The tech industry has long enjoyed an enviable reputation in the business world. Most sectors, particularly those dominated by large multinational corporations, usually struggle with some kind of bad reputation. They might be perceived as corrupt (Wall Street) archaic (cars, especially gas powered ones), etc. But tech is new and exciting, consumer electronics get lots of buzz, and they are generally assumed to not have a big environmental footprint – even when they do.
They are helped by a largely friendly tech press. In an environment where the greatest value is placed on getting exclusive previews of hot new items and scoops from well placed insiders, there is not much ROI in hard hitting journalism. Add to that the ease with which players like Michael Arrington move between media and industry, and you get a clubby atmosphere where your interview subject could easily be your next employer.
So executives are generally lionized and the industry celebrated as the last true meritocracy: the place where an offbeat genius with a powerful idea can make a new world out of some wildly creative tinkering in a garage. It’s an intoxicating fable, but it’s just that – a fable. Tech is just like any other industry, subject to the same human foibles and biases, driven by the same motives and subject to the same constraints.
Arrington himself showed just how true that was last week when details of an upcoming CNN interview became public. Asked about diversity, he said some things that were at best poorly considered. Tech writer – not singer! – Hank Williams pointed out the ways Arrington was contributing to the very problem he was speaking against. Read the rest of this entry →