NY Times Still Trying To Equate Silicon Valley To Detroit

from the this-sounds-mighty-familiar dept

In May of 2003, we pointed out that the NY Times was running an article which suggested that Silicon Valley was becoming more like Detroit — no longer driving the economy, but just a cog with cyclical ups and downs. In other words, it’s just a producing industry, rather than an innovating one that increases efficiencies or changes the overall market. It appears that despite what appears to be a return of some interest in the tech world, the NY Times is still pitching almost exactly the same story and is comparing Silicon Valley to Detroit again — though, at least they give equal space to those who disagree. This isn’t to say Silicon Valley, the geographical region, isn’t facing challenges — but to compare “technology” in general to “the automotive industry” specifically, is clearly an apples and oranges comparison. The technology industry isn’t just about final products, but about making the process more efficient. It doesn’t always work — and there are other factors involved, but the entire tech industry doesn’t die off just because the economy had some problems.

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Comments on “NY Times Still Trying To Equate Silicon Valley To Detroit”

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dorpus says:

Missing the next wave

Despite the presence of some major biotech companies in the Valley, California’s universities are surprisingly behind the curve on starting innovative biotech programs. Stanford and most of the UC’s still have just “working groups” on bioinformatics, i.e. collaborations between a few professors, with no degree program. In the biostatistics field, hardly anybody in California does any work on newer genetic stuff either.

Also, California schools are plagued by volatile funding, in which they would be flush with cash one year, but then have no money at all next year. Some star researchers have come to California’s schools, but left the next year. High-tech companies, which come and go by the month, are not in a position to sponsor long-term reserach.

At this point, several midwestern universities are leading the way on biotech research. They have a long tradition in agricultural research, supported by stable agri-giants. Michigan has the backing of the relatively stable automotive industry in various engineering programs.

Starting new biotech programs means universities should be building giant new facilities, but California is out of space. They tried building a new UC campus in Merced, but it ran out of money and has postponed its opening. The campus is built on new-age premises of hippie students who want to live “in touch with the environment”, emphasizing a multi-disciplinary approach, so we’ll see if they are able to do serious research. I heard comments from many Chinese students that California’s schools are small and crowded compared to the huge new facilities in China. Also, California has a lot of irrational opposition to “genetic modification” — notice that they outlawed glo-fish.

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