The tech world has its very own Mecca and its name is Silicon Valley. Google, Apple, Yahoo, and many other high-tech companies trace their roots to this single place which, for purposes of this article, I’d like to call the tech world’s very own ‘Ground Zero.’ From cramped apartments bordering the illustrious Stanford University - a school which seems to have single-handedly jumpstarted innovation in the IT world - have emerged countless “from rags to riches (and vice-versa)" stories that have driven, and continues to drive, what we now know as the Information Age.
Whether by actual design, accident, or a combination of both, the Valley has become the epicenter of all things techie. As testament to this sentiment, the idiom “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” finds application when observing Israel and India’s attempts to replicate the phenomenon within their respective regions. Bearing this in mind, the question I pose is optimistic rather than critical: instead of merely focusing on ‘business process outsourcing’ in countless call center hubs spread out around the archipelago, can we, as a matter of sound national policy, delegate a portion of our resources to funding and promoting a centralized IT hotspot? Our own version of Ground Zero?
Incentivizing local governments to promote IT centers is one thing but dedicating a central station (let’s say in some fly-speck, randomly-thought-of, mid-ranged province like Leyte) that can host the regional headquarters of various companies can go a long way in competing with the likes of Singapore, Hong Kong and perhaps even China. Placing the operations of chip and hardware manufacturers, software developers and computer programmers in one singular hub, supplementing this area with centers of learning and outlet stores and perhaps making the same a tourist destination for IT-inclined individuals can spur economic growth for the entire region that already boasts of obvious logistical advantages: cheap labor, easy access for in-land, sea, and air transportation, as well as being a stone throw’s away from places like Bohol, Cebu, and Mindanao.
More importantly, aside from jumpstarting the economy, I think that the creation of Ground Zero will enable the formation of a community - heavily influenced by the academe in the way of Stanford and San Jose State - that might just change the way we do business and the way we view things. Thus, instead of looking forward to our next paycheck, maybe we can start looking for the next big idea. Instead of settling for what other countries dish out, maybe we can come out with our own contribution to the IT world. Instead of going to yonder ‘land of the brave’ to visit and live in fabled ‘tech Mecca,’ maybe we should start thinking of building our own.
A site I used to contribute articles to has as its caption the phrase: “where bright minds meet.” Perhaps I can borrow the phrase as a premise for possible effects of physically carving out an environment for a tech-oriented culture instead of waiting for it to accidentally happen: “where bright minds meet, anything, everything becomes possible... even in the Philippines.”