The tech industry and protests and taxes and Google Glass, oh my. We’ve rounded up some anti-tech-sentiment light reading for you. (If you count an extremely long TechCrunch opus on San Francisco’s housing problems light reading, that is.)
First, Google’s been the high-profile symbol/scapegoat of anti-tech sentiment, what with its buses and Glass. Protesters have blocked the buses from shuttling workers from San Francisco to the Peninsula; Glass wearers have been ridiculed and banned and attacked. (The amount of backlash to Glass has even prompted Google to tell its wearers not to be “creepy.”)
But Will Oremus writes for Slate that it’s time to stop hating on Glass, saying it’s no more of a surveillance tool than a smartphone. Also, regarding what some might perceive about Google Glass’ perceived exclusivity: “Google has kept Glass exclusive for the same reason it kept Gmail exclusive in the early days. That is, to enlist early adopters in the project of testing and refining a prototype before unleashing it on the public at large.”
Elsewhere, Anisse Gross writes for the New Yorker about the Glass backlash, bringing up the “Walkman effect,” and how wearing headphones in public came to be viewed as OK. Glass is still so new; might its users eventually adopt unspoken rules that will pave the way for its acceptance?
Finally, TechCrunch’s Kim-Mai Cutler has written a well-received comprehensive look at San Francisco’s housing crisis. Rising prices and evictions and income inequity amid a tech boom in that city have fueled the protests. It’s a long read, because — and here’s the main point — it’s easy to blame tech, but the issue is complicated and involves many factors.
Among them: San Francisco’s economics meant it felt it had to offer tax breaks — against which there was a Tax Day protest Tuesday — to companies such as Twitter. And she points out that lest we’ve forgotten, part of what has made housing in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area so expensive is its ability to create jobs, foster and inspire innovation. This is why people want to live here.
There’s lots of good stuff in Cutler’s admittedly long piece, but my favorite line might be her addressing the perception of techies as holier-than-though libertarians: “The tech leadership of this generation doesn’t have a reflexive anti-tax orientation like that of the Reagan era. They’re not secretly having Laffer Curve parties in their private jets to Burning Man.”
Photo: Housing advocates protest in front of Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco on the day Twitter went public, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. (John Green/Bay Area News Group)