The system may be working exactly as it is supposed to. If so, is the definition of success we have been using wrong? What if the success of Silicon Valley is failing most of us? This issue ventures a few possible answers to these questions. It explores what happens when technology blows up and breaks down. It looks at failures of code, institutions, narratives, and imagination. In so doing, it tries to imagine a better way to live with our machines—and to build new ones.
There is no shame in failing, until there is. Having been exempt from scrutiny for so long, many tech leaders seem genuinely stung by their first taste of criticism. Don’t they see? We’re working so hard. Taking a cue from Trump, some of them have take to Twitter to denounce their critics as liars, and to challenge the legitimacy of the media as a whole.
There has long been the sense in Silicon Valley that anyone who criticizes is simply a hater. We take the opposite view. Engaging with failure is, as FailCon could have taught us, the first step to growth. Only, that growth may have to happen in a different direction than Silicon Valley has been imagining. We may not need to iterate to grow faster but act boldly to create a more expansive and equitable world.
The only failure that should frighten us is not taking advantage of the opportunity that this moment presents. Complacency is no way to honor the disruptive potential of technology. To paraphrase one interview in the following pages: Criticism can be the highest form of love.