Message to techies: Identify with your community, not just your industry

Yelp "Community Managers" from around the world are gathered in the company's San Francisco headquarters.
Steven T. Jones

I appreciated the opportunity to address a couple hundred Yelp community managers from around the world today at the company’s San Francisco headquarters, and to deliver a message that those in the tech industry need to hear: “Be a part of your community, not just your company and industry.”

That idea obviously has a special resonance here in San Francisco, where the tensions between well-paid techies and activists concerned about increasing evictions, gentrification, and displacement have reached a fevered pitch. But it was a message that several people came up to me after the panel to say they appreciated, one that their industry would do well to heed.

Workers of all kinds have more in common with one another than any of us do with our corporate overlords and richest 1 percent of society. The young people at Yelp and other tech companies should want their cities to remain interesting, affordable, and diverse places. Ultimately, we’re all in this together, and we need to remember that cities are communities first, not simply places from which to extract wealth.

As we report in our latest issue, there have been nascent efforts to bridge the gap between tech workers and the rest of us, and I truly hope that some new leaders rise up in the tech world -- workers, not just bosses and investors using manipulative media strategies -- to challenge corporate power and the self-interest of venture capitalists and other tech titans. After all, the greatest promise of tech tools have always been their empowering, informing, and democratizing potential, not just their crassly commercial aspects.  

That said, my comments today were a small part of the discussion, in which I was the print representative on a media panel that included television (the hilarious Liam Mayclem, host of KPIX-TV’s “ Eye on the Bay”), radio (Joel Riddell, host of AM910’s “Dining Around with Joe Riddell”), and online (SFist Editor Brock Keeling).

We offered tips and answered questions about how best to pitch story ideas and get media coverage for their company and clients -- and I was happy to offer my time and advice to fellow members of my community. 


without some kind of class war to promote, he has nothing.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 6:48 am

But it certainly can't hurt. A lot of these workers and newer residents may be kind of young and maybe even a little unsophisticated. Perhaps they are experiencing their first real job with real money (and a little bit of power) and hopefully they are still developing what and how they think outside of family and school. To define oneself largely by one's tech-centric lifestyle and job (or any kind of job, for that matter) is to foreclose on life's possibilities. Jobs come and go. We have to live with ourselves and our choices. An unexamined life is not worth much.

Posted by Cw on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 5:29 pm

That is their job. Leave people alone.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 5:43 pm

Steven, there are many of us who have worked both in the tech industry as well as on progressive campaigns over the years. Instead of having outsiders lecture our folks, why have none of these bridge builders reached out to those of us with one foot in both camps to make those connections?

My bet is that there is such fear of folks who engineer for a living not buying into the predetermined non-solutions of the coopted housing advocacy that we must be marginalized and excluded. I am one of those, but there are several other folks who have dual skillets, experience in tech and experience in progressive politics.

So long as patsies just urge tech workers to throw a few bucks at the professional progressive activists, you all are going to call it a day and not do much to leverage the power of government to check gentrification and displacement.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 8:10 am

A better question for you, Marc, is why aren't you building that bridge? It seems that you'd rather just criticize people in both the progressive and tech worlds for not living up to your standards than actually trying to do the organizing that you advocate. You could be one of the leaders we need right now, rather than just complaining about the people who don't pass your purity tests. Build the bridge and we at the Guardian will be happy to help reinforce and illuminate it.  

Posted by steven on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 11:40 am

tech workers either. He was whining about them long before you started your "War on Tech", including very distastefully criticizing the Asian tech workers on H1-B visas, and the twnety-somethings who made more money in a year from coding than he did in thirty.

So yes, he should stop bleating and do something positive. But today's tech workers have little respect for a dried-up 55 year old has-been coder.

My solution is better. Stop singling out tech workers as a class of people, and focus instead on listening to a broad range of people, including (especially) people you dismiss e.g. executives, realtors, investors, hedge fund managers and other alpha folks.

IOW, talk less and listen more.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 11:52 am

Executive, realtors, investors and hedge fund managers have a really tough time getting their message out. They are a truly underprivileged minority. The San Francisco Bay Guardian should stop trying to be a voice for the people and devote themselves exclusively to reporting on the concerns and desires of the 1%.

What a brilliant idea. Can you share with me your real name so that I can nominate you for the Nobel Peace Prize?

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Mar. 08, 2014 @ 10:10 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 09, 2014 @ 8:07 am
Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 1:05 pm

That's a reference to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans who wield power in this supposedly democratic society that is disproportionate to their numbers, providing a major barrier to addressing complex social and environmental problems. 

Posted by steven on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 2:45 pm

instead seek to replace that with "activism" which is far less democratic?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 3:33 pm

Those elections are not democratic, if you win elections those elections are democratic.

If you lose and get out spent it is unfair, if you win and get outspent it is the will of the people.

If you lose and out spend the people were fooled, if you win and outspend... never mind, we won.

Posted by guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 6:47 pm

He either doesn't see it or just refuses to accept it.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 6:50 pm

discredit the successful by demonstrating envy

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 3:34 pm

@ Steven, buying goodwill.
Google has also created free WiFi for our parks.
There is a lot of heated discussion over how San Francisco is changing, reality check it has already changed. In say about two years time it will be very different city from what you see today. SF is like a magnet drawing in corporations and companies, not just the tech ones to establish a presence in our fair city, there is a feeding frenzy going on over commercial space not just housing at this time.
Gentrification will continue occurring this cannot be stopped, Oakland and Daly city will become the housing for a lot of people that cannot afford to live here.
This is reality !!

Posted by davidinSF on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 3:58 pm

If he could do that, he would realize that there is lots of affordable housing for people who work in SF.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 4:05 pm

If you call people techies, nerds or geeks, how do you expect people to react?

If you say that tech workers are deaf to the people in their community, and need to wake up, do you not see the stereotyping?

How do you expect people to not identify with their industry, when people such as yourself automatically define them by their job?

The migration of tech workers is causing the housing crisis. Yes this is a problem that we must face. No, you cannot tell people that they have to do more because of their job. That's defining people by their industry not their community.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 6:28 pm

They play their game by classifying people, demonizing people and then using those stereotypes to promote hatred.

SFBG is the KKK of the west.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2014 @ 6:40 pm

I am a technology professional and I am engaged in MY community. But you subsidized rent control slackers will not like my kind of engagement. As far as I am concerned you can all get Ellis acted to Modesto !. San Francisco has become a stinking drug addict and bum toilet under you crazy enabling lunacy.. I want all you loser creeps to leave, so San Francisco can regain the lost glory of 30 years ago, when before you creeps took over, it was the CITY THAT KNOWS HOW instead of the feces and urine infest stink hole you creeps have made it .

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2014 @ 11:33 am

find a way of paying it's own way in the world. As cute as it is to have all these Peter Pan's here, someone has to pay the bills, and it won't be a shitty poet or a shallow activist.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2014 @ 11:51 am

I'm not deaf to other people in my city. I just choose not too listen to their Meth tainted ramblings....

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2014 @ 11:44 am

Did you donate your speaker's fee to homeless groups, Stephen?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 07, 2014 @ 5:28 pm

Why would you feeble and increasingly Alzheimer's afflicted old socialists think smart capable tech people would even remotely be interested in your crazy brand of proven wrong socialism? SF needs you to GET out of town to prosper make up for the derogation caused your brand of failed policies.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2014 @ 3:05 pm

I am sure tech people care for their community but heck they have a job to do, a life to live. Right now they are trying hard to make a buck, not all the tech are going to make riches, become successful or own their own company, but hey if they do. More power to them.

I have nothing to do with the tech industry, didn't get into, never really wanted too, but hey they work hard. Just like any other person who wants to work hard and succeed in life.

I have heard the same kind of moaning and groaning about anybody who makes a fortune in or around San Francisco. I am poor, I work hard, saving money is hard, but hey I don't mind success.

Go Tech.

Posted by Garrett on Mar. 11, 2014 @ 1:23 pm

ever accept advice about what they should do?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 11, 2014 @ 1:34 pm

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