Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,
Washington D.C. is not even on the Hipster Techie mental map.
We all have inner maps that assign awareness, priority and importance to geographic features. For those who work inside the Beltway, Washington D.C. dominates their mental map of the world. Residents of Manhattan famously regard it as the center of the financial, art, fashion, etc. world.
In the hipster techie mental map, Washington D.C. doesn't exist, and New York has a small tech innovation footprint. In this world view, politics, finance and fashion are not what changes the world for the better; only tech does that.
Everyone wants to defend their city as important, if not the center of the universe, but the reality is that people who want to "make it" gravitate to the capital of their interest, be it Nashville, New York City, Hollywood, San Francisco or a regional magnet-city.
The typical hipster techie works for a start-up or fast-growing company in the social media / e-commerce / marketing mobile/web apps/software space. While these firms can be found in many cities, a great many are located in San Francisco and the S.F. Bay Area (Silicon Valley, etc.) for a variety of reasons, including a culture that celebrates innovation and understands that failure and success are two aspects of the same dynamic.
Having a start-up crash and burn is a disaster in most places; in the Bay Area, it is generally regarded as "getting your sea legs."
Three large research universities--two of the premiere public universities, University of California, Berkeley ("Cal") and University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and one of the premiere private universities, Stanford-- act as incubators of start-ups which have access to seed money from a high concentration of venture capital. Two national labs provide government support of research: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
These elements spawn waves of newcomers and start-ups, most of which eventually fail or are bought up by established tech firms.
Many locales around the world have attempted to recreate the "magic" of Silicon Valley; the recipe is not that easy to duplicate. Many feel the Valley has lost its edge; as global competition increases, perhaps that can be said of every established innovation center.
Here is one approximation of the hipster techie mental map:
SFO: San Francisco International Airport
JFK: John F. Kennedy International Airport
Page Mill Road: home to many start-ups and Stanford Research Park
Not to be confused with Sand Hill Road, the concentration of venture capital (VC) firms (a.k.a. vulture capital)