Douglas Magazine in Victoria: letter to the editor

by Yule Heibel on July 21, 2008

I bought a copy of Douglas Magazine yesterday — it’s a slim publication, but full of interesting articles relating to Victoria’s economy.  Too bad it’s not online, but maybe one day?

The current July/August issue includes a useful article by Dan Gunn, “Growing the tech talent pool,” which made me want to write a letter to the editor in response.  I wrote:

I enjoyed Dan Gunn‘s article, “Growing the tech talent pool,” (July/August ’08), and found it a good complement to Ken Stratford‘s “Owning your own business,” which deftly busted some Victoria economy myths.

Gunn observed that our technology sector has to grow and expand, and suggested several ways we can plan for its future growth.  He also noted that “Greater Victoria has a very tight-knit technology community.”  Let’s not forget that “tight-knit” often also means “insular” or “locked in silos,” a condition that’s anathema to innovation.

Hence I feel prompted to suggest another way to plan for tech’s future growth: encourage synergistic cross-pollination between the various industries.  Propagate the knowledge that technology is part of the “creative cities industry,” which includes not just artists, marketers, or creative urbanists, but also technologists, coders, entrepreneurs — in a word: innovators.  Spread the word that innovation and entrepreneurship add value to a city’s economy, and good ideas emerge when folks rub up against one another rather than staying within a tightly-knit tribe.

Douglas Magazine helps get those ideas out there, as do specific events.

For an additional example of how events play a role in connecting people and ideas, recall last April’s first-ever DemoCamp Victoria (and we’re planning a second one for Autumn), or take a look at events like Pecha Kucha (started in Japan, now world-wide, including Vancouver).

We have so much potential here — and if we can work to break down the silos and get more interactive (literally, with one another), we’ll be hopping.  Everyone I talk to in the arts and in tech wants to see this happen, and wants additional platforms for connecting with other people.  Geographically, we might be an island, but with technology and talented people, we don’t have to be on islands creatively.


Mike July 21, 2008 at 4:07 pm

My business partner and I recently decided to join the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce to represent our web-based media company.

One of the perks of joining the Chamber is a subscription to a listing of local member companies ordered by business category. However, the category for our business is not available and existing media sub-categories like television, print and radio certainly do not apply to our operation. When we requested that a suitable category be created for future editions of the document, we were quickly turned down.

You’d think that with the growth of online media and online business in general the Chamber, of all things, would recognize the distinctly different operations of companies operating via the Internet especially when existing categories are unsuitable. And if the Chamber hasn’t invested the time to expand its awareness of the changing face of business, why hasn’t Viatec stepped up to the plate to ensure web-based businesses are appropriately categorized/recognized by local chambers?

Of course this situation is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, but it illustrates how far the tech industry has to go in our region before it is equally recognized by the community.

Yule July 21, 2008 at 4:22 pm

Wow, that’s really interesting, Mike… No “new media” category at the Chamber, eh? That’s not right! You could try contacting some VIATec board members (or Gunn himself) and asking them about that.

Robert Randall July 21, 2008 at 8:04 pm

I’m sure the Chamber will claim that there has to be “x” number of new businesses to justify the creation of a new category but surely they realize the value of being proactive when it comes to promoting tech. What year is it, 1998?

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