Sociological Account of Silicon Valley
This paper attempts to scratch the surface when it comes to the sociological understanding of Silicon Valley. This region in California, USA is the birthplace of the tech revolution that altered the latter part of the 20th century and played a large part in the present day obsession with social media. Silicon Valley became synonymous with computers, software, and tech ventures that revolutionized the way people use and appreciate computers. This paper is a limited analysis to the sociological component of the human interactions within Silicon Valley as people from all over the world came together to work and create companies that are now household names. However, the discussion is limited on ideas and insights gleaned from a few readings and the movie entitled Silicon Valley Pirates.
Overview of the Film
The film was a focused and yet brief depiction of the two giants of tech world. Both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs radically alter the way people come to understand the definition of the term Silicon Valley. In the not so distant past, the name stood for a geographical location, but it ceases to become that word and alone as it was transformed into something else. It is interesting to analyze the movie, not only because of the lessons learned and the insights gleaned from having a deeper understanding of the lives of the founder of Apple and Microsoft, but also on knowing the narrative behind some of the greatest business deals of all time.
There were two classic episodes in the narrative. The first one was when unassuming and unprepared XEROX corporate leaders enabled Steve Jobs and his steam to practically steal what the printing machine making conglomerate practically invented through the hard word of their California-based engineers. The breakthrough in computer graphic user interface such as the combination of the mouse and the windows type of information management were originally intellectual property rights of XEROX. However, a careless decision to allow Steve Jobs and his gang easy access to the same gave them the opportunity to copy and steal the idea, re-packaging the same and changing it into something that revolutionized the way computers are used in households all over the world.
In a twist of irony, Bill Gates did the same thing to Steve Jobs, when Gates earned the rust and respect of the Apple founder. In the case of XEROX, they had no idea what they had and it was only too late when they discovered the financial and technical value of their intellectual property. However, Steve Jobs knew exactly what he was giving away to Mr. Gates; nonetheless, he was blinded by his own success. At the same time, Mr. Jobs was still thinking like his contemporaries by making the mistake of bundling together the operating system and the computer hardware. It was Bill Gates who first saw a business model that did not require the strict combination of the two elements. Thus, when Mr. Gates windows technology and utilized it to create his Microsoft Windows operating system, he epitomized the culture that it was acceptable to steal ideas, and therefore they were called the pirates of Silicon Valley.
Hossfield and Chandra and the Silicon Valley Tech Work
Hossfield focused more on the issues that pertain to race and gender. On the other hand, Chandra highlighted the culture that existed within the context of the tech work that occurred within Silicon Valley. Hossfield discussed issues and concepts that were not the main ideas that were tackled in the said movie. For example Hossfield described the way California-based companies treated minorities and migrant works. The author also discussed how the CEOs and the managers of these firms treated workers on account of their race and their socio-economic status. However, Chandra was focused more on the culture, especially the type of behavior exhibited by the alpha-male leaders of the said industry.
Hossfield paid careful attention to the plight of workers and contributors with Latin American ancestry. The author also covered the experience of Filipinos and African Americans in the said region. However these issues and this type of work-related concepts were not the main focus of the film. In fact, one will be hard pressed to look for scenes wherein the issue of race or the gender of the characters was critical in a negotiation, the hiring or the discussion of the incentives or work load of the characters.
Chandra’s ideas figured prominently in the said film, because the author discussed the macho image or the gangster-type of behavior of the leaders and company founders of firms that were established in Silicon Valley. This type of alpha male behavior was exhibited by the founder of
Apple. Steve Jobs had different scenes wherein he berated his employees. There were many instances when he pushed away and ground to pieces so-to-speak his business partner and confidant in the person of Wozniak. Without Wozniak it is hard to imagine Mr. Jobs reaching the level of success that he used to enjoy. However, Jobs did not care as long as he was able to accomplish what he needed to accomplish through the work of the employees.
It is also interesting to note that Bill Gates had the same temperament there were also different scenes wherein he bullied Ballmer and Allen. However, Bill Gates was more subtle compared to Jobs. This attitude perhaps explains the fact that Gates was considered the top man of the computer industry while at one point Jobs was booted out from his own company. It has been mentioned earlier that the film did not focus on the struggles of women and the members of the minority groups when it comes to their career and earning capabilities as they worked at Silicon Valley. In other words gender and race issues were not the main focus of the film. However, there were several instances wherein there was a direct and indirect disdain or maltreatment of women. This was manifested through the way Jobs seemed to use women but never regarding them with respect or trust. This can be explained through the absence of women in key function and key roles in the company. For example whenever critical scenes were filmed the audience can only see a gang of men going into the lair of the business rivals. There was not even one scene wherein Jobs or Bill Gates entered the turf of their respective rivals with a female executive assistant or office secretary in tow.
Whiteness According to the Characters of the Film
As mentioned earlier race was not the main focus of the film, however, there was one scene wherein the race card was used. When Bill Gates exploded against the self-righteousness of Jobs, he referred to XEROX as a white rich neighbor. In this particular scene “whiteness” was experienced or viewed as affluent members of society and that others are unable to experience the same level of success without stealing from him.
Chandra and Hossfield discussed several issues related to gender, race, and the culture that existed within Silicon Valley’s tech industry. However, when it comes to the film based on the activities in the said region in California, the focus was not on race or gender, but on the culture that existed particularly the behavior based on the idea of the gangster or macho image of men. It was Steve Jobs who frequently manifested this type of culture as he berated and bullied his employees to submission. Nevertheless, it was also clear that in key scenes women were not given primary roles, and in the narrative of the creation of two of the most dominant companies in the computer industry women did not seem to play a key role, because they were often seen in the background doing menial things.