Date: 4/25/18


“There’s a war out there, old friend – a world war. And it's not about who's got the most bullets. It's about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think... it's all about the information.” –Ben Kingsley as “Cosmo” in the 1992 film Sneakers

We launched the Raw Data podcast in 2015 because we believe that the world is being transformed by the data economy. As the companies controlling the Internet mine new sources of information, their knowledge becomes power. We wanted to understand what all this means for the relationships between people and institutions, and ultimately the shape of society.

Until now, though, we’ve never really asked the question, How did we get here? Silicon Valley is the epicenter of disruption, but how and why did this place become so powerful and iconic in the first place?

Not too long ago, Silicon Valley was celebrated as a beacon of hope, a place for bold innovation. The new American dream, the 20th century Gold Rush. Everyone seemed to embrace the sexy start-up mythology. And to be sure, we’ve found many inspiring stories to share on our show.  

But garages are no longer affordable, and the power of the tech sector – long unchecked – has soared to daunting heights. Somewhere along the way, we crossed a threshold. Modern technology has steered us into a world that is bewildering and rife with complex issues. Digital addiction, fake news, surveillance capitalism, algorithmic discrimination, automation and unemployment, monopolistic platforms – the list goes on.

So, on this season of Raw Data, we are digging into the history of Silicon Valley to understand how we arrived here. We revisit canonical moments like the Mother of all Demos and Steve Jobs’ visit PARC. But we also explore hidden stories like how the tracking cookie was invented, and the rise of the founder-first startup model.‬

We want to understand how we’ve come to integrate devices and platforms so profoundly into our lives that we give away our data – and maybe our freedom and self-determination – to a small number of corporations. Are the technologies that promised to liberate humans paradoxically enslaving us?

Welcome to Season 3 of Raw Data: Origins of Power in Silicon Valley. Listen to our first episode, Prelude, here.

To learn more about this episode read Mike's post on Medium.

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