Is the technique good? It is not justmass layoffs. It's just that to the outside observer, many of the hottest ideas to emerge from America's vaunted tech industry in recent years are out of touch with reality, if not out of whack.
Facebook changed its name to Meta andthrew us the metaverse, which insists that soon we'll all want to be immersed in a giant 3D pixel cartoon where no one has legs. The so-called web3 startupsCelebrities recruited to sell us NFTsand the blockchain technology created to prove we have the doodles of depressed monkeys. crypto companysuggested that we give upa digitally regulated financial system fraught with volatility and fraud.
Some dementia are good, one could argue. Where would civilization be if we didn't have major technological changes? Making massive amounts of information easily searchable for billions of people, and then making it accessible on a screen that fits in your pocket—it all sounded like a fantastic idea. It's also true that fashion concepts have been coming and going in Silicon Valley for decades,a little effervescence,another permanent one. But something feels different this time.
Buzzwords seem to come faster, ideas seem to be further and further removed from the real world and the ordinary consumer. The industry that gave us the iPhone, Google search, social media and Uber seems to have entered a period of sustained magical thinking. You could say the technology was found in La La Land.
It is interesting, then, that the technology's metaphorical shift has been accompanied by its physical migration to Los Angeles, where Silicon Valley companies have been holed up of late. In recent years we have witnessed the conquest of Netflix and streaming, each of the tech giants rapidly expanding their presence on what is known as Silicon Beach, and the cross-fertilization of Hollywood and Silicon Valley: the intertwining of theScience-Fiction-Industriekomplexand the tech industry leveraging their insightslooking for inspiration for your products. It makes sense: after the pipelines were built in the form of internet and social media servers, the next step was for content to flow through them, and who produces content better than Los Angeles?
technology and the internet
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Do I blame Hollywoodland's influence for the final phase of the virtual technology uplift? Not necessarily. Am I too smart to share some of the key issues covered in a Los Angeles technology column? Some questions may never find answers.
But consider for a moment that when I moved to Los Angeles nearly eight years ago, in 2015, the dominant trend in technology was on-demand app services. Do you remember the days of "Uber for everything"? (The sound Incidentally, attractive and very tangible for Uber: what if you could order products and services by touching your smartphone? It was about giving the user access to physical things and experiences: a ride to the airport, sushi at the door, groceries for the next week). VR was a niche, TikTok didn't exist, and Netflix barely had a presence here. Driven by the pandemic, the tide has turned and thrown us back into the online space with full force.
Since then,streaming and production of digital content.bloomed, and all tech giants have become content producers and entertainment platforms: Amazon Prime, Apple Plus, YouTube Premium, Meta's Horizon Worlds, etc. Video game studios like Santa Monica-based Activision Blizzard are challenging Hollywood for revenue supremacy. And the rise of virtual and augmented reality, technologies that live or die on the content that can be produced for them, has spawned start-ups and content studios in Los Angeles.
"Technology has become the lifeblood of Los Angeles," Petra Durnin, Head of Market Analysis atIncrease commercial real estate,said in 2020. And it still is, if not more so. "Had COVID not curtailed demand, we would have seen 15% to 20% growth in what I call tech entertainment," Durnin said.
Google, Amazon, Netflix and their tech friends are conquering the Los Angeles office market
Technology companies are hiring so quickly that they are dominating the Los Angeles office market and expanding their influence into neighborhoods like Silver Lake and West Adams that were not previously considered office centers.
Raise collects data on how much office space tech companies are buying or leasing, and judging by the numbers, Tech's acquisition of Los Angeles was pretty impressive. In 2015, technology companies rented around 500,000 square meters of office space. Now Netflix alone has nearly a million. Tech has about 5.5 million square feet of space in L.A. today, about 10% of all commercial real estate on the West Side. "Starting in 2018, there were really big, steady increases," she says.
As technology invaded Los Angeles and coexisted with the entertainment industry, new formations of what we call "technology" were born. don't take it away from me HeAn anthropologist from Yale, Lisa Messeri, who previously studied in Silicon Valley, has conducted his most recent field research in Los Angeles' growing virtual reality community. While Southern California has a huge aerospace industry and was an early player in electronics manufacturing and Internet research, Los Angeles' roots and role in the development of modern technology are often overlooked.
“Reflecting on Technology in Los Angeles,” says Messeri, “is a project to both remind people that there is a history of technology in the city and to reflect on how important entertainment and storytelling are to the climate. current technology". How perhaps tactics like the Metaverse depend less on any particular technological achievement than on the stories and experiences one can find within. Or even in the narratives generated about it it: Ready Player One was a blueprint for the Facebook metaverse, and Tom Cruise's swipe-based future clock in Minority Report helped inspire touchscreen user interfaces.
"And entertainment," Messeri adds, "is obviously its own 'tech industry'."
It certainly is, and now the lines are blurring more than ever. Movie franchises like Avatar and the seemingly endless Marvel Cinematic Universe call for cutting-edge film production technology;Big Tech hires Hollywood special effects artiststo build virtual realities, and the film industry isDiscussing the merits of AI-generated effects and actors. According to Messeri, the current formulation of VR and the Metaverse is the result of cross-fertilization between Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. Technology in the truest sense of the word in La La Land.
(Trends like Crypto, Web3, and NFT are a different story: valley falls stemming from a frothing era when investors had access to cheap money and, as always, clung to some wild ideas. Tech, metaphorically, in La to earth. )
Regardless, given the connection between Silicon Valley's latest visions of tomorrow's technology and the technologization of the City of Angels, it makes an intriguing place to start thinking about where this is all headed.
For all of the above reasons and many more, Los Angeles is a particularly interesting place to watch the development of the technology of the future. not only to sit at the window on the innovations happening in entertainment and virtual reality, but also to explore the costs of all technologies in their la-la-land phase.
Take Uber, which I mentioned earlier as an example of a Silicon Valley idea that resonated with consumers, which it certainly did. Uber has become a global phenomenon, transforming and redefining an entire profession. But his business model turned out to be mostly magical thinking, and neither he nor the competitors who followed himalready made a significant profit. Instead, they looked for new ways to keep wages low and drivers overworked and in a precarious position. He left LA, one of the nation's largest temping markets, plagued byVulnerable drivers must sleep in their carsbecause they can't pay the rent.
But instead of finding sustainable solutions, putting the ship back in order, or giving workers meaningful seats at the table, technology often seems to double down on their grandiloquent thinking. Take Facebook, for example, which only went meta after facing years of scandal over how it decided to post malicious or deceptive content on its massive social media platform. Facebook chose to capitalize on its bet on the metaverse rather than dominate its vast and difficult social platform. It's one of the reasons people haveincreasingly negative views of technology companies, and why things like web3 and NFT seem to be disappearing so fast: We see the problems piling up and are increasingly wary of a new wave of hype when problems with the latter are still so widespread.
That's supposed to be the main focus of this column: what's fact, what's fiction, what's made passable through impressive special effects, but lacks real depth or staying power? Even beyond the entertainment and technology excesses, Los Angeles is an ideal place to define how technology is felt, adopted and embraced, and who it leaves out. It has the largest port, some of the largest fulfillment centers on Amazon, and the largest fleet of delivery trucks, all of which are increasingly automated and algorithmically controlled. What happens to this giant connected machine and the people who operate it as temperatures and costs rise?
(My inbox is always open for this: I want to know how you use or make technology and how technology is used or madeOf.)
Because Los Angeles is also where teenagers zoom past homeless encampments on Bird scooters, where wildfire smoke seeps through state-of-the-art air filtration systems, and where Hollywood's top talent agencies hire metaverse officers while the production crews go on. Strike for decent working conditions. In other words, it's both a theme park of technological marvels and a potential incubator of dystopias.
It's La La Land and it's producing the future. I suggest we check it out.