Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading. Currently can only be used by a single user (myself), but I plan to extend it to support multiple users eventually.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

39

[...] For all of its forward-looking ‘innovation’, there’s something suspiciously feudal about Silicon Valley. Tech royalty compete for dominance in platform wars, prepared to sacrifice their subjects’ privacy for business contracts and advertising dollars. They hoard resources while showering key personnel with lavish gifts to ensure loyalty and peddling a compelling story about their right to rule. Meanwhile, the remaining workers, dependent on ‘gigs’ for their livelihood, are made to battle with each other for scraps.

Even former enthusiasts are willing to admit that something is awry. But when it comes to actual solutions, there’s little forthcoming. Policymakers echo weary lines about codes of ethics, up-to-date regulation, and diversity in leadership roles. All of which are essentially cosmetic tweaks, little more than window-dressing for tech’s worst excesses. The accumulated power of its corporate behemoths, and their role in propping up an increasingly lopsided economy, remain untouched.

you can tell i really liked this passage because i've recycled in multiple talks since this was published lmao

also i do mildly resent the fact that "suspiciously feudal" wasn't my phrase and yet sounds so much better than whatever clunky phrase i'd come up (since forgotten)

—p.39 Abolish Silicon Valley (39) by Wendy Liu 2 weeks, 6 days ago

[...] For all of its forward-looking ‘innovation’, there’s something suspiciously feudal about Silicon Valley. Tech royalty compete for dominance in platform wars, prepared to sacrifice their subjects’ privacy for business contracts and advertising dollars. They hoard resources while showering key personnel with lavish gifts to ensure loyalty and peddling a compelling story about their right to rule. Meanwhile, the remaining workers, dependent on ‘gigs’ for their livelihood, are made to battle with each other for scraps.

Even former enthusiasts are willing to admit that something is awry. But when it comes to actual solutions, there’s little forthcoming. Policymakers echo weary lines about codes of ethics, up-to-date regulation, and diversity in leadership roles. All of which are essentially cosmetic tweaks, little more than window-dressing for tech’s worst excesses. The accumulated power of its corporate behemoths, and their role in propping up an increasingly lopsided economy, remain untouched.

you can tell i really liked this passage because i've recycled in multiple talks since this was published lmao

also i do mildly resent the fact that "suspiciously feudal" wasn't my phrase and yet sounds so much better than whatever clunky phrase i'd come up (since forgotten)

—p.39 Abolish Silicon Valley (39) by Wendy Liu 2 weeks, 6 days ago
40

Place Silicon Valley in its proper historical context and you see that, despite its mythology, it’s far from unique. [...] this breakthrough enabled a few well-placed corporations to reap the rewards. By capitalising on network effects, early mover advantage, and near-zero marginal costs of production, they have positioned themselves as gateways to information, giving them the power to extract rent from every transaction.

Undergirding this state of affairs is a set of intellectual property rights explicitly designed to favour corporations. This system — the flip side of globalisation — is propagated by various trade agreements and global institutions at the behest of the nation states who benefit from it the most. It’s no accident that Silicon Valley is a uniquely American phenomenon; not only does it owe its success to the United States’ exceptionally high defence spending — the source of its research funding and foundational technological breakthroughs — that very military might is itself what implicitly secures the intellectual property regime.

Seen in that light, tech’s recent development begins to look rather different. Far from launching a new era of global prosperity, it has facilitated the further concentration of wealth and power. By virtue of their position as digital middlemen, Silicon Valley companies are able to extract vast amounts of capital from all over the world. The most salient example is Apple: recently crowned the world’s most valuable company, Apple rakes in enormous quarterly profits even as the Chinese workers who actually assemble its products are driven to suicide.

I don't actually like the "far from unique" phrasing but I'll need to think about a better way to conceptualise it

—p.40 Abolish Silicon Valley (39) by Wendy Liu 2 weeks, 6 days ago

Place Silicon Valley in its proper historical context and you see that, despite its mythology, it’s far from unique. [...] this breakthrough enabled a few well-placed corporations to reap the rewards. By capitalising on network effects, early mover advantage, and near-zero marginal costs of production, they have positioned themselves as gateways to information, giving them the power to extract rent from every transaction.

Undergirding this state of affairs is a set of intellectual property rights explicitly designed to favour corporations. This system — the flip side of globalisation — is propagated by various trade agreements and global institutions at the behest of the nation states who benefit from it the most. It’s no accident that Silicon Valley is a uniquely American phenomenon; not only does it owe its success to the United States’ exceptionally high defence spending — the source of its research funding and foundational technological breakthroughs — that very military might is itself what implicitly secures the intellectual property regime.

Seen in that light, tech’s recent development begins to look rather different. Far from launching a new era of global prosperity, it has facilitated the further concentration of wealth and power. By virtue of their position as digital middlemen, Silicon Valley companies are able to extract vast amounts of capital from all over the world. The most salient example is Apple: recently crowned the world’s most valuable company, Apple rakes in enormous quarterly profits even as the Chinese workers who actually assemble its products are driven to suicide.

I don't actually like the "far from unique" phrasing but I'll need to think about a better way to conceptualise it

—p.40 Abolish Silicon Valley (39) by Wendy Liu 2 weeks, 6 days ago
40

The Silicon Valley model of technological development is structurally flawed. It can’t simply be tweaked in a more socially beneficial direction, because it was never intended to be useful for all of society in the first place. At its core, it was always a class project, meant to advance the interests of capital. The founders and investors and engineers who dutifully keep the engines running may not deliberately be reinforcing class divides, but functionally, they are carrying out technological development in a way that enables capitalism’s desire for endless accumulation.

—p.40 Abolish Silicon Valley (39) by Wendy Liu 2 weeks, 6 days ago

The Silicon Valley model of technological development is structurally flawed. It can’t simply be tweaked in a more socially beneficial direction, because it was never intended to be useful for all of society in the first place. At its core, it was always a class project, meant to advance the interests of capital. The founders and investors and engineers who dutifully keep the engines running may not deliberately be reinforcing class divides, but functionally, they are carrying out technological development in a way that enables capitalism’s desire for endless accumulation.

—p.40 Abolish Silicon Valley (39) by Wendy Liu 2 weeks, 6 days ago