Kevin Kelly is one of Wired Magazine’s great scribes. Recently, he went on a photo journalistic walkabout in San Francisco’s booming SoMa (South of Market) start up quarter. The neighborhood is a honeycomb of now trendy warehouses and lofts, the perfect work and design space for young paradigm shifters.
Kelly visited 30 new area tech companies in a two block radius. The plan was to gauge the spirit of the age blowing through the cubicles. It turns out that there aren’t many actual cubicles. The typical office set up is open and uncluttered with practically no trace of paper. Apple products outnumber non-Apple products by an obscene ratio.
Many of these innovators spoke to Kelly in a shared language. The most critical buzz words sounded a common refrain: sharing, connectedness, and engagement. The question “Do you think technology is making the world a better place?” was met with near universal agreement. Where else in the world is the sincerity and good-hearted intentions to spread the gospel of the internet to the underprivileged across the globe so palpable?
Anyone bemoaning the end of American economic innovation should look again. SoMa-like zones of creativity, idealism, and entrepreneurial tech savvy are the envy of the world. They represent a working balance between profit margins and world saving. The denizens of SoMa are very aware that they are living in an exceptional time. Kelly asked them to give this moment a name. The answers ranged from inspiring (“The Age of Mass Connectivity”) to predictable (“The Decade of Apps”). But Kelly’s favorite is the best at summing up what makes these people so special – The Period of Awesomeness.