Rebekah Cox’s tweet on culture and technology struck a chord with me in two places. First, there’s LA, the city New Yorkers love to hate (not like the way we hate Boston). To wit:
LA leveraging its place as a cultural hub makes more sense than LA or NY as the next tech hub. A new frontier for consumer tech is culture.
— r. (@artypapers) June 23, 2014
Interesting idea here is that of LA as the place of a particular confluence of tech, commerce and culture. This is the entertainment industry, particularly Hollywood, in a nutshell. Think about it: Hollywood is that crazy place where art goes in one end, mixes with business, finance and technology, and comes out the other end as globally consumed entertainment culture . LA, in its own way, is a culture machine. Nowhere else does that so well or at such scale. Not NYC. Not Austin. Not the Bay. Certainly not Silicon Valley.
Even New Yorkers give LA its due. People do a kind of humble brag, “I’m in LA next week.” Whether or not you really “want” to go is beside the point. When you do this, you’re signifying several things:
- First, you have business in the land of mythmaking. You were going to the city that creates powerful cultural cachet and maybe, just maybe, some of that rubs off on you.
- You have access. We infer that powerful people, the ones who can put considerable resources behind creative projects, are in LA. And if you’re going there, you have a reason to walk those corridors of power.
- Your time is as a premium. By definition you won’t be “here”, you’ll be there.
- You’re not chained to your desk like an everyman. You’re invoking mobility as a status marker.
Side note: No New Yorker ever brags about a family vacation to LA.
Yes, it’s strange to think of LA as a “cultural” hub, but that’s because we think of culture in terms of art. That’s us being idealistic or, at least, romantic. All that said, LA is a major metropolitan market in the US. It’s a destination for movers and shakers (or those who aspire to be) in movies, music, media and tech, while at the same time being home to millions of everyday people. So, yes, there’s something to Rebekah’s thought: Maybe LA can inject some measure of contemporary culture into tech, and do so in a way that makes tech be more useful and of consequence than a lot of it currently is.
Some open ideas:
- Cities as cultural hubs. What are some new ways to think about that idea?
- Can a city’s ethos can impact the nature of technology (and urban!) development? Would a piece of tech developed in, say, Austin, feel/operate/interact differently than something based in LA, NYC or Seattle? Amazon no longer feels like Seattle. Did it ever?
- Further: Is this all just a matter of perception?
Leave your thoughts in the comments?
H/T to Tristan Walker for bringing Rebekah to my attention.