Whenever a movie like The Social Network or one of the various Steve Jobs biopics comes out, there’s the requisite critique of these iconic founders, but ultimately they’re presented as cultural heroes. Closer to reality, politicians of every stripe rarely speak about tech companies and their creators as anything other than brilliant, innovative job creators who are inventing the future. Creating more startups, especially through the currently-fashionable VC-focused model, is treated as an unalloyed good. We have politicians on the national stage right now who are comfortable saying we need to watch out for greedy bankers or exploitativs big business CEOs, and yet none of them will say we need to be wary of tech titans. As techies, we’re lucky to have that kind of support. But there’s a striking contrast when we routinely hear leaders saying we need to hold executives in the oil industry or the legal industry or the auto industry accountable, and never hear the same about tech.
Anil Dash on “the good guys“.
This is, I guess, what happens when you end up with an industry founded by hippies1 who suddenly find themselves having to reconcile their communal-living-peace-and-love-down-with-The-Man rhetoric with their sudden massive fortunes and unilateral control over cultural and technological progress. Their successors today are the Silicon Valley meritocrats and libertarians, which should tell you basically everything you need to know about how successful they were.
- Yes, really. One of the earliest “tech magazines”–essentially the predecessor to WIRED–was something called the Whole Earth Catalog, the name of which alone should give you a clue on who it was written by and for. [↩]