Cultural democracy problems, cultural solutions?

In software language, a known issue is a problem or defect with software that exists but doesn’t take the whole system down/isn’t ‘that bad’ so it goes unfixed. It’s like a wooden floor that gives you splinters now and again but you live with it rather than fix it because it’s not critical to fix. This is not the best example but it’s a pandemic and my brain is broken and so is yours so let’s keep going here.

I don’t know what to call the multi-pronged hell of today but it’s been a long…

Vaccines and Narrowed Fields of Discourse

Whenever many months ago when the nonsensical technology for covid joined the scene I realized both how little I knew — and how little most of us knew — about public health policy in the pandemic/epidemic realm. Hell, I didn’t know the difference between those words. This, despite SARS in Toronto.

It was not a big surprise to watch a whole lot of the technology community go down the inevitability path regarding covid tech. It was another version of the common song of our democratic deficiency — an inability to hold onto two (or…

Accountability is How We Support Each Other

This post is laid out as follows. And it comes with the “I’m ragged, truly, and writing this fast” preface — please let me know about errors, and also on anything content wise, as ever.

  1. Background on the University of Toronto censure. I didn’t know what censure was either. You should. You’ll likely be grateful, as I am, for the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the broader academic community’s recent actions. They have organized to stand up and call out what the University of Toronto has done wrong in terms of academic…

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

Bianca Wylie

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