I am not your "ally"

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1530599986302{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]I am not your ally because we are not on separate teams.  If you are fighting inequity and social injustice then we are now and have always been on the same team.  Inequality and injustice affects us all as a society and it is the job of everyone to work towards a just, ethical and peaceful community.
If you distrust everyone whose birth parents come in a different colour than yours or whose life path has been different than yours, belongs to a different faith group, who may not have had the same challenges. or whose gender identity and preferences are different than yours–then I can’t help you with that prejudice you are nursing and I won’t waste my time on a cause that is not grounded on inclusion.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”7854″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1530601122250{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]When you identify some people as outsiders only able to act as secondary “allies” you are trivializing whole groups of people as mere “sidekicks”, shushing them with “check your privilege” when viewpoints differ, or the perspective of the outsider challenges the cherished beliefs of your inner circle.  Your cause ends up weakened by dismissing the contributions that could be made by people from outside your race/nationality/religion/gender expression.  Understanding is a two-way street and as much as I want to listen to you, you have to listen to me for us to understand each other.  If you demand the right to speak without obligation to also listen, you will not gain allies, you will isolate yourself and your cause, intellectually, politically, and economically.
There is more in common in the human experience than the narrow view of identity politics admits and the power of empathy allows human beings to transcend the limits of personal experience. It is the super-power of humanity to be able to see things through the eyes of the other.  When we trust in that ability and work through to common ground, we accomplish great things. The truth of what is being said should always be more important than the identity of the speaker.  There is no racial or cultural copyright on the truth.
We also cannot forget that often the weakest of us are oppressed by members of their own culture. When we give undue privilege to self-appointed spokespeople because of historic injustice against a group they claim to speak for, we can inadvertently abandon those without power to continued oppression. When no one within a community can speak up, someone from outside needs to do so and it is time we stopped shushing those outsiders speaking truth to insider power.
This is a time when some frightening forces are rising in the world with the goal of fascist oppression of many of us and the first tool of fascists is the creation of racial, tribal, religious and gender divides. Why would we want to help with that process by weakening and dividing social justice fighters?
One of the things that puzzle me the most is why so many social activists meekly stand by and accept this divisive climate of identity politics. We’ve never caved so easily. There’s always been people trying to silence dissent within progressive movements. I remember people turning off microphones or ignoring questions from the floor or otherwise rigging debate from my earliest days of social action, but that just made dissenters angrier and louder until all voices were heard. Finding common ground and building coalitions is hard, noisy, untidy work. Even with the best intentions consensus tends to need constant work and repair. But it is what we have to do if we are to succeed in defending human rights in this era where they are under attack everywhere. Have we grown too lazy and complacent to do the work? I hope not.
Now, more than ever before it is true that “United we stand. Divided we fall.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

#MeToo is only one symptom of what is ailing the arts workplace

No one working in the Arts has failed to cheer the fresh air blowing in the window in the wake of the #MeToo movement but there is also a ripple of disquiet about what’s NOT being said about the atmosphere that has allowed abusive environments to flourish and the broader subject of abuse and bullying in the sector. 

Continue reading

"I'm Not the Indian you are thinking about" at Harbourfront

Michael Crabb reports today in the Toronto Star on “I’m Not the Indian you are thinking about” from Red Sky.

Since I first worked with Sandra and Carlos at Red Sky in 2003 on “Caribou Song” while serving as General Manager at Soundstreams Canada, I have admired their choice in projects and their voice in Canada in dispelling stereotypes about native people.

There is actually a lot of vested interests on both sides in keeping those stereotypes alive but until we move past them we really can’t have understanding nor begin to work together on the social justice problems that we’d all like to see addressed effectively.

Bread and Roses Life, L. Rogers

Speaking up on behalf of aboriginal children

Today the Winnepeg Free Press reported that “Child rights’ advocates are hoping to shame the federal government into improving the treatment of aboriginal children.The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and the ecumenical group KAIROS are asking the United Nations to ensure that Ottawa gives the same services to aboriginal children as it does to other Canadians.

In a report prepared for the United Nations committee on the rights of the child, the groups say government funding for health, education and child welfare is much lower on reserves than off.

As a result, they say native kids often lack the basic necessities of life.

They point out that Canada signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and its performance is under review right now.

When I served on the Lieutenant Governor’s Steering Committee on Aboriginal literacy, I saw first hand the problems faced by Canada’s First Nations children. One of the first things I learned was that money was only a part of the problem. The fact that funding lags behind educational and social welfare funding for children in the rest of the province is a crime that must be addressed but in order for those dollars to be targeted and used accountably, there has to be an untangling of bureaucratic snarls and more transparency.

One of the truths that I came to understand while meeting with representatives of band councils while developing the first summer literacy day camps, and spending last season working with Equay-wuk (Women’s Circle) is that liberal white guilt about children’s welfare in First Nations colludes with right-wing priorities to result in a “do-nothing” outcome. Well-meaning child welfare advocates too often allow themselves to be silenced because they feel that as white people, they cannot address First Nations issues, even when they know that education or child welfare dollars are not being used effectively in a community. There is not one set of problems with children’s welfare in First Nations communities. Because these communities are self-governing, the picture differs from community from community and it is important for decision-makers and social justice advocates to understand that it is not a “one-size fits all” solution. It is messy and complex and if we care about justice for these children we have to be prepared to listen and also be prepared to speak out.

Sometimes it takes more than a village to raise a child when that village is failing the child. Sometimes it takes a nation to care and not to be silenced because of some ancient mistakes made by some of our ancestors.

Bread and Roses Life, L. Rogers

Ottawa Days of Action to End Canadian Involvement in Torture, October 24-26

Join the CSI: Ottawa Days of Action to End Canadian Involvement in
Torture, October 24-26
We Cannot Let Canadian Individuals and Institutions Get Away With

In addition to many reasons already listed (see http://
), here’s three more good reasons to join us:

1. CSIS and the RCMP, which were found to be complicit in the torture
of Canadians Abdullah Almalki, Maher Arar, Ahmad El Maati, and
Muayyed Nureddin while all were detained in Syria, have been silent
on their ongoing relationship with Syrian Military Intelligence,
which regularly engages in torture and is complicit in the mass
detentions and horrific acts of torture and murder that have been
taking place for years and which have intensified during 2011 in
response to demands for democracy.

Leading up to CSI Ottawa and during those three days, we will seek a
public statement from both agencies that they have (or will
immediately) break all ties with Syrian Military Intelligence and
that they will apologize for their past relationship with such a
blood-stained agency (as well as to those tortured with Canadian

2. A Libyan-Canadian citizen who was imprisoned and tortured for
eight years by the Gaddafi regime says that agents from the Canadian
Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) were among foreign agents who
interrogated him. Documents confirming this were found by members of
Human Rights Watch. See http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/09/28/canada-

This is of course a common practice that CSIS will partner with
brutal, torturing regimes such as Syria, Egypt, and Libya and then
claim that they “did not know” or “did not have available to them”
publicly available reports of systematic torture.

3. On 18 October 2008, Ivan Apaolaza Sancho was deported from Canada
by special charter flight, manacled hand and foot, and handed over to
authorities in Spain. The deportation was a bitter ending to a
fifteen month campaign in which the Basque man was imprisoned in
Montreal, denied the right to apply for refugee status, and
eventually deported – all on the basis of information that a Canadian
tribunal recognized was obtained under torture.

Members of the Caravan to End Canadian Involvement in Torture raised
Ivan’s case across the province in 2008. Now, he faces a trial after
three years of detention in Spain, and could be jailed for 30 years.
More at http://www.peoplescommission.org/en/sancho/

The culture of impunity around Canadian involvement in torture is
widespread. Officials in numerous government agencies complicit in
the torture of Canadian citizens, refugees and permanent residents
continue to proceed with the dangerous assumption that when it comes
to torture, whether “direct or indirect,” they can get away with it.
While Canadians were rightly upset that the government did not arrest
visiting individuals who are proudly complicit in torture (such as
Dick Cheney and George W. Bush), we also need to focus on the fact
that officials here in Canada continue to engage in policies and
decisions which result in the most unimaginable of human rights abuses.

CSI Ottawa is an attempt to remind the public, and the government,
that they cannot get away with their involvement in torture, and that
our exercise of direct democracy and seeking accountability will not
end until permanent changes are made.

Join CSI Ottawa: Ending Canadian Involvement in Torture
Organized by Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture, a wholly realized
subsidiary of the Homes not Bombs network, tasc@web.ca

TASC mailing list

Bread and Roses Life, L. Rogers

Diab update from TASC

Despite incredibly “Weak Case,” Hassan Diab Forced to Keep Resisting Extradition to France

report from Matthew Behrens of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada, tasc@web.ca

July 12, 2011 – Dr Hassan Diab is a Canadian university professor fighting for his freedom, and for his life. The French government wants him to face trial for what they allege is Dr. Diab’s involvement in a 1980 bombing that killed four people. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

There’s only one problem. Dr. Diab’s fingerprints don’t match the suspect’s. His palm prints do not match. The physical description does not match. The handwriting does not match. The allegations against him have been found “weak”, “suspect,” and “confusing” by a Canadian judge. That same judge concluded June 6 that “the case presented by the Republic of France against Mr. Diab is a weak case; the prospects of conviction in the context of a fair trial, seem unlikely.” With such a strong defence, one would think Dr. Diab would be breathing easy. Instead, he is strapped to a GPS monitoring bracelet for which he must pay $2,000 a month (a new version of the Dickensian debtors’ prison, in which your freedom is now dependent on your ability to pay the state’s surveillance costs), barred from leaving his home without a court-approved monitor, and faced with a curfew worse than that imposed on most 10-year-olds. He cannot teach, his home is frequently invaded by RCMP agents, and he lives with the unimaginable stress that he might spend the rest of his life in a small French jail cell.

How could such an outrage occur? Under Canada’s extradition law, the duty of a Canadian court and the Minister of Justice is, first and foremost, to the government seeking an individual. That individual no longer enjoys the rights that are supposed to be accorded everyone else in this country facing the deprivation of their liberty. Canadian standards of evidence are thrown out the window. The case against the individual is presumed to be reliable, regardless of how many inaccuracies, errors, omissions, and contradictions are contained within it. One cannot present evidence to show one’s innocence, and the requesting state need not present any evidence of that innocence.

The deck is clearly stacked yet, as the Supreme Court of Canada has found, extradition is, in the end, not a legal issue, but a political decision: is the government of Canada willing to risk its relations with one of its extradition partners, or is it willing to sacrifice one of its citizens (or a refugee or permanent resident who is also sought) in the name of maintaining happy diplomacy?
In all extradition cases, the argument goes, an individual sought by another country can “sort out the mess” upon their arrival in a foreign jail. It is a process fraught with danger: a foreign government can carry out a persecution by proxy using the extradition law, claiming it has a case against a political pain in the neck living in Canada, presenting what amounts to a “prima facie” case without needing to vouch for the case’s accuracy.

In the Diab case, the French government seems intent on “solving” the mystery of the 1980 bombing at any cost, even if that means nabbing someone who appears to be the victim of mistaken identity. Their main piece of evidence is an “expert” handwriting report by someone who has a degree in biology and forensics and who only took 21 hours of training in expert handwriting analysis.

What was known as the Bisotti report was subject to a great deal of scrutiny during the extradition hearing, including three blistering critiques by internationally renowned handwriting experts. Indeed, the government of Canada declared that the case all came down to the handwriting, though it took numerous kicks at the can in coming to this very weak conclusion. In fact, both France and the Attorney General withdrew previous handwriting reports when it was revealed that they were based on handwriting samples that were not even written by Dr. Diab..
“Although I could not conclude it was manifestly unreliable, it was nonetheless highly susceptible to criticism and impeachment,” Judge Maranger wrote of the handwriting evidence. Indeed, he went on, “evidence presented on behalf of the person sought has largely served to substantially undermine the French report; it has been shown to be evidence that is susceptible to a great deal of criticism and attack.

“The Bisotti report has been shown to be based on some questionable methods and on an analysis that seems very problematic. The use of two completely separate signatures, i.e. Hassan Diab’s and an illegible fictitious signature, as a means of doing handwriting comparison analysis seems illogical…I found the French expert report convoluted, very confusing, with conclusions that are suspect. Despite this view, I cannot say that it is evidence that should be completely rejected as “manifestly unreliable”.

It’s not just the weak handwriting evidence that is problematic. Maranger wrote that he accepted the Canadian government position that “there is no responsibility upon a requesting state to provide full disclosure of all of its evidence.” Hence, 10 witnesses can testify that an individual was not at the scene of the crime, but someone’s life in Canada could be uprooted and ruined because of
the fact that the French, or any other government, can cook up a case that suits their needs and exclude exonerating evidence.

Maranger also notes that the Record of the case (ROC) as originally presented by France — in French, a language Dr. Diab does not speak – was “replete with seemingly disconnected information….while providing some conventional evidence, [it] also contained a great deal of argument, hypothesis, conjecture, and references to information received, without describing the source of that information or the circumstances upon which it was received.”
This, in essence, is secret, “unsourced” information. Where did it come from? Was torture involved?

The ROC also includes information that it gleaned from “a series of reports and newspaper articles,” hardly the stuff that would normally be accepted in a court (but which is normally included against individuals stigmatized by the Canadian government, such as refugees and, in the past decade, Muslims facing secret hearing security certificates and Tamils fleeing genocide.)

Diab’s lawyers raised nine specific issues of misrepresentations including omissions, inaccuracies, and contradictions in the French case, all of which they said amounted to an abuse of process. Maranger found there was an “air of reality” to the arguments put forward by Diab’s legal team, but in the end, he again dismissed them.
Indeed, Maranager bends over backwards to honour the French case, despite making statements such as “Although it was a blatant error requiring an explanation, I cannot find that it constitutes a complete failure of due diligence,” and concluding elsewhere that a problem in the record “was an inadvertent error.” How would he know? And more importantly, how can such problems be so easily dismissed in favour of the requesting state? In another instance, Maranger says “this was clearly a mistake on the part of the requesting authority that should have been corrected.” But it wasn’t. Verbal slap on the wrist to the French, an extra set of leg irons for Dr. Diab.
Under extradition law, Maranger says, there is “a presumption that evidence contained in the ROC is reliable.” So much for the presumption of innocence that is supposed to belong to the person sought.

Maranager found Diab’s defence was “compelling, and forcefully argued,” but that in the end, this did not matter, adding “to use standards of admissibility derived from Canadian criminal law…runs afoul of the governing statute.”

And so, like an Alabama judge convicting Rosa Parks for sitting in the front of the bus (the old “the law is the law and we cannot stray from it” approach that has sustained too many injustices to recount here), Judge Maranger offered up Hassan Diab as a sacrificial lamb on the altar of good relations with the French government. While washing his hands of any responsibility for this decision, he attempted to temper the view of him as a rubber stamp by stating that although he believes that the case was weak, “it matters not that I hold this view. The law is clear that in such circumstances a committal order is mandated.”

But Maranager’s bold statement is not backed up by the facts or the law, and contradicts the quotation he borrows from the Chief Justice of Canada’s Supreme Court, who wrote in the leading extradition case: “I take it as axiomatic that a person could not be committed for trial for an offence in Canada if the evidence is so manifestly unreliable that it would be unsafe to rest a verdict upon it. It follows that if a judge on an extradition hearing concludes that the evidence is manifestly unreliable, the judge should not order extradition.”

Hence, Maranger on the one hand says there is a strong likelihood that the French, in a fair trial, would not secure a conviction given a fair trial – and there is clearly no guarantee of a fair French trial for Dr. Diab – but on the other, draws a conclusion that is completely opposite to a higher court judge’s direction in extradition cases. If the case for “manifest unreliability” is that a conviction would likely not be registered, it is difficult to understand how Maranger can say that the case against Dr. Diab – which he admits is too weak for a conviction – is not manifestly unreliable.

In addition, as Diab’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, pointed out subsequent to the ruling, if the case had been heard in British Columbia, Diab would be a free man today, for their courts rule differently than Ontario courts on extradition cases.

“The British Columbia Court of Appeal decided there ought not to be an extradition if that is the nature of the extradition case, so Dr. Diab today would be walking a free man in Vancouver had this case been conducted there and in Ontario he is behind bars,” Bayne said. “That is a situation that is simply untenable in Canada, that Canadians are subjected to totally different standards depending on where they live. I would suspect that would attract the attention of the Supreme Court of Canada.”

While some have asked why Dr. Diab doesn’t simply throw in the towel and go to France an
d “sort out the mess,” the answer is simple: France has been criticized by the international community and is currently before the European Court of Human Rights for violating Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the fair trial right –for running terrorist trials based on secret, anonymous intelligence.” In addition, why should someone give up their life in Canada and risk spending years fighting in another country, especially given the slipshod “case” against them?
The Diab case is a wake-up call for everyone in Canada, for the ease with which an everyday regular life can be disrupted by such a case is frightening. While Dr. Diab is launching an appeal that could very well go to the Supreme Court, he and his partner, Rania Tfaily, have a long struggle ahead of them.

Individuals concerned about the ease with which basic human rights can so suddenly disappear in these cases can get involved on many levels:


1. Write to the Minister of Justice, Robert Nicholson, and urge him to stop Dr. Diab’s extradition. Email: rob.nicholson@parl.gc.ca

2. Help ease the huge financial burden carried by Hassan and Rania. We are seeking 100 individuals who can pledge $20 or more a month for the rest of the year to help pay the cost of the GPS monitoring. If you are willing to be a proud supporter of Hassan’s right not to be subject to detention if he cannot afford the cost of state surveillance, please email us at diabsupport@gmail.com OR visit http://www.justiceforhassandiab.org/donate

3. Sign the statement “A Shock to Our Conscience and an Affront to Liberty” (located at http://stopextradition.diabpetition.org/

To sign, simply send an email to diabsupport@gmail.com letting us know that you wish to sign

4. Help organize an event in your community about Hassan’s case and the extradition law.

5. Post details about the injustices in Hassan’s case on your facebook or myspace

6. Write to newspapers and to journalists about Hassan’s case and the unfairness of Canada’s extradition law

More info: Justice for Hassan Diab committee
(report from Matthew Behrens of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada, tasc@web.ca
Bread and Roses Life, L. Rogers

Abousfian Abdelrazik Speaks in Toronto

Forwarded from TASC

Delist and Desist!
Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture.
Abousfian Abdelrazik Speaks in Toronto
With an Introduction by Dr. Sherene Razack

Thursday, October 8, 2009, 7:15 pm
Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street (just west of St. George, south of

Abousfian Abdelrazik is a Canadian citizen who was detained, interrogated, and tortured in Sudan with the complicity of our own government (see http://peoplescommission.org/en/abdelrazik/ for further background). Indeed, the Federal Court of Canada found earlier this
year that spy agency CSIS was complicit in his detention.

His six-year saga of trying to come home to his loved ones (including a year-plus stay in a small corner of the Canadian embassy in Khartoum) was blocked at every stage by a variety of levels of the Canadian government, including CSIS and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Never charged, he was beaten, threatened and tortured during two periods of detention. Abdelrazik was interrogated by CSIS officials, and separately by Sudanese and French intelligence agents and the FBI. The Canadian embassy was instructed by the Canadian government that: “Mission staff should not accompany Abdelrazik to his interview with
the FBI.”

Released and cleared of all suspicion by Sudan in 2006, and then by the RCMP and CSIS in late 2007, his many attempts to return home to Montreal were repeatedly blocked.

The grass roots efforts of hundreds of people across Canada led to a historic court order that forced the Canadian government to allow Abdelrazik to come home. He was finally reunited with his family in June of this year. Yet his struggle continues.

His name remains on the United Nations 1267 list. This list imposes a travel ban and complete asset freeze on listed individuals. Canadian regulations implementing the 1267 list prohibit anyone from providing Abdelrazik with any material aid – including salary, loans of any
amount, food or clothing. This makes it impossible for him to live a normal life.

Abdelrazik was not told that he was being placed on the list, was not told why he was on the list, and was given no opportunity to defend himself. As Federal Court Judge Russel Zinn said in his ruling forcing the government to let Abdelrazik return, “There is nothing in the (1267) listing or de-listing procedure that recognizes the principles of natural justice or that provides for basic procedural fairness.”

No one has been held responsible for the grave injustices and terrible violence he has suffered.

As Abdelrazik undertakes the challenge of recovering a life of dignity for himself and his family, Mr. Abdelrazik is coming to Toronto as part of a national speaking tour so that he can meet his supporters and share his story in person. It is his hope to be “delisted” from the UN list, and to see true accountability at the federal government level.

Mr. Abdelrazik’s horrific experience is part of a broader Canadian pattern of involvement in torture, and his talk on October 8 kicks off a speakers series that will focus on other cases of Canadian complicity in the most brutal human rights abuses imaginable. Watch for future
speaking events featuring Abdullah Almalki (http://www.abdullahalmalki.com/), individuals subject to secret trial security certificates, a focus on Canadian involvement in the U.S.-based School of the Assassins, Benamar Benatta (http://benamarbenatta.com/), and more.

(Dr. Sherene Razack is a professor, Sociology and Equity Studies in Education, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. She is also the author of the remarkable Casting Out: The Eviction of Muslims From Western Law and Politics as well as
Dark Threats and White Knights: The Somalia Affair, Peacekeeping and the New Imperialism)

Organized by Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture and Christian Peacemaker Teams Canada, endorsed by the Centre for Integrated Anti-Racism Studies (CIARS) at OISE.

Sponsored nationally by Project Fly Home, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), Council of Canadians, Council on American-Islamic Relations – Canada (CAIRCAN), International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), and the National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA).

If you cannot make it to the Toronto event, Mr. Abdelrazik is speaking in many other parts of Canada. See his schedule at http://peoplescommission.org/en/abdelrazik/events.php

For further information: tasc@web.ca, (416) 651-5800 ext. 1

Bread and Roses Life, L. Rogers

Rogers Communications television advertisement promotes ageism

“My name is Mary, and I’ve just discovered the Internet, but I know it is the future” said the gray haired woman on a recent Rogers Communications television advertisement.

As an age contempory of “Mary”‘s I wanted to scream and throw a cellphone at the screen… but luckily my cellphone service is Bell.

But let’s think about the premise of this advertisement. Unless “Mary” has been living under a rock for the past couple of decades, she has likely been using computers for most if not all of her working life. If, like me, she is a veteran of the punch card, DOS and early word-processing programs, she likely can run rings around some younger people in understanding her computer and getting it to do what she needs.

I know that there was once a time when I thought of computers as being “the future”. That was in the 1960’s when I was an elementary school student and we had an opportunity to learn some simple programming using computer punch cards, prior to the silicon chip, or later in university when, as a theatre student I got to play around with some of the earlier Moog synthesizers and made some early experiments in computer-generated video art with a Sony portapak.

I’m an artsey, not a computer whiz kid but computers have come into mainstream aspects of my life since the 1980’s. I learned my first wordprocessing program on a Commodore 64 and in 1985 I was hired in an office job that required me to create a simple database for a YWCA branch in a new program called Q & A. I taught myself DOS, in order to write the batch files needed to sort the data, and became the office “computer expert” by being one step ahead of the rest of the staff in computer knowledge.

In the 1990’s it was easy for those of us that had used older wordprocessing programs like Easy Script or Wordstar to learn html as the codes for centering, emboldening, tables, etc. were exactly like those we had learn to format text for print output. I took to website design like a duck to water, creating sites for volunteer organizations, family, and work projects for my various arts and non-profit employers. Mail lists and e-newsletter creation have been a part of the arts marketing strategy in all of my organizations for about 12 years.

These days I’m an avid user of social media, a blogger, and coordinate a cutting edge arts series in virtual reality. In my various management positions I have trained many entry staff members to use computer software on the job. I can attest to the fact that being able to text friends or Twitter a photo does not mean that the employee will be able to generate mail merges, use accounting software, has the basics of desktop publishing, can navigate a spreadsheet, or can print a simple mailing label.

Obviously, the Rogers ad struck a very sour note with me but in all seriousness, the advertisement is seriously out-of-step with reality and does a real disservice to the many working men and women with up to date job skills but who struggle with the type of age prejudice evident in the Rogers advertisement. On what basis did Rogers think that a late 50’s woman would be credible as someone “just discovering the internet”? Would they make the same supposition about a visible minority member and not expect a backlash?

I hope that all of the women my age let Rogers know what they think about their recent media campaign. For a company that has had some very clever advertising, this one is just dumb.

Bread and Roses Life, L. Rogers

Will technology provide the means to a renewal of participatory democracy?

Forwarding on a press release that I got in my email today about an interesting presentation in virtual reality. I have been thinking a lot lately about the almost religious fervor people have for social media and their belief that it is going to change the world. There are some powerful communication tools out there. One only needs to look at tweets (twitter posts) with the hashtag #iranelection to see how ineffective shutting down news is these days when anyone with a cellphone, a blackberry, or a laptop can get news out. That’s the encouraging news.

On the discouraging front, this past week my husband asked his online group of teachers. (These are all practicing teachers already engaged in teaching our kids) to use a wiki to do some collaborative writing for a group projects. He set up the wiki in the very user-friendly Wikispaces platform. All four of the project groups rebelled. They found using a wiki too complicated and no one had “trained” them on this tool. Sigh. I wondered aloud if they needed someone to train them on the use of a pencil since wiki’s are almost as common a writing tool in our current era.

But that is the dilemma. We have these great tools but only the technologically literate are truly using them. While I intend to write more on this, here’s the information on this Monday’s talk. It’s worth dropping into Second Life for.

Beth Noveck talks about Wiki Government in Second Life on July 20th!

Please join a Second Life simulcast, from the Markle Foundation, of Beth Simone Noveck, now the deputy Chief Technology Officer at the White House responsible for Open Government, presenting her new book, WIKI GOVERNMENT: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A, in which participants from both Second Life and in person can ask questions of the author.
In the digital age our lives are constantly being transformed by the way in which we connect and collaborate with one another, affecting the way we make decisions – on a personal level, an institutional level, and a national level. Drawing on her expertise, and more directly her experience in creating Peer-to-Patent, the federal government’s first social networking initiative, Ms. Noveck’s Wiki Government insightfully demonstrates how technology, along with citizen participation, can help the government become more open and effective at solving the complex social and economic problems we face today.
The event will begin at 12:00pm EST/9:00am PST on Monday, July 20, 2009 and will take place in Second Life on MacArthur Island (click here to teleport http://slurl.com/secondlife/Foundations/109/231/34).
Further information
WIKI GOVERNMENT: How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful
In the digital age our lives are constantly being transformed by the way in which we connect and collaborate with one another, affecting the way we make decisions – on a personal level, an institutional level, and a national level.
Beth Simone Noveck’s book provides a coherent and compelling “new vision of governance in the digital age – collaborative democracy – government with the people.”
Drawing on her expertise, and more directly her experience in creating Peer-to-Patent, the federal government’s first social networking initiative, Ms. Noveck’s Wiki Government insightfully demonstrates how technology, along with citizen participation, can help the government become more open and effective at solving the complex social and economic problems we face today.
About the Author:
Beth Simone Noveck is the United States deputy chief technology officer for open government and leads President Obama’s Open Government Initiative. Based at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, she is an expert on technology and institutional innovation. Previously, Noveck directed the Institute for Information Law & Policy and the Democracy Design Workshop at New York Law School. She is founder of the “Do Tank,” and the State of Play Conferences, and launched the first of its kind Peer-to-Patent Community Patent Review project in collaboration with the United States Patent and Trade Office. As a professor of Law at New York Law School, she has taught in the areas of intellectual property, innovation, and constitutional law, as well as courses on electronic democracy and electronic government.
Bread and Roses Life, L. Rogers