Friday, October 29, 2004

The TELUSfear

Here's a scary story for Halloween. I was horrified to learn last night that Vancouver's Science World is about to be renamed to TELUSphere, as part of a sponsorship agreement between the facility and phone service provider TELUS. I find it difficult to fully express the deep loathing I feel towards this naming decision - but I'm going to try.

First of all, there's the obvious: the growing trend towards selling out our notable landmarks and slapping a corporate sponsor's name and logo all over them, thereby embedding even more advertising into our already media-saturated and consumer-driven lives. No longer will I gaze upon the twinkly lights of Science World at night, like a firework captured in mid-explosion; instead, I'll find myself resenting the imposition of the TELUSphere upon my view.

Had the learning centre merely been renamed "TELUS Science World", I would have grumbled. I would have shaken my head, and ranted a bit to friends and colleagues, and thumbed my nose at the logo as I biked past - and eventually picked up the pieces and moved on with my life. But part of what I find so abhorrent about this new name is that it eliminates any trace whatsoever of the purpose or content of Science World. There is no suggestion of science, or learning, or even fun. There is nothing in the word "TELUSphere" to indicate that the giant shiny globe is anything but a showcase for TELUS. To the uninitiated, it could be a wireless networking superstore, or a corporate research station, or an amusement park ride.

So I certainly won't be patronizing the "TELUSphere" or the Omnimax within it any more, if the name changes goes ahead. Had I children, I would not bring them there; I would not want them to grow up associating the brand of TELUS with the fundamentals of science and technology (particularily when the cell phone signal at my office is so unreliable). And I've got an online petition started, for what it's worth. Once there's enough names on it I'll send it to Science World's Board of Governors and see if they'll consider a more appropriate name. I'd also encourage anyone else who is bothered by this to send letters to Science World and the newspapers. It can't hurt to at least make our feelings known.


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