I'm delighted to be writing this post as a OneWebDay ambassador. OneWebDay, which takes place on September 22, is a global day to celebrate the Internet, and the values that make the Internet such an essential part of our society. This year OneWebDay is paying particular tribute to the Internet's role in supporting democratic participation — a role that is made possible by the Internet's character as an open, global and participatory medium.

I'm a participant in that global conversation, but I'm also part of a local online community in the city of Vancouver, where I've been part of many lively conversations in local WiFi cafes and local community sites.  Like the rest of Vancouver, wired Vancouverites look forward to showing our city off to the world when we host the winter Olympics in 2010. Of course, as with any global event, the Olympics also raises concerns about what the world might see when it turns its spotlight to beautiful BC.

I'm pleased to put that concern to rest. While I was reading today's news coverage of Internet censorship at the Beijing Olympics, I stumbled onto the IOC's intranet, where I came across the following draft memo:

February 12, 2010

Dear citizen-journalist,

We are sorry to report that owing to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, and certainly not due to any action on the part of your Internet Service Provider or the IOC, your computer may be unable to resolve certain domains. Our technicians are examining the issue, and we expect this outage to last until roughly 11:59 p.m. on February 28th.

To assist our friends in the journalism community, we have prepared this list of alternative sources:

Instead of…
…you can visit…
www.cannedtuna.ca for the very best alternative news from the pages of CTVCanWestglobemedia, a proud division of AOLTimeWarnerNewsCorporation.
changeverything.ca www.changenothing.ca, the site that celebrates Vancouver's charming condos, shopping malls and car dealerships. They're perfect just the way they are.
adbusters.org www.marketingmag.ca, which takes a balanced look at advertising's essential role in helping us buy more stuff.
cannabisculture.ca www.coniferculture.com, a celebration of BC's favourite form of plant life. (Note: please do not smoke the trees.)
happyfrog.ca www.ecstaticfrog.ca, where you'll learn how Vancouver has become the most sustainable city ever. Vancouver has become the most sustainable city ever. Vancouver has become the most sustainable city ever. Now say it with me….
freegeekvancouver.org  www.bestbuy.com, because really – do you want a computer that some hippy's been pawing over?

In addition, as per recent directives from the Government of Canada, you may have difficulty reaching any URL containing the numerals 2010, the number 10, the word ten, a combination of 1s and 0s, any reference to human or numerary digits, the word winter, winter-y time images or music, or images of abaci. May we show you something in a 2012?

* * *

It's easy to scoff at the idea of Internet censorship bedeviling the Vancouver Olympics the way it's now causing an uproar in Beijing. But Vancouver is in fact the home of one of the few recorded violations of net neutrality: during a 2005 labour dispute, local ISP Telus blocked its subscribers from accessing a website created by its employees' union.

Whether it's Vancouver or Beijing, daily life or Olympic bustle, unfettered access to the Internet is democracy's best friend. OneWebDay is a chance to celebrate the Internet's role in supporting effective democracy — and a reminder of those who do not yet enjoy its full benefits.