So what’s up with the request for donations?

For those that have followed my tweets and blogs over the past little while may have noticed something a little different recently.  Many of my #TechTip tweets and blog posts are including a donation section in them.  Why?

I have always enjoyed educating people about technology and ways to stay connected.  It gives me a unique opportunity to think about challenges small business owners face every day when they look for ways to help improve their business.  I have gotten a lot of positive feed back on my daily #TechTips and I want to keep up promoting them.

I have decided to ask people to do one of two things if they like my #TechTips or blog posts: Share them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Reddit, whatever social media platform you like.  If you think it is an interesting topic, Like it, Share it, post it, +1 it!  Fairly Simple.  Secondly, I will start accepting donations to help keep the site up and running.  I’m going to accept them via Bitcoin.

Bitcoin?  Why bitcoin?  

Some of you may not have heard of bitcoins.  They are a new internet based currency/commodity that allows for near instant and secure payments over the Internet.  Bitcoins are generated completely online by computers that work to run the system.  You may be wondering why I am doing this instead of suggesting something like PayPal.  This is part revenue generation, and part Internet experiment.

Do away with paywalls in journalism with purchase/donate payments

Journalism has been facing a dilemma for a number of years.  How do you pay journalists for their work in an online world where news is almost expected for free?  Many news sites have turned to paywalls that require you to make a payment to read the article.  This has not become favourable with many Internet users who are used to finding news online for free.  Also with such a plethora of news articles and blogs that are free, it makes justifying those paywall payments difficult.  Advertising is the other most common method of paying for journalists work.  The natural problem comes when advertisers who contribute their dollars to a news source have the potential to influence the editorial board of a news site.   History is full of instances of those with money influencing the news story to their favour.  How do you balance revenue with journalistic independence?

I recently discovered an interesting way to promote journalistic integrity online while bringing in revenue.  I was doing some research for a recent blog post I wrote on bitcoins (Available here to read) and saw how bitcoins are being used to make micro payments to make donations to writers and bloggers for their work.  The example went on to explain how easy it was to send a bitcoin donation simply by posting a picture of a QR code with your bitcoin address on it.  Imagine supporting an independent journalist by sending them a small donation.  With bitcoins, you can make small donations to the fraction of a penny, meaning a small donation of a few cents can be made.  A single donation of a few cents may not sound like much, but on a larger scale, like the number of people who read an article, it can add up.

I want to make a proof of concept experiment to prove it is possible to request, and generate revenue, using bitcoins for secure and annonomous donations for work done.

Help me prove this concept. As stated above, if you like my work, share it on social media.  If you have bitcoins, consider helping out by making a small donation.  If you don’t have any bitcoins, but are interested, we’d be happy to help introduce you to the idea of bitcoins, and point you in the right direction of where to look to get involved.

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Could the Instant Messaging problem in Government be BlackBerrys Salvation?

This is the first of what I hope will be a number of cross-over blogs focusing on both the politics and the technology behind some of the stories hitting the news.  This blog will look at the issue from a technology perspective, and our sister blog “The Centre” will look at the same issue from a political standpoint.
Yesterday the Federal Information Commissioner for Canada issued a report detailing a problem in the Federal government with Instant messaging.  Ministers and staff members are using Instant messaging and BlackBerry PIN to PIN messaging to communicate with each other, often about government business.  The problem with this method of communication at the government level is that there is do easy, or direct method to backup and record these transactions.  Under the Federal Access to Information Act, all business regarding government needs to be recorded and archived.  PIN to PIN messaging and Instant Messaging (Such as BBM) can easily be deleted with little to no trace of any conversation taking place.
Naturally it is not a far stretch to see in many instances why conversations would like to be kept off the record, in personal, business and government roles.  The main difference though is that personal conversations being kept under wraps are simply that: a personal matter.  Even in business, there is lots of legitimate times conversations would want to be kept off the record.  When it comes to government however, while communications needs to be secured, being kept off the record is a major issue.  You need to look no further than the current Canadian Senate scandal to see why records need to be kept to verify transactions and conversations.
The commissioner put forward the recommendation that all Instant messaging and PIN messaging be halted in government departments.  This is a recommendation the current government does not seem keen on and has announced it will not accept the recommendations.
From a technology perspective, instant communications through text, BBM, PIN or other instant messaging platforms has become not just the norm for government operations, it has become essential to provide information quickly and accurately to personnel.  In all areas, Instant messaging is able to bring short, quick messages to people when they need it.  It has been adopted at many major companies as a viable communications tool, even over email or voice.
So the dilemma exists: How do you get government staff and ministers to stop using a technology that they rely on every day and that has obvious benefits?
A New Market?
Instant messaging platforms have been seeing some serious attention from investors recently.  WhatsApp and Kik are 2 platforms that have seen significant interest from venture capitalists.  BlackBerry, for all its troubles, has seen a resurgence in popularity over its BBM instant messaging platform being ported over to both the iPhone and Android devices.  BlackBerry could very well leverage interest in BBM in determining its future company value.  Yet for all the interest, most instant messaging platforms bring in little to no revenue.  The big question many messaging companies are looking at is how to turn those valuable users into revenue generators?
There is a potential market here for those instant messaging businesses to be able to create and sell a solution to governments.  A solution that would provide all the benefits of direct instant messaging currently being enjoyed, while providing a backend that can automatically backup and archive all messages.  And BlackBerry seems like the perfect business to tackle it.
Already, BlackBerry is heavily integrated into Governments, and BlackBerry Enterprise Server does have the ability to log and audit BBM and PIN messaging.  As Blackberry undergoes the inevitable changes that it will need to take, focusing on service solutions will be how it can save itself; And government management of mobile devices, for security and message archiving is where it can leverage its strengths to create a solution that is profitable and accountable.
Its surprising that the government currently does not archive its PIN and BBM messages, (at least in my understanding of the report) but this provides an excellent opportunity to see if the former darling of the Canadian tech landscape can prove once again it is still relevant by solving an issue it essentially created.