likely) be pushing ideas to allow Canada to capitalize upon the burgeoning ‘informational’ and/or ‘knowledge-based’ economy is most welcomed in these quarters. With the current Harper Government having failed to release a much-needed ‘Digital Economy Strategy’ (although the latest word has this plan being released before year’s end), Canada is failing to build upon its historic success in information and knowledge-based industries.
Takach and Dr Garneau should give some limelight to these issues and help move public debate, and government policy, forward. For his part, Takach is proposing ambitious proposals including a ‘Digital Bill of Rights’. Discussions over the digital future of Canada, including the rights of Canadian citizens as well as the social and economic benefits to Canadian industry, are integral for developing a comprehensive roadmap for the future of this country.
Recent debates over usage based billing and other matters have demonstrated that digital issues are popular and important for younger Canadians. With neither the Conservative nor the NDP leading on this front, the Liberal Party has an opportunity to engage a group of citizens that are prone to shun established political mechanisms. At a time when the Party is reaching out to a new group of Canadian ‘supporters’, tapping into digital issues can be a bridge to attract a new and younger generation of Canadians into the Liberal’s ‘Big Red Tent’.
Justin Trudeau, the presumed frontrunner in the Liberal leadership race, is making a point of reaching out to younger Canadians. With Takach, and to a lesser-extent Garneau, leading the way on digital issues it will be important for Trudeau to speak to these issues in order to galvanize the new coalition of previously unengaged voters whose support he needs and seeks.
If the Liberal leadership debate does, at least to a certain extent, ‘go digital’ it will benefit the Party as well as the country.
Having had listened to the Sam Roberts Band’s new album, Collider, for the past few days on a loop, it brought me back to this interview. The usual caveats apply. PDF available by clicking article title.
The Cord Weekly
31 May 2006
Reluctant rock star Sam Roberts caps the year off at the Turret
Sam Roberts’ strained voice speaks for itself, cementing the fact that staging the “Mother of All Tours” is no easy task. In between setting-up in order to rock WLUSU’s Year-End Party, Roberts sat down and spoke with the Cord about the rigors of touring and the rock ‘n roll lifestyle.
“I’m in preservation mode right now, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” a tired and raspy-voiced Roberts said. “It’s just about trying to keep going, man. There’s no recovery time, we get one or two days off. Touring is deadly, man; touring is hard as hell. Touring is the hardest thing.”
But while the schedule may be grueling, the Canadian singer-song writer has no regrets, as he realizes that touring is essential.
“Anytime you put out a new record there’s only a few ways to promote it. There are interviews There are interviews and the press, but you’re not really in control of that. Then you have the marketing strategies that your labels devise, and then you have shows, which to me [are] the best way to get your point across and the only way where you’re ever fully in control.”
While he remains in control over performing, Roberts acknowledges that he loosened-up on the reins when recording his newest album, Chemical City. Instead of personally performing all the instruments and later assembling the tracks in the studio,
as he did for 2003’s We Were Born in a Flame, Roberts and his band assembled in Australia and recorded together.
“It was good not to be alone in the studio, that’s a pretty lonely existence. [This way] you have five people propping up the energy
of the record, instead of one person trying to carry it all on his shoulders. I don’t know if great rock and roll has ever come from
that,” the increasingly excited Roberts said.
When speaking about his music, Roberts speaks like a father talking about his children. That being said, Roberts doesn’t want to take anything away from his major label debut by comparing it to Chemical City.
“I’m really happy with the first record. It meant that I was starting off down the road. I don’t ever want to take away from it by comparing it to what I’m doing now. But your musical instinct is to pursue different musical avenues. Different approaches to
your song writing and the lyrical content, anything. You should never try to consciously direct what you’re doing.”
And while he was writing for the new album, Roberts admits that sometimes his musical inspiration seemed to come from unconscious sources.
“Sometimes you feel like a medium, that you’re channeling something from beyond. And then sometimes it’s very much something that you have to work at. You have to sculpt a raw idea. You take that and hope that you can make something, but that
takes a lot of work,” the ever-humble Roberts revealed with a smile.
For someone that has had so much success and has had so many lofty comparisons made about his music, Roberts’ humility
While Chemical City is bound to be a smash success, Roberts is reluctant to acknowledge the comparisons to legends like Bob Dylan and John Lennon that the media often makes.
“I don’t think it necessarily reflects reality. They’re two of my idols for sure, people that I look up to as songwriters. Their music
inspires me, but it inspires a whole lot of other people too. I think every musician would love to be compared to Dylan and Lennon, but that doesn’t mean they measure up at all. It doesn’t make it a fact.”
But like Dylan and Lennon, Roberts’ music is more than just catchy hooks and inviting melodies. Chemical City has been described as a response to the urban decay that the band has witnessed first hand while touring.
“We don’t just play the 10 to 12 major cities in Canada, we go everywhere. When you put it all together [the album] has this feeling to it in a way. The songs we write are a reflection of the life we live and the places that we see. For me I’m very much rooted in an urban landscape every day. But I’m not obsessed with it or anything. ‘Mind Flood’ is very much set in Algonquin Park or some place like that. That’s where I see that song.”
While Roberts admits that some of his songs may look as though they have a social agenda, he is quick to dismiss the idea the
he explicitly tries to be political or push an agenda.
“I never want to tailor what I do to a certain crowd,” Roberts admits, “if I’m political or socially conscious it’s because that’s how
I feel. I don’t want it to be like I’m getting on my soap-box or anything.”
As a Canadian who has had the fortune to travel from coast to coast, Roberts’ music is an expression of the diversity of the
Canadian landscape. Nuanced and complex, Roberts’ music does not take well to being defined in simple terms. With Canada seemingly conquered, Roberts sees the next logical step as taking his music to the United States.
“I want to push my music as far and wide as possible,” an excited Roberts beamed.
He does seek some sort of validation from the scene in the States, “I do feel that, for sure. Not because it’s a matter of pride or anything like that. But at some point you have to expand your boundaries and push your horizons. That just leads to a longer
and healthier career. It’s not a personal thing like ‘I have to conquer the States.’ It’s just the next place to go, it’s right there and there are 300 million people who just love rock and roll music.”
Although Roberts is looking to take the next step to the United States, he still feels proud to be part of the burgeoning Canadian
“I think there’s a lot of great bands who are all gifted in their own right working right now,” Roberts acknowledged while deflecting away any talk of being responsible for the success of the Canadian music industry. “No, no, I don’t think we were in any way at all responsible for it. I think they’re all tremendous bands who are doing their own thing.”
While Roberts may be reluctant to be seen as more than just another artist doing what he loves to do, he is viewed by many as a
premier member of the Canadian rock music community. And if the Canadian success of Chemical City is reciprocated in the United States, maybe this rock and roller from Montreal will become an international sensation.