Book review: Adam Fisher’s Valley of Genius

New Delhi | Published: October 21, 2018 2:26:54 AM

From nerds to today’s billionaires, a story that traces the journeys of the founders of Silicon Valley.

book review, bookWhether you have spent decades in the IT industry or just starting, this book will bring you up to speed on the history, folklore and mystique surrounding Silicon Valley. (Representative image: Reuters)

The phrase ‘Silicon Valley’ for people across the globe resonates with the land of big technological inventions—right from the origin of Apple and Atari to present-day tech giants like Google and Facebook. But little do we know about the legends who built it, their optimistic vision to create something far greater than their time and their struggles. Through this book, Adam Fisher provokes a sense of curiosity among readers by sharing an unmatchable behind-the-scene perspective on Silicon Valley’s transformational journey of becoming an economic powerhouse.

The conversational style of writing of the book is what makes it different and unique. The author has beautifully woven a conversational narrative around the quintessential Valley story, encapsulating his learnings from his 200 in-depth interviews of prominent players, making it a readable lore of America’s journey of innovation. The story interweaves accounts of the dawn of personal computers and internet to overnight tech successes to conflicting and contradictory reports of the tech world.

The book speaks about the Silicon Valley culture and the conversations highlight certain aspects and behaviours, which are a great learning and actually hidden gems. These can be adopted by any organisation or professional, and I quote a few lines: “Silicon Valley was a nerd-driven culture, and the engineers were the priesthood. It was a culture of hardware hackers and software writers, who were generally older, midthirties to fifty, generally bearded, generally grimy, super fucking smart—what we would call on the spectrum now, but back then there wasn’t a term for it—generally that was the heart of the Valley culture. For the most part folks were doing it as a labor of love, and it was about the excitement of pushing the frontier. There was something incredibly exciting about being at the frontier of this new medium and this new culture that we were creating.

You have a culture, riding on top of a technology that’s accelerating superfast. And so that culture gets replicated, just as much as the technology does. And you put those two together and you get something distinctly unique.”

The book also sheds light on this evolution of Silicon Valley through the eyes of a journalist (the author). In one of the excerpts, the author explains how mainstream media had started seeing Silicon Valley as a big business/money-churning hub rather than as just an ordinary suburban idyll.

So whether you have spent decades in the IT industry or just starting, this book will bring you up to speed on the history, folklore and mystique surrounding Silicon Valley. At the same time, it provides you a ringside view of specific behaviours and cultural aspects that can make a difference to you as a professional and individual.

Rajesh Janey is president & managing director (enterprise), India, for Dell EMC

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