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Episode 199: An Oral History of Silicon Valley With Adam Fisher

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For the past several decades and for the foreseeable future, “Silicon Valley is where the future is being born.”

Why? What separates Silicon Valley from everywhere else in the world?

To learn more about the history and future of the Valley, Chad sat down with writer and historian Adam Fisher (Twitter: @AdamcFisher). Adam’s most recent book is Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley. In this interview, Chad and Adam discuss the most important moments in Silicon Valley’s history, the corrosive influences that have crept in in the past few decades, and what Adam foresees for the Valley’s future.

[1:30] Adam’s Background

  • Before writing Valley of Genius, Adam wrote a piece about Google’s Map Program which made the cover of the New York Times.
  • Adam signs up with an agent and wins book deal to write an oral history of Silicon Valley.
  • Why the media elite does not understand Silicon Valley culture.
  • Adam was an early computer programmer turned journalist.
  • Why Valley of Genius was the perfect project for Adam.

[5:00] The Importance of Oral History

  • Adam defines oral history as “not a transcript; it is a nonfiction journalism format.”
  • Oral history cuts the writer out of the picture to present the most unfiltered story.
  • The reason no one does oral history is because it is at least 10x harder than doing an ordinary history.
  • Adam had to interview at length more than 200 people for Valley of Genius.
  • It took Adam 4 years to complete his book with over 10 million words of material.
  • Adam is enough of an outsider in Silicon Valley to where it wasn’t hard to include in the book that Google was founded at Burning Man.

[15:40] Why Silicon Valley Works

  • Why Adam’s book gives permission to people on the fringe of Valley culture.
  • Adam asks, “Why does the Valley work? Why does Silicon Valley produce some of the biggest technological advances while other cities do not?”
  • The merging of psychedelic culture and tech culture is what has made Silicon Valley the center of the world.
  • “Silicon Valley is where the future is being born.” Click To Tweet
  • 1984-1995 in Silicon Valley was a period of time when social media, the cell phone, and VR were just getting started.

To check out Valley of Genius, go here and to follow Adam on Twitter, go here.

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