I love the internet. After all, I’ve made a very comfortable living by working on internet projects over the last 11 years, and I’ve met some wonderful friends and all the rest of it – all through the net.
Sometimes, though, I’m brought face to face with an undeniable and amazing fact: the web in Canada sucks. Badly. The infrastructure is there, the rate of high-speed adoption is second to none in the world, some of the great internet companies and services have come from Canada… but in terms of local, regional, or even national services, the situation is really lame.
What brings this on is a simple but telling tale. For curiosity’s sake, I was taking a look at take-out sushi restaurants in Montreal. I noted (and have noticed on the street) that there are the Sushi Shops and Soto/Soto Express. The Sushi Shop has a pretty good little site – no problem there. So I tried soto.ca andsotoexpress.ca. Nothing. No response, not even a squatter. OK, let’s check Google. The first result is from some Washington DC magazine, and it confirms that soto.ca is the right address… or seems to confirm it. Of course there’s still nothing there, though.
Hmmm, I thought, maybe Soto has gone out of business or something. So I cruise over to the Canada.com Montreal Gazette site to check. Surely there will be even an excerpt of a story in there if they’ve closed up in the last little while. Uh, no.
First of all, you can’t even search just the Montreal site, at all. Then, the only results (most of which are already guaranteed to be useless, as they come from across Canada) are from the last 7 days. Only. CyberPresse, the online arm of the La Presse group of papers, is worse: there is no search at all.
Then, I went back to the Canada.com site, this time to their Yellow Pages, and tried a search for sushi. I managed eventually (through the worst-designed search I’ve seen in years) to get a list of sushi places… but there was not a single link. They had links to maps, to directions… but no links to websites that I know for a fact exist. What’s the point!?! To add insult to injury, of course none of this stuff is touched by Google, so it’s completely hidden from view to locals or to the world.
Basically, according to the Web, a supposedly thriving restaurant chain in one of Canada’s major cities does not exist. And there are no local online news media through which you can confirm or deny this possibility in any way. What, is it 1992?