Written in partial reply to a post by my friend Susan Mernit about an experience at a tech event in Oakland. Real estate coasts are pushing tech businesses and workers to Oakland. I already live in Oakland and love it.
There is an incredible opportunity to learn from the rich history and amazing people who have made up Oakland long before recent transplants. Oakland was a Black city. It’s been a pretty lesbian city for a long time. I still have a lot to learn about it and it’s history. It’s a very diverse city. The tech business in general has some real room to grow around its social environment and vibe. It was a much more nerdy, inclusive happy-go-lucky vibe (unsurprisingly) before it became such a big money driver full of people who aren’t focussed on ideas first and dollars second. It seemed more Woz than Jobs. I think the challenge of tech’s actual business and products and the challenge of Oakland now aren’t that far apart. It’s learning how to humanize and keep people and our needs and selves seen and met. Not re-arranged to meet the needs of algorithms. Because the machines are getting smarter every day. And eventually they will need us less and less if we don’t recall why we built them in the first place.