Re-posted in part from the Cipher Brief
My late mother served as a sergeant in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. She was nearly killed in 1944 by a “buzz bomb” – think German UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) – that destroyed the London building in which she worked and literally vaporized two of her office mates. As you might imagine, Mom brooked little nonsense raising a young, often-squabbling son and daughter in mid-20th century suburbia. “Grow up and get along,” Mom would snap at us when we were fighting. Every time I hear someone from Washington or someone from Silicon Valley complaining about the other, I am reminded of my mother’s words – grow up and get along.
If you had to pick two nearly opposite cultures, Silicon Valley and Washington DC are it. The former is new, entrepreneurially brash, libertarian, and a child of the open and easygoing lifestyle of the West Coast. It’s also strongly internationalist and driven by money as a metric — and has loads of money made sometimes too easily in a market less devoted to results than “flipping a company” to gain more money. Still, it has become the creator and driving force of arguably one of the greatest technological and innovative bursts in mankind’s history.
In contrast, Washington is a staid place that is hugely powerful – arguably the capital of the most powerful nation on the planet for 70 years. It is filled with people drawn from around the country who are lawyers, social and hard scientists who do their best not to “stick up” from their surrounding fellows. Well established, it is a place of bureaucracy and order. Progress is not measured in money and quick results. It is measured in holding office and position – both of which provide power. It is also measured in compromise and a balancing of different interests for what is determined to be for the “public good.” Speed of decision is not its forte.