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Earth Technology

Places Where the World's Tech Pools, Despite the Internet 229

Posted by timothy
from the pretty-people-pool-in-airports dept.
Slatterz writes "A decade ago people were talking about the death of distance, and how the internet would make physical geography irrelevant. This has not come to pass; there are still places around the world that are hubs of technology just as there are for air travel, product manufacturing or natural resource exploitation. This list of the ten best IT centres of excellence includes some interesting trivia about Station X during the Second World War, why Romania is teeming with software developers, Silicon Valley, Fort Meade Maryland, and Zhongguancun in China, where Microsoft is building its Chinese headquarters."
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Places Where the World's Tech Pools, Despite the Internet

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 22, 2009 @07:42PM (#27293187)

    Do these pools drain into the series of tubes that makes up the internet?

  • I could see why countries were internet access isn't common but technology is at a reasonible level would require lots of programmers. language barreries would be the other reason - no off the self versions of software in your native language.
  • Silicon Valley is special to me because of its cultural diversity. In one medium sized company you can work shoulder to shoulder with people from every major world ethnic group and every major world religion (including no religion). They work together, peacefully, to make better lives for themselves and their children. Look around the rest of the world. This place is unique and special. I see lots of other places around the world where folks insist on segregating themselves by ethnicity and/or religion
    • by nloop (665733) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @08:02PM (#27293349)
      And they all happen to be male.
    • by langelgjm (860756) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @08:23PM (#27293517) Journal

      I see lots of other places around the world where folks insist on segregating themselves by ethnicity and/or religion.

      Yeah, I can't think of any [apple.com] fanatic [gentoo.org] groups [gnu.org] of people [wikipedia.org] who cling to various beliefs like so many religions, segregating themselves from others.

      Excuse me while I go sacrifice a goat to Larry Wall.

    • by cyn1c77 (928549) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @09:56PM (#27294107)

      Silicon Valley is special to me because of its cultural diversity. In one medium sized company you can work shoulder to shoulder with people from every major world ethnic group and every major world religion (including no religion). They work together, peacefully, to make better lives for themselves and their children. Look around the rest of the world. This place is unique and special. I see lots of other places around the world where folks insist on segregating themselves by ethnicity and/or religion. They must hate my home, Silicon Valley. Peace.

      Hate to break it to you, but this happens in most of the United States. In my experience, a lot of the people in California just think they are special.

      I used to live in California. They may not discriminate on ethnicity or religion, but go visit the Bay Area with an NRA teeshirt and a rifle to hunt some deer and see how nice everyone is to you.

      • There are places in the bay area that would be entirely unfazed by your rifle and NRA tee-shirt but you have to seek them out. But, considering the fact housing is dense enough that to safely and legally hunt deer you would have to drive 2 to 3 hours away, it's not too surprising you got the response you did. Drive that 2 or 3 hours and you will get the reception you want without looking for it. California is a big and diverse state. Generalizations about it usually usually indicate a lack of experience wit
        • by cyn1c77 (928549)

          There are places in the bay area that would be entirely unfazed by your rifle and NRA tee-shirt but you have to seek them out. But, considering the fact housing is dense enough that to safely and legally hunt deer you would have to drive 2 to 3 hours away, it's not too surprising you got the response you did. Drive that 2 or 3 hours and you will get the reception you want without looking for it. California is a big and diverse state. Generalizations about it usually usually indicate a lack of experience with it.

          Like I said in my other reply, I don't actually hunt out of pure laziness. I just picked an example that I knew would get a rise out of the people who live in that area based on my experience living there.

          As you say, California is a big and diverse state and there are tons of cool people living there. There are also tons of self-obsessed pricks, just like everywhere else in the world.

          I moved from Cali to New Mexico several years ago. Obviously it isn't the same as California. But there are some pretty

      • by Kaboom13 (235759) <kaboom108@@@bellsouth...net> on Monday March 23, 2009 @01:04AM (#27295009)

        That's why people normally hunt for deer in forests, not suburban neighborhoods. New Yorkers are also surprisingly closed minded, they got mad when I went duck hunting with my shotgun in Central Park.

      • by saiha (665337)

        I work in the Bay area and we used to have an avid hunter who worked at our company. He brought in all types of meat to company parties from wild pig sausage to venison jerky. I never noticed any negative behavior towards him because of that, and a decent amount of the employees are vegetarian.

        Your own experience, while possibly true (though I have my doubts) is not everyone's experience.

      • by arkhan_jg (618674)

        discriminate on ethnicity or religion, but go visit the Bay Area with an NRA teeshirt and a rifle to hunt some deer and see how nice everyone is to you.

        Discrimination is taking action based upon a prejudice; you're looking at someone's skin colour or hair, things they have no control over, and making assumptions about their character based upon that. Religion is not strictly something you have no choice over, but many arabs and jews share common genetics which make them identifiable to the prejudiced (even

    • by crossmr (957846)

      it happens with any company that is multinational, regardless of location. Its difficult to do any serious business in some countries unless you speak the language. The company I worked at in Canada was at least 50% visible minorities including: chinese, japanese, thai, african, native-canadian (or whatever the term du jour is), south american (I think mostly brazil), mexican, middle-eastern, indian, pakistani, etc our parent company was from spain so at least 40% of the office spoke spanish. The sales and

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by triffid_98 (899609) *
      Yes, we call them H-1B's. In other news, our local unemployment rate is now above 10%.

      Silicon Valley is special to me because of its cultural diversity. In one medium sized company you can work shoulder to shoulder with people from every major world ethnic group...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jotaeleemeese (303437)

        Yes, we call them H-1B's. In other news, our local unemployment rate is now above 10%.

        Silicon Valley is special to me because of its cultural diversity. In one medium sized company you can work shoulder to shoulder with people from every major world ethnic group...

        Can you assure us that those unemployed can cover the unfilled positions? When I used to interview people (the UK, I know, not the same, but it seems to be in a similar situation) we could not fill positions (even entry level ones) because most students were going for soft option education in University (media studies, photography, film making, etc) instead of science and engineering, which is the exact opposite of what has happened in other countries.

        Also kids from other countries have lots of experience u

        • in the UK university is only 3 years, and very often kids take a gap year, that is all great and good, but people their same age elsewhere will have 4 or 5 years university under their belts

          Which countries are these, where it's normal to start university at 16?

        • by sethstorm (512897) *

          How about being more flexible with the degree requirement for some stuff that simply doesn't require it?

          If anything, the "skilled worker" program needs to be removed; it only makes citizenship an undue penalty. Second, make offshoring very unpalatable and the penalties unescapable.

    • I see lots of other places around the world where folks insist on segregating themselves by ethnicity and/or religion. They must hate my home, Silicon Valley.

      Most of them don't care, as long as you leave them and the places where they live alone.

      Do you hate them?

    • Special? Hardly. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Monday March 23, 2009 @04:20AM (#27295683) Homepage Journal

      London, Hamburg, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Paris, Barcelona, Cape Town, heck, even Windhoek, etc.

      And nowadays in big corporations everywhere you see the same thing. When I worked in Warsaw there were Indian, Chinese, English, German, Polish and of course yours truly (Mexican), in Kula Lumpur there were Malays (Muslim), Thai (Buddhist), Chinese, varied westerners, Iranians, Indian, all working happily without undue complications.

      Your comment sounds terribly parochial to be frank, you guys in the US need to get out of your country a bit more.

      Bar extremist regimes (Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea) where people are separated in purpose for religious, ethnic or ideological reasons, in most civilized places (normally democracies) you will see hot spots where peaceful coexistence is the norm.

    • by EatHam (597465)

      Silicon Valley is special to me because of its cultural diversity. In one medium sized company you can work shoulder to shoulder with people from every major world ethnic group and every major world religion (including no religion). They work together, peacefully, to make better lives for themselves and their children.

      Yes, this is entirely unlike any other place in the world, especially unlike New York. Though here, we're polite enough not to discuss religion at work unlike you rude-assed left coasters.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's a part of Haidian district in Beijing. As an expat living there, my friends and I used to take day trips ($6 for a 45-minute cab ride) down there to buy cheap computer parts at enormous (and always packed) indoor markets.

  • "I do not hack....... Wine."

    Network infrastructure of choice: 10base5 Thicknet.

    Sorry.

  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @07:59PM (#27293325) Journal

    All of the VA/MD area around Washington is a big center for computers/IT. NIST is in Gaithersburg, MD and DARPA in Virginia Square, VA, as well as several universities (e.g., UMD, JHU) that are doing interesting research in human language technology - a big area of interest for the military and intelligence communities. Lots of major corporations have facilities in the area, too - IBM, SRI, and BBN to name a few.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by simonv (1021495)
      Not to mention the Dulles Technology Corridor [wikipedia.org].
    • by wfolta (603698)

      DARPA is in Arlington, Virginia, one of the most diverse and well-educated counties in the country. (And the smallest self-governing county in the country.) Arlington County is also a leader in smart growth, planning, sustainable growth (or whatever you call it), with places like Tyson's Corner, Virginia, openly pointing to it as the inspiration for what they want to become.

      Virginia Square is a neighborhood and a Metro stop, not a town.

  • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @08:08PM (#27293405)
    Silicon Valley:

    it is the kind of place that inspires people with money to take a punt at a seemingly dumb idea.

    Remember that: inspire people with money.

  • by syousef (465911) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @08:11PM (#27293435) Journal

    I don't think we can overlook the fact that tech pools in parent's basements all around the world. Spooky!

  • Top Places ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheGreatDonkey (779189) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @08:19PM (#27293489)
    The list:

    10. Boston
    9. Romania
    8. Fort Meade, Maryland
    7. Finland
    6. Zhongguancun, China
    5. San Fransisco
    4. Japan
    3. Bangalore
    2. Taiwan
    1. Silicon Valley
    • Re:Top Places ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 22, 2009 @09:48PM (#27294057)

      Yeah, this is hardly a definite list, it was just an off the top from two guys. In the tradition of "two points makes a trend line", we have Finland, b/c they are the (original) home of Linus Torvalds and also Nokia. What about Israel, Cambridge (UK), South Korea, Austin TX, New York City etc.

      Enjoy, but take it with a barrel of salt.

    • Err... does the author not understand the difference between cities and countries? Japan is the size of the BosWash corridor [wikipedia.org] -- it's not a small place.
  • Chile (Score:2, Informative)

    by cenc (1310167)

    I run a relocation biz in Chile. Chile is one of the most wired countries in South America.

    Quality of life trumps connection in my experience.

    I have a large pool of clients that are serious IT people that left the rest of the crazy world. They simple would prefer an o.k. connection, and a safe stable quiet place to work and for their families to live.

    There is very little going on inside Chile as far as the IT industry is concerned, but it is a nice place to work compared to the rest of the World. They are p

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 22, 2009 @08:32PM (#27293581)

    Richard Florida (an economics prof.) wondered why his home town didn't keep the geeks that graduated from his school. They would graduate and then move elsewhere. Hi-tech companies couldn't get employees in spite of the fact that they graduated within five miles of the company.

    What Florida discovered was that geeks want to live in certain places and not others. He wrote lots of papers and finally produced a popular book, 'The Rise of the Creative Class'.

    He pointed out how Silicon Valley was able to flourish in spite of the fact that Boston was established in the hi-tech game. In Boston, employers can block employees from taking their knowledge to competing companies. In California, they can't.

    Lots of things determine whether geeks will gather in a particular place. The place I would look for the next hi-tech paradise is southern Ontario. It has all the characteristics Florida found that attract geeks and hi-tech companies.

    • by mevets (322601)

      | The place I would look for the next hi-tech paradise is southern Ontario. It has all the characteristics Florida found that attract geeks and hi-tech companies.
      I doubt Hooters and old people driving with their signal lights on will do it.

    • by drsquare (530038)

      I'd imagine it's more of a snowball effect, geeks will move to wherever other geeks are, and where all the companies are. There's little more to it than that.

  • by heroine (1220) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @08:36PM (#27293597) Homepage

    The internet concentrated the jobs instead of spreading them out. Now if you're not geographically in Silicon Valley, your job can be done in Taiwan, so all the job seekers come to Silicon Valley. In the old days, you could have gotten a job in Nebraska. Not anymore. No-one even knows what Nebraska is anymore.

  • The list seems to mix up categories. Some listed are cities or states, but some are entire countries. Where in Finland, Japan, Taiwan, or Romania, exactly?
  • by toby (759) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @08:44PM (#27293671) Homepage Journal

    ...in putting "Microsoft headquarters" and "centres of excellence" in the same paragraph.

  • by d3matt (864260)
    They're for sure missing the "telecom corridor" in the DFW area (hello, TI, inventor of the silicon transistor!) and "research triangle" in North Carolina.
    • by zappepcs (820751)

      Not only did they miss a few, but the simple part of this is that those tech companies really don't go in big for telecommuting/teleworking. The one group of companies that would most be able to use it... oops!

  • We may be stealthy, but an enormous amount of tech comes out of the Chicago area.

  • Geeks and Gays (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swm (171547) * <swmcd@world.std.com> on Sunday March 22, 2009 @09:19PM (#27293901) Homepage

    Lots of places would like to be a high-tech hub.
    High tech is prestigious, brings high-paying jobs, has good health and safety and low (local) environmental impact.
    Lots of places build out infrastructure (roads, office parks, networks, schools, housing) hoping to become a high-tech hub.

    Some of these places succeed, some fail.

    It turns out (can't recall the source, sorry) that one of the best predictors of where you will actually get a high-tech hub is the size of the local homosexual community.

    Why?

    Geeks and gays are both seeking the same kind of social tolerance.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by quarterbuck (1268694)
      Weather may be a better predictor.
      There is an interesting story about how Bangalore came to be the hub for India. In the 80's Texas Instruments wanted to set up shop in India. They visited Mumbai, Delhi etc. and stopped over in Bangalore. They liked the weather. So they sent another team headed by an Engineer called something Dickinson. He was walking around Bangalore and spotted a street called Dickinson street. He loved that and decided to set up a TI office on that street. Before that Bangalore was a r
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Thaelon (250687)

      And less competition for women.

    • by level4 (1002199)

      If that were true, I'd expect Sydney, Australia to be a much larger tech hub that it currently is. We're basically the gay capital of the southern hemisphere, but all you're find here are some crappy branch offices of foreign corporations and boring local systems integrators.

      So I think you're wrong about that, but one thing you said was spot on - what attracts both gays or geeks is *other* gays or geeks.

      The fact that they both congregate in San Fran is pretty much a coincidence, I think.

  • What no RTP? (Score:5, Informative)

    by MadMorf (118601) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @09:22PM (#27293917) Homepage Journal

    So, I guess Cisco, IBM, GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, Sony Ericson, NIH, EPA, NetApp, EMC, Red Hat and others don't count? And don't forget, as I've mentioned before, the Sanrio store...

    • shhh don't tell em about RTP, lest we see traffic congestion rise to california levels!
    • by khallow (566160)
      You forgot SAS Institute. They aren't in RTP proper, but have their headquarters in Cary. And of course, three high quality universities.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by IorDMUX (870522)

      So, I guess Cisco, IBM, GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, Sony Ericson, NIH, EPA, NetApp, EMC, Red Hat and others don't count?

      Cisco: Absolutely huge campus (headquarters) in San Jose/Milpitas, in the Silicon Valley
      IBM: Research in Almaden and Austin, headquarters in New York
      GlaxoSmithKline: Headquartered in UK, U.S. offices split between RTP and Pittsburgh, PA
      Bayer: World headquarters: Germany; U.S. headquarters: Pittsburgh, PA. Minor research in RTP
      Sony Ericsson: Everywhere.
      NetApp: Headquarters (and most offices) in Sunnyvale, CA, in the Valley EMC: Headquartered in Massachusetts, major offices in the Valley and Chi

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @10:08PM (#27294177) Homepage

    One of the big reasons high-tech has been so successful in California is the provision in the California Labor Code that prohibits employers from owning what you do on your own time. No employment contract in California can override that. So you can do a startup while still employed.

    Employers hate this, but it's one of the big reasons for Silicon Valley's success. It also boosts innovation in aerospace and Hollywood, both major California industries.

  • You know, the porn capital. Will spare you the obvious verbiage.
  • by RR (64484) on Sunday March 22, 2009 @10:39PM (#27294317)

    Others note the relatively cheap real estate

    Silicon Valley and “cheap real estate”? Compared to what? The moon? San Francisco?

  • It's pretty hard to take this article seriously considering the number of glaring copy errors. If the authors couldn't be bothered to reread what they wrote, how much time did they put into researching and considering the list itself?
    • You mean Cambridge isn't in Boston? It's in the Boston area, but not Boston itself. Also, no mention of the old(?) Route 128? Wasn't Bletchley Park better known for computerized decryption?
      Taiwan is only 2,000 miles from US soil? More like 5,000.

      Also, "Alumni" is plural.

  • "Japan leads the world in robotics"
    Hardly true. They lead the world in bipedal robots, but that's it!

    I would actually argue that Pittsburgh leads the world in robotics. Which brings to mind, considering the huge influence that Pittsburgh has on IT, why isn't it listed?

    • by samkass (174571)

      I was thinking the same thing. Robotics, medicine, IT, and manufacturing technologies especially. They definitely have a solid tech sector and as a percentage of the local industry it's pretty high. But as a percentage of the population it's not, and walking down the street you're more likely to meet a retired couple or a blue-collar worker than a geek in most of the neighborhoods. And if you work there you'd better not piss anyone off because all the geeks in Pittsburgh are between 1 and 2 degrees of s

    • by coaxial (28297) on Monday March 23, 2009 @03:25AM (#27295475) Homepage

      I'll tell you why Pittsburgh isn't listed. Once you graduate CMU, you leave. If Pittsburgh could hold on to the CMU graduates, they'd have something, but they can't, so they don't.

      Paul Graham talked about this very thing [paulgraham.com], including citing the problems of Pittsburgh-CMU conundrum. He posits that it's the lack of venture capital (or "rich people" as he put it) in Pittsburgh, but I suspect (as he seems to) that there's something more missing.

      • ...but I suspect (as he seems to) that there's something more missing

        Hmm, lack of good weather ? lack of proximity to a major city ? Safe bridges ?

        Or perhaps it has to do with existing attributes. a declining population ? Perhaps a violent crime rate almost twice the national average ?

        Maybe the self serving politicians might get to work on these (latter) issues, but it's unlikely.


        I don't expect them to do anything about the weather.
  • by Chitlenz (184283) <chitlenz@@@chitlenz...com> on Sunday March 22, 2009 @11:04PM (#27294463) Homepage

    It's like the old joke, "if you live in the desert, go where the water is". I think we as technology professionals should watch with interest the turmoil on Wall Street, another industry that saw people pooling together in set places. While I think that having Silicon Valleys IS a very important and critical starting place, I KNOW from firsthand experience that content creation happens all over for the people who do it. I code from maybe midnight to 7AM every day, like clockwork. I work this way because I like the quiet of working at night. I work alone more often than not, and I like that free design process. I USED to work in a cube in a technology center while I was learning to code, but I think that the future is in people getting out of the 'me too' Valley mentality, and into the self aware entrepenurial mentality. For me this is what it takes, but part of the process was moving to the mountains to avoid all the city life distractions.

    Personally, I don't see how anything gets done in office buildings period. They're all so grey and structured. I think imagination is a prerequisite for invention, and that we stack the cards against ourselves by focusing on one or 2 holy grail areas for technology.

    Remember, garages are everywhere (at least in America), and I think that this pooling effect is not only not necessarily a good thing, but it might be why computing breakthroughs are slowing down (despite the hype). The last real cycle of innovation ended in the late 90s, and I would say that I don't see much of it now either.

    --chitlenz

  • On the one hand it lists entire countries: Finland, Japan, Romania, Taiwan and then gives separate entries to two places a few miles apart - one of which doesn't even exist on any maps. Silicon Valley is a warm, cuddly name dreamed up by the pundits in the 80's - it's not a place, any more than the Bermuda Triangle is.

    Luckily, this list is merely someone's opinion and therefore not worth a damn.

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