MEDIA: Sites We Should Have in Canada

Tell me if this is a familiar issue for you: you encounter a website and think, wow, that’s amazing, and decide you’d like to participate – only to discover it doesn’t offer its services in Canada. A lot of really popular websites develop in the U.S. and, sadly, have no Canadian arm or equivalent to serve similar needs in our system. I say someone should change that.

We’ve managed to use the American system to offer a popular television system, filled with shows popularised by the powerful American advertising system, but we don’t have Canadian variants on a number of popular American sites that, if we did, might give us some great opportunities to come together as a greater community.

The ones that I encounter plenty, which I’d like to either see extend into Canada or have a franchised ‘.ca‘ variant for Canadian content, are:

Kickstarter.com: This is one of the most powerful tools an independent creator has at their disposal: a crowdsourced patronage system that allows the citizens to dictate what smaller projects deserve attention, regardless of the decisions of the gatekeepers. Allowing creators to bypass the record labels, publishers and TV networks that have long had pretty much the only vote in a project’s creation and publicity, Kickstarter is potentially revolutionary to the creative system, much as iTunes was. Individual members who use the site can pledge anywhere from a dollar to fully funding a project, purely out of their interest in seeing it made (and any thank you gifts offered), though the money won’t be taken until the project is fully funded. Unfortunately, the service can accept pledges from anywhere, but starting a project requires you to belong to the U.S. Don’t get angry at Kickstarter, though: the pledging system that makes it possible is though Amazon Payments, so the site’s hands are tied until there’s a similar system available to other countries. They’ve declared their intent to make it available internationally as soon as possible, and I can’t wait…

DonorsChoose.org: If Kickstarter is crowdsourced patronage, Donors Choose is, as it states on the site’s about page, “citizen philanthropy”. The site allows teachers at American public schools to seek funding for their classrooms material needs: anything from pencils for a cash-stapped school’s poetry program to, as I participated in last year, an iPad for a classroom of autistic children. I think this is an amazing concept, and a true democratisation of education – or, at least, a start. And as its a charity, any donations are eligible for claiming on your taxes. Sadly, though non-American donors are allowed, the system can only accept projects from American teachers. This website speaks to what I feel is a truly Canadian sentiment, and it would be fantastic to see it either build the infrastructure to offer its services in Canada, or for a Canadian offshoot to develop.

Metacritic.com: I know the common answer to any concern about Canadian content is, “what Canadian content?”, particularly in television and film. But unlike Hollywood’s strong media centres, we only really have a handful of websites that address Canadian TV and movies – not just Metacritic, but things like Rotten Tomatoes, The Internet Movie Database, etc. The only base of operations for Canadian TV I know is the wonderful TV, Eh, which is a blog that largely aggregates TV news here up north. It would be nice if, like the above shows, we had a handful of well-known sites where Canadians could look up Canadian shows, see critical reaction and details about them, and decide whether or not to watch. Maybe, with some attention on it, the industry would start to really grow – and, like they has among certain internet communities, Canadian shows like Republic of Doyle or Being Erica may begin to get noticed by the folks who normally just see the big bad U.S. behemoths.

Did I miss any you’d like to see a Canadian variant of? And did I miss any Canadian sites that fill in some of the gaps I noted above? I am far from all-knowing, after all.

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