April 25, 2004

Silicon Valley Lamented

Thomas Friedman writes that the SV folks (and I think more generally representative of innovators and developers in the greater US) he just visited think we are losing our edge. Can't disagree. Various reasons are cited, including universal health care offered in other countries, tax breaks, better education of the populace, getting bogged down in political issues like Iraq and a competitiveness-and-innovation struggle between India, China, Japan and their neighbors. Apparently we are sort of ignoring that last one in the US. Too complicated to address, no?

But what Friedman totally neglects, our fearless leader marginally gets, according to Jeff Jarvis: "We're lagging a little bit on broadband technology." Try a lot. Add to that mobile and wifi culture, and an understanding of digital media in all forms, possibilities, limitations and manifestations. This is knowledge that develops from using technology, interacting with gadgets and people, communicating and creating communities of shared digital media, ideas, people, interest. You have to play with the stuff to know it. How do you build on this digital culture, which is status quo in parts of Asia and Europe, but 5 years behind for people in the US, if you don't have the infrastructure, and open standards, and a critical mass of users playing and an IP regime that encourages the push and pull of data. Those users will take frameworks of technologies in their heads, then understand it enough to build on it, innovate, make something for sale. These communities exist in Japan, Italy, the UK, Finland, South Korea, India and on and on.

Graduate classes here in the US read papers about people in those places using these technologies. Better than nothing, for sure, but how stupid are we, to have such ridiculous closed standards and IP lock-down and backward networks and pricing structures. Can you say FCC and the BF? It's our own fault really. We're doing this to ourselves.

Posted by Mary Hodder at April 25, 2004 10:43 AM | TrackBack

Friedman writes "It is because governments in these countries are so eager for employment and the transfer of technology to their young populations that they are offering huge tax holidays for U.S. manufacturers who will set up shop." Yet I'm sure that any attempt for a US administration to follow this or a similar model would be soundly defeated by the left and the media under the banner of "Corporate Welfare". We can't have it both ways - nobody out there wants to cut taxes but at the same time they decry the corporate offshoring/outsourcing of industry to places where the tax burden is significantly less.

Posted by: Dave at April 28, 2004 10:05 AM