Montreal has brains?

Wow, we’ve reached almost 40 comments in the Montreal+Brains convo– easily the hugest amount of comments I’ve ever gotten on one post. It’s actually kind of great to hear people so interested in the subject of developing community.

For those of you that aren’t from Montreal– I suspect we have here a certain culture of jealousy here. We have a big city, but it’s not as big as Toronto. We’re also French, but we’re not quite Paris. We never really get big media attention, aside from the big music boom from two years ago brought on by the Arcade Fire. Comparisons to other cities are almost second-nature here– well, at least to me, they are. Because yeah, I think we deserve better.

As Montrealers we saw a pretty huge amount of money disappear from under us during the Referendum of 1995; I think a lot of us feel like we should have been the financial capital of Canada by this time– who knows, we very well could have been. In the meantime, though, Patrick says it’s time we had our own Flickr, like Vancouver. In a way, I feel like our own laissez-faire attitude kind of bites us in the ass; most of us would rather go for a beer at the local 5 à 7 place than work overtime any day of the week.

Are we winning out in quality of life? I love my city the freedoms it allow me, but part of me wonders what price we’re paying. I’m watching other cities become havens for this kind of stuff and myself fear starting a Podcamp Montreal (like Chris showed interest in) because I worry about the lack of interest– “After all,” I find even myself thinking, “wouldn’t Toronto be a better decision?”

Perhaps I’ve doomed myself by not believing in Montreal from the start. Who knows. But I know for sure that I want this place to get noticed. I want to figure out how.





9 responses to “Montreal has brains?”

  1. anji bee Avatar

    at least your city’s claim to fame isn’t gangsta rap, like mine. as soon as you say you’re from long beach, people think you live in a ghetto. more recently our newsworthiness was the rand report pointing out our port as an excellent terrorist target. excited to come visit me now?

  2. Patrick Avatar

    I wonder how much you follow other fields though and how much your (and I guess mine) perception of their international visibility is accurate? A few films have had international praise, our gaming industry is very well known and boasts some huge successes, 3D animation, aerospace,biotech, we’re often listed and sited in lists of places to live, etc.

    re podcamp: I guess it depends what you are aiming for. Can it easily be as big as the one in Boston? I doubt it, you’d probably need a lot more effort to achieve the same results, first and foremost because they are in the states, a 1-2 day to Boston from pretty much anywhere in the states can be somewhat inexpensive, getting the the same person here is more expensive. And to my knowledge you’d need the americans to get the numbers of that podcamp (I’m guessing it was big from what I’ve heard from you but really, I didn’t pay attention to it much)

    If on the other hand you’re satisfied with a smaller version, I think you and Casey and Mitch just to name 3 have plennnnnty of visibility to make it happen at a BarcamMontreal level (30-40 people) if you reach out to Boston, Ottawa and T.O.. By the way, I know RoCoCo camp was initially (not sure if it’s still the case) planning a thing for the whole week, maybe match your podcamp with it.

    Finally, I’d like to see which signs you’ve got in mind that makes you believe Toronto is that much ahead of Montréal in web 2.0 (god I hate writing that) stuff.

  3. hugh Avatar

    oh, man julien. you need to go live elsewhere, and see what we have. I have been around the world, and Montreal has something very particular, but also less cash and less alpha attack (maybe because of that). For me that’s a good thing: rents are cheap, people do art for art, and not to make a name for themselves (see what it’s like in NYC). (on the downside, no one can sell anything here). people don’t care so much what you *do* as whether you have anything interesting to say, it’s so easy here to decide: I want to do/meet X and then just do it (try that in Paris or London); and we don’t spend all our time talking about real estate ( Service here sucks, and people are rude in the street, but no one gives a shit what school you went to or what job you have and anyone will invite you over for dinner after meeting you once. Food is good and cheap, and we care about that. The SAQ however, rips you off on wine prices (scotch is well-priced tho).

    On the down side: we tend to be appathetic – too much coffee, talk and pot smoking, not enough doing. Our local mainstream press is clueless – totally unconnected with anything new, esp on the Anglo side. We have no money, so projects are harder to get rolling. We are risk adverse, so people do lots of little stuff on their own, but shy away from anything big and ambitious. that, maybe is part of what you are saying. there needs to be more of an environment to start big projects.

    Oh, aslo, I agree with Boris: lots of designers, arty folk, and good ideas. Few back-end coders in this hacker envrionment. At least few that I know of who are willing/able to work on stuff. If there are any, please contact me.

    OK: I am in to help Podcamp Montreal. Here’s the question: who cares how many people show up? 10? 15? 20?

    Jesus, the day a Montrealer starts envying Toronto is a sad day – no offense to Torontonians 😉 But seriously, you need to spend some real time elsewhere and see what the rest of the world is like. it ain’t all gravy, and all good things come with tradeoffs.

    Anyway, I don’t think the problem you have is community. it’s something else, maybe mainstream interest in what we do? speaking of which: tetesaclaques … try to walk two blocks in montreal without hearing someone talking about the willie waller.

  4. […] Julien has unleashed a storm of comments about montreal’s web community. Evan, Patrick, Sylvain, and Robin have weighed in, as have I. Julien followed-up. […]

  5. Robin Avatar

    RoCoCo was “cut down” to 3 days, may 18-20 2007.

    And now for something completely different, Montreal, it would seem, is responsible for 50 % of “cam” movies found on p2p networks. Now, if that’s not an honour, I don’t know what is 😉

  6. Jason Avatar

    Wow, Julien the Cosmopolitan Visionary. Who knew?

    I agree with hugh though, we have it pretty good here. In fact I would go as far as to say that Montreal’s underdog status is what makes this place livable. The kind of significance and international appeal you’re thinking of comes at a heavy price, unless you like Toronto culture and lifestyle (!).

    Places like New York and Paris are always nicer in movies and on tv, but once you try living there you quickly come to grips with the nauseating smell of “success”. The first thing to fly out the window when a city becomes big is its identity, replaced swiftly with a handful of stereotypes that you can print on a t-shirt, or worse, the place gets labeled after a crumbling landmark or nicknamed after a fruit.

    Yeah Montreal is all over the place, yeah people smoke too much weed and drink too much beer. The artistic community continues to be confused and counter-productive, while the intellectuals and dreamers abandon their pursuits for a reassuring business/commerce degrees. Meanwhile the criminals and cheats keep flowing in freely while educated immigrants repeatedly suffer the humiliation of having their university degrees rendered obsolete by xenophobic Quebec politics.

    You want to get the smart people together to create something worthwhile? Here’s some advice. Do it in secret, keep your group real fucking small, and kill the whole project the second someone proposes that you put out merchandise.

    This is Montreal…

  7. anonimo Avatar

    you know, i might actually like montreal if i people stopping forcing its utter fabulousness down my throat.

  8. […] When my friend Julien complained about the need for Montreal to show our brains, lamenting not having a hot startup scene, the community responded loudly (check out all the comments, and the follow up post). […]

  9. Michelle Avatar

    Would love to see a podcamp Montreal ..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *