Over the last few years, there has been no other city that I’ve never been to, that came up more often in conversations – personal or professional – than San Francisco. It is closely connected to “Silicon Valley,” which has become more of a shibboleth for the digital future than just a geographical location. At times, San Francisco seems to be the intellectual and even physical battleground between the glorious opportunities and the dire consequences of the so-called Californian Ideology
. Thus I decided that it is time for me to replace hearsay and prejudices with personal observations and experiences.
From March 4 till 8, I will be in San Francisco for a research trip, exploring the city, visiting its places and spaces, meeting as many people with different perspectives and stories as I can and mainly absorbing the city. My goal is to get a “feel” for the city, its current mood and its ideas about the future. I don’t have a very specific question, but am more looking for lots of strong and weak signals.
I have two primary objectives:
1. Tech Culture
I’m interested in the ongoing conversation on “Silicon Valley,” the startup scene and its role in and effect on society. My hope here is to find more nuance than there currently is on this topic in Germany. I’m interested in where people think it is going in the near and farther future.
2. Civil Society
Visiting the US within two months of Trump’s inauguration has put a whole other layer to this trip. With this, there seems even a bigger gap between what I can read in the news and what it must be like on the ground, especially in a city like San Francisco. I would love to get as many insights as possible into how people are organizing and all the initiatives to strengthen civil society.
With these objectives in mind, I’m very thankful for any recommendations for and introductions to:
- people, who would be willing to give me their perspective on any aspects of this topics
- spaces to visit like cafes, bookshops and other community spaces
- events like meetups, readings, presentations
- other places in San Francisco that are must-visits
In return, I’m also happy to offer personal and more general perspectives on:
- What’s happening and what’s the thinking in Berlin, Germany, and Europe in tech culture, politics, and civil society, etc.
- Insights on current research topics at Third Wave like automation, the gig economy, utopias, mobility, etc.