When Americans reach for a European city to illustrate their point I notice they almost never pick London. If, “What about European tech?", is the question, “Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Lisbon,” is the answer. Is this because London is not seen as foreign enough to be a valid example, or maybe the worry of being outed as an Anglophile? Whatever the reason, I think it’s indisputable that London is the tech capital of Europe and after SF and NYC the most important global tech hub.
Some values may benefit small groups such as startups, without necessarily being good for people’s everyday lives or even society as a whole. For example, overconfidence. Paul Graham tweeted that, “overconfidence … has its disadvantages. But it’s just what you need if you want to take on a problem most rational people would conclude was too hard.” Today, it's generally assumed that people who work in tech are on the left – San Francisco values across the board.
A company offers a tradeoff: it captures employees’ productivity, to create a lens focusing many hands on big problems. Post-internet, I see a new downside to this: the company is also capturing its employees’ free expression. I suspect many professional voices — people talking frankly about the work they do — are going unheard. The voices I mostly hear on YouTube and podcasts are the same sort of media personalities that I’ve always heard from.
I now find myself taking my son to birthday parties where all the kids are dressed as tiny, ultra-violent technicolor fascists. Disney has succeeded in making American superheroes an expected part of small children's lives all over the world. I hate that American superheroes are so boringly unrealistic. No human on the planet, if suddenly granted magical powers, would become Spiderman. There's no part of Batman's journey from billionaire to leaping-around-the-streets-at-night-hitting-people that makes sense.
In Spielberg's Ready Player One, humanity has built the matrix and uses it exclusively for playing VR remakes of 40 year old video games. In True Names and Neuromancer cyberspace was an anarchists’ playground. A base to fight back from against despotic governments and corporations. In Snow Crash, cyberspace was a maker's paradise – a hackerspace to rule them all. Ready Player One is a fun movie with a failure of imagination.