Posted by Tom Foremski - January 18, 2016
Silicon Valley's pursuit of diversity is skin-tone distracted and gender confused. Diversity is more than a ratio...
Silicon Valley's leadership in sourcing innovative ideas is slipping and its feeble pursuit of diversity isn't helping.
Original ideas come from original experiences -- an environment that brims with a diversity of genders, skin colors, ages, economic backgrounds, national cultures, and artistic expression.
A tree grows in Brooklyn...
I recently returned from visiting my kids Matt and Sarah who share an apartment in Brooklyn. They are in their 20s and I can see why they moved from the San Francisco area and why I would have done the same at their age.
The district where they live is full of small artist spaces, tiny but great restaurants, small but affordable apartments, and great access to an astonishing number of events ranging from music to film to lectures to everything. You can take in as much as you want any day of the week.
And there's a tremendous amount of creativity everywhere from the graffiti on the walls, the quirky names on quirky stores, to the individual self-expression on the streets. It's a university without limits. It teems with young people mixing and talking with each other. It's a massive incubator of ideas. And it offers a stark contrast to Silicon Valley's homogeneous monoculture.
Frictionless and painless living...
New York city is a vast urban landscape with big problems and seemingly unsolvable challenges. But where there is pain there are opportunities to find solutions that solve and salve. Successful startups solve tough problems. And that's where New York city has the advantage.
Silicon Valley engineers get on the same bus everyday. Each morning they stand silently on the same San Francisco street corners waiting to be bused 40 miles to a business park campus.
Every day is predictable and indistinguishable...
Every day, Silicon Valley engineers are insulated from the everyday experience of everyone else. Their food is free, their haircuts are free, their snacks are free, their apartments are cleaned, their laundry is folded, and their commutes are always on time and the wifi is always fast. Life is made frictionless and painless.
Engineers solve problems -- but if they don't see any pain there is nothing to solve. This is why Silicon Valley is running out of original ideas. All the low-hanging fruit is long gone, the obvious ideas are already done and then done again.
How many varieties of email organizers, dating apps and to do lists do we need?
Original ideas require original experiences yet Silicon Valley employers have done their best to segregate and insulate their creatives from the diversity found in life's daily struggles.
In contrast, New York city overflows with original experiences and with a culture of diversity far more advanced than Silicon Valley's simplistic accounting of gender numbers and skin colors.
New York and other urban centers have an advantage...
Sean Coughlan at BBC News recently reported:
In a report on global trends shaping education, the OECD says cities could learn from each other's experiences...Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's education director: "When you talk about cities, we face very similar challenges."
All cities are similar to each other. Solve a problem in one and you've solved it in every city -- that's a massive potential market.
Silicon Valley won't go away -- it'll be where startups will go to scale their business. But don't expect many original startup ideas from this self-segregated business park monoculture.
Innovation is born from adversity and is driven by diversity. Silicon Valley lacks both.Tweet this story Follow @tomforemski