Celebrating Canadian Social Media Innovation

Riding the streetcar home from today's conference, I had a moment of minor epiphany.

The conference, as you'll know if you've been following recent posts, was hosted by the Canadian Institute. The general topic was social media. So it suddenly struck me: it's remarkable just how much innovation there is in the social media space in Canada, and how rarely we stop to remember and celebrate that fact.

For example, here's something I completely forgot to mention at any point during my presentation today: it's a fact that one of the very earliest precursors of what we now know as blogs was created by a Canadian. Carolyn Burke, now CEO of Integrity Incorporated here in Toronto, first came to my attention through the pages of a great coffee-table book called 24 Hours in Cyberspace. There was a now-famous photo of Carolyn, in her bathtub with a laptop on her knees.

Starting in early January , 1995, Carolyn kept what is widely-considered to be one of the very first online journals: Carolyn's Diary. It didn't have many of the architectural features we've come to associate with the blogosphere, but it was, without question, a direct ancestor of today's blogs. And it was Canadian.

Also worthy of note is Paul Kedrosky's early leadership in the blogging tools community. As Paul discusses here, his Groksoup tool was one of the handful of free and easy hosted blogging products to arrive early on the market in the summer of 1999, along with Pitas and Blogger (originally Pyra, now owned by Google, and still my tool of choice for this blog).

[Off topic aside: what the hell happened to Pitas? These guys had the first blogging tool on the planet, but who uses their product now? How come they didn't get bought? Just goes to show: first to market isn't always best.]

Then there's Bryght, the thoroughly brilliant content and community management system out of Vancouver, run by Boris Mann, Kris Krug, Roland Tanglao, and a bunch of other geniuses.

Still in Vancouver, but with a truly global reach, is NowPublic - a superb citizen journalism service, bringing together more than 35,000 contributing reporters from more than 130 countries to cover breaking news wherever, whenever it happens. As their corporate site points out: "During Hurricane Katrina, NowPublic had more reporters in the affected area than most news organizations have on their entire staff."

NowPublic is run by two of the most connected and genuinely influential people in Canadian technology circles, Michael Tippett and Leonard Brody. Leonard, quite literally, wrote the book on Canadian Innovation with "Innovation Nation". Excellent bloke.

Oh, and I should mention my great friend Albert Lai, founder of the coolest and easiest photo-sharing service on the planet: BubbleShare.

These are just the first few examples that sprang to mind. I'm sure there are many more. Social Media Innovation: it's a Canadian game.

[UPDATE: Darn it. Such a dork. I actually wrote this post in Qumana - another outstanding example of Canadian social media innovation in action. Completely forgot to mention them. Doh! is me. Sorry Jon, Tris, and Fred. If you want a really good WYSIWYG blog editor you can write in anywhere - even when you're offline - give Qumana a spin.]

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