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Stand up and be counted

At this weekend’s Digital Media Camp one of the most interesting topics was proposed by Justin Kozuch of Refresh Events.

He asked what, as a community, we could do to assemble quality data on the Digital Media industry in Toronto? There is currently no good accounting of how many companies exist in Toronto or how many people work in the field or what value we are adding to the economy.

He cited A List Apart’s survey as an example of the type of information we require.

Why is this important?
So first off why would we bother trying to assemble this data?

For one, we need to understand what impact we have on this city’s and province’s economy. While we may have been a cottage industry in the past we are a legitimate industry now. We create jobs, we support local landlords, local suppliers like ISPs and computer retailers, we need to quantify this.

There is currently no good information on this. StatsCan data is terrible and trying to get the government to collect it will take forever.

If we are able to quantify this, we can begin to have a voice in shaping policy on issues like Net Neutrality, HST and other issues that affect us as an industry.

Once we know how large we are and what we are comprised of we can begin to align together. One of the mandates of Digital Media Camp was to identify “How can we work together to propel Toronto’s technology, content and design communities into the future and make Toronto a globally competitive hub of digital media entrepreneurship and innovation?” Arguably this is impossible without being able to actually identify who the community is.

What are the barriers?
The most obvious barrier to me is how we self identify in this community. For example, is someone at IBM in the same industry as someone at a 3 person open source based dev shop? We may not identify cleanly with each other. I know whenever I have to pick from a list of StatsCan industries I can never figure out where to put us. Are we marketing, are we technology are we content? This is a big issue that needs to be defined.

DigitalMediacamp defines us as…

Digital Media is most simply defined as any information that is created and shared virtually, rather than physically. It has growing applications in all industries, including:

- entertainment – film, TV, games, visual effects
- healthcare – diagnostic imaging, collaborative care, health IT
- education – immersive learning environments
- finance and insurance – modeling complex data sets
- minerals and mining – seismic exploration

Uhm, not sure about this definition as it is extremely broad and our company would not fit cleanly in those examples. Some work definitely needs to be done on this issue.

Next steps
I slipped out before the end of the session on Sat but I’ve heard there is an action item which is to continue this discussion on Jan 18th in Toronto. There will be info forthcoming.

I believe this is an important issue that we need to take care of as a grass roots initiative. It is up to us to stand up and be counted.

Jon Lax More posts by Jon Lax