#CyberFLASH: Science and Tech museums’ documents to be ‘open by default’ by fall, CEO pledges

a-woman-uses-her-computer-keyboard-to-type-while-surfing-the-internet-in-north-vIn a government town like Ottawa, where information has traditionally been jealously guarded, what Alex Benay is proposing could trigger a bout of cognitive dissonance.

According to Benay, president and CEO of the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation, almost all documents generated by the corporation’s three national museums – Science and Technology, Aviation and Space, and Agriculture and Food – will soon be available to the public through an online portal.

“Our hope is by the fall, roughly 90 per cent of our information is available to the public in real time,” Benay said in an interview Monday, hours after tweeting that museum documents will be “open by default” by autumn.

Not everything will be made public: cabinet documents and material dealing with such things as personnel matters or corporate planning will remain confidential.

But after that, pretty much anything goes, Benay said, including early drafts of historical assessments, exhibition plans and schedules for travelling exhibitions.

Within two or three years, he said, even internal emails should be made public on the corporation’s Open Heritage Portal (documents.techno-science.ca).

“The problem with email is volume,” Benay said. “That’s what we’re wrestling with.” Solving that will require technology that “we may or may not have yet. But eventually, we want to share everything we do on email.”

The corporation’s three museums are the first national museums in Canada to create a portal for open access to their documents. In fact. said Benay, “We haven’t been able to find another cultural institution anywhere in the world that is trying this.”

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#CyberFLASH: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says blocking region-switching proxy services is ‘the maturation of Internet TV’

hi-netflixrtxyw4i-8colDuring a recent roundtable discussion MobileSyrup attended at Netflix’s head office in Los Gatos, California, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings finally commented on the company’s controversial move to begin blocking the use of proxy VPN/DNS services.

“We have the obligation to respect the content rights that we buy; it’s just a simple fairness thing. Someone else has paid for the rights in Germany, so we should respect that, just as we would expect the same in return,” said Hastings.

Since Netflix’s 2011 release in Canada, Canadians, as well as people from other regions of the world, have been using proxy DNS/VPN services to access additional Netflix libraries, most notably the wealth of content available in the U.S. It’s worth noting, however, that this is a direct violation of Netflix’s terms of service.

“The basic thing is if we license a movie here [the U.S.], and then another network licenses it in Germany, then we don’t don’t have the rights to display it in Germany. That’s why we have to enforce those VPN rules, just like Amazon Prime Instant Video and others do as well,” said Hastings. “Think of it as the maturation of Internet TV”

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#CyberFLASH: Digital lab offers catalyst to drive innovation, create jobs

hackerA group of tech-savvy entrepreneurs and cost-conscious civil servants are hoping the creation of a so-called digital lab will be a catalyst to create ways to save money and better deliver government services.

The concept of a digital laboratory is still in its infancy.

The idea, which was announced last week by Premier Brian Gallant, is intended to bring together civil servants and companies inside this lab, with access to government data, so they can create programs or initiatives that allow governments to better deliver services.

Ed McGinley, the chief executive officer of TechImpact, a group of 22 technology companies, said the possibilities are endless with the goal of creating North America’s first digital government.

“Government is strapped, they have only so much horse power. If you open up these pockets of data to people, let them figure out what the solutions are, let them figure out what they can do. It will happen,” he said.

The whole strategy is based around the principle of opening up access to government data.

An open data initiative will be started, which will see the provincial government to release more of its public information in accessible formats so any citizen will be able to use it.

There will also be a “digital service accelerator,” which has caught the imagination of entrepreneurs. Companies will be able to come inside the lab, get access to government data with the intention of solving problems.

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#CyberFLASH: New Brunswick making open data ‘baby steps’

1297516661469_ORIGINALThe New Brunswick government is inching toward an open data portal that will allow citizens to click through public information that has been previously locked inside government servers.

The commitment to opening up public data sets came when Premier Brian Gallant announced a digital government initiative earlier this month.

Governments across this country, and many other countries, have long embraced open data, a policy where governments post public information in usable formats that can be freely used by citizens.

But New Brunswick has, until now, dug in its digital heels, refusing to budge.

Shawn Peterson, a Saint John developer, has built a website that allows people to view and compare property tax assessment information.

But he’s done that by scraping data already posted online and he’s repeatedly run into problems with the provincial government trying to limit his ability to get data.

Getting access to that basic information in an open, useable format would be a major victory.

“I don’t think anybody is expecting them on Day 1 to release everything in a perfect format. But nothing is stopping us from taking some baby steps,” he said.

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