Biting Shoreditch dust

tech citySilicon Roundabout is coming to a premature and undignified end because of rising rents, re-development, demolition and the indifference of local councils, says David Manners.

Silicon Roundabout was always a bit of a joke to the tech industry – loads of coders writing bizarre apps and games.

Apparently it’s all coming to a premature and undignified end because of rising rents, re-development, demolition and the indifference of local councils.

While Silicon Roundabout’s most prominent cheer-leader David Cameron has found a new pet techie enthusiasm – IoT.

Entrepreneur Cory Doctorow writing in The Guardian says his Silicon Roundabout office rent went up a third this year.

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“Three of the companies on my floor left Hackney altogether. My wife’s start-up fears a looming, major rent-hike that will force it to move, too. Within months of the unveiling of Silicon Way, Hackney council approved the demolition of all of the small office spaces in its vicinity: a two-square-block razing that saw Berg, Last.fm and all those other plucky start-ups chucked out on their ears,” writes Doctorow, “Berg’s are fearful they’ll be priced out of Shoreditch for their next move. Last.fm has already left the neighbourhood altogether.”

So another Silicon Something bites the dust. Fen, Glen, Veldt, Plain, Forest – there’ve been loads of them. Even President Nikita Kruschev of Russia tried to establish Silicon Steppe at Zelenograd

The problem is that because Silicon Valley is a physical geographical place, planners think it necessary to provide a physical geographical location if it is to be successfully replicated.

This is really not true any more.

The important thing about Silicon Valley was the idea – the idea that technology is not the property of Big Business – that anyone can play.

Bill Gates from Seattle was as much a part of that idea as Gordon Moore from California and Sir Clive Sinclair from Cambridge.

Nowadays even more so.

Anyone with an idea can put it on a crowd-funding site and see if the worldwide tech community recognise merit in it.

The biggest problem is not coming up with great ideas but getting other people to recognise them.

The guy who started off the $90 billion video games industry over 40 years ago said: “People thought the idea of playing games on a television set was the stupidest thing they’d ever heard of.”

That, of course, was the inventor of Pong, Nolan Bushnell.

Tags: Cory Doctorow, David Cameron, Hackney, rents, Silicon Roundabout, Silicon Valley

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