This post may wind up making no sense, but stay with me and let’s see where it goes. Just finished reading a paper published in 2002 by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid,titled ” Local Knowledge:Innovation in the Networked Age.” In it, the authors discuss the paradox between the local character of innovative knowledge and the ubiquity of information. Nowhere is the paradox more evident than in Silicon Valley. The valley persists as a densely interconnected innovative region, even though its inhabitants loudly proclaim that the information technology they develop renders distance dead, and place insignificant. The authors argue that the paradox exists because of the local character of innovative knowledge, which flows in social rather than digital networks.
So now we take a step toward thinking of Silicon Valley as a meme. In case you want to brush up on what defines a meme, check out wikipedia here. So why did the young hackers, engineers, MBAs and others go to the valley? According to the authors is it because Silicon Valley is still one of the most significant nodes in the “new” economy, a concentration of inspired ideas, astounding wealth, and the means to turn the former into the latter. So it seems to me that Silicon Valley is as much an idea as it is a place. And the idea behaves much like an organism. As long as the idea can spread, be nourished and mutate to adapt to changing conditions around it, the idea lives on. In the valley, the idea of what it represents is in fact mutating, and adapting to the post-bubble world around it. The communications technology that ought to drive down the reason to congregate, and doom a place like the valley, seems to be having the opposite effect. That seems to be because the technology is supporting the social networks there in new and useful ways, allowing the meme to strengthen and spread.
Does this make sense?