Answering Shel Israel about Social Media in Canada

Shel Israel asked me for my views on differences and similarities in the development of social media in Canada.

Our economies and communication networks are so intertwined that it would be noteworthy if there were any significant differences in the pace of technological adoption and innovation.

However, I think the truly significant difference relates to social media’s potential to transcend the impediments to self expression that Canadians endured as a result of limited bandwidth, high production costs and the complex distribution systems of traditional cultural industries.

I’m late in responding to Shel. So, rather than publish a lengthy written post, I’ve tried to capture my thoughts in a video. I hope that you’ll take a look at it and share your perspective on this by leaving a comment.


I just noticed on second viewing that I inadvertently made my point about the dominance of U.S. cultural product in Canada. If you look closely, you’ll see that the two authors whose books flank me on either side are Stephen King and David Halberstam. Next time, I should sit in front of Margaret Atwood and Robertson Davies!

  • hey joe, this is such a great video. i hope that, as canadians, we continue to embrace how social media can bring us all together, as it has you, me, and numerous others who are geographically very separate.

    i think i’m going to try and produce a video like this, it was really fun to watch.

  • I think you make some great points. I’ve never really thought of it in
    such nationalistic terms, but I’m glad I have. It just might be the
    Messiah for our national identity as disseminated through the media —
    albeit new media. After all, with a much higher broadband penetration
    than our neighbours to the south, the potential is there.

    Now that I think of it, this is probably why the CBC was a year of the
    Washington Post in adopting it on their main portal. And, of course,
    there is the ridiculous high proportions of Torontonians that are

    As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, so perhaps it is also
    the mother of adoption, and our compulsive need to find SOME identity is
    going to drive the adoption of social media up here ahead of that in the US.

  • Hi CT and Julien,

    It’s really hit me as I’ve come to know guys like you and Mitch Joel, Kate Trgovac, Maggie Fox, Tod Maffin, Bob and Mark, Terry and Dave, Alexandra Samuel and Rob Cottingham and many, many more, that we’re reaching out to one another and expressing what draws us together almost every day. And this is what the CBC tries to do – at much higher cost.

    In fact, one of the most profound experiences I had during the last year was the bloggers dinner for Shel Israel in Montreal. I found myself on St. Denis surrounded by francophones and anglophones who were drawn together by a common experience – blogging – and were celebrating our shared experience and diversity in a way that I never really experienced in all my years in politics.

    This idea of content and community bubbling up from the bottom is real.

    Final note: CT. I love your videos. Julien, you should do some. One thing that both of you guys have is a presence that is meant for video. Watching myself I realized that I really do have a face for radio!

  • Nicely done Joe. For your readers who don’t you as I do, these video clips provide a more complete picture of the voice and brain behind ProPR. Very neat enhancement to your blog, not to mention a very thoughtful commentary on the differences between Canada and the U.S.

  • ha ha, thanks joe, that’s very flattering. i’ll see if i can pump something out for people in the next few days.

  • Joe,
    As a Canadian living in the U.S. and struggling to connect with my home culture, your video really hit home. And it raised some points I’d never considered about how different cultures and communities use social media in totally different ways. I’m going to make a point of searching for websites and networks that link me with Canadians – no matter where they live.