Sunday, December 12, 2004

no collar questions

I don't know much about the stock market, so when I want to make reference to it, I'm just going to refer to 'Wall Street.' It's more faceless than I'd like, but I don't quite know where specifically to point fingers.

1. During the panel discussion "The Future of Silicon Alley," Michael Wolff makes the comment that Internet industry should never have been treated as a separate industry. If Wall Street is largely to blame for what happened to the dot com industry, this leads me to two questions:

a. If the dot coms had stayed smaller, more organic, and more attuned to the "Golden Age" ideals of the mid-90s, would they have fared better? To what extent did they have the choice to leave the market out of their kind of work, or was going public just inevitable?

b. How culpable and/or malevolent was Wall Street in the over-financialization of the New Economy? Were they just honestly trying to find a way to attach a value to companies that didn't produce goods and services in a way people found familiar? Or was it an excuse to restructure the economy to reward corporations and destabilize the labor force?

2. We discussed this some with the Florida book, but I'd like to talk more about the environmental impact of a Silicon Alley or any other concentration of information workers in cities. Ross mentions the working class populations and information sector support staff being driven out of formerly affordable communities in San Francisco and San Jose. Teachers in Silicon Valley live in subsidized housing (and they're supposed to be 'professionals!'). There's a tension between these information professionals as both unwitting victims and unintentional victimizers. What do we think about all of this?

3. Ross seems to leave us with the idea that maybe hating your job just a little bit is better for you in the long run. In what ways was Razorfish a humane workplace and in what ways was it ultimately not? This sounds like an obvious question, but I'm curious to see if there are differences of opinion in the class about management styles, organizational structure, work environment, company culture, etc. - where are we all coming from when we talk about a 'humane' workplace?

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