Did you catch it? It’s a moment I’ve been waiting for Silicon Valley to address in some capacity—the divide between the tech corporations in Palo Alto and the blighted district to the south. (East Palo Alto is a misnomer—EPA is bordered by Menlo Park to the west and Palo Alto to the south.) The first four episodes of Silicon Valley have attempted to subtly insert regional details about the Peninsula into the dialogue of the show, which has always made the Bay Area kid in me beam. Episodes have referenced Sand Hill Road, which is the exit off highway 280 that leads right to the Stanford University campus (dotted with venture capital firms all the way down) and other geographical details that make the series feel lived-in. But tonight, in the opening scene between Erlich and popular graffiti artist Chuy Rodriguez, in a neighborhood referenced as high-crime and which clearly makes Dinesh uncomfortable, Erlich obliquely refers to their location.
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On Silicon Valley, Erlich proves he’s more than just hideous facial hair [Season 1, episode 4 Recap]
Silicon Valley indicts the region for its over-reliance on dubious ventures to manufacture a grand façade of happiness, satisfaction, and wealth. Take Peter Gregory’s toga party, the fourth annual “Orgy Of Giving,” a scene of false Roman bacchanalia. Just a few weeks ago, in the pilot episode, Gregory was giving a TED talk in front of a large crowd and projecting the standard image of the tech billionaire, albeit with some left-field views on entirely eschewing higher education in favor of immediately hitting the tech workforce. Now, in a social setting instead of a business one, he’s uncomfortable and curt while thanking rapper Flo Rida as “Florida” (as more people should, since it’s a ridiculous name) for his introduction. Just like the Kid Rock-headlined party that opened the series, this is Silicon Valley pretending to be something it’s not— because the area wants to be as exciting as Hollywood.
“Articles Of Incorporation” is the first episode of Silicon Valley that really gets room to breathe, allowing the characters space away from the crunch time of the story to bring Pied Piper to fruition.
This is a show with an eight-episode first season, so there isn’t a ton of time to waste on the plot front—so long as this season builds to Pied Piper hitting the market in some kind of nascent form. But this kind of episode is a test of what kinds of story Silicon Valley can tell when it gets away from the Hooli/Peter Gregory competitive binary and just focuses on some kooky developers chipping away at making a startup into a formidable company that puts out a viable product.
Silicon Valley’s pilot offered the allure of the billion-dollar tech startup, giving Richard Hendrix the opportunity of a lifetime thanks to his potentially game-changing algorithm. But “The Cap Table” is when reality sets it, tough choices need to be made, and the limitations of all involved come screeching into focus. Having decided to take Peter Gregory’s offer to start small, Richard Hendrix now has to figure out how to build the foundation of a company where before he just had something a lot of other people were telling him had a gargantuan valuation. It’s such a good idea that Jared Dunn (Zach Woods, Gabe from The Office) wants to leave Hooli in order to join up. But Erlich feels threatened by anyone intruding, and threatens the poor guy with the ghostly features on the eve of Pie Piper’s first appointment with Gregory.
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Nearly everyone who sees the Game Of Thrones title sequence praises it for its sheer stylistic audacity, introducing the epic scope of the show with a booming theme song and sweeping summary of the world’s geography. Silicon Valley, Mike Judge’s return to television, accomplishes the same feat with a 10-second title sequence. The camera pans across a SimCity-esque landscape of Silicon Valley, dotted by corporate headquarters for Twitter, HP, and Oracle. Napster pops up as a hot air balloon, and then quickly descends out of sight. AOL topples off a building that becomes Facebook. It’s the proliferation of the tech companies throughout the south peninsula and Santa Clara Valley in microcosm, representing the present moment in the corporate climate where companies pop up and disappear, with major projects existing in a digital realm.
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Searching for Magic in India and Silicon Valley: An Interview with Daniel Kottke, Apple Employee #12
Daniel Kottke lives and works in Palo Alto, Ca. Here, he talks about the genesis of his 1974 trip to India with Steve Jobs.
Daniel Kottke was one of Apple's first employees, assembling the company's earliest kit computers with Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in a California kitchen. In 1974, Jobs and Kottke backpacked across India in search of themselves; now, they are industry legends. Along the way, he debugged circuit boards, helped design the Apple III and the Mac, and became host of Palo Alto cable TV show The Next Step. Read the rest
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What a steaming turd of an opening line in David Streitfeld's otherwise serviceable New York Times piece about the Ellen Pao/Kleiner Perkins sexual harassment lawsuit, and gender discrimination in Silicon Valley.
Here's the opening graf (bold-ing, mine):
MEN invented the Internet. And not just any men. Men with pocket protectors. Men who idolized Mr. Spock and cried when Steve Jobs died. Nerds. Geeks. Give them their due. Without men, we would never know what our friends were doing five minutes ago.
You guys, ladies suck at technology and the New York Times is ON IT.
Radia "Mother of the Internet" Perlman and the ghosts of RADM Grace Hopper, Ada Lovelace and every woman who worked in technology for the past 150 years frown upon you, sir. Women may have been invisible, but the work we did laid the groundwork for more visible advancements now credited to more famous men.
"Men are credited with inventing the internet." There. Fixed it for you.
This weekend, Silicon Valley's premier convention venue is hosting a job fair -- for people who want to work in India:
A job fair at the San Jose Convention Center this weekend is focused on helping companies recruit Indian workers who may in the U.S. on a visa by informing them about the professional and economic opportunities back home.
Organizers also stressed that the job fair is also open to anyone who is interested in working in India.
Among the companies involved in the job fair are: Flipkart, an Indian online shopping company; consulting firm Accenture; and Amazon.com, which runs development centers in Indian cities.
Others include: McAfee, which is now part of Intel; SmartPlay Technologies, an Indian semiconductor firm; InfoTech Enterprises, an Indian engineering design firm; Indian manufacturing firm Jindal Steel & Power; Tata Motors; San Jose-based Synapse Design; and UST Global, an IT services firm.
Next week marks the inaugural Silicon Valley Human Rights Conference (AKA Rightscon) in San Francisco. This event will explore the role that technology plays in the expansion -- or elimination -- of human rights and the ways that technologists and high-tech firms can either help or harm humanity. In an age when American companies supply "deep packet inspection" technology to the Iranian government so that Iran's secret police can figure out whom to brutally murder (to cite just one example among many), this is an important question.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is dispatching several staffers to speak at the event, and they've provided a helpful guide to the more interesting sessions to keep an eye on.
Google, a Rightscon sponsor and participating organization, as well as a member of GNI, is just one example of a company that has done a lot of thinking on human rights: its YouTube platform has been instrumental in getting news out of Syria, thanks to a policy that allows violent content to remain available if intended for documentary or educational purposes. And just this week, Google expanded its use of encryption technology to default to SSL search on Google searches.
Twitter, whose General Counsel Alex MacGillivray will be among the keynote speakers at Rightscon, is another company that has taken human rights under consideration when designing its policies, particularly when it comes to free expression. Another rights-thinking company is Mozilla, whom the EFF has praised for its stance on privacy.
On the lists of attendees and sponsors, EFF also sees several companies about which we have grave concerns. A prime example is AT&T, which famously acted in tandem with the NSA to illegally spy on American citizens. Also amongst the participating companies is Comcast, against which the FCC issued an order (crediting EFF research) in 2008 to stop blocking peer-to-peer traffic. Skype is also on our list of companies of concern due to its surveillance capabilities. Skype is also one of several companies in attendance that has been ranked in EFF's Who Has Your Back? campaign (so far, the company has zero stars).
Notably absent from the list are the myriad Silicon Valley companies that provide censorship and surveillance capabilities to authoritarian regimes, among them Boeing's Narus, Cisco (sign our petition here), McAfee/Intel's SmartFilter, and H-P.