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The Silicon Valley Narrative

Another extract from Audrey Watters, this time from The Curse of the Monsters of Educational Technology, who analysis of the rhetoric of disruption has fast become one of my favourite examples of digital cultural critique. From loc 184: “The Silicon Valley Narrative,” as I call it, is the story that […]

Technology, regulation and disruption

One recurring theme in Brad Stone’s excellent The Upstarts is how technological assumptions encoded into legislation become focal points for conflicts with ‘disruptive’ companies. For instance, as loc 2348 illustrates, the novel dispatch system used by Uber complicated the distinction between taxis and livery cars: Stressing that Uber cars were not […]

Uber as a moral project

When the Uber co-founders recount the story of their project, they stress the importance of the consumer to it. This might seem like familiar rhetoric but I want to suggest it reflects a deep (and problematic) commitment. In The Upstarts, by Brad Stone, we see how the early idea for Uber […]

The Workation

I just came across this term in The Upstarts, by Brad Stone, loc 1828: Enjoying a modicum of momentum, Kalanick leased a new office in San Francisco but had a month before he could move in. Instead of waiting, he took the whole company to Thailand, where they worked eighteen-hour […]

The cultural lure of Silicon Valley

Upstarts, by Brad Stone, loc 337-353 describes Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky’s preoccupation with Silicon Valley as a dissatisfied recent graduate of design school:  At the time he was obsessively following the story of the fantastically successful founders of the video-sharing site YouTube; he was spending hours on the site as […]

The Importance of Business Culture

From One Market Under God, by Thomas Frank, loc 1787: It is worth examining the way business talk about itself, the fantasies it spins, the role it writes for itself in our lives. It is important to pay attention when CEOs tell the world they would rather surf than pray, […]

A capitalism-friendly version of social mobility

A really enticing analysis by Evgeny Morozov of the “eventual depoliticization of extremely political and contentious issues by wrapping them up in the empty, futuristic language of technology and innovation”. Silicon Valley increasingly dominates the discursive representation of our global future, with the amelioration of social problems limited to a […]

The Reactionary Politics of Tech Bros

A slogan more frequently encountered on pro-police demos has been repeatedly daubed inside the Facebook headquarters, creating embarrassment for a corporation whose staff are overwhelmingly white and male: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reprimanded employees following several incidents in which the slogan “black lives matter” was crossed out and replaced with “all […]

business for rappers

I’ve written a few times recently – here, here and here – about the notion of business for punks propounded by the founder of BrewDog. This extract from loc 89 of The Hard Thing About Hard Things conveys something similar in terms of hip hop: I’ve also been inspired by many friends, advisers, and family […]