Silicon City in the land of Geek

Posted: February 12, 2006 in Uncategorized

I’ve been all over the US, been to huge commercial campuses that were small cities unto themselves, worked in massive skyscrapers in the heart of a major metropolis, and walked among the deeply resonating black monolith forests of corporate data centers, forests wrapped in vines of CAT-5e and fiber cabling wafting in the winds of aggressively pressurized HVAC. But I had yet to truly witness the expanse of that Emerald City of geekdom, Silicon Valley. Until last week.

The thing about Silicon Valley is not the various technologies at work and being developed there, or the offices full of geeks hard at work trying to improve both their code and their stock value. Ever since the the bubble burst, these things can be found anywhere. The thing about San Jose, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, and the hundreds of other small towns blurred into one is just that: the density. While most commercial tech districts are restrained to a few business parks or are sprinkled among banks, law offices, and shops, Silicon Valley is a whole geographic region of offices, a parking lot of businesses visible from space with towns poking up like grass in the cracks and crevices of the pavement. Housing, restaurants, bars, and hotels are real estate of necessity rather than intent, just as a college campus has dorms and a cafeteria. This place is not for living. It’s for working.

The career-centric air is tangible even knocking back some beers at a local pub. The people are all dressed in some form of business attire even when they relax, and so close to Valentines Day, the woman wandering through the crowd looking for couples carries not a basket of roses, but a portable DVD player, offering a video recording committed to DVD of the young couples. Some snatches of inebriated conversations circle around business models and bottom lines. The heyday of the area may be gone, but the energy seems just as focused, if perhaps a bit older, and a bit more tired.

This is what I spend 3 days immersed in. I feel simultaneously at home and out of place. Working at the office, I don’t really feel the need to leave at the end of the day. Partly because it’s a new environment, and one that has purposely mingled work and play at that. But also because outside is no different than the inside. Going from workplace to downtown to hotel room is a nearly intangible transition. I enjoy it, but it’s exhausting, and when we finally hit the road back to SFO, I’m glad for it. I need some way to leave the office behind, even if it means coming back to a place where business is considered more an unfortunate necessity that’s not taken very seriously. Of the two extremes, for the time being I’d rather let business take the back seat.

  1. Anonymous says:

    welcome home 🙂

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