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Silicon Valley Doesn't Have an Attitude Problem, OK? 262

Posted by samzenpus
from the high-horse dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: In Silicon Valley they think differently, and if that leads to arrogance, so be it. At least that's what Bloomberg Businessweek's Joel Stein implies in his long meditation on the area's outlook on technology, money and changing the world. Stein set out to examine the underlying notion that Silicon Valley's and San Francisco's tech entrepreneurs are feeding a backlash by being, in a word, jerks. His conclusion seems to be that they may well be jerks, but they're misunderstood jerks. He doesn't deny that there's sexism and boorishness at play in the young tech community, but he sees the industry trying to make itself better. He sees a lot of egotism at work, too, but he says if you're setting out to change the world, you're probably going to need a big ego to do it. But tell that to other people in Northern California: undoubtedly, you've read about the tempest in San Francisco recently, where urban activists are decrying the influx of highly paid tech professionals, who they argue are displacing residents suddenly unable to keep up with skyrocketing rents.
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Silicon Valley Doesn't Have an Attitude Problem, OK?

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  • by future assassin (639396) on Monday August 11, 2014 @04:43PM (#47650575) Homepage

    would reply to this

    He sees a lot of egotism at work, too, but he says if you're setting out to change the world, you're probably going to need a big ego to do it.

    • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday August 11, 2014 @05:24PM (#47650853) Homepage Journal

      would reply to this

      He sees a lot of egotism at work, too, but he says if you're setting out to change the world, you're probably going to need a big ego to do it.

      With a 5 page rant-blog? That seems to be his default response to criticism.

    • by ZeroPly (881915) on Monday August 11, 2014 @05:58PM (#47651081)
      Except the Silicon Valley crowd just THINKS they're changing the world. We were supposed to have flying cars, space elevators, real AI, and spacetime manipulation by now. Not communication in 140 characters, and better algorithms to search for Kardashian articles.
      • by lgw (121541) on Monday August 11, 2014 @06:47PM (#47651427) Journal

        Only a corner of Silly Valley is working on "Web 2.0" BS. There's a lot of real work going on too. The products offered by the likes of Facebook and Google may seem frivolous, but the backends needed to offer those products are changing the (back-end) world. As they knowhow to work reliably at a scale of 10k, 100k, 1M servers gets productized and offered in AWS and Azure (OK, those 2 are Seattle, but still) we see the beginning of the end of needing your own data center.

        As a back-end guy, the fact I can now write three-tier web service that scales indefinitely as a hobby project, by plugging together AWS parts is pretty amazing. If I need 10000 cores for a few hours to model that flying car, space elevator, or machine learning system, I can not only get that easily on a moments notice, I can get it cheaply (a penny per core-hour cheap - that's something).

        • by ZeroPly (881915) on Monday August 11, 2014 @08:40PM (#47651995)
          So you have a 10,000 core system. So what? Yeah, I can model a flying car with much less than that - in fact I think they did that in Halflife 2. If you traveled back to 1991 and told people that you had a lot of cores and a lot of memory, they would yawn in your face. The technology that you are working with today is fundamentally what a 1970's Unix guy would understand. What's the point in your web service that can scale indefinitely? To serve up more Youtube videos? We were supposed to have a semantic web by now at the very least. Instead, we're patching vulnerabilities in SSL which has been around since '94, and still worrying about running out of IPV4 addresses.

          The extent of our machine learning has been to fake a conversation as a brain damaged teenager who does not speak English, to "pass" the Turing test. We're doing busy work in low earth orbit, when anyone in the 80's would have thought we'd be working in the outer planets by now. We still have to steer our cars and punch buttons for the elevator.

          The problem is that everyone's doing incremental work. More gigs cheaper. No imagination beyond that.
          • I am with you, but keep in mind, these projects are hard. They need years of a dedicated team working together on the problem. I always think of Dragon Dictation and how they were on the path to decent speech to text. We still haven't gotten past that hurdle yet due to semantics, grammar, accents etc....

            I do marvel at handheld devices with 1080HD cameras capable of video editing, GPS, accelerometer, flash memory, digital audio capability, unbelievable fast with decent battery life. To me the iPhone is a

      • by joocemann (1273720) on Monday August 11, 2014 @07:23PM (#47651611)

        There is, apparently, a flapping bird game, that is, apparently, all the rage. Or was that last week? That's right, technology so amazing, you stop caring about it when it is replaced in a few weeks. Right.... :)

        I'm only playing along with you. In truth, I love what technology has available for us now. Our lives are faster, easier, and possibly improved, by the tech sector. I say possibly because we may find that virtual-mindedness is detrimental to a superior lifestyle that involves less or no virtualism. Who knows. But within a realm of trying to appreciate something, technology is highly appreciable right now as compared to even 20 years ago. I think if technology development just froze as a whole, we would still grow at least a bit more, on accident, due to the momentum of what we have now. We're doing great. Imagine all of the plausible combinations of current technologies and compare that to the present; that's the spread of the most immediate technological next step that will happen in the immediate future. And so it continues.

        I can tell you this.... Video Games, today, are as beautiful as I imagined they would be when I watched games develop early on, 20 years ago . They aren't more or less than I had thought -- they're right on the money. Back then it was river city ransom. Back then, F-Zero and Doom2 looked great.

        Everything is having a snowball effect. Kurzweil is basically correct in his thesis of the future.

      • by mirix (1649853)

        140 characters comes from Europe, 30 years ago, FWIW.

        • 140 characters, okay.
          From Europe, check.
          30 years ago, hmm...

          For a minute there I thought you were describing a Tolstoy novel.
    • by ultranova (717540)

      He sees a lot of egotism at work, too, but he says if you're setting out to change the world, you're probably going to need a big ego to do it.

      I wonder if big ego is a reason or an unfortunate side effect. After all, what you absolutely do need to change the world is the ability to keep going in the face of hardship, which is just another way of saying you need to be able to ignore negative feedback - and that'll make it harder to fix any personality flaws you have, too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 11, 2014 @04:43PM (#47650579)

    are like the posters on Slashdot. They're some of the most fairest, open-minded, most professional people around, willing to look hard at both sides of any issue before coming to a conclusion.

    Just ask them.

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday August 11, 2014 @04:53PM (#47650641)

      I'm as open minded as the next guy.

      It's just the unwashed masses and redneck mouthbreathers who are too stupid to understand it!

  • ...for others to follow.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 11, 2014 @04:49PM (#47650615)

      "How old were you when you lost your virginity?", Steve asked

      The candidate wasn't sure if he heard correctly. "What did you say?"

      Steve repeated the question, changing it slightly. "Are you a virgin?". Burrell and I started to laugh, as the candidate became more disconcerted. He didn't know how to respond.

      Steve changed the subject. "How many times have you taken LSD?"

      The poor guy was turning varying shades of red, so I tried to change the subject and asked a straight-forward technical question. But when he started to give a long-winded response, Steve got impatient again.

      "Gooble, gobble, gobble, gobble", Steve started making turkey noises. This was too much for Burrell and myself, and we all started cracking up. "Gobble, gobble, gobble", Steve continued, laughing himself now.

      At this point, the candidate stood up. "I guess I'm not the right guy for this job", he said.

      "I guess you're not", Steve responded. "I think this interview is over."

      • I dunno if I'd have left. It would have been an interesting change to work for someone who is very obviously more insane than me.

        • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Monday August 11, 2014 @06:24PM (#47651271)

          It would have been an interesting change to work for someone who is very obviously more insane than me.

          Insane, eccentric, egotistical, and dick can be shades of the same color. Steve simply sounds like a dick in that story.

          • by Type44Q (1233630)

            Steve simply sounds like a dick in that story.

            He certainly does, especially when he feels the need to have the last word and has to say "this interview's over" when the guy'd already stated as much (kind of like telling your boss that you quit and then being told you're fired)...

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        if that is true, that is the best story i have hear at a hiring ever...err, non hiring anyway
      • by sycodon (149926)

        Was this before he was kicked out of Apple for running it into the ground, or after he spent years in the wilderness learning how to actually manage a company?

      • by Dzimas (547818) on Monday August 11, 2014 @05:04PM (#47650729)
        The best hire I ever made was someone that a senior VP disagreed with me about during and after the interview. I saw the skill set and personality that was needed for our team and he didn't. Fast forward 10 years, and I found myself approaching the person I'd hired for funding to keep my little startup alive and allow it to prosper. Because I had treated that employee well, we were able to hammer out the framework of an agreement at our first formal meeting. It was the easiest pitch that either of us had ever been through. Behaving like a tantruming child simply because you have money and the illusion of power is the stupidest approach if you plan on being in tech for the long haul. Sooner or later, someone you've trampled or angered *will* be in a position to give a less-than-flattering opinion of you or shut you out.
      • by boristdog (133725)

        Monty Python did it.

        "FIVE Four Three Two ONE!"

      • by jrumney (197329)

        "How old were you when you lost your virginity?", Steve asked

        If only the guy had made the decision to ditch the interview a few questions earlier and given an answer that made Steve feel like the dick he was being: Well, I was about 6 when he started coming into my room at night...but I guess I didn't technically lose my virginity until later, when was it?... [starts rocking in chair and flinching as he thinks harder]...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Charliemopps (1157495)

      ...for others to follow.

      You mean they should all get cancer and die?

    • by asmkm22 (1902712)

      No, Jobs alienated himself from his peers and spent the next few decades doing acid while Apple ran itself into the ground. Meanwhile, Silicon Valley was already establishing their reputation for pushing boundaries, engaging in barely-legal business practices, and working to change the industry as fast as possible.

      Jobs came back from his acid trip and turned Apple around, but the industry's attitudes and culture were well-established by that point.

    • by RR (64484) on Monday August 11, 2014 @05:35PM (#47650927)

      Bill Shockley was the originator of the Silicon Valley arrogant genius archetype. One of the co-inventors of the transistor, he convinced an electronics entrepreneur in the Los Angeles area to pay him to set up a semiconductor laboratory near his mother's home in Palo Alto, staffed with young geniuses. Then his abrasive management drove them away, leading them to found Fairchild Semiconductor, followed by Intel, AMD, and other, less important, electronics companies in the area. In the meanwhile, Shockley went into eugenics.

      HP was already around, and Fred Terman of Stanford was encouraging entrepreneurship, but Shockley brought the "silicon" to Silicon Valley. And the arrogance.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Steve Jobs seems to represent Silicon Valley to the clueless media, but he was unique. The media seems to think that Silicon Valley is overflowing with entrepreneurs when this is not at all the case. Most tech workers here don't come up with new ideas every day, and they most certainly are not thinking about new business paradigms, they're just workers. And media also seems to be confused into thinking that San Francisco is related to Silicon Valley. New York City has more arrogance than Silicon Valley.

  • Ingrates (Score:4, Insightful)

    by qbast (1265706) on Monday August 11, 2014 @04:49PM (#47650607)
    There is just no pleasing this people: 'undesirable element' moves in - they complain about falling property value, 'highly paid tech professionals' move in - they complain about increasing property value.
    • Re:Ingrates (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday August 11, 2014 @05:08PM (#47650755)

      There is just no pleasing this people: 'undesirable element' moves in - they complain about falling property value, 'highly paid tech professionals' move in - they complain about increasing property value.

      No, they're talking about rent and taxes. When you concentrate that much wealth in one area, it starts a feedback loop in wages. Rent goes up, taxes go up, even gas and groceries go up. Then the lower income people are forced out... the local service industry has to pay more to get people to work, so prices go up even more, until everyone making under $100k/yr has to commute 2hrs just to get to work. The city panics and start enforcing rent control so people can at least afford an tiny apartment. For an example, see Manhattan.

      • Re:Ingrates (Score:5, Informative)

        by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday August 11, 2014 @05:19PM (#47650827) Homepage Journal

        the local service industry has to pay more to get people to work, so prices go up even more, until everyone making under $100k/yr has to commute 2hrs just to get to work. The city panics and start enforcing rent control so people can at least afford an tiny apartment. For an example, see Manhattan.

        NYC has come up with a solution to this issue: Poor Doors [npr.org], so the goodly rich inhabiting luxury apartments don't have to sully their eyes with visions of the lowly proles who serve them.

      • by xevioso (598654)

        San Francisco has had rent control for decades. The Mission, despite all of the recent histrionics, is still a primarily lower-wage Hispanic area.

      • by kwbauer (1677400)

        "the local service industry has to pay more to get people to work, so prices go up even more" surely you jest, sir. The glorious left have given us their assurances that forcing an increase in pay will do absolutely nothing to prices as the two share no relationship whatsoever.

  • SF Rents (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The whole mentality is dumb. No one DESERVES to live in a particular place. Pay the rent or move. Pay the taxes, or move and rent out your place to someone who can afford to pay the taxes for you.

    Are they going to change what SF is? Of course. But SF isn't what it was 50 years ago, or 100 years ago. These things constantly change. At least it is going upward. It could be changing like Detroit.
    .

    • Re:SF Rents (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ganjadude (952775) on Monday August 11, 2014 @04:58PM (#47650677) Homepage
      yeah, ive never seen a group so stuck up and anti money as san fran. perhaps if these people saved up and bought their own homes rather than renting, they wouldnt be in this mess.

      if you dont OWN something, you cant complain when someone else buys said item
      • Re:SF Rents (Score:4, Insightful)

        by xevioso (598654) on Monday August 11, 2014 @06:18PM (#47651213)

        That is true, except that it is incredibly difficult to afford to rent in SF, let alone enough for a mortgage. You people in the rest of the country, unless you live in Manhattan, don't really have much of a clue. "Saving up" to buy a 1.5 million $ home is very difficult here unless you have a very very good job.

        • by ganjadude (952775)
          i live outside NYC i am well aware of how it is, which is exactly the reason i am leaving for someplace more reasonable, Id rather have land, and keep more of my own money to spend on myself then give it up to the state and pay insane rents.
        • by kwbauer (1677400)

          Yes, we do have a clue. That is why we don't live in those places, dumbass.

        • Do what my friends did. (not SF but another city where single family homes can cost over $1 mil). Three of them pooled their savings, put 10% down on an older larger house. It's at the fringes of a gentrifying area, not far from downtown. They live in the basement, and rent out the upstairs. The rent pays over half the mortgage. In a year or two they will have enough equity to put a down payment on another house. Moral of the story - pay yourself rent, not a landlord.

      • perhaps if these people saved up and bought their own homes rather than renting, they wouldnt be in this mess.

        The median price for a new or existing single family home or condo in San Francisco is one million dollars.

        The median is the price for which half of homes sold for more and half for less.

        The nosebleed price is a result of limited inventory and an influx of cash buyers willing to pay whatever it takes.

        Many are tech workers with stock compensation from an initial public offering or takeover. Realtors call them "Google" kids even if they are 40 years old and work on biotech.

        A secondary group of cash buyers are [mostly Asian investors] who see San Francisco as a relative bargain.

        $1 million city: S.F. home price hits seven figures for the first time [sfgate.com] [July 17, 2014]

        The median household income in the U.S. is $53,000. State & County QuickFacts [census.gov] [2008-2012]

    • Henry George looked from a high hill toward the growing San Franscisco in the 1870's and realized that rising land prices were a bug in in the industrial economy. They punished success.

      His book sold more copies than any other in the 19th century in the United States: Progress and Poverty.

    • by RR (64484)

      It's still frustrating for the residents here.

      I, for one, know that the narrative is far more complicated than just VC-funded rich dudes conspiring with greedy landowners to drive up rents. Also, I am well aware of the laws of supply and demand. The supply does not match the demand at all. It's much worse this time than last time, the dot-com bubble of the 1990's.

      I'm even aware of a little-discussed wildcard: China. The financial system there is corrupt, and the people have no safe way to invest for retirem

    • Are they going to change what SF is? Of course. But SF isn't what it was 50 years ago, or 100 years ago. These things constantly change. At least it is going upward. It could be changing like Detroit.

      I was walking around SF with my grandma a few years ago, and she said, "oh, SF used to be such a beautiful city, and look what's happened to it." Change happens.

  • Tech Community (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Seumas (6865) on Monday August 11, 2014 @04:53PM (#47650639)

    Can we, perhaps, not refer to the entire tech community as one thing? Let's have the tech community, and then have the community that makes parking space auctioning apps, social websites, and "break-through" instant messaging apps who think they're on par with Tim Berners-Lee or Packard or Wozniak, because they made an iphone app where you can leave reviews for your favorite pigeon feeding seat in the park.

  • by LifesABeach (234436) on Monday August 11, 2014 @04:54PM (#47650647)
    It's the first gift the Gods give you before they start to F' you up.
  • by superdave80 (1226592) on Monday August 11, 2014 @04:54PM (#47650649)
    They are all about 'diversity', 'inclusiveness', and 'peace'... until you try to move into their area and don't think, talk, and act just like them. Then they start slashing your tires and blocking your buses. Say, didn't school segregationist use the same bus-blocking techniques to try and keep those 'others' out of their wholesome little schools? Oh, the irony...
  • by pak9rabid (1011935) on Monday August 11, 2014 @04:56PM (#47650663)
    Having almost passed the 90-day mark at my first Silicon Valley job, my experience has been that it's a highly overrated (and overpriced) place to start a new tech company. Compared to where I'm from (and currently still reside), Austin, I haven't really been wowed with the talent over there vs over here. The big difference I've seen is that the people over in Silicon Valley just seem more big-headed about what they do.
    • by geek (5680) on Monday August 11, 2014 @05:02PM (#47650707) Homepage

      I grew up there and moved away. There is zero difference in talent. The difference is one of leadership and money. The money is already there, so there is where people go. The difference in leadership is, that's where they choose to live. My current company is based out of Boise Idaho. All the top execs I can think of have homes in the San Jose area because they like the weather. So naturally, they've opened a few more offices over there to justify their move to San Jose away from Boise. This costs the company a great deal of money as the techs they hire are paid twice as much as here due to cost of living. They don't care though.

      • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday August 11, 2014 @07:00PM (#47651507) Journal

        There is zero difference in talent. The difference is one of leadership and money. The money is already there, so there is where people go.

        Actually, the big difference is a little-known aspect of California intellectual property law:

        If you, as an employee, invent something, on your own time and not using your employer's resources, and it doesn't fit into the employer's current or foreseeable future product line, you own it. If the patent assignment agreement in your employment contract says otherwise, it's void.

        This means that, if you invent something neat and your employer doesn't want to productize it, you (and a couple of your friends) can rent a garage across the street and found a new company to develop and sell it.

        Employees in California can NOT be ripped off the way Westinghouse ripped off Nikola Tesla.

        The result is that companies in silicon valley have "budded off" more companies, like yeast budding off new cells. And once this environment got started, thousands of techies have migrated to the area, so there are plenty of them available with the will and talent to be the "couple of your friends" with the skills you need to fill out the team in your garage.

        Lots of other states have tried to set up their own high-tech areas on Silicon Valley's model. But they always seem to miss this one point. They need to clone that law to have a chance at replacing or recreating the phenomenon. Result: They might get a company to set up a shop, but they don't get a comparable tech community to build up. Research parks of several companies, generally focused on some aspect of tech, might form, but you don't get the generalist explosion.

        Of course, like any network, the longer it accumulates, the more valuable it is to be connected to this one, rather than another that is otherwise equivalent. (This is what the parent poster already alluded to.) Thus there's only one Silicon Valley in California, with the resources concentrated within driving distance, though the law is statewide. Even with the law change, and a couple decades to let the results grow, other states might have a tough time overcoming California's first-mover advantage.

        But California keeps fouling things up for techies and entrepreneurs in other ways. So if some other state would TRY this, they might become a go-to place when groups of people in Silicon Valley get fed up and decide to go-forth.

    • I agree. Most of the tech universe is outside the valley. Who would want to live in a giant overpriced suburb? And who would want to work in a field in which moving to one area was a must?

      • by Bryan Ischo (893) *

        Well enlighten us, Big Sexy Joe, what's so awesome about wherever it is that you live that you can so easily look down on the clueless 8 million or so that can't possibly have a good reason for living in the SF bay area?

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      I think SV is just convenient if you lose your job, but is overrated by the media. I'd say one person in ten thousand is an entrepreneur, yet the media thinks that all anyone ever does is think up cool new ideas and every company is still a startup. Most people are just trying to finish the projects they've been assigned to. However because of all the companies here, if you stick to jobs in your core area then you have a good chance of seeing the same people somewhere down the road and there's a lot of

  • by Lanboy (261506) on Monday August 11, 2014 @04:57PM (#47650669)

    Tired of these fuckers thinking they are the promised people guiding us out of ignorance.

  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Monday August 11, 2014 @05:12PM (#47650781)

    Hmm, let's put thousands and thousands of socially maladjusted techies together in one region, appoint a bunch of hypersocialized "brogrammer" types as their bosses, and see what happens. What could possibly go wrong???

    I work in the "tech industry" but I work for a specialized IT services firm, which is almost the polar opposite of a bubble-fueled Internet startup. I watched the dotcom bubble inflate and pop, and now this one's on the way out too. By contrast, the people I work with are totally normal. Some have their quirks, but we have very few jerks. Steve Jobs may be the poster child for "tech visionary" but people conveniently forget that he was an absolute jerk and people hated to work for him. In my mind, anyone who emulates that is someone I definitely don't want to work with.

    The "techie asshole" personality really does feed on itself. Take a bunch of recent grads with no real world experience and put them under someone trying to channel Jobs, Zuckerberg or similar. Pretty soon, everyone starts acting like that. I'm not surprised at how much sexual harassment goes on in these environments given this fact. It doesn't help that the press is falling all over itself to pump these guys up and give them superhuman status. Yes, smartphones are cool. Yes, people are walking around with $800 touchscreen computers in their pockets that let them do more than they used to. But in my mind, all these late-bubble-stage startups are doing is creating one-off websites competing for everyone's attention. No one's really inventing much new -- it's all about advertising, page views and the sale of your personal data. Some stuff that has come out in the last few years is extremely cool, but a lot of it seems a lot like the very late 90s when the bubble was the frothiest it had been and everyone is piling on hoping to cash out before the big pop.

    • I like how you recognized that the "brogrammer" stereotype contradicts the "socially maladjusted" stereotype, so you had the presence of mind to frame the "brogrammers" as only managers.

      specialized IT services firm

      Is it Wipro? I have heard such good things about Wipro.

      • Nope. Our customers have experienced all of the bad things you've heard about with Wipro and their ilk.

        And yes, there are plenty of stereotypical brogrammer worker bees as well. I was just highlighting the fact that putting these types in charge just breeds more of them over time as they try to act like the boss.

    • by xevioso (598654)

      What I find amusing is the idea that people think all techies work at startups in SF. There are a ton of people who work in tech who handle Hospital IT, or work for a legal firm, or manage the servers for a real estate company, who are in tech but have nothing in common with the new wave of techies moving in. And that is all it is, a wave.

    • by istartedi (132515)

      it's all about advertising, page views and the sale of your personal data.

      I've attempted to coin the term "surveillatizing" for this; but I'm not famous. Many companies are on the spectrum between surveillance and advertising. Anything labeled "security" tends to get corrupted into surveillance. It has become a cliche that when the product is free, you're the product. Most of the casual gaming, cute little app companies are shoving ads at you in some way. IMHO, there's no such thing as pure advertisi

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Monday August 11, 2014 @05:22PM (#47650839) Homepage
    I've heard this crap before.

    I call it the "Dr. House" excuse. Basically it goes "Look, who do you want treating you, the a$$hole who's brilliant, or the above average guy who's nice?"

    And the honest truth is that 99% percent of the time, we want the above average guy who's nice.

    Yes, if you have something incurable, (or something that no one else can figure out what it is in the case of the TV show's Dr. House), then you want the genius no matter how arrogant he is. But in every day issues, you want someone that is going to be nice and do a reasonably good job - not a genius that is going to cure your wart while calling you an idiot and revealing to your wife that you sleep around.

    Genius is NOT an excuse to be arrogant. Especially as sometimes the guy you are insulting is actually smarter than you (i.e. look at at Edison and Tesla - 2nd brightest man of his time refused to pay the first brightest man what he was worth and screwed himself ).

    Part of being smart is having social skills. Part of being in business is using those social skills. If you can't or won't gain them and use them,

    • by al0ha (1262684) on Monday August 11, 2014 @06:58PM (#47651501) Journal
      Let's get one thing straight, very few in the dotCom world are geniuses, and Mr. Zuckerberg is so far from being a genius he's almost not worth mentioning, there's no genius in Facebook, it's sheer luck and good timing. The entire idea that Silicon Valley is populated and run by geniuses is laughable. I work in a place where there are more bonafide geniuses per capita than anywhere else in the world, and though they may start out that way, very few remain arrogant as each of them eventually comes to the realization their view of their level of genius was skewed by the big fish small pond effect.

      One of the greatest geniuses I've even had the pleasure of meeting, who has won a Nobel Prize in a physical science which certainly proves his particular genius, is a down to earth person and very respectful of everyone, unless of course you are a poser, then you might experience the wrath of his genius as understandably, nobody likes to suffer fools.
  • undoubtedly, you've read about the tempest in San Francisco recently, where urban activists are decrying the influx of highly paid tech professionals, who they argue are displacing residents suddenly unable to keep up with skyrocketing rents.

    That was decades-old news in Silicon Valley when I moved here in the late '80s. (A couple who'd gone there for the same project a few years earlier had bought, rather than rented, had the price of their mortgaged house skyrocket over a couple years, and bailed out of H

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@mac.cEINSTEINom minus physicist> on Monday August 11, 2014 @05:53PM (#47651041) Journal

    SF is extremely hostile to new property development that would increase the supply of housing in the city.

    -jcr

  • This should concern everyone, because this attitude reflects itself in the products.

    We have now had an entire generation of programmers raised on walled garden apps, cookie-cutter scripting libraries, and above all a wave of cheap VC funding and hardware. How many people are left out there that can build the likes of Bittorrent, Bitcoin, a language like C, a game like Elite, or even a site like Slashdot? How many people, young people, are there who can write an OS kernel, design a basic circuit, and at a more pertinently serious level, reliably write software to implement mathematical encryption algorithms. Reading this I'm inclined to believe that recent meme post about how the programming/silicon valley community has been taken over by "brogrammers", "hipsters" and "neckbeads", which to my mind are simply constitute cultural re-skinnings of the infamous Visual Basic programmers of old. I worry that the unglamorous, mostly uncompensated, and largely intellectually driven practice of pure software programming and creation has been left behind in recent years. I personally have noticed little progression and indeed in many areas a general regression in the quality and reliability of software since approximately 2006/7. While I would attribute this to my general "civilization is in decline" zeitgeist worries, my frustrations with software, UIs, and websites in particular has undoubtedly increased manifestly in the last 2-3 years or so. Maybe I'm just getting old -- or maybe programmers really are getting worse.

    -- ObsessiveMathsFreak

    • Yes, a culture ripe for the next phase of disruption. Instead of the next social app that's slightly different from last week's social app, I hereby dare Silicon Valley to take on two challenges:

      1. On a ship adjacent to SF in international waters, set up the first fully open-market hospital. Staff it with real doctors who prescribe conventional medicines, procedures and devices, but all of it operating in open competition instead of under the thumb of medical boards whose real purpose is to protect incumben

      • 1. The US doesn't need Jack Sparrow running a pirate hospital ship, just get rid of the morbid leaches in the system with a reasonable UHC scheme.

        2. Virtually every state capital city on the Aussie mainland now has a massive desal plant, they were all commissioned and built in the final years of our last major drought. Sure they come with higher costs than just collecting rainwater but when your reservoirs of drinking water are hovering at around 10% capacity and there's not a cloud in the sky, it become
        • Small California cities like Morro Bay are doing this too, using reverse osmosis tech at about twice the cost of groundwater. Their hedge is the one you describe: if there is an ultimate drought and there just isn't any water, they at least have a minimal supply.

          I'm proposing going beyond this by having Silicon Valley apply new technology like graphene, which in small-scale experiments at MIT has been shown to desalinate water at much lower pressures than R-O. We need to find out whether this will scale to

    • by AaronW (33736)

      While I think many of the programmers in my group could do many of these things most are not young. Also most of the positions we open are for more senior people since we need people who can do things like write compilers, kernel developers, bootloader developers, etc. who understand the details of CPU architecture. When I talk with young people getting a CS degree I tell them that there is a huge demand for people with these skills. Few software people have a good grasp of hardware.

    • by ADRA (37398)

      In 2006/2007, you had two large fads in computing -- Web sites and Windows apps. There were billions of other things, but they were the big ones with high visibility. Today, add in 'remote virual hosted' (AKA developers are now the IT guys *shudder*) and mobile apps (A marketplace which is only now getting good tooling / support from more than a handfull of vendors) sure things may be crap compared to desktop/web which have many years of established practices and trained staffing. Look at the web in 2001 vs

    • I worry that the unglamorous, mostly uncompensated, and largely intellectually driven practice of pure software programming and creation has been left behind in recent years. I personally have noticed little progression and indeed in many areas a general regression in the quality and reliability of software since approximately 2006/7.

      It's worse than you think -- this has been going on for as long as we can remember.

      Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions. -- Ecclesiastes 7:10, about 1000 BC

      The rate of decline over the past 3000 years is astronomical -- it's amazing our young still learn to walk. Why, I hardly dare to imagine what programming geniuses people must have been even one thousand years ago!

      On a more serious note, I think the problem is a combination of natural selection (we only remember the stuff that wasn't crap) plus nostalgia (we think it was better than it really was). Go ahead, dig up some of yo

    • by Zeio (325157)

      Ive noticed this. Bad. It shows up with the flocks of NJ, NY license plates. But true computer science genius is a rare commodity now days. Part of the reason it doesnt pay. The secretary at Microsoft made a buttload of money. Nowdays, with scamming, outsourcing, part timing and contracting along with strategic dilution and Steve Jobs Pixar stunts, most regular nerds are not setup to make it big. Its a few elite non-engineers that get together and fleece the talent for every cent its worth. I am lucky to wo

  • by MpVpRb (1423381)

    In the 90s, I worked on a project in San Francisco

    As I walked around the city, I saw angry rants pasted on various surfaces around town

    The ranters were denouncing the "yuppie invasion" and claiming that it was ruining the neighborhood

    It seemed to me, that if you replaced every occurrence of the word "yuppie" with the word "nigger", it would have fit perfectly into a KKK rant from the 50s

What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying. -- Nikita Khruschev

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