Acclaimed photographer Mary Beth Meehan and Silicon Valley historian and media scholar Fred Turner discuss their recently published and award-winning book Seeing Silicon Valley: Life inside a Fraying America, a collaborative exploration of the culture of Silicon Valley — not the culture of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg that we see in the press, but the lives of the men and women who inhabit the Valley and make it work. If Silicon Valley is building the world’s future, Meehan and Turner argue, then we must learn to see through the tech industry’s marketing campaigns. We need to see the kind of society the tech industry is actually creating, in its own back yard.
Fred Turner is the Harry and Norman Chandler Professor of Communication at Stanford University. Before coming to Stanford, he taught Communication at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He also worked for ten years as a journalist. He has written for newspapers and magazines ranging from the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine to Harper’s.
Mary Beth Meehan is an independent photographer, writer, and educator, who has spent more than twenty years embedding herself in communities across the United States. Beginning in her native New England, and continuing in the Midwest, the American South and in Silicon Valley, her work, which combines image, text, and large-scale public installation, stems from her belief in a collaborative process that should function in and for the communities it reflects. Co-opting the scale of celebrity and advertising, Meehan’s portrait banners activate public spaces and spark conversations among and about the people who inhabit them.