Smart Phones, New Politics

Purple Forge Ottawa Citizen – Smart Phones, New Politics


Ottawa University #8 in Research Income in 2008

Research Infosource published a report titled “Canada’s Top 50 Research Universities List 2009 Analysis“.

researchuni Ottawa University came in #8… unfortunately Carleton University didn’t make the list.

Pharmaceuticals to Replace Telecom as Canada’s Top R&D Spenders?

RESEARCH Infosource released a report last week titled “Canada’s Top 100 Corporate R&D Spenders List 2009 Analysis

Canada’s communications/telecom sector was the number one R&D spend – with 2008 research spending on associated products and services representing 40% of total industrial R&D.  Of the top 100 R&D performers, 15 were from the communications/telecom sector.


In 2008, Nortel was the number one R&D spender.   Nortel spent more on R&D than number 2 Bell and number 3 Magna combined.

Next year’s report will likely see the pharmaceutical sector replace communications/telecom products as the leading performer of R&D in Canada.  According to RESEARCH Infosource –

The full effect of the deteriorating world economy will be reflected in next year’s Fiscal 2009 corporate R&D spending results. It is hard to envisage better overall performance than in 2008. For one thing, it appears that Canada’s perpetual R&D spending leader (Nortel Networks) will be absent from the list in 2009. In consequence, total corporate R&D spending will undoubtedly be affected – in a downward direction.

The full report from RE$EARCH Infosource is available here and is worth reading.

Key Economic Indicators

CIBC publishes two documents that provide a good summary of key economic indicators for US and Canada:

The Economist publishes weekly indicators.

BMO publishes three reports:

US at 17.5% Unemployed and Underemployed

The New York Times published  an article on November 6th that talked to the point that the “broader measure of unemployment stands at 17.5%“.

The 17.5% rate includes the officially unemployed, who have looked for work in the last four weeks. It also includes discouraged workers, who have looked in the past year, as well as millions of part-time workers who want to be working full time.

The actual rate of underemployment may be even higher since the official government definitions and measures of unemployment miss other underemployment cases.

According to wikipedia, in economics, the term underemployment has three different distinct meanings and applications. All meanings involve a situation in which a person is working, unlike unemployment, where a person who is searching for work cannot find a job.   Underemployment can mean:

  1. The employment of workers with high skill levels in low-wage jobs that do not require such abilities, for example a trained medical doctor who works as a taxi driver.
  2. “Involuntary part-time” workers — workers who could (and would like to) be working for a full work-week but can only find part-time work. By extension, the term is also used in regional planning to describe regions where economic activity rates are unusually low, due to a lack of job opportunities, training opportunities, or due to a lack of services such as childcare and public transportation.
  3. “Overstaffing” or “hidden unemployment”, the practice in which businesses or entire economies employ workers who are not fully occupied—for example, workers currently not being used to produce goods or services due to legal or social restrictions or because the work is highly seasonal.

Former U.S. labour secretary Robert Reich has said that he believes the Unofficial U.S. jobless rate could be as high as 20%.


Social Networking + Mobile = Next Killer App

Morgan Stanley recently published data on key economy and internet trends.  The presentation is available online at various locations, including SlideShare below:

Some key highlights:
  • Mobile internet usage will be bigger than most think
  • Apple Mobile share should suprise on upside near-term
  • Next generation platforms (social networking + mobile) driving unprecedented change in communications + commerce

Social “Things” and E-democracy

Social networks and services offer interesting possibilities for the future of e-democracy.

E-democracy is a combination of the words “electronic” and democracy.”  E-democracy represents the use of information and communication technologies and strategies by democratic actors within political and governance processes of local communities, nations and on the international stage. Democratic actors/sectors include governments, elected officials, the media, political organizations, and citizen/voters.

To many, e-democracy suggests greater and more active citizen participation enabled by the Internet, mobile communications, and other technologies in today’s representative democracy as well as through more participatory or direct forms of citizen involvement in addressing public challenges.

E-democracy is a relatively new concept, which has surfaced out of the popularity of the internet and the need to reinvigorate interest in the democratic process. Access is the key to creating interest in the democratic process. Citizens are more willing to use Web sites to support their candidates and their campaign drives. In the United States just over half of the population vote, and in the United Kingdom only 69% of English citizens do so.

The goal of e-democracy is to reverse the cynicism citizens have about their government institutions.   A key element of moving towards e-democracy is increasing the ability of citizens to engage their representatives to share their suggestions and opinions in a dynamic manner.

E-democracy is the first step in moving towards participatory democracy.

Participatory democracy, is a process emphasizing the broad participation of constituents in the direction and operation of political systems.   Participatory democracy strives to create opportunities for all members of a political group to make meaningful contributions to decision-making, and seeks to broaden the range of people who have access to such opportunities. Because so much information must be gathered for the overall decision-making process to succeed, technology may provide important forces leading to the type of empowerment needed for participatory models, especially those technological tools that enable community narratives and correspond to the accretion of knowledge.

Both e-democracy and participatory democracy will evolve in steps.   Each day we see government organizations providing more and more information and services online.   We also see politicians’ increasingly reaching out to their constituents with new and emerging tools such as Twitter and Facebook to share information and solicit opinions.

New technologies will be a major factor in helping us collectively move towards e-democracy and participatory democracy — for example the widespread use and increasing adoption of online tools such as  social bookmarking, social networks, social media are increasingly popula — and point to future possibilities for e-democracy.

I believe the evolution,  adoption and proliferation of these new e-democracy and participatory democracy technologies will be driven by a new breed of politicians.

Political candidates looking to unseat incumbents will increasingly look towards e-democracy and participatory democracy as a means to reach out and engage disenfranchised voters and constituents.   Using new technologies will allow these candidates to talk directly to what is important, to hear both the “silent majority”, as well as the “vocal minority”.   Incumbent politicians, stuck in the old ways of engaging constituents and votes may well find themselves swept away by more progressive and innovative candidates.    The beginning of meaningful e-democracy and participatory democracy will start at the polls in the coming elections.