Friday, March 14, 2014

Rebecca Solnit - "If we are to save San Francisco, then we have to...

Rebecca Solnit

"If we are to save San Francisco, then we have to make Tom Perkins’ worst fears come true. It’s time to take this city back from the arrogant tech moguls and timid city hall administrators who are killing San Francisco values." A rich day in tech-dystopia watch, and a deep bow to David Talbot, who's been watching for a long time and writes: But over the years, the innovation bubbling up in the Bay Area has become much more market-oriented than socially driven. Vast fortunes have been created overnight by raiding the intellectual content that others have painstakingly built over the years. Other new empires have risen by convincing millions of people to give up their privacy and reveal their deepest thoughts and desires for free – a kind of Tom Sawyer business model based on persuading the public that it’s lots of fun to paint someone else’s fence.

Much of the new tech wealth is either built on this kind of shameless piracy – or on what I call the idiocy of ingenuity. You know — creating apps that are nothing more than solutions in search of problems. The fact that so much of this new wealth is based on either trivial or downright damaging human pursuits makes it doubly hard to stomach the arrogance and self-absorption of this new tech elite. These are men – and as we know, 98 percent of them ARE men – who sincerely believe that just because they came up with some new “friction-free” way of accessing people’s bank accounts, they are now entitled to run the world.

(Just a little aside — I love terms like “friction-free,” dreamed up in the world of tech-capitalism – language that romanticizes a brave new world where there is no human contact and where the very human consequences of innovation are hidden underneath layers of marketing hype. Another one of my favorite terms is “content aggregation” – which really means intellectual property theft. )

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