The Silicon Roundabout

21Nov11

The "Silicon Roundabout" in Shoreditch, London

In this week’s chapter one of the elements discussed is that of the international division of labour of cultural labour, within which Deuze touches upon the way media companies “have a tendancy to cluster in specific (urban) areas, within which regions an ongoing exchange of labor, talent, and skills takes place between people and organisations” (Deuze, 2007, p. 238). While reading Dan Crow’s article for The Guardian this morning entitled “Watch out, Silicon Valley – Silicon Roundabout is the new kid in town”, this particular part of the chapter resonated with me.

The article basically discusses Crows move from the UK to the US’ Silicon Valley to work as a software developer 13 years ago and then his recent move back and the changes he has seen in the UK’s attitude to tech startups while he has been gone, particularly around Shoreditch, an area of London, which has earned the moniker “Silicon Roundabout”.

Crow observes that in order to maintain the momentum these areas generate, “we need young, ambitious entrepreneurs” and talks about the need for educational establishments to engender these attributes in their students, lauding the initiatives of places such as the University of Stanford as an template. Crow seems in essence to be hoping Shoreditch can attain the reputation to allow the inflow of people Deuze describes when talking about these areas – “[n]ewcomers, recent graduates, and other hopefuls [who] flock to these areas” (Deuze, 2007, p. 238)

It was interesting to note the anecdotal evidence that while traditionally people have migrated to the US for such jobs (including Crow himself), there seems to be a trend within this area of Shoreditch at least, of Americans moving to the UK assisted by government backed entrepreneur visas. This could perhaps be indicative of international migration based upon talent requirements not as yet being met internally, rather than the regional or virtual mentioned in Media Work.

— Craig Harkness

Deuze, M. (2007). Media Work. Malden, MA, USA: Polity Press.

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