The Silicon Valley Ethos regarding Tech Industry Products
The practices and discourses of Silicon Valley are said to be presented as tools for empowerment and social change. However, this statement should be read in critical lenses. The essays assigned under the heading of The Silicon Valley Ethos make us become aware of certain drawbacks that come along with technological innovation. The most general implication about this situation is that the technology products of Silicon Valley and the way we think about them have impact on all aspects of daily life, including the social, political and economic conditions as one may guess.
The promise of Silicon Valley is to create social change, solve social problems and raise the standard of living with better personal convenience. For this, algorithmic decisions come to the foreground as solutions. This dream is rooted in libertarianism and techno-utopianism. As for academic field, the introductory essay suggests that there is a need for systematic critique concerning the discourses and practices about Silicon Valley. In a way, the introductory essay is a call for more disciplined critical studies in the field. Just like Frankfurt School examined cultural industry, this time Silicon Valley is to be analyzed through critical lenses, and the new term is tech industry. The essays in the issue are written based on the well-known work of Castells The Rise of the Network Society. Critical examination of the complex relationship between information technologies and systems of capital is performed. In my opinion, this approach is a nice one to adopt because every plus has a minus. This may be a cliché; however, it holds true for everything, and tech industry is not an exception.
In the essay entitled “Where are you? Location tracking and the promise of child safety”, the author
Hasinoff emphasizes many negative aspects of the tracking app Life360. Some of such drawbacks are as follows: creating anxiety, hypervigilance, triggering new obsession regarding the whereabouts of your family members, false comfort, power imbalances, and so on. Through the analysis of the discourses of the company, the writer refers to the website which claims the following: “Knowing your child’s location is key to knowing that your kids are safe.” However, this claim is not always true as one may easily guess. Sometimes children can locate their phones elsewhere or say that their battery is dead. Deception is always at stake. Research shows that in most cases, the danger does not lurk outside but within the family. For this reason, always knowing where your child is not the key to knowing that he / she is entirely safe. This false comfort and sense of security is something to consider and beware of since actual problems cannot be detected through the app. This essay shows that disadvantages of the app definitely outweigh the advantages.
In the marketing and business fields, we are inundated with a lot of promotional practices through alluring discourses to acquire the product or the app. Yet, critical studies can raise awareness about the risks, shortcomings and negative consequences possible to be experienced through some practices and products of tech industry. In this respect, the approach of the essays could prove to be helpful if they can reach a wider audience, particularly consumers so that they will not always be lured by new apps and products. They will also understand that like in old days, they can rely on interpersonal communication rather than an automated system.
written by A. Dereli as Response Paper VII (for COMM 720 Week 8–2016–2017 Academic Year)
Hasinoff, A. A. (2016). Where Are You? Location Tracking and the Promise of Child Safety. Television & New Media, 152747641668045.
Levina, M., & Hasinoff, A. A. (2016). The Silicon Valley Ethos. Television & New Media.