Re: Government OnLine faces project failure: Auditor (Feb. 11)

I read with interest your article on Canada’s GOL initiative – interested enough to go to the government website which

explains the government’s view of what GOL is and read the material there. I was disappointed to see that the GOL presentation was primarily associated with Public Works – a government department that has a tough job, and (if we are to believe the media presentations this week) rife with politicial corruption.

The GOL programs that we’re familiar with appear (to an outsider) to be internally run, and run well – Environment Canada’s weather forecasting and reporting service, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency’s website for dissemination of tax bulletins and interpretation bulletins, and Department of Foreign Affairs’ virtual trade commissioner service. While central planning appears to have benefits in efficiency, it also tends to stifle innovation. If Public Works wants to provide us with better service, it should present itself as an information clearing house and resource for other government departments, rather than a central planning/implementation agency.

Derek Vair

Re: Government OnLine faces project failure: Auditor (Feb. 11)

As a Canadian taxpayer, I welcome the Auditor General’s report, which parallels the experience of the Gun Registry and Ontario’s failed Integrated Justice Project – Courts (where I spent 5 years as a lawyer volunteer).

As a technofile, I also applaud reasonable expectations and securing reasonable wins, without risking too much of the Canadian purse. I strongly suggest that working solutions be implemented, stage by stage. Professor Geist in Ottawa will undoubtedly be called upon further in this regard.

Derek R. Freeman

Re: Electronic health records: Condition critical (Feb. 5)

My bet is that the way this is going, the electronic health record will never appear! We’ve been hearing about the lack of an electronic health record for ages. In my humble opinion, we are going about it the wrong way. Everyone seems intent on a monolithic system. What is needed is a standard for a health record so that devices such as smart cards and other info on chip devices could be constructed and sold to individuals as a secure place where they would store their records.

With a standard in place and the principle that the individual maintains their own record, I think a very reasonably priced alternative or alternative(s) could and would emerge. If there was a service where I could carry my entire health record around securely, including allergy and donor information, I would certainly sign up for my entire family. Who wouldn’t?

Would a standard for storing and reading the information really make a difference? Well, look what TCP/IP did for the Internet!

I may not have articulated this in the clearest of ways, but the bottom line is this. The famous definition of insanity is “”doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”” That, at least to me, is what I see in these monolithic solutions that keep being talked about, planned and then never executed. Every dollar that could be saved in health care ultimately saves us all whether it turns up as not raising our taxes or as better care.

We all have a stake in this. Let’s solve it instead of talking about it!

Jim Love

Re: Canadian online shopping declines: Ipsos-Reid report (Feb. 3)

I would like to know if these reports take into account the number of cross border sales. We have noticed a drastic drop in orders from the U.S. since the U.S. dollar started to slide. I have also noticed that some of my customers now look at US online retailers as a viable option with the currency exchange rate.

Chris Phillipo

Re: U of Ottawa creates tools to monitor privacy violations (Feb. 2)

What would you say to the charge that your product, instead of protecting privacy, actually invades it by carrying out, in effect, an (illegal) interception of communications? Unlike spam fitering tools, Amikanow’s product is intended to monitor and flag outgoing messages, not filter incoming ones. There is a huge difference between the two. What you have is not a privacy enhancing technology for users, but a security-enhancing tool for Sysops, managers and other snoopy people. Suggesting otherwise is misleading and irresponsible.

Fred Carter

Re: Government searches for national e-learning agenda (Jan. 22)

Whether it starts at the provincial level or a local school, the development of content for e-learning at any level has to exist.

School text-book companies have an entrenched monopoly on what goes into the system. It’s next to impossible to introduce an alternative or supplement. To convert existing curricula for delivery over the World Wide Web could run into copyright infringement with textbook publishers.

While some brilliant fellow was known to have said, “”There’s nothing new under the sun,”” the rewriting, revision, and repackaging of what’s known requires a great deal of skill, time, and effort.

I believe Canada has the opportunity to take the lead in developing educational content. Beginning with national or even provincial standards in education, Canada could begin to provide curriculum for the world. Since most of it’s old-hat anyway, perhaps existing textbook content could be made accessible as public domain content. Textbook companies, and perhaps content developers, or teams of instructional-designers, subject-matter-experts, graphic-designers, and interactive-multimedia-programmers/developers would want to collect royalties and profit from their endeavour.

,p>I would love to sit down with an experienced educator –– someone who has been teaching particular curricula for years –– (and perhaps also watch the class) to brainstorm for ideas about interactive multimedia presentations and introduce prototypes to a typical pilot audience to get feedback and ideas for improvement or revision.

The capabilities of new media are such that children today could learn, or absorb, and become competent with more knowledge and ideas and skills than has ever been previously possible in the history of people-kind (mankind). Not to provide the means for young people to use these tools to the (hopeful) betterment of the world is quite a wasted opportunity.

Robert Mainwaring

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