A reader writes:
Don’t you think Steve Jobs is to blame for some of this animosity? Jobs was deified by lefty middle- and upper-class white people for his aesthetic design and streamlined interface. But his actions as head of Apple were almost exactly antithetical to the professed social/economic concerns of those same people. He cancelled all of Apple’s philanthropic programs, farmed all of their labor out to Chinese hellholes, and accumulated enormous, static piles of cash exactly when enormous, static piles of cash were a serious problem for the economy.
Meanwhile, while Gates was derided for his products, he was actually doing the things that those same lefty middle- and upper-class white people claimed that they cared about. ”But, but, but … brushed aluminum!”
It’s good that the public is starting to figure out that we need to hold these guys to the same standards to that we claim to hold other wealthy entrepreneurs/businessmen. But frankly, I think this is Jobs’ fault, and the Cult of Apple was the midwife to the birth of this new obscene vortex of conspicuous consumption about which we are all now so happy to complain.
Another points to Zuckerberg:
My biggest gripe about the tech sector is their unabashed ageist mentality.
Mark Zuckerberg comes right out and says “younger people are just smarter than older people”. Forget about the virtues of wisdom and experience. Forget about modern brain science that says that the brain can expand its capabilities well into adulthood. That’s not it. Zuckerberg wants employees with no lives, who are willing to put in 80-hour weeks in hope of lucrative stock options. Top-notch programmers who have families and will only work normal hours are in unemployment lines. As an employer in a brick-and-mortar business, I have to pay my guys time-and-a-half if they work more than an 8-hour day, and double time under certain circumstances. Zuckerberg and his ilk live in a happy place where the rules that apply to most industries are off the table.
Another zooms out:
I think one of the big problems for the worsening perception of the tech industry is a general lifting of a lot of the mystique of the computers/Internet that initially blinded everyone else from the fact that so much consumer technology was utter crap. There was so much low hanging fruit, so many quick new capabilities, immediate productivity gains, that despite the fact that your computer crashed five times a day and was probably infested with eighteen types of malware that it still felt like an upgrade to your life. It was all so new, most people had grown up never seeing anything like it, and it seemed almost magical.
Today, not so much. Adults have had well over a decade of computers/Internet to get comfortable with it. People graduating from college today can’t really remember a time before they had Internet. It’s not magic anymore; it’s just everyday life.
We’re not as easily impressed anymore. So the tech industry is going to increasingly be judged by the same basic standards as everyone else. Sure, you’ve got a bunch of smart and hardworking people who would love to make people’s lives better, but so does every other profession on the planet. And the market/society/government actually punishes those fields for releasing crap onto the world. If I designed a building that was as unreliable as Twitter has been, the only articles being written about my company would be to mention how we got sued into the ground.
The tech industry isn’t any smarter or harder working than everyone else; they just lucked into being the next big thing, which is why giant piles of money have fallen into their lap, even when what they’re producing isn’t always particularly well made. People outside of the industry might be realizing that more quickly than many people within the industry.