Unless you've had your head under a rock you are probably aware of all the activity that's been going on by our Northern neighbors, the Canadians. A few weeks ago there was CanApple's (www.canapple.org) TranslAtlantic link conference, where @NY's Tom Watson was present. The Canadian Consulate has been a generous host of WWWAC meetings in their "country" (space) on 6th Avenue in midtown, and this week was "Highlight Quebec." This mini-conference sponsored by the Government of Quebec and go-Digital Internet Consulting Group, set in the famed Digital Sandbox at 55 Broad Street, brought many Canadian businesses into Silicon Alley for exposure and networking opportunities. Held on April 15-16, the conference got significant recognition from many big associations in Canada.
Richard Pinto (Managing Director, Appia Group) shared some of the ideas behind the conference with me. It's a natural fit for both Alley's (Canada being Silicon Alley North) to work together. With tax incentives and grants, and three new new-media centers in Montreal, Ottawa, and Quebec City, Canada is a great place for companies to try out a foreign market. And yet, Canada isn't so foreign to us. The same is true for these companies. Martin Carrier and Sabine Hamelin of UbiSoft, expressed the company's approach to attending the summit. UbiSoft is based in Paris and does production in five countries. They already have an office in San Francisco, now they want to explore the possibilities New York has to offer for the East Coast. A developer of instructional software on painting, music, tech-familiarity, math, and games, they want to increase their U.S. sales from 15% to 40%.
Another firm hoping to break into the U.S. market is Ressources Kitaskino XXI. Owned by trappers in the Itimec region, Simon Brascoupe (Pres., International Indigenous Network on Environment and Trade -- ii.net) was their representative and demoed their Waskak Edu. CD-rom for me, which they hope will be sold to schools in the U.S. Currently written in Itimec, a native Canadian "tribe," and French, this CD is being translated into English. Using this culture's analogy of 6 seasons, you can click on any number of options and see pictures, video and audio clips, and texts from elders on this culture. This CD is a complete encyclopedia of one of this nation's indigenous people, preserving cultural heritage, in an engaging and technologically current format. As the issue of technology and education progresses full steam ahead, materials like this become even more relevant.
Other companies on hand were Softimage and Discreet Logic. Softimage did some graphics for "Titanic" and the special effects of the dinosaurs in "Jurassic Park." Dicreet Logic gushed out creations of water effects for "Titanic." You could run away from those dinosaurs while watching a video of "Jurassic" on Xystos treadmill. The "treadmill of the future," this piece of equipment features a touch-screen that displays realistic paths and backgrounds for you while running. And when you get bored of that, you can answer e-mail, type messages, watch your favorite soap opera, or video conference. I can just see it now, "we'd love to start the meeting, but Bob is running all over the place!"
After the initial day's events, I tagged along with Matthew Toner and Anthony Raposo of C@nApple (with the Canadian Consulate), Eugenio Zuniga and Sylvain Perron of K*OS (pronounced Chaos), Sherry Reisner, and Stephane Choquette for a nice casual meal at the Wall Street Bar and Restaurant. Stephane elaborated on how his experiences as a waiter in Paris gave him the correct approach to customer service with his company. Like waiting, dealing with clients should be a collaborative, uplifting experience for them, not one of begrudgingly doing them a favor. Sounds simple enough, but is hard to find in real world scenarios more often than not.
(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)