By Anne-Marie Schär, Web Editor and Social Media Manager, School of Business FHNW & Bernard Lechot, Community Manager, University of Neuchâtel
We love mythologies… Greek, Roman, or for some centuries, American. Particularly Californian. The Gold Rush, the Summer of Love in 1967 and … And the Silicon Valley success story! Hence it was interesting to start our Study Tour with the analysis of someone who, without breaking the myth, takes some distance from it.
This is the reason why we – Anne-Marie and Bernard – have chosen to write about what Chuck Darrah, an anthropologist, said: his views about Californian coolness, seen finally as a different kind of conformity; above Silicon Valley’s unanimity around faith in technology. The inventors of Twitter really thought, says Darrah, that their invention would end the crisis in the Middle East at that time. With Isis in perspective, it seems quite funny. We will change the world… and make lots of money through new technologies. As if one proposition needed the other one to find a legitimation. Need for redemption? Silicon Valley, for the moment, did not save the Middle East, just like it hasn’t it helped the California Central Valley, a valley nearby that continues to struggle with unemployment and low income.
Nevertheless there seems to be, despite the crisis, a Silicon Valley miracle. Chuck Darrah notices it: Those who came to Silicon Valley to get inspired and transpose the technical and economic success of the place in their own country have generally failed. Not only because Silicon Valley is some sort of miracle, but also because it was constructed over decades. A historical context. Individuals. Networks. And all that is not exportable. Silicon Valley consists also in this the resolute optimism. You don’t only have the right to fail, but you have the obligation to fail, because failure stimulates imagination and creativity, says Darrah. Taking risks is celebrated in the valley as well.
What is good story telling? The art of giving an exciting and fascinating perspective on things. Maybe Silicon Valley is a good example for beautiful story telling, just like the Gold Rush or the Summer of Love. A mix of reality (real people, a real past, real technological achievements, a real dynamism), fiction (the technology to change the world) and autosuggestion (we are the best, God bless California… Like the Trojan War. Yes, ancient mythology is a great way of story telling too !
Now, we have to discover Silicon Valley ourselves…