Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Original Ideas In Silicon Valley Are Like Bitcoins

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 31, 2014

Horn Group and Squid07

I’ve started noticing some correlations between Bitcoins and original ideas in Silicon Valley, which are the necessary sparks of innovation. 

Few new Bitcoins are being produced because miners have minted all the easy ones. Original ideas are increasingly rare in Silicon Valley because the easy innovations, such as selling music online, or shoes, have been taken. 

Original ideas come from original experiences, just as each Bitcoin is mined, by being the first to find a unique answer.

Original experiences are those that are found as unfiltered, and untainted by other people’s opinions, curations, and search engines, as possible.  

Original ideas are as disruptive as Bitcoin is in its world, and there is a small number of them.

San Francisco’s disruptive culture…

More innovation will come from urban centers than from Silicon Valley’s corporate culture, where your cubicle picks you up early morning, and you are transported to a central holding facility, where your employer mediates 90% of your daily experience. Every day is the same day and there are few opportunities for original experiences.

It would make sense for tech workers to telecommute from San Francisco because there’s a treasure trove of original experiences in the city.

San Francisco’s non-conformist history is a disruptive culture — it has always challenged the status quo, and it has always found a way to disrupt society, often on a global scale.

The disruptions are cultural and come at key points in history. They help move everyone forward and show people how to handle the future. The future of tech is far easier to predict than how we will live in that future. San Francisco can become a place where the future is invented and where it is used in the right way.

To be a techno-optimist you have to be a techno-activist, the future is not guaranteed. San Francisco has the perfect culture and traditions to show other cities how to use tech to live well and do right. 

In Silicon Valley, original ideas are a Bitcoin-like currency — they both have no material form yet there’s a limited number – and they aren’t making many new ones. Scarcity is a valuable quality.

If tech companies want to disrupt the world, they should fight to preserve San Francisco’s non-conformist culture and not suffocate it by turning it into a bedroom community for a business park. It’ll mint original ideas.

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The Holmes Report names Tom Foremski one of the top 25 Innovators of 2013.




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