Yes, I know this is considered a controversial title to some. However, it truly isn’t controversial when you look into why the statement is true. Over a nice, relaxing weekend away from calls and emails, I was reading an article about what some are calling a new reality show to come to Silicon Valley, simply titled Start-Ups: Silicon Valley. When reading the headline, the first thing to come to me was an annoyed sigh. However, it made me think, why would this technology sector of the country grab the attention of American television screens? From social networks, movies, and popular gadgets, the thought became clearer than ever. I finally was able to come to the conclusion and reasoning behind this resurgence, six years in the making.
Doing the Hardwork for Them
After years of depending on these gadgets to make their social lives and daily lives more manageable, individuals are now interested in the under appreciated individuals behind-the-scenes who are making these things happen. From the web programmers to chief technology officers everywhere, these are the individuals that are becoming characters of the latest movies hitting theaters. We can see this best with The Social Network. Millions of moviegoers sat interested in the trials and tribulations of growing the website we find ourselves passing time on, Facebook. Consumers are now realizing that these gadgets and services aren’t just sprouting from the ground, they are created with days and months of time and care from skilled individuals.
The Jobs Seem Lavish
When we look at adult “geeks” and even many individuals like us, pioneers in our own startups, people from the outside see these jobs as fun and exciting. As a technology editor, I can say that the job is in fact fun. Being at the forefront of covering a growing industry makes the job fun. But only because I enjoy what I do. With any job, there come times when it can be rough and can require late nights. This is seen even more with the more technology intensive jobs, like computer programmers and web developers. The outsider sees these jobs as days filled with video game play and new product creations. But the day of a programmer can consist of a lot of work that many of these outsiders will see as too difficult and confusing to execute themselves.
The Facebook IPO around two months ago sparked reports of employees living in a newly discovered “lap of luxury”. One New York Times article back in May mentioned of Facebook engineers purchasing $20000 bikes and other luxury items:
Fabulous home theaters are tucked into the basements of plain suburban houses. The hand-painted Italian bicycles that flash across Silicon Valley on Saturday mornings have become the new Ferrari — and only the cognoscenti could imagine that they cost more than $20,000.
This sounds like the fun life that wanna-be tech entrepreneurs want to live. However, many of our very readers who are young in the start-up industry understand that successful startups aren’t exactly the majority. Most start-ups are frankly poorly planned and don’t get out of the planning stage before being dropped. We all know that a successful startup is a success for us within ourselves, something that should be noticed for the good of the startup and not something sensationalized for the seemingly lucrative benefit.
Why This Makes Me Worried?
I’m worried about this resurgence because I’m not sure how it will evolve. TechCrunch writer, Alexia TsoTsis, mentioned this worry in her article titled, Silicon Valley Needs To Take Itself More Seriously*. With Silicon Valley beginning to become a place making headlines outside of technology, the large but tight-knit community is becoming sensationalized for the wrong reasons. Silicon Valley isn’t increasingly appearing in the news because of a new startup to help individuals better their lives, or a struggling startup getting funded. The region is getting in the news for other reasons. The sensationalism isn’t something many in the industry are finding easy to swallow. It’s just not in the culture of Silicon Valley to flaunt one’s self in the fashion some see with the popular reality shows on television. The small possibly of an ostentatious Silicon Valley being created is what worries me.
Why I’m Excited About This?
In a way, I’m looking forward to the new interest in the technology world for average consumers and users. We are nearing a time when the individuals standing outside in the cold on iPhone launch day aren’t equated to the mentally unstable. We are nearing a time when we finally have more individuals that are actually interested in a conversation about the “next big thing” from Apple. I saw this front-and-center when my mother, who previously stated a few months ago – “I’m not interested in phones with all the bells and whistles, just a phone that can make calls” – now asking me for iPhone purchasing advice.
As someone who enjoys television, I can say that I am looking forward to seeing what the show Silicon Valley will mold into. The show, reportedly headed by Randi Zuckerberg, will feature tech website video directors, social media managers, startup founders, computer science majors, and others with an actual working brain. The show will feature individuals, like you and I, who are in the industry making a name for themselves. This is different from the numerous shows featuring one-hit wonders and table-flipping madwomen. For that reason, I have a hope that these individuals will change the face of the Silicon Valley scene and reality television in general. That’s a hope.