Change Begins At Home

Everyone in Vancouver has that one friend who works in the video game industry. You know the one: they entered right after (or possibly during) university and have been working like a dog ever since. I had one such friend back at SFU. When I returned from a year abroad, he was working on an internship at Electronic Arts writing the engine for the Reboot game. Although I returned in July, I didn’t see him until September on the first day of class. We lived in the same house.

Now imagine that every company is operating at this pace. That’s what it’s like to work in Silicon Valley.

Something magical happens when you gather a lot of smart, ambitious people in a one place – they work hard, produce neat stuff, and enjoy themselves doing it. This isn’t a problem in itself; the problem is when they don’t know when to stop working. Despite consistently clocking 80 hours weeks in the office during the day and on email in the evening and on the weekends, I was a lightweight. My manager had apparently evolved beyond the need for sleep, an ability that enabled him to send me emails at 1am, then again at 3am, and then one more time at 6am shortly before coming into the office. My VP could transcend time zones by flying to Europe on Monday and returning to the North America on Wednesday, fueled only by a constant intake of coffee. It goes without saying, this is an unbalanced existence and it doesn’t work in the long term – just ask the video game industry.

Fortunately, Canada doesn’t have that problem. Unfortunately, we have the exact opposite problem: our productivity growth has flat-lined, and it’s our own damned fault for not moving fast enough. Need proof? There is no more obvious a symptom to me in Vancouver’s online world than T-Net’s

Hello, T-Net? 1999 called – it wants its web site back.

I’d like to say I’m trying to start a blog-fight with T-Net, but that would require them to have a blog in the first place. It would, in fact, require them to have significantly altered the site in any way since it launched a decade ago. The site’s continued spectacular level of suckage is cringe-worthy. Frames-based jobs board that is infuriatingly annoying to navigate? Check. Blind regurgitation of press releases? Check. Complete inability to optimize the site for search engines? Double check.

By all rights, should be dead. It should have died long ago, been autopsied to check for foul play, buried by accident, exhumed to correct the error, cremated, and its ashes scattered in secret locations throughout the world to guard against any possible zombie resurrection. You can hardly blame T-Net for continuing to have the audacity to exist – nobody has challenged them.

Canada is not about competition. Ambition is bad. Don’t rock the boat. And that’s what needs to change. While I would never wish the pace of Silicon Valley on Canada’s technology community, we’re got to stop phoning it in. You can’t resist change, and then bitch about how you don’t like how things are going. If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.

Am I trying to provoke you to prove me wrong? Absolutely. So get moving.