Layers beget layers and it all needs more public lawyers

Two points of setup — one: significant amounts of power and money are moving faster than ever in this moment. Some of that power and money is moving around in the public procurement of technology products that shape society in ways that do not support democratic governance. So to everyone fighting up the hills these situations create, despite all this ongoing grief, loss, and rage — thank you. Two: there is no getting up these hills faster if we’re not always helping each other, correcting and supporting each other, and…

AKA when following procurement rules doesn’t catch the problem

I’ll acknowledge that it is unlikely this deal will be stopped at City Council for a number of different reasons. But I’ll also say that the shape of the problem it represents is highly common in tech procurement, so this is the beginning of documenting it as a case study and for how to mitigate it should it pass. This is a piece written for those that have been following this project. For additional background please see this and this.

UPDATE FEB 3, 2021

Though staff may say vendor lock-in isn’t…

The item goes to Toronto City Council on Feb 2, 2021

Edit: Analysis — added Jan 30, 2021

Today I was speaking to a fellow civic tech community member, and we touched on PayIt, and they asked me: what should the City do instead? Which prompted me to say that there should be two separate tenders. The payment processing function and the government wide digital platform should be tendered separately.

It took the right question to simplify this whole thing — the reason this procurement is unfair is because of the bundling.

January 27, 2021

To the City of Toronto Executive Committee,

Thank you Mayor Tory and Executive Committee members for the opportunity to speak with you today.

My name is Bianca Wylie, and I’m here on behalf of Tech Reset Canada, and my colleagues Saadia Muzaffar, Jennifer Evans, and April Dunford. We’re a volunteer group that works on policy issues related to technology, economic development, society, and democracy.

To many in our tech community, the ConnectTO program represents an exciting opportunity to build different technology futures with and for the people of Toronto. Technology is not serving us all equally, which…

Working from a point of acknowledged wreckage and the hope inherent

Today a phrase came across my Twitter feed from an article describing recent events in Hong Kong “…as long as our hearts still hurt I think Hong Kong can be salvaged”. This was before the events in DC. Two more noises to add to the constant background hum of dread, a hum that has increased while living through the confirmation of complete institutional dysfunction in Canada. The pandemic. …

  1. Naming capitalism as the source of all trouble minimizes our complicity in the democracy that maintains its injustice. Every day I’m struck by the fact that different political leadership and different public participation in systems could yield very different results than what we have today. By pushing fault into a system outside of that our complicity in today’s political landscape gets minimized, and so does all of the power we had yesterday and have today and tomorrow, to do differently, to force a different set of rules to govern capital.
  2. Contact-tracing/exposure notification apps are modern propaganda. I’m too light on…

A recent project announcement to consider. Read to the end.

This is the text from a recent LinkedIn post from Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners. Remember, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is part of a “partnership” with Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners.

“Today, Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP) announced a $100 million transaction to develop a transformative clean energy project in California: creating the world’s largest residential virtual power plant in partnership with OhmConnect. Clean energy leaders David Hochschild, chair of the California Energy Commission, Obama climate lead Carol Browner, and City of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf joined the announcement with OhmConnect CEO Cisco DeVries

Burying Social Responsibility in Complexity and Technical Proficiency

I go up and down with my ability or capacity to talk, think, or write about the pandemic. They all feel futile. They are also compulsive. Daily acts of friendship and care go further. This is my preface and admission that what follows is done in haste and also done because it feels wrong not to.

Second paragraph. Here I would usually try to wrap my point in velvet. What follows is not an attack or a judgement of colleagues and friends and institutions — it’s a small consideration that I’d prefer…

AKA footnotes for fellows :)

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with Cassie Robinson about a few things that are on her mind, and the minds of many of us, for part of a session this week with the Community Tech Fellowship Programme. Our conversation reminded me of one I’d had with Immy Kaur a few months back during the lovely Department of Dreams event. It was a continuation in a way. Both conversations made me reflect on the need to keep track of what we’re doing in community with each other, and to tell our stories and pass…

The most important lesson in The Age of Surveillance Capitalism may be the least discussed

Corporate capture of democratic process is described by Shoshana Zuboff, author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (2019), as a Cycle of Dispossession. Zuboff has been watching the tech sector for decades, and in her book she describes surveillance capitalism as “a new economic order that claims human experience as free raw material for hidden commercial practices of extraction, prediction, and sales.” …

Bianca Wylie

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