Back in April, the local press and various banks, investors and city councillors made a lot of hubbub about an initiative called ICT Toronto. The initiative’s goal was laudable: to boost the profile of Toronto in information and communications technologies, bringing us from the #3 area in North America in those fields (New York holds the #2 spot and Silicon Valley is #1) to #2.
I attended the press conference that ICT Toronto held to announce the final report on the current state of information and communications tech in Toronto and what is to be done about it back in April. As I wrote in this entry, the only actual techies there were me and the “DemoCamp Brain Trust” — everyone else seemed to be either an investment banker or someone who worked at City Hall. In a later entry, I wrote:
At the risk of alienating some big players in the local tech scene, I will state that I believe that not only is ICT Toronto’s task too important to be left to ICT Toronto; I think that we will have to accomplish that task in spite of ICT Toronto.
It’s almost five months later, and it appears that not much has happened. I haven’t seen a press release since the one for their launch party, and a Google News search for “ICT Toronto” ends up without any results.
As for their web site — actually a single web page — here’s what you would have seen had you visited it back at the end of April:
And here’s what it looks like now:
In the meantime, Toronto’s techies, without any of the money or manpower earmarked for ICT Toronto have held 4 DemoCamps and a BarCamp, events which have gone a long way to fostering a sense of community and cooperation in the local tech scene. And of course, actually building information and communication technologies, something the suits seem to have completely overlooked.
This is hardly surprising. Silicon Valley was born of good circumstances coupled with the grassroots efforts of ambitious techies doing what they loved, not by government/business fiat. I’d call ICT Toronto a bunch of pointless martini-swilling stuffed shirts, but that’s an insult to martinis and dress shirts, both of which I happen to like.
ICT Toronto’s going to have to do better than produce a glossy report and a party with decent hors d’oeuvres. I hope I’m wrong, but I seriously doubt that they’re up to the task.