This chapter gives an overview of the development and impact of Silicon Valley. Work and workplaces, long a factor in regional civic life, have solidified their position. Large iconic organizations, such as Apple and Google, set the stage for worker expectations, even in small start-ups. Industries such as clean technology and the Internet of Things go beyond the realm of communication revealing the role of information technologies in the world around us. These new industries are part of the story of Silicon Valley's expansion. The region itself has outgrown its original boundaries, extending beyond Santa Clara County into the rest of the Bay Area. This chapter provides a guide to the rest of the book, and sets up the twin stories of technological saturation and complex global diversity.
This chapter discusses how ubiquitous computing has remolded work patterns and family connections. As technologies emerged and economic landscape changed, workers faced new opportunities for augmentation, and new obligations to produce. Mobile access to the Internet, cloud computing, and social networking intensified the domination of work in life. Designers, increasingly important players in the workscape, think through ways to hook devices and services to amplified users. High visibility companies such as Google and Facebook actively rethink worker productivity and worker roles. Organized labor has a muted impact, while microwork, the "gig economy," and contract work continue to redefine the relationship of workers to companies, and the relative status of workers. These changes have an impact on the lives of the workers, their families, and their communities. The use of mobile computing changed everyday life and, above all, the compression of time and space. Ethnographic stories illustrate these concepts.
This chapter includes discussions of how commercial and non-profit social networking platforms have changed social interactions. Facebook links weak ties, and amplifies distinctions between experienced communities. Services, augmented by technology, change how we build and think about our social institutions. Clean technology and financial technology illustrate this linkage of social and engineering endeavors. Human-centered design often augments the impact of such services. Design itself has become a metaphor for intentional change that influences civic discourse. Socially-infused industries, such as clean technology, meld together social aspirations and opportunities for venture capitalism. Civic engineering, intentionally redesigning Silicon Valley public life as a demonstration of social innovation, has given rise to enduring public-private partnerships that have reshaped Silicon Valley's public culture.
No longer is Silicon Valley an emergent globalizing phenomenon, it is a premiere planetary hub whose global economic ties have become iconic. Large companies can harness a global workforce, and small startups reach across international boundaries. More than a third of the population is foreign-born, and everyday experiences are necessarily multicultural. This chapter deepens the discussion of deep diversity, of living in a complex plural society. The stories in the chapter go beyond a focus on the immigrant experience to explore what is celebrated, accepted, tolerated and excluded as cultures meet and intermingle. The region, however, is not a multicultural utopia. Class remains a dominant divisive element in this experiment in multicultural living. Inequality reaches into civic and work life revealing potential vulnerabilities in the body politic.
The deep diversity experienced across the range of the lower to upper middle classes does not mask the deep exclusion of the marginalized. Examples of how deep diversity enters daily life through care, food, and home life humanize this complex concept. Stories of care giving highlight what matters to people, teasing out the challenge of juggling omnipresent work and intimate home life. Similarly, stories of cultural instrumentality underscore the rules of Silicon Valley culture, which are so deeply pragmatic. Silicon Valley residents and workers struggle with "cultural agility" as a tool for navigating the diverse demands of culture, work, time and family.
Silicon Valley balances social experimentation with the old familiar story of inequality driven by capitalism. The etiquette of pragmatism, discussed in this chapter, is a tool for sifting out social behaviors that do not lead to a desirable future. Design, gamification, and venture philanthropy offer a novel way of approaching the region's social issues, but can they change the fundamental dynamics of inequality and lead to a more sustainable region? The experiment in the pragmatic merger of civic life and entrepreneurial endeavor continues. Some consequences of this merger are perilous, and others enticing. Silicon Valley remains a test case for 21st century life, and the effects of the various experimental cultural attitudes and actions of this region bear examination and reflection.