June 10, 2006

The word for Silcon Valley

Evelyn Rodriguez in Monied Sex, Sexy Money, and Silicon Valley's Word talked about Silicon Valley as a place in an interesting way:
In Eat, Pray, Love, writer Elizabeth Gilbert traipses through Italy, India, Indonesia to find herself (psst, you don't have to leave home). In Italy, her friend Luca Spaghetti posits that every city has a single word that defines it, that identifies most people who live there.
"...if you could read people's thoughts as they were passing you on the streets of any given place, you would discover that most of them are thinking the same thought. Whatever that majority thought might be- that is the word of the city. And if your personal word does not match the word of the city, then you don't really belong there."
Lotus Reads shares, "According to Luca, SEX was Rome's word and for the Vatican it is POWER. In New York City the word is ACHIEVE, in Stockholm its CONFORM, in Naples it is FIGHT and so on."

I have searched high and low for the blog post to no avail, but another blogger thought NYC was more like CREATE.  And Berkeley was RIGHT (which I can say having lived there is so true; as in smugly RIGHT). The author was stumped for a word for San Francisco - which though is an altogether different vibe than Silicon Valley.
What a great concept and a fascinating way to talk about a place. Evelyn Rodriguez goes on to suggest that Silicon Valley's word is KALI.
KALI. Oh, we could call it disruptive innovation, or creative destruction, but do I look like Clayton Christenson or an economist? If you belong to Silicon Valley, the notion of recreating Silicon Valley is absurd. "How to Be Silicon Valley?" You might as well ask "How Do I Cling to the Past?" "How Do I Capture that Musical Note Ten Minutes Ago during the Symphony?" Heck, go right ahead there, meanwhile those of us here in S.V. will create the next thing. Accept no imitations, baby.
I'm not buying it. A bit to sideways for the valley. Evelyn used a more representative word in her description. She even unitalicized it! The word for Silicon Valley? NEXT.

The valley worships the future. What's past doesn't matter. What's now is already obsolete. What's next is where it's at! That's where the ideas are, where the money is made, where the future is! Nothing now is worth saving if what comes next is better. It's not even what have you done for me lately, it's what will you do for me next?

These attitudes lead to a profound impermanence. Buildings, companies, relationships all are built, tested, and reinvented at astounding speed. It is tough to be comfortable in the valley or to ever relax. The valley must continuously reinvent itself as a part of a long boom and bust cycle. Since World War II orchards became aircraft manufacturing became military electronics became semiconductors became personal computers became bio-tech became the internet became web 2.0 and is becoming... what? What's next?

If we knew, it would already be obsolete and we'd have to become something else.

If the cycle ever stops, the energy in the valley dries up and and it becomes just another soulless suburb. Part of the energy of the valley is the fear that one day we won't find what's next and the bust cycle will go on and on.

Silicon Valley? If it didn't exist, we'd have to invent it, just so we could find out what's next!
Posted by georgegmacdonald at June 10, 2006 06:05 PM