Canadian culture.ca being shuttered

News from Michael Geist today that Culture.ca, the (well, one of several from the same department) Canadian culture portal, has closed effective April 1, 2008. I know a couple of people who are directly affected by this news, though I’m not sure what the impact will be or what impact the site has had.

Saunders on Canadian data rates

Alec Saunders has written a long post comparing the rates for data plans and carrier revenues internationally called Talking Turkey on Canadian Data. Alec brings out the numbers behind the point that I’ve been making based on instinct for some time now – the problem with exorbitant data rates isn’t just that people WANT more data or somehow deserve it – which is how it’s usually portrayed. The problem with high data rates is actually that the carriers are leaving huge revenues on the table over (it seems) some kind of “we DESERVE to be able to meter every byte” principle. Canadian carriers are not acting in the best interests of consumers or their shareholders by being so intransigent on this issue.

Twitter Web Traffic Stats

The nice folks at Twitter have started to publish a bit more information than has been available about their usage. Today Biz wrote a post on the Twitter blog about Twitter Web Traffic Around the World which is very interesting.

A couple of interesting things pop out at first glance. First of all, 60% of (web) traffic is non-US in origin. This might seem like a high number, but when we compare that figure to published stats from sites like Facebook, Twitter has a relatively lower number of international users. Secondly, and most interestingly to me, if you eyeball the percentages in terms of the population of each of the “international” countries represented in the top 10, I imagine that Canada would jump right to the top of the list.

Considering that this is just an assessment of web traffic, not overall traffic, I don’t think we can draw any conclusions from that relative to mobile usage in Canada (usually said to be very low relative to European countries and others), but unless Twitter’s mobile roots are in fact insignificant compared to web usage, the numbers do suggest that things aren’t quite as bad in Canada as most of the other stats portray.

Take action on copyright

It is widely rumoured that between now and Christmas, the Conservative government is going to introduce new Canadian DMCA-style copyright legislation. Michael Geist has written a useful list of actions Canadians can take to address this: The Canadian DMCA – What You Can Do.

Facebook analysis and the US

Like many of my fellow online marketing analysis, researchers, and consultants (et al.) I’ve been following (and participating in!) Facebook for quite a while now. The story is well known now – Facebook and social networks in general are the new belles of the ball, and everyone’s scrambling to figure out what that means to them.

A few weeks ago I went to FacebookCamp Montreal, and the kick-off presentation by Colin Smillie and Roy Pereira, from Toronto’s Refresh Partners presented some Facebook demographics which were interesting, but at first blush, quite mundane. Sure, Facebook is huge and growing, got it. Still, though I couldn’t put my finger on it, something was bugging me after seeing the graphs and tables laid out.

Last week, there was a post in Techcrunch that again spoke to Facebook’s demographics: Facebook Is Almost 2/3 Women (and other stats), but this time the numbers, and their implications, leapt out at me.

In Canada, we’re used to being just behind the leading edge of internet trends. We’re early adopters, and heavy internet users – but if you really want to know where this stuff is going, the tendency is to look to the Bay Area and South to Silicon Valley, not in our own backyard. The demographics of Facebook paint a very different picture. It’s clear that if you really want to understand the meaning and implications of Facebook, your analysis should start in Canada, not in the US.

The US is an oddball in the Facebook universe, an outlier whose demographics are clearly not representative of either the present or the future of Facebook – and US usage is probably not a good indicator of trends related to either Facebook, or, likely, social networking in general. In the US, Facebook membership is much smaller as a proportion of population than in Canada (or the UK and several other leading countries). The population in the US is markedly younger as well, and more male-dominated than it is in Canada and elsewhere. There are lots of reasons for this – most notably the traction that Facebook achieved early on in strictly college-based populations – but this deformed the growth of Facebook in the US and the demographics continue to suggest that the US is not in the mainstream of Facebook tendencies and trends.

I’m not in any way suggesting that there’s something wrong with the US – just that any serious analysis of Facebook and the changes they introduce should isolate, to some degree, US usage patterns from the rest of the world, particularly Canada. The mainstream of Facebook adoption is – and has been for at least 6 months – outside the US.

Big Wireless News from Industry Canada

Industry Canada divulged plans for the upcoming auction of additional wireless spectrum: Government Opts for More Competition in the Wireless Sector. The good news is that they have set aside a good proportion of the new spectrum to new entrants into the Canadian market, as well as mandating things like shared tower space (for antennas). Hopefully this will put some price pressure on the incumbents in the Canadian wireless industry – Rogers, Telus, and Bell.

Update: Thomas Purves has written a post about this at StartUpNorth which lays out some of the implications of this announcement.

New from YouTube

Casey McKinnon just twittered about the launch of YouTube Canada. There’s a blog as well.

Internet CanCon?

The news following the ADISQ Gala (and the media attention that gave them) earlier this week was that they – in conjunction with several other arts-related groups – want the CRTC to consider regulating Canadian Content on the Internet. Of course Michael Geist has the story: ADISQ Seeks Internet Canadian Content Requirements.

Personally, I am a big fan of CanCon regulations in terms of radio and TV. I think the success of the Canadian musicians in recent years is largely attributable to the fact that CanCon ensured that there was a Canadian music industry. But I also think a large part of the most recent success of those musicians is even more largely attributable to the wonders of the Long Tail than any regulatory scheme. For me, then, although I would support targeted funding to artists (NOT industry-run, though) and other such mechanisms to ensure that they can adequately represent themselves on the Internet, I am certain that content regulation is not the way to go. It’s actually a bit of a joke, the very idea that such regulations could be considered.

Also, check out Casey McKinnon’s views on the subject to understand an artist/producer’s point of view. (Casey runs the great Galacticast with my former colleague Rudy Jahchan.)

New Digital Information Strategy released

Library and Archives Canada has released their new Canadian Digital Information Strategy. This release is a draft – comments are welcome from “any interested person or organization” by Nov 23, 2007. I haven’t looked at it yet, but given the current climate in Canada, it’s certain to be an interesting document. (Via Michael Geist)

C$ Parity News

I just checked and Apple is charging the same price for Leopard in the Canadian store (in C$) as in the US store (in US$). There are laggards, but at least Apple doesn’t seem to be one of them.