National Digital Media Day: The Big Kiss

This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on September 25, 2008.

Today at noon people are being encouraged to randomly kiss for 2 minutes in a busy downtown intersection. This will also be happening in cities across the country in a simultaneous flash mob being organized by Jennifer Ouano of Elastic Entertainment to celebrate National Digital Media Day (NDMD08).

Pwning the front page“High tech = high touch,” she writes on the mob’s Facebook page. The event is designed to inspire “hope, celebration, spontaneity and fun.”

But what does kissing have to do with digital media? Jennifer’s inspiration was a friend who made a video about a similar traffic stopping stunt shortly after September 11. Dozens of people stood in a busy intersection and kissed for 2 minutes.

Flash mobs, or spontaneous gatherings doing something totally random, show the power of the internet, and the connections people can make. Whether they are inspiring blogs, or educational meetups, digital culture is alive and well in Canada and NDMD08 is meant to highlight it.

Lynda Brown of NewMediaBC has been a leader in raising the profile of the digital business community, and is the creator of NDMD08.

“After tiring of the proverbial “banging of head on computer screen” I thought a new approach was needed,” she writes. “Over a Sunday morning coffee, I came to the conclusion that the only thing that might work would be good old-fashioned grassroots effort.”

And it’s not all just kissing.

The national events will mostly focus on gatherings of new media creators, at unconferences – shared learning environments also called camps. In Vancouver, bloggers will be meeting across the city to create their content in groups in highly visible places.

The events couldn’t come at a better time for the digital media industry, right in the middle of a federal election campaign as the Conservatives were expected to kill the Canada New Media Fund.

“It is of the utmost importance that the Canadian government supports domestic creators of Digital Media content so that our exciting industry may continue to flourish in a province rich with innovation, new ideas, and intellectual property,” NMBC president Kenton Low wrote in an open letter to the BC digital community.

Lynda’s goals for NDMD08 are to bring visibility to digital media creators, connect those in the industry and create a discussion between the industry and community leaders to develop and grow this forward thinking sector of the economy.

So pucker up and give them a big kiss of thanks.


Interested in The Kiss? Meet on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery on Robson St at 11:30 when the secret kissing location will be unveiled. Photos, and a way to interact with them will be posted online after the event.

As a part of the inaugural NDMD08, New Media BC is having their 10th anniversary annual general meeting tomorrow afternoon at Radical Entertainment. The usual AGM business will be tackled, immediately followed by a networking event for Vancouver’s digerati.

The NDMD08 festivities will roll through the weekend as BarCamp will go off on Granville Island. It’s an unconference where the schedule is made up at the start of the session and people are encouraged to be active, participate and share. “Anyone with something to contribute or with the desire to learn is welcome and invited to join.” Except, you know, it’s sold out.

There are an estimated 3,200 firms engaged in interactive media across Canada that generate total gross revenues in excess of $7 billion. Including full time staff, part time staff and subcontractors, there are estimated to be over 50 000 people working in interactive media across Canada. (Canadian Interactive Industry Profile, Authored by PWC and CIAIC, 2006)

Stephane Dion and Elizabeth May have joined Twitter, making it now possible to follow all the major parties as they microblog their campaigns across the country. The Twitter ID’s for those who would be PM are: @pmharper, @elizabethmay, @jacklayton, @liberaltour and @gillesduceppe.



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