DigitalMediaCamp – Toronto

Headed up by Mark Kuznicki of Remarkk Consulting, DigitalMediaCamp hit Toronto for a full day of ideas and intense and interactive conversations.  As they promoted, DigitalMediaCamp was focused around a central question:  “How can we work together to propel Toronto’s technology, content and design communities into the future and make Toronto a globally compatitive hub of digital media entreprenuership and innovation?” 

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The first in a series of events to be held across Canada, DigitalMediaCamp is intended to:

  1. engage emerging leaders and the talented and pasionate creators in Canada’s digital media industry,
  2. to identify great ideas and new voices and
  3. to spur creativity in Canada’s digital economy.

As the day’s proceedings were structured as an unconference, the participants were really the engines and content creators of the event.

There were many great conversations that took place today. They ranged from asking and how we can engage and co-operate more in the tech/digital community to new creating new funding models for digital media to using tecnology to help community causes.

The conversations were broken into four stages:

  1. Current State
  2. Possible Futures
  3. Our Gifts
  4. Taking Action

Current State:

Toronto is home to a plethora of internatinoally recognized technology companies, content creators, and marketers.  Why do these communities, who share many fundamental goals, exist in silos?  This is a question that could take a series of unconferences to answer and then resolve.  However, there are many reasons and many more theories.  One reason is lack of vision.  There always seems to be a need for a short term corporate business goal rather than a community or long-term societal goal.  Others are unwilling to risk the time, energy and resources to commit to a shared vision.  A very interesting question popped up in this particular discussion.  That was, “Can social capital be translated into financial capital?”

Another question asked in this stage was how do we ensure that digital media does not become a maintenance nightmare?  In other words, how does an individual, company or community organization ensure that a what is being done is effective and pursuing the overall goal or mandate?  The conversation here focused more on social media best practises and how to ensure organizational goals were still being met.

The pursuit of new funding models was also addressed during this portion of DigitalMediaCamp.  This was probably the busiest and most passionate discussion of the morning.  Topics and questions discussed and asked included the following:

  • Are banner and website ads effective in creating substantial revenues for operations?
  • Is sponsorship of projects a viable alternative to content ads?
  • Is there room for a micropayment structure in Canada?
  • Does the focus on quick turn around and revenue kill innovation?
  • Too many people with ideas and not enough people to create a proper model kills innovation.
  • Is a service like Toronto’s Sprouter (which can link talent with ideas) a solution?
  • Toronto is void of a large local corporate leader.
  • Government funding. Is there enough? Should there be more? Is it a potential source?
  • Is there enough collaboration happening between entreprnuers and companies to spark and nurture incubators?

Possible Futures:

An interesting conversation that took place during this stage is how will government, educational institutions and other entities continue to deal with the role of open source and creative commons.  It was concluded that those outside the technology community typicaly don’t understand the value of open source.  One reason for this is that there really isn’t a lobby group large or unified enough to educate and influence.  Therefore, it was suggested that policy makers need to be approached and educated using practical case studies to identify possibilities and future options.

Our Gifts:

WirelessToronto.ca highlighted a discussion on helping community causes and creating free stuff for users.  In short, Wireless Toronto offers wifi to venues and charges them a nominal fee who then offer it free to their users.  Presently, there are over 40 hotspot venues all across the Greater Toronto Area.  This was another session that was loaded with fantastic ideas and discussion. 

  • It’s time to implement ideas rather than continualy talk about them.  Meetup and unconference burnout may happen, if it has not already happened, if the tech community continues talk but not walk the talk.
  • There are many talented people who are ust looking for a cause or a project to dive into and get passionate about.  How they are properly matched in an effective way is important and needs to be solved.
  • What can potentially happen during Toronto’s 2010 municipal election? Will this be the election where issues are discussed by the electorate and the candidates on social media platforms?  How can the tech community facilitate this?

Taking Action:

Another great discussion to wrap up the day.  There were many wonderful thoughts and conversations.  However, here were some of the “things to do”:

  • Link professionals to non-profits and charity’s so that their tech and social media needs can be properly met.
  • Provide technology training as a social serice to the public and community groups.
  • Create a Community Consultant wo would visit and asertain the needs of community groups and other local charities and non-profits.

If you follow the conversation that took place on Twitter (#DMcamp) you will sense the excitement and passion of those who attended. It seems that today is the dawn of a new day in Toronto’s tech community.  Will Toronto’s citizens, public policy makers, communtiy group, charities and non-profits finally come to benefit from their city’svast wealth of knowledge and experience?  If you believe it’s time for change, follow #t4change on Twitter and join the movement.