The Start of Technology in Silicon Valley

I found it very interesting that the tech boom in silicon valley had a slow start. In 2003 so many people flocked to San Francisco with ideas and tech skills, ready to create something new. These people gathered and brainstormed but no one knew what the next big thing would be. This new wave of tech-geeks created a movement known was web 2.0.

Web 2.0 is another name for the start of online social networks. Cue the mentioning of Mark Zuckerberg. It’s true, you can’t talk about social networks without naming Facebook. The movie about the behind the scenes truth of the website is called The Social Network.¬†Although that movie depicts the facts about how Zuckerberg stole the idea, used all of his friends money to start it, then never paid that friend back and eventually alienated everyone that helped him get to where he is now, the movie proves how money drove everyone in silicon valley to want the same payday.

I think Danah describes it best when she says, “The quick and dirty answer is capitalism, but the reality is much more complex. Some people start companies to get rich, but many more start companies with an idea to solve a problem they are experiencing and which they feel is not being addressed adequately by the current set of public and private offerings, whether that problem is finding a date, sharing a video, or finding a house to stay in while on vacation.” Most tech-geeks want to solve a problem or make a situation better by creating a tool that will cater to the user. Air B-N-B is a perfect example. Allowing people to make money by renting their home to others and allowing travelers a comfortable and cheap place to stay. This company solves a problem for travelers and caters to the people who want to make money by renting their homes. Win, win, right? And the creator of the website makes lots of money off of advertising so really, everyone wins.

Mimi describes the big three tech industries for participatory culture as Web 2.0, gaming, and mobile. Gaming was geeks geeking out and it originally started with software but over time has become a type of subculture all on its own. Geeks are now hacking and creating their own games along with the games that are made by the commercial companies. Mobile has taken on its own culture as well. Having the ability to constantly be in contact with everyone in your social network. Texting culture was made popular by teens and is now used by everyone no matter what subculture or age, gender, and race.

Myspace, a site that is no longer as popular as it once was, was a perfect example of the beta style experimenting that was going on in the early stage of the world wide web. Once users figured out that they could hack their profiles to make them as custom as they pleased Myspace watched as every user created their own HTML and coded their profile to their liking. Myspace didn’t want to step in because they wanted to see how far users would go to customize their own page.

Mimi’s explanation of how texting started made me think of a story. My older cousin used to have a pager. She would get a beep and would find a pay phone and call whoever had beeped her. She used to drive me around and take me to the mall and do things that cooler older cousins did with their young less cool cousins. I didn’t understand the point of a pager and I also didn’t know that it had a number and when you called the number you could leave a message that would show up on the pager. She once got a message that just said 143. I read it to her while she was driving and I was confused to only see 3 letters as the message. A telephone number is longer then that. When I asked her what it meant she told me that the message was from her boyfriend. 143 stood for the amount of letters in the sentence I Love You. I thought wow, he can’t call her because she isn’t home so he lets her know he is thinking of her by sending her a message. This must be the first signs of texting before there were even cell phones. I thought this was fascinating when I was little and now texting is as normal as anything else in my everyday life.

This chapter reminds me of another story. After listening to the first season of Serial (twice) I wanted another podcast to listen to. I started listening to a podcast called Startup. It was about a radio broadcaster who had worked for This American Life and wanted to start his own podcasting company. One of the episodes he talks to a venture capitalist about how he should go about finding investors for his company. The venture capitalist told him that he needed to create a brand that didn’t already exist. Come up with an idea that no one has thought of yet and everyone will want to invest in your company. This makes me think of the commercialism of silicon valley. All of those investors just waiting for the geeks to come up with a brilliant idea that they can place their money on and eventually make more money than they give in. Thats the name of the game. Technology is a huge commercial industry that without the start of the internet would have never became as financially profitable as it is today.