August 14th, 2014
05:09 PM ET

What I'm reading: What Silicon Valley’s favorite word says about tech priorities

By Fareed Zakaria

"Silicon Valley isn't the only jargon culprit in the corporate world, of course. But tech's semantic tics are more meaningful, because they dictate what kinds of innovations are rewarded and financed," writes Kevin Roose in New York magazine. "Words like 'functional' and 'compatible' were important in the early days of Silicon Valley, when engineers were trying to bring order to messy technological infrastructure. But in the post-iPhone world, it's no longer enough to make something work well; it has to feel good, too. This isn't just a matter of taste—it's a political shift. Emphasizing form over function is a way for designers, who typically sit lower on the Silicon Valley totem pole than their engineering counterparts, to remind executives that their opinions matter.


"The liberal assumptions embedded in American foreign policy put the U.S. at odds with China, and also heighten Beijing's mistrust of Washington's intentions and ambitions. The spiral of animosity that threatens to culminate in a confrontation between the two countries is in large part a creation of American policy," writes Christopher Layne in the Financial Times.

"As China's rises, Washington has a last clear chance to avoid the looming Sino-American conflict. This would entail making real concessions on Taiwan and on China's territorial claims in the East and South China Seas. It would also involve a commitment that Washington would not interfere in China's internal affairs.

"America's political culture – based on exceptionalism, liberal ideology, and openness – is a big obstacle to coming to terms with a resurgent China. So is the fact that the foreign-policy elite remains wedded to American primacy, and refuses to accept that this will inevitably slip away because of the relative decline of U.S. power."



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soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Ferhat Balkan

    This whole concept of "form over function" started with Steve Jobs and the advent of the Macintosh computer in the early 80s. Macintosh computers were all-in-one computers that needed minimum amount of effort to setup and came with fully colored manuals with pictures showing what to do. Steve Jobs pretty much defined form over function for PCs. Unfortunately, Apple chose to go the proprietary route and many of the 'low level' interfaces such as the command line were not available and there were no "Apple Compatible" computers such as the "IBM Compatibles". IBM Compatibles on the other hand, provided more functionality over form which were more popular with businesses, gamers and cheaper to boot. Anyways, there's always a advantage and a disadvantage to form over function. I personally prefer function over form. One great example is the Android OS that's based on Linux. I believe the Android OS has a great future.

    August 14, 2014 at 6:21 pm |
  2. steve fazekas

    America's political culture – based on exceptionalism, liberal ideology, and openness? What America does he live in?? Unfortunately, money will continue to drive our politics and directions. And of course the WEIRD coalition of the religious right and rich republicans.

    August 15, 2014 at 9:20 am |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    Although computers are lucrative, the USA's educational system needs to teach young persons to think, in additional to teaching them to use and to play with computers.

    August 16, 2014 at 8:27 am |
  4. isac


    August 20, 2014 at 9:11 pm |
  5. Abhinav

    Whatever. America is going down with trump in Session and India is also going down with Modi's Arrogance. The world will come to an end like this.

    February 8, 2020 at 10:12 am |

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