The elitists came to Northern California - a vanguard of social liberalism, student protest, and most importantly communitarianism - and brought their elitism with them.
Northern California still exists in the nostalgic hippie image of the 60s, but it's compartmentalised, like the Dropbox brogrammers elbowing out kids at a playground. Public spaces increasingly become private in the name of profit.
Over time, the feel of free love will fade away entirely in the Bay Area. Everyone interesting who isn't a millionaire will be pushed to the margins, and eventually, more welcoming spaces, like Detroit. I implore the tech elite of Silicon Valley to consider a future where an expensive tech-centered monoculture makes the Bay Area an unattractive location for long-term employees, and instead relying on mercenary college grads who put up with the cost and the crazy for a few years before moving on to a more fulfilling job and place to call home.
I mean - who was Leland Stanford, anyway? Railroad baron. Similar deal.
This IS normal for America, from the Mississippi Bubble onward.
If there is a 'hacker ethic', it's a variation on ham radio, maintaining your own vehicle ala John Muir, the Unix philosophy and possibly DOS using int21 calls. That's not a complete list.
I knew of much more Hacker Ethic in the people who went through the Depression and WWII. They were Maintainers, the sworn enemy of the dread lord Entropy. I worked for one; he used a 40 horse Ford tractor to move these giant sandstone rocks - hydraulics popping like doom; stand carefully - to build these phenomenal, beautiful houses of native materials. The houses looked a bit like Frank Lloyd Wright houses.
What came later is a caricature of this; college kids who'd read about Emma Goldman, or read Jack Kerouac, or Richard Farina, or...
The counterculture per se got coopted long ago. "Everybody in this room is wearing a uniform, don't kid yourself." - Frank Zappa.
(Either through the unwillingness or incompetence of any of the original disciples to popularize the true meaning, or simple giving way beneath ever better funded commercial interests)
That's exactly what coopting is. See definition 2b here:
I'm quibbling over words too. But the difference to me is that the problem is not that "hacking" (or "hippie culture", "patriot", "environmentalism", or "American") gets used in a context at odds with what its founders would espouse.
It's that a lot of times that secondary (historically speaking) definition then becomes the dominant definition in the public's mind. Whatever mutually exclusive word for that is the one I want to use.
Because, ultimately, it doesn't matter a rat's ass if my local LUG knows the more positive definition of a hacker, if a geeky 8-year old with a penchant for figuring out interesting things to do with computers is surrounded by exposure (news, adults, school, popular media) to the negative definition.
SF has changed. It's becoming Manhattan West.
I have mixed feelings about it...my burner friends (most are techies) do some incredibly weird and impressive things as part of Burning Man but why can't some of that happen right here in the Bay for everyone.
Because then all of the people that protest things like high-rise apartments, and Google shuttle buses will show up to protest that too.
All these well known famous tech founders such as the FB guys or Larry and Sergey are big burners and certainly participate in arts there but are nowhere to be found right here in SF/Oakland. Same can be said about my peers sadly.
Many, if not the majority of the most interesting, art pieces can't even be safely installed or operated (yes, operated in the case of art cars) anywhere near a suburban or urban environment. Where else can you build several climbable three to five story buildings with labels like "Bank of Unamerica" and "Goldman Suchs"  just to destroy them in a blaze of glory more symbolic than the art itself? Where else can you drive around a giant party boat , explore a sunken pirate ship buried in the playa , or watch action movie style explosions light a giant effigy on fire ?
If you've ever seen the LED lights lining the Bay Bridge a few years ago, that was an art project costing in the same ballpark as some of the most impressive Burning Man art (i.e., like the dancing lady now found on Treasure Island) and took several years to get properly off the ground with all of the local politics involved in installing something on a major landmark.
Not to mention countless parties, maker spaces, artist spaces, (eg: american steel), and many other space which are all very open to newcomers and hold a lot of parties and host and support all sorts of arts.
As for the indulgence of burning man, put in a certain way, anything but work seems like an indulgence. So you're going on a cruise? Putting all that fuel oil into a remote inaccessible place and slowly lighting it on fire? Or a road trip - really, burning all that petrol?
As for _my_ burner friends, most of them are NOT "techies".
These days, with $600+ tickets, it is just a rich kids place to go. But there are still all those warehouses full of weirdos that burn and remain in the Bay Area. Just because Burning Man is now frequented by rich frat people doesn't make it too much less weird and anti-puritanical, the way the SF Bay Area used to be.
Are you, though? What would your younger, broker (perhaps more idealistic?) self think if they met modern-day wealthy-you? Would they like you? Everyone changes as they age. For most people, they become some variations of more mature, more cynical, more conservative, and more set in their ways.
That feels about right. Except that it's nowhere near as tall.
We're dealing with a similar phenomenon here. We have a lot of Colleges and Universities and big money is coming in and heavily recruiting people. Instead of a large number of start-ups, we have a culture that favors going straight to work for big businesses.
Just in time for Manhattan to try to become Brooklyn West.
So now we just have New Francisco, and a half-bulldozed New Orleans?
Regardless of your definition of a hacker, hacker culture was born out of interaction. It's sharing of information and exploring together that made programmers, hobbyists and tinkerers into hackers. I think one thing that makes "hackerdom" so easily distorted is that people don't look at what actually happened. It's quite illustrative how the article, in it's first paragraph, gets the story wrong. Which no one seems to have commented on so far.
From the article: "A young Air Force serviceman named John Draper – aka Captain Crunch – discovered that he could manipulate the rules of tone-dialling systems by using children’s whistles found in Cap’n Crunch cereal boxes."
From Wikipedia: "While Draper was driving around in his Volkswagen Microbus to test a pirate radio transmitter he had built, he broadcast a telephone number to listeners as feedback to gauge his station's reception. A callback from a "Denny" resulted in a meeting that caused him to blunder into the world of the phone phreaks. [...] A blind boy who had taken the moniker of Joybubbles had perfect pitch and was able to identify the exact frequencies. They informed him that a toy whistle that was, at the time, packaged in boxes of Cap'n Crunch cereal could emit a tone at precisely 2600 hertz—the same frequency that was used by AT&T long lines to indicate that a trunk line was ready and available to route a new call."
After three years I moved to SF, but in terms of cost and general atmosphere it's starting to feel more and more like the population is being split between the same two groups as I saw in NYC.
From everything I've been reading, Detroit has become THE place to live now if you like more edgy, but affordable, neighborhoods.
Still new and hard to say, but this might be a good place to meet a more eclectic group: http://denvertoollibrary.org
I've only been here for a little over a year but I've seen the city change very much in that short amount of time. Old abandon buildings are now apartment complexes for tech kids. In May of 2014 there was _maybe_ 3 co-working spaces. Now there are at least 7 or 8 (including a newly put together `we work`). Rent has risen more than 7% this past year and housing prices are poised to increase 15% in 2015 alone.
I moved to Portland mostly because it was a west coast city that didn't get snow and had a cool vibe the one time I visited. I'm definitely adding to the problems Portland is having but at least I didn't move here from California and don't have a trust fund...
Yup. You being born in a state that is not California and moving to Portland makes you very superior to those living in Portland but born in California. You should put on your very superior hat and feel good about your total authenticity and unquestionable non-yuppiedom.
The other serious half was in reference to Bay Area yuppies moving here and subversively driving up the cost of pretty much everything.
I have coworkers from Oregon in the Bay Area. Some would say that by moving here they're 'driving up the price of everything'. At this juncture if they move back, they'll then be 'driving up the price of everything' at home. It's meaningless.
For my part I'd recommend Montreal - I was impressed by the hackerspaces and coworking there
In 2009 the libertarians and Singularitarians launched a campaign to take over the World Transhumanist Association Board of Directors, pushing out the Left in favor of allies like Milton Friedman’s grandson and Seasteader leader Patri Friedman. Since then the libertarians and Singularitarians, backed by Thiel’s philanthropy, have secured extensive hegemony in the transhumanist community. As the global capitalist system spiraled into the crisis in which it remains, partly created by the speculation of hedge fund managers like Thiel, the left-leaning majority of transhumanists around the world have increasingly seen the contradiction between the millennialist escapism of the Singularitarians and practical concerns of ensuring that technological innovation is safe and its benefits universally enjoyed. While the alliance of Left and libertarian transhumanists held together until 2008 in the belief that the new biopolitical alignments were as important as the older alignments around political economy, the global economic crisis has given new life to the technoprogressive tendency, those who want to organize for a more egalitarian world and transhumanist technologies, a project with a long Enlightenment pedigree and distinctly millenarian possibilities.
It isn't something that just happened. It's something that was done to the area.
(Also the timing is bizarre, the hippie image was already solidified in the summer of '68, but the old money came in increasing tides of the 80s 90s and 00s.)
I suggest you try Wall Street and Silicon Valley, both.
Good mercenaries know a lot more than fresh grads.
Companies (as a class of socioeconomic entity) have, since the 80s, been continually shirking their duties to their employees. At this point, the employer-employee relationship is adversarial. Thus, if it makes more sense for prospective employees to view their next job as resume padding, that's what they'll do.
If companies bothered to treat their workers well, to pay them well, to tie their fortunes to those of their employees, maybe we'd have something to talk about.
As the movie "Killing Them Softly" said:
This guy wants to tell me we're living in a community? Don't make me laugh. I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business. Now fuckin' pay me.
And yeah, that makes life hard for people starting new companies. So it goes.