Michael Geist Speaks to TALL and CASLIS

A large crowd to attended the TALL luncheon today to hear Dr. Michael Geist speak on Digital Advocacy. Although his presentation was about an hour long, it seemed far too short. Beginning from his own work using social media to educate people and collect opinion on copyright reform, net neutrality and other information policy issues, Dr. Geist galloped through a multitude of examples of citizens engaging with government (and each other) on issues of public interest. 

Readers of Don Tapscott’s books (especially Wikinomics) will not be surprised at the diversity of the initiatives which featured in the TALL presentation. The delivery of news and opinion is undergoing a radical change, and Dr. Geist showed us many compelling examples, from the (in)famous mashup of the Apple commercial “1984” with politicians to the Facebook page which caused the McGuinty government to change its mind on proposed restrictions on teen drivers. 

I was disappointed that there wasn’t more time for questions, so since I have access to this blog, and some fairly opinionated readers ;), I thought I’d post a few of my questions for discussion.

– Is government doomed to a reactive role when considering social media? That is, will the really meaningful actions always arise from citizen action, or can the government provoke discussion without looking disingenuous?

– Is government’s job to make data available, or is there still a role for them to be involved in the interpretation and explanation of data? Can the government dictate the terms of use of information generated with tax dollars?

– Where are the boundaries of government information? Government is responsible for archiving and preserving information as it is created, but how can governments ensure that re-uses of data by citizens are available to future generations of researchers? Are we ready for digital archiving? 

Dr. Geist spoke this evening to CASLIS (Special Librarians) on Copyright – and I wish I could have attended (please let’s hear from someone who was able to make the session).


  1. Geist’s presentatin tonight at CASLIS was excellent and did address some of the questions you make. CASLIS will be posting the podcast of this session on their website and the iSchool site too.