I’ve been doing some writing for a tech company, and, without going into any specifics, it’s made me remember that I actually really like the culture of the tech industry. This is, to some extent, a little bit odd, since I have very little interest in technology in and of itself. I’m not a Neal Stephenson type–someone who follows the latest trends in technology and who’s always panting after some innovation that’s ‘only’ fifteen years away (3D printing, nanotechnology, etc). I’m like, ehh, the future is going to be amazing, I am sure, but it will happen whether or not I’m paying attention–I’d rather focus on what’s around in the world right now rather than continually looking into the future (which is why I’m often amazed at some of the stuff that technology can do–like, uhh, the iPhone has a fingerprint scanner? What? And I can use it to get into my banking app w/o typing a password? And I can use my banking app to deposit checks? Whaaaaaat?)
Despite not being particularly interested in future technology, I like the aesthetics of the tech world. I like the huge rooms full of programmers. I like the late nights, and the people who are passionate about incredibly arcane problems. I like the excitement. I like the clean lines and the bright colors–orange and yellow and baby blue seem to predominate–and I also like the absurdity of it. I like the 22 year olds who earn 120k and have no idea how to spend it other than by sinking thousands of dollars into an art car for Burning Man. I like the pomposity and the sense of grandeur. I like the CEOs who are so completely full of themselves (Marc Benioff comes to mind) but are fundamentally rather harmless people.
I don’t like the way the tech boom is displacing poor people and making this area unaffordable, but I don’t see that as being intrinsic to tech. Tech people didn’t create this bubble–they’re just the ones who’re riding on top of it.
It’s just really interesting. The tech industry is (along with the entertainment industry) the major thing that’s going on in America today, and it’s fascinating to be around it. I mean, I’m not saying this is at all equivalent to the technological revolutions we’ve had in the past*, but insofar as there is a place in America that is changing the world, this is it. And we’re here, watching. Observing. And I’m really not at all unhappy about that.
*Sidenote, whenever people say that the pace of technological change is increasing, I’m all like pshaw…the amount of shit that got developed between 1880 and 1920 is simply insane: the lightbulb; the electrical grid; the plane; the car; the submarine; the machine gun; the telephone; the refrigerator (this is a huge one!); the moving picture; the radio; the assembly line. I mean, seriously, almost everything in your life, aside from the computer, was invented between 1880 and 1920. Like, if someone travelled into the modern day from 1930, they’d understand pretty much everything they saw. But if they came here from 1870, you’d have a hell of a lot of explaining to do.