NYC civic hackers invite frustrated Silicon Valleyites to do good in New York

We Want You in NYC is a group of civic hackers who believe in using technology to improve people's lives; they've launched a provocative campaign aimed at disillusioned Silicon Valley techies who are tired of working on products that are "designed to kidnap our–and our kids'–attention, only to maximize profits" and want to help "large segments of society to participate in the economic benefits of technology innovation."

There's something ironic about the home of Wall Street chiding Silicon Valley for an unseemly love affair with financialization over the real economy, but there's no denying that Silicon Valley's contribution to mass surveillance, mass inequality and monopolization are giving Wall Street a run for its (prodigious) money.

The group has erected a billboard on Route 101 in Palo Alto.

In the New York City technology community, we believe we have the ingredients necessary to redirect tech's trajectory towards the positive and help change the culture of technology innovation to be more empathetic, equitable, and inclusive.

First, New York has a long-standing history as a city with the most diverse population of human capital in the world. And not just diverse in race, ethnicity, or economic background. It's also very strategically and importantly diverse by industry sectors. In New York, the technology industry does not so much dominate as stand within a concentration of industries like finance, media and publishing, healthcare, education, and fashion. It helps catalyze these parallel industries by offering them direct access to technology innovation. In return, New York technology startups benefit from having close access to indispensable industries as they think up ideas, raise capital, develop their technologies, and build pipelines of customers and partners.

As partial evidence of this symbiotic relationship, look no further than the 1800+ tech meetups that occur in New York every month. There are dozens of sector-specific tech meetups in finance, healthcare, education, media, fashion, real estate, in addition to hundreds of tech-specific meetups in subjects like data science, VR, AI, mobile apps, open data, etc. On any given night in New York, there are nearly 50 simultaneous meetups occurring, attended by thousands of people. And the people attending are not just tech industry wonks, but professionals from industries across the board, each of whom have different perspectives and skills. The NY Tech Alliance alone has more than 52,000 individual members, and they include people with professions like lawyers, doctors, teachers, journalists, academics, government leaders, and more.

Second, the New York technology community is more empathetic than Silicon Valley. This is partially due to New York's large and diverse social change sector, which is now aggressively connecting with the technology community to apply innovation to generate exponential amounts of social capital. It's also due to a huge and growing community of technology startup founders who are focused on creating positive impact for the benefit of all.

We Want You in NYC