A few weeks ago I moved from being on the periphery of Silicon Valley right into it’s beating, cybernetic heart. This was both due to a new job and the fact that I wanted to head down there anyway. Judging by my surroundings (which I can measure as the amount of Teefury shirts I see people wearing*) I’m in a place so nerdy that if I have a technical issue I can probably bike to the offending company’s headquarters and yell at them**.
For years I’ve lived in the SF Bay area, and in many cases in the Greater Silicon Valley Area*** and this has taught me an interesting lesson about nerd/geek/otaku/fan culture. That lesson is, simply, that even in an “ideal” area, there are places far more culturally appropriate than others to who we are.
It’s very, very easy to label a state, a city, or a megareion as “geeky” or “not geeky” or whatever. We do it – *I* do it for that matter. But this is radical oversimplication, though in most cases because we’re generalizing and not talking specifics, we don’t care and it doesn’t matter.
That’s until you’re there or moving there or relocating, then it matters.
For me, the shock of moving just deeper into Silicon Valley was mindblowing. The nerd quotient shot up like crazy. I found odd restaurants and shops I never thought of. I realized that major tech companies were nearer than I thought, and one of my hobbies actually has been exploring the nooks and crannies of the Bay Area. Then there’s all the conversations i’ve had with random people, including a case of mixing up a Red Hat logo and a dance trouple logo****.
I realized how much I had not appreciated demographic differences, and felt both elated after the move, and kind of stupid.
So I offer some advice to those of you thinking about relocating to nerdier climes:
- You may move on general knowledge, but expect that you may move again as you find the right city/town/area for you after you move.
- Remember culture and geek/nerd culture varies widely even within a region – you just have to accept this.
- Hands-on experience tells you better than anything what fits you – you have to go places. Even then (like me), you may be surprised.
- It’s OK to look for the right “home” – and it may take awhile.
I’ve got no plans to leave the general area here. I found where I belonged – but I learned a lot from it.
Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach for professional and potentially professional geeks, fans, and otaku. He can be reached at http://www.stevensavage.com/
* It’s always Doctor Who shirts too.
** A roommate of mine did this once. Don’t do it.
*** No, really, I’ve seen people debate over “what is really Silicon Valley?” For some it’s a few cities, for some it’s about half the Bay Area.
**** The person I’d mixed it up with was in the dance troupe and knew about Red Hat Linux.