Friday, July 25, 2014

Editorial From TechUtopia

Jaman HQ is located in Potrero Hill, a southeastern neighborhood of San Francisco. The city's long been a hub of innovation, and recently the second wave of a tech boom has profoundly affected local politics and culture. Landlords are chasing the influx of new tech money, and new condos are going up everywhere as longtime residents of the city are being forced out of their homes. The streets are filled with Google buses, monolithic transports that shuttle tech workers between their Bay Area offices and the San Francisco homes. Many longtime residents complain that much of what made the city special is being sucked out of it by this ubiquitous new influx of tech culture.

Here at Jaman it's hard to miss these stories, or to avoid thinking about our own role in them. Two articles were all over our feeds this week: one was an editorial in the Guardian on the anti-tech backlash in San Francisco which put some fairly vehement anti-tech sentiments into perspective. Writer JR Hennessy argues "...The backlash against this world is democracy manifesting itself; a tacit rejection of the ideological assumptions underpinning the personal tech revolution. People want to define the structure of their own lives, and Silicon Valley's myriad product lines are an unwelcome intrusion into the way we live and interact with one another – and even the way we eat, sleep and procreate."

The second article came from the Verge, with writer Chris Ziegler discussing the month he spent ingesting nothing but Soylent. Taking its name from a cult sci-fi movie (specifically from a food product with sinister ingredients, shoveled into the mouths of an impoverished overpopulation), Soylent is a nigh-flavorless substance that offers solid nutrition in a bland but easy-to-consume liquid for anyone too busy to cook or even think about a meal. Ziegler offers a balanced overview of the pros and cons of the product, but in the end his conclusions are in line with Hennessy's: "...the real problem is that Soylent ignores the social and entertainment value of eating: food is not merely sustenance, it’s a tightly woven part of our everyday lives...A strict diet of beige liquid fundamentally changes the patterns of your daily life, and not entirely for the better. It isolates you in ways you may not necessarily consider."

It's this isolating aspect of technology that we think about time and again here at Jaman. At Jaman we would love to be your first choice for movie searches & recommendations. But we're too much in love with the experience of cinema to want to be your sole source of movies. Granted, we've met wonderful people over the years whose passion for cinema is inversely proportional to the size of the town they live in, and the internet allows them a universe of viewing options they wouldn't have otherwise. But if you could have the cinematic experience as your main means of seeing movies, why wouldn't you? The convenience of streaming has many attractions (no noisy patrons, no leaving your home, eat whatever you want, pause whenever you want, etc.) but some still hold out for love of the cinematic experience (superior depth of film image, moviegoing as an OCCASION, sharing a movie with a roomful of engaged strangers, etc.). The last thing we'd want you to do is cheat yourself of the experience of seeing a movie in a theatre filled with people wanting to share the ride with you. Popcorn goes better with movies than Soylent, any day.

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