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Dispatches from the SF Culture War

Scott Lucas | December 16, 2013 | Story Tech World

Dispatches from the SF Culture War is our new, semi-regular look at the Tech versus San Francisco cage match.

Culture Warrior: Allison Arieff, architecture and design critic and New York Times contributing columnist.

Broadside: What Tech Hasn't Learned from Urban Planning

Take-Away: Arieff thinks that tech firms have borrowed the language of urban planners—like "town hall, public square, civic hackathons, community engagement"—but not the ideas. In the end, tech isolates itself from the larger city, rather than integrating into it.

Sample Line: "'Community space' implies something that is open to, well, the community. Subverting of naming conventions to suggest public access and transparency, while providing neither, is troubling and increasingly pervasive. But this turning inward, despite the incessant drumbeat of 'community,' is quickly becoming the rule rather than the exception."

Mood: More sorrow than anger.

Head Scratching Moment: Arieff complains that tech firms are forcing out coffee shops—the quintessential third space between home and office—but her example is a Starbucks. Hardly a beacon of economic liberation.

Tech Friendliness Rating (1 = technophobe; 10 = technophile): 7. Arieff wants the techsters to do better—not to run their companies out of town.

Fallout: Arieff's piece inspired this reasonable comeback from Tim McCormick: "What Urban Planning Hasn't Learned from Tech"

More Dispatches from the SF Culture War
Chris Nicholson embraces fluxspaces
Bryan Goldberg tries his hand at satire
Matthew Yglesias thinks that Silicon Valley should move to Cleveland
Allison Arieff thinks that tech needs to learn more from urban planning

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