Campaign for Government Transparency – Take the Pledge!


I came across an interesting new initiative launched by Jennifer Bell over at Visible Government the other day. The campaign website is and was started to encourage federal government transparency. It challenges both candidates and voters to take a pledge for the upcoming federal election.

Candidates are asked to commit to five key improvements in government transparency, they are as follows:

  1. Support reforms that increase government transparency and accountability.
  2. Make campaign promises specific and measurable, and report progress on promises and their metrics at least semi-annually.
  3. Publish the content of his or her daily schedule, including meetings with lobbyists and special interest groups.
  4. Support reforms allowing free access to scientific and survey data gathered by government institutions.
  5. Support reforms that make it easier for Canadians to obtain government information they have a right to know.

The campaign also calls on voters (measured separately) to register their support for the goal of increased transparency in their federal government.

When asked why she started this initiative, Jennifer Bell from Visible Government said:

“Few Canadians believe campaign promises, and even fewer know what their governments do on a day to day basis. Our goal is to open up government and let citizens see what their taxes are paying for”. Per capita, Canadians are the most web-savvy people in the world, yet our federal government isn’t using web 2.0 technologies to open up government to Canadians; It’s time to change this”.

I couldn’t agree with her more. As of September 25th, 2008,  51 candidates have signed up and 130 voters. What  I find particularly interesting, although not surprising, is that the candidates that signed up are either from the Green Party or the NDP.

How many Liberals so far? One. How many conservatives? Zero.

You’d think they’d have someone tracking the blogosphere for these kinds of things. Perhaps they do, but are focusing on responding only to big political blogs, which usually just beat their own drums or regurgitate campaign promises. Real democratic initiatives start small and are grassroots and organic in nature, like this one. They should not be ignored. For starters I challenge, David McGuinty (liberal) and Elie Salibi (conservative) from my Ottawa South riding to take the pledge. Let’s see if they are really listening…

Podcamp Montreal 2008 – Debrief

Those of you that have been reading this blog for a while now, know just how much of an avid supporter I am of the unconference movement. This week I was once again blown away by the quality of yet another PodCamp, this time in Montreal (Podcamp Montreal 2008). While I’m not a big fan of the name for numerous reasons (often alienates non-geeks among other things), I am inspired by the passion of speakers and quality of content each and every time I attend.

I’m going to attempt something a tad different with this post by not summarizing this year’s speeches. Instead I will provide you with a condensed list of my top takeaways, thoughts and/or notes from each presentation I attended over the last two days. Please note that more take-aways do not necessarily signify better content (and vice-versa). I benefited in one way or another from each and every presentation.

Please don’t suck! – Sylvain Grand’Maison

  • Be a storyteller when you present. Even boring stories can be made exciting!
  • The aggregate online persona of a person can often be richer than a face-to-face meeting.
The new music – Mitch Joel and David Usher
  • Vinyl sales are up for the first time in decades!
  • New mobile ring tone service providers play selected tracks in the background as you speak.
  • iTunes has officially started to outsell Walmart in terms of music
  • Cd’s are done…seriously, D-O-N-E.
  • Motley Crue songs have been selling through Xbox more than iTunes
  • Ratio of illegal to legal music is 40:1 !!!
  • The key to making something viral is emotion (ooh, ahh, hmm, ouch, hahah)
  • Need to make content that is valuable, personal, authentic, exciting, surprising, delightful
  • To build community you need to build on that emotion
  • Create ripples…social media marketing can be slow process…need to gain trust.
  • Tactical tips: Bring it inside, Make it a pilot program, Extend it appropriately
  • Start with a home base, don’t rely entirely on a 3rd party app as your home.
  • David Usher’s website uses photos generated entirely by his community (fed via rss)
  • Great sites to check out and
  • Yahoo Widgets allows you to create your own widgets quickly and for free.
Podcasting is dead – Rob Blatt
  • This session essentially turned into a debate about  nomenclature
  • Podcasting can be an adjective or a noun –> A true podcast is both in my opinion.
  • Just because someone claims to have a Podcast doesn’t mean they are actually “podcasting”
  • Site to check out:
  • My key take-away: Podcasting is alive and will only get bigger.
Creating a Podcast : Community Divas Live! – Eden Spodek and Connie Crosby
  • It’s very important to leverage the existing community and always keep learning about podcasting once you start podcasting yourself.
  • Friendfeed allows you to create special community rooms
  • A Facebook Group shows the group creator, while a Facebook Page does not.
Using Twitter to build and monitor your personal brand – Adele McAlear
  • Create a background image in Twitter that has your contact info
  • Use Twurl to shorten, monitor and track clickthroughs of your URL’s
  • Check out for stats
  • Get 3rd party apps by going to
  • A great tool to filter your followers is Twitter Karma
  • If you have multiple people responding under a single Twitter profile, make it clear on your main page!
  • Use hashtags only at the end of your tweets
  • Twitter has a sleep function if you need to silence someone for a few days without deleting them
  • Check out
  • Check out (another URL shortener)
  • Use Twitscoop for some added functionality apparently not included in Tweetdeck
Media past, present & future – Jay Moonah
  • Go to right now and help educate the public about proper search engine use.
  • 3 main sacrifices that are mutually exclusive: time, quality, money.
  • People will always like serendipity…
  • My own side note–>Personally, I would go so far as to argue that the vast majority don’t want choice! They like information clearly simplified and analyzed for them by experts. Hence why CNN, BBC, CBC – The National are so successful. We shouldn’t be frustrated that more people aren’t social media savvy like us, we should use it to personal our advantage or better yet, to change the world!
De l’utilisation des bons outils en baladodiffusion – Michel Dumais
  • Sound recording, mixing and playback devices have gone wayyyy down in price.
  • We can sound like a professional studio for under $200.
  • There is plenty of choice out there, depending of course on your budget and needs
LibriVox, the richness of audio – Hugh McGuire
Podcasting from the heart – Mitch Joel & CC Chapman
  • Train yourself to stop saying “umm” and “ah”…it can be done.
  • When an interviewee stops responding, keep quiet….what they say next is best.
  • Use “levelator” to level the sound audio on your podcasts
  • M-audio track recorders can cost less than $200
  • User-generated content started with cave wall drawings.
  • is a new microblogging alternative to Twitter
  • Use to take notes. It let’s you clip things.
The game of trust – Julien Smith
  • Excellent discussion on effectively using social media to build trust, without abusing it.
  • New book in the works by Julien Smith and Chris Brogan: Trust Agents
Social Media & Government…- Me (Mike Kujawski)
  • My main take away from my own presentation (based on the discussion) was that the government needs to get out of silos and start working together as one entity. There is a ton of existing internal support for better citizen engagement and there are high-level public service renewal initiatives currently underway that social media engagement can easily piggy back on.  I have decided to organize something in Ottawa to address this. Stay tuned…

I should point out that as is often the case, some of the best PodCamp discussions occurred in the lobby. While I didn’t get a chance to have lengthy discussions with everyone in person, the few discussions that I did have were extremely valuable (you know who you are). So that about wraps it up.  Be sure to go to the PodCamp Montreal website, where you can watch some of the presentations that were recorded live on video! Thanks again to all the organizers!

Upcoming Social Media Events

Although I realize my readership base is internationally dispersed, I thought it would still be beneficial to encourage those of you in my area (Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal) to attend at least one of the many social media events on the horizon. For those of you in other parts of the world, be sure to look for similar conferences in your area, or better yet, organize your own! Note that the first two specifically focus on the public sector.


BarCampGov (Ottawa)

Date: September 5, 2008

Official Blurb: A great chance for Government of Canada employees to get together and talk about what they’re doing with social media and new technologies. Take the opportunity to meet others in communications, marketing, web development, design (and any other job description) to find some inspiration, some motivation and help build a community.

My Take: As a long-time government contractor and supporter of public sector marketing advancement, I am definitely looking forward to attending.  We have a rapidly growing social media community here in Ottawa, and a great big chunk of it is comprised of government employees. Why? Well, for starters, we’re a government town, but besides that , government service delivery is simply destined to be significantly affected by Social Media, it already is. Don’t believe me? Be there on September 5th and see for yourself.

Location: The Code Factory: 246 Queen Street, Second Floor, Between Bank and Kent. On the south side of Queen above the Green Papaya on the second floor.

Cost: $10

Social Media for Government Conference (Ottawa)

Date: September 15-18, 2008

Official Blurb: This conference has been researched with and designed for federal, provincial and municipal government managers, directors, analysts, leaders, officers, administrators, specialists, advisors, coordinators, staff, assistants & consultants involved in nearly every function of government. Several organizations are making dramatic strides in developing approaches and systems that work for them. The periodic sharing of these experiences and “best practices” is an important element in this social media evolution. That is why this forum, presented by the Advanced Learning Institute, is such a valuable opportunity to hear perspectives and share experiences of other professionals engaged in the “journey.”

My Take: At first I was a little hesitant about an American organization (Advanced Learning Institute) coming to Ottawa to teach Public Sector Professionals how to leverage social media. That being said, upon looking at the conference schedule, numerous familiar faces popped-up, which means that ALI basically chooses local experts as presenters in order to ensure relevancy to the audience. I do still feel it’s a bit pricey for the Ottawa market but hopefully it’s a success. The more we teach government how to use this stuff the better. Even if it’s just a few departments at a time.

Location: Delta Ottawa Hotel and Suites, 361 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario

Cost: $1699+

PodCamp (Montreal)

Date: September 20-21, 2008

Official Blurb: This is a two-day podcasting and new media conference. PodCamp Montreal is based on a model which has been successfully implemented in cities such as Toronto, Boston, New York, Chicago, Perth and Berlin. Participants will include new media enthusiasts and professionals specializing in blogging, podcasting, Facebook, YouTube and social networking. PodCamp Montreal’s volunteer organizing committee includes some of Montreal’s top podcasting and social media specialists, such as Sylvain Grand’Maison, Julien Smith, Bob Goyetche, Mitch Joel, Jean-François Blais, Laurent LaSalle, Laurent Maisonnave, Hugh McGuire, Harold Boeck and Michelle Sullivan.

My Take: If you’re even remotely interested in the new media landscape, this is simply a must-attend event.  What I love the most about the PodCamp format is the job diversity of people that attend. You get everything from techies to marketers, from entrepreneurs to hobbyists, from business executives to public sector professionals…they’re all there. Best of all, this conference is collaboratively organized, allowing it to be free of charge, while at the same time gathering high quality speakers. Take a look at the PodCamp Montreal Schedule if you’re still unsure if this event is right for you. I will be making a presentation on current best practices and lessons learned in federal government social media engagement. I hope to see you all there!

Location: Pavillon de Design de l’UQAM.: 1440 Rue Sanguinet, Montréal, QC

Cost: Free

Mixx Canada Full-Day Conference (Montreal)

Date: October 6, 2008

Official Blurb: Knowing that the Interactive Media advertising landscape is changing at a faster rate every year, the new IAB Canada MIXX Canada Conference Series is designed to keep marketers and advertisers ahead of the curve, by focusing on leading-edge speakers, from both within Canada and around the globe.

My Take: IAB events are always a great networking opportunity and very informative. They tend to lean more towards the online advertising side as opposed to “strategic” marketing, however that comes as no surprise seeing as how they are put on by the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada. I have only ever attended the annual IAB Roadshows , however this year I made sure to register for the full-day conference. I should point out that this conference will also be held in Toronto a week prior to the Montreal event. Why am I going to the MTL one instead? I simply love “Beautiful Montreal” (as I’m sure Mitch Joel would agree).

Location: Montréal Marriott Château Champlain, 1 Place du Canada

Cost: $200 IAB Members;$275 Non-Members

So there you have it, four local and relevant conferences to attend over the next 9 weeks. The landscape sure has changed from a few years ago when Web 2.0 conferences were something you’d hear about once in a blue moon or through a thick grapevine!