Thomas Friedman Visited Silicon Valley and Is Wrong About Everything

The first line in town idiot Thomas Friedman's latest column is maybe the most stupid part: "The most striking thing about visiting Silicon Valley these days is how many creative ideas you can hear in just 48 hours." These are exciting times, and our nation's foremost public intellectual blowhard is on it.

If anything, one of the most striking things about tech today is the ear-popping dearth of creative, new ideas. But it makes sense that Friedman would enjoy his two day jaunt through various tech offices—the man is sort of a walking startup, a fleshy white chamber of half-baked ideas, the Steve Jobs of simpletons. And boy, is this simpleminded techie travelogue ever half-baked: I think Thomas Friedman just chatted with some CEOs for about 15 minutes each and then went back to his hotel.

Yes, if you take literally everything you hear from tech execs at face value, while applying no critical thinking, I can understand why it'd be easy to walk away amazed. The theme park version of any industry is compelling. So, what exactly tickled his mustache?

Laszlo Bock, who oversees all hiring at Google, lays out the innovative ways his company has learned to identify talented people who have never gone to college.

Damn.

Curt Carlson, the chief executive of SRI International, which invented Siri for your iPhone, recalls how one leading innovator just told him that something would never happen and "then I pick up the paper and it just did."

The Will to Power is real. Friedman says that these software übermenschen, despite all their manifold dreams of changing the world, have one thing in common:

They're fixated on creating abundance, not redividing scarcity, and they respect no limits on imagination.

If you can name one startup that is "fixated on creating abundance" in any meaningful sense of any of those words, you'll have come up with one more than I could. Startups of today are fixated on creating convenience, indulging impulsiveness, and constructing new amusements—but abundance? Abundance of what exactly? Wheat fields? Cars with pink mustaches on them? Apps? A generation of 20-something Stanford kids making toys for each other isn't the sort of abundance that would justify Friedman's headline—"Start-Up America: Our Best Hope." And if the place that let Clinkle happen is really America's best hope, then, well, fuck.

Silicon Valley is placed as the foil of stinkytown Washington DC, Friedman's Bizarro Valley:

What a contrast. Silicon Valley: where ideas come to launch. Washington, D.C., where ideas go to die. Silicon Valley: where there are no limits on your imagination and failure in the service of experimentation is a virtue. Washington: where the "imagination" to try something new is now a treatable mental illness covered by Obamacare and failure in the service of experimentation is a crime. Silicon Valley: smart as we can be. Washington: dumb as we wanna be.

Silicon Valley: where failure is worshipped, criticism is taboo, networking is done atop mechanical bulls, summer camp is for adults, and words have no meaning. There's plenty of dumb in DC, but only Silicon Valley is producing it in true abundance.

Photo: Getty