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Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes part in a closing press conference following the G8 Summit in Deauville, France on Friday, May 27, 2011. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper takes part in a closing press conference following the G8 Summit in Deauville, France on Friday, May 27, 2011. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Who is shaping Canada's digital future? Anyone? Add to ...

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's official Twitter feed is a lesson in what not to do on the micro-messaging site if you want to make friends. The stream is essentially a bragging platform for how awesome the Harper government is, replete with stodgy press releases condensed into 140 characters or less, all containing little to no personality. While U.S. president Barack Obama also relies on his Twitter feed to broadcast information, at least there are a few gems such as this human-like tweet with video to back it up.

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@BarackObama - I believe we can live within our means and live up to our shared values - and I'll work with anyone willing to get it done.http://OFA.BO/Ddt9 Ever since President Obama entered the White House, it's clear that he values his country's digital future. Not only was he the first world leader to truly leverage the power of grassroots communities online to help him win the presidential election in 2008, in February he made a visit to Northern California where he held a private dinner with tech leaders, including Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Just last week, he appointed Twitter CEO Dick Costolo to the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC).



Across the pond French President Nicolas Sarkozy is following suit, putting the Web on the agenda at the G8. Leading up the meeting he played host to a two-day event called the eG8, the first forum of its kind where tech leaders and digital influencers met to talk about the Internet's future. Although there were many critics of the event, including boingboing's Cory Doctorow who declined an invitation explaining "it's a whitewash, an attempt to get people who care about the Internet to lend credibility to regimes that are in all-out war with the free, open net," at least the act of launching a platform for discussion gives people a voice.

As for Canada, as far as I can tell we had no significant presence at the eG8. Sure, we are short on young Zucks in this country but we are still one of the most connected populations in the world as far as Internet usage (although this is declining), particularly when it comes to social networking. I am proud as I watch technology companies flourish here, particularly the many small innovative companies that dominate the mobile space, but I have lost faith in our digital fate as political leaders here seem to frequently side with businesses rather than consumers.

There are beacons of hope, but they aren't on Parliament Hill. Instead, they are from within organizations such OpenMedia.ca, a group that strives to maintain Internet openness and fights to keep this topic on our government's agenda. This organization is also doing an excellent job informing Canadians about important issues such as usage-based billing and highlighting the need for "fast, affordable, and ubiquitous Internet service to all Canadians."

While I applaud OpenMedia.ca, I want to see more from Harper's government. There must be more open dialogue about our digital future and more effort put toward re-establishing Canada as an Internet leader. However, let's be honest, if our current Prime Minister and his colleagues can't even understand the basic principles of Twitter and other social networks, we've a long way to go.

Follow on Twitter: @ambermac

 

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