Last night I had dinner with Michael Arrington (founder of TechCrunch) at my new favorite spot in San Francisco (Babuji SF) and we caught each other up with our lives, personal and professional. And as is the case we ended up discussing the current environment in Silicon Valley, the political environment and the rancor in the air and a whole lot of other things. As I got home, one thing that stuck with me was what Michael said, Silicon Valley media doesn’t write about tech anymore — it is all about anything but tech. Culture, politics, sociological impact of technology industry and other such issues — that is the conversation.
This reminds me of the “spectacle of technology” piece I wrote about last year. Whether it is the stage-managed meetings between technology leaders and the president elect, conferences that are essentially an opportunity to read off from a pr-checklist, to even twitter-rants, everything is managed for consumption to create a dopamine rush. The market doesn’t reward the discussion of technology – but instead it savors the innuendo, the rise and the fall of companies, that themselves were launched in a hot air balloon of publicity, to fill the unquenchable hunger of the web monster, which needs the equivalent of Chicken McNuggets of information hits. This is the new reality and I have made peace with it.
Like Mike, I have no desire to ever go back. There is no point trying to play the same game we used to again. It is why I find the current opportunity to write for the New Yorker appealing. It is a chance to write about technology, the business of technology and yes, the cultural impact of Silicon Valley in a more considered manner. I am enjoying that process.
By the way if you want to know what I am reading these days, I will share my top ten information sources in a separate post very soon!
December 15, 2016, San Francisco