Whom to believe?

In my usual job as editor of Computing Canada I recently received an e-mailed letter from a David P. Wheaton (dwheaton@telusplanet.net) containing the following cryptic message. “There seems to be some confusion. See attached copies.”

The attached copies were two jpegs: one a reproduction of an editorial I had written in the June 1, 2001, issue of Computing Canada entitled IT budgets decline, and the other the July 27, 2001 front page, which carried the headline Canadian IT spending remains strong. The reader obviously felt we were guilty of backtracking, flip-flopping, or possessing a decidedly weak memory.

On the one hand I feel I should provide something of an explanation/rebuttal to the effect that my editorial was taking a global view while the news piece was specifically emphasizing Canadian IT spending trends. However, I did fail to make that clear in the editorial and stand corrected.

On the other I am ready to admit that I truly am confused and things aren’t getting any better.

It seems that literally every day the financial press is changing its opinions and prognostications on whether things are genuinely going from bad to worse in the technology sector or in fact suddenly looking brighter, maybe even much brighter.

The observers, myself included, have the considerable luxury of being able to sit back comfortably in the cheap seats arching our eyebrows and tut-tutting with each minute ebb and flow of this most frustrating economic tide. But we can only imagine, if we can find the compassion, what kind of confusion is being felt by the thousands of women and men who have lost their high-tech sector jobs through massive layoffs.

Meanwhile, adding to the confusion is consulting firm Deloitte & Touche blaring that “the vibrancy of the tech sector and its expansion throughout the Canadian economy is evident” and it’s all there in black and white in the 2001 Deloitte & Touche Canadian Technology Fast 50 finalists report.

“This year’s finalists attest that Canada has some of the best and most resilient technology firms in the world,” says Garry Foster, national director, technology and communications at Deloitte & Touche.

Well how’s this for a healthy dousing of cold water? Nortel Networks Corp. stock has fallen below $10 — to $9.69 — its lowest level in 58 months. And reports indicate that Canada’s fourth largest employer (last time we looked anyway) was officially overtaken atop the advanced optical networks heap in the second quarter of 2001 by U.S.-based rival Lucent Technologies Inc.

So who do we believe?

jbuchok@plesman.com

Shane Schick is on holiday and will return next week

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