Based in Toronto, I recently completed the Masters of Information (MI) program at the University of Toronto, and am the former Communications Manager at Canadian Business for Social Responsibility and Ontario-based Alterna Savings credit union. I'm long-time believer that businesses of whatever type - co-op, private, public - are critical to the process of social and environmental change. The MI d...
Access to Information and "Capitalism 2.0"
Upon finishing information school and beginning to reconnect with CR&S, I saw an upcoming discussion in Toronto of "Capitalism 2.0". What does it mean and how can a "gold standard" of performance be achieved? Individuals and businesses live amongst complex and rapidly changing economic, environmental and social systems, as Timothy Nash notes. Is Capitalism 2.0 then the further embedment of the goal of placing social and environmental concerns at the same level of consideration as financial in individual and business choices? Is it the increased enmeshing of business value with social and environmental value creation, to the point where the two are indistinguishable?
Capitalism is challenged on many fronts, and under that large social umbrella access to information and intellectual property issues have a place. The recent suicide of Aaron Swartzfacing overzealous prosecution in the US for "freeing" JSTOR academic articles by downloading them on MIT campusput the open access movement in the news recently. In Canada, news circulated in December that a Montreal company had gathered information on 1 million Canadians who have shared files illegally with the matter in the courts now. This despite, as copyright expert Michael Geist notes, Canada's newly updated copyright law Bill C-11 is intended to distinguish between non-commercial and commercial infringement (and to significantly reduce the penalties for individuals).
The ultimate goals of this information movement represent a social good: uncensored exchange via the Internet, and public access to publically funded knowledge. Along with the fair compensation and protection of the work of creators (whether individual or business), Capitalism 2.0 must surely also include the transition to a more open information ethos in business. This, of course, includes transparently sharing business information with stakeholders through sustainability reporting, stakeholder consultations, full environmental disclosure on products and other vehicles. But ideally I imagine it also includes an approach to digital activity that emphasizes access to information; and the collaboration of competitors and like-minded businesses to share knowledge and information to innovate sustainability solutions for the common good as Mallen Baker notes in discussing the way forward after Rio+20 and as is also being discussed after Davos.
Looking forward to hearing Bob Willard further discuss Capitalism 2.0 in Toronto at the Toronto Sustainability Speaker Series on Thursday. And also looking forward to exploring the link between sustainability and information/communications in future posts, while reporting on other CR&S news out of Canada.