Recent Blog Posts

By Mike Gifford on 09/05/2018
Cenotaph in Ottawa - Symbols of Privacy & Freedom

The tech sector has undermined personal privacy in the constant pursuit of the latest shiny thing. Privacy is a core component of our democracy and is essential for free expression.

Most have assumed that it is built into the online tools that they use every day. This isn't the case. The media coverage of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook how dangerous this is. The model of surveillance capitalism put forward by Google is now very advanced. Big Data & Artificial Intelligence gives...

By Mike Gifford on 04/05/2018
Robot from DrupalCon Boston

There is a lot of excitement about AI (Artificial Intelligence). It shows promise to solve many problems, including some for greater digital inclusion. I see great potential, but also some significant limitations. We need a measured approach to machine intelligence to learn how algorithms can best help.

The Google Translate Problem

Let’s admit it. Google Translate is getting pretty good.  However, it isn’t good enough to be as good as a professional translator. At some point, for some...

By Mike Gifford on 26/04/2018
Siim speaking about the Estonian Digital Government

I have to say that historically, I haven't had a good reason to think much about Estonia. It's just the first of the Baltic countries that we covered in history class in high-school. It wasn't until the FWD50 conference in Ottawa where this really shifted.

Siim Sikkut spoke about Estonia building up a digital government from the ground up. The contemporary Estonian government started only 1992, shortly after the WWW started. There were some bold leaders who decided to start not with...

By Mike Gifford on 06/04/2018
OpenConcept Website with Fluid UI Preference Editor

Accessibility is complicated. There is no single site that is universally accessible. One of the best initiatives I've seen by an organization was the BBC with their My web my way accessibility section. Unfortunately, they have decided to archive it and stop maintaining these pages. It is unclear to me whether any of the personalization options defined here will continue to be supported or not within the BBC.  I do think that sites could do more to help explain how their users can get the...

By Mike Gifford on 21/01/2018
Recycling & trash cans in Thailand.

I am a Quaker and I was going to meeting on Sunday and came in from the cold with a bit of a runny nose. I grabbed a tissue, used it and then threw it into the trash. I didn’t even think about it until a member of our community picked it out of the trash (along with some other garbage) and put it into the compost.  She then went on to talk about how discouraged that she was about our ability to do something as simple as manage our garbage. I definitely agreed with her concerns, and yet I had...

By Mike Gifford on 19/01/2018
Raptor visits the Office

OpenConcept is a Certified B Corporation. We understand that the economy exists within a fragile ecosystem. Capitalism is a powerful force but when it focused exclusively on profits it is also a serious threat to the future of humanity. We think that environmental reporting is something that all organizations should do to help us measure what matters. We put forward our first Environmental Report for 2016 just a few months ago, so this is mostly a matter of releasing our 2017 numbers:

By Mike Gifford on 18/12/2017
Civic Tech Night at - YOWCT

I have been very encouraged by the growth of Open Government initiatives around the world. It’s done so much to help make governments more agile, responsive, accessible and affordable. Success of this model depends on a community of contributors, most of who who lie outside of government. This means that they also fall outside of the hierarchical chain of command.

How the public sector engages with that community may well determine how effective these initiatives are.

By Mike Gifford on 17/12/2017
A Snowy White House

OpenConcept’s sites have mostly been served from Canada. Like many others, we were concerned when the 2002 Homeland Security Act was put into place. Lots of organizations adopted our concern about what access the CIA, FBI, NSA would have on sites on American soil. This was an issue for us, but we certainly didn’t feel like these agencies would respect Canada’s border and indeed there might have additional restrictions within their territory.

Despite our concerns, we decided to move...

By Mike Gifford on 17/11/2017
Bright Green Frog

When I started OpenConcept in 1999 it was with a keen awareness that we needed to make rapid changes to how Western Society was consuming the resources of our finite home. I knew that we would need to build collaboration between groups to ensure that we could hope to manage the challenges that we are going to need to face. I knew that technology was going to be the backbone of managing that enormous communications challenge. Because of my background and involvement in the environmental...

By Mike Gifford on 16/11/2017
Hydro Electirc Dam

OpenConcept is happy to have migrated our corporate servers into greener data centers. Currently all of our corporate servers are hosted by companies in Quebec that is almost entirely powered by hydro electric power. We have some dedicated servers with iWeb and are leveraging Amazon's new Montreal data center.

In discussions with Certified B Corporations like Man Overboard and Mighty Bytes, I have learned a lot about the impact of the growth of data centers around the world. Man...

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