Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

Down at Stanford

I’m outside Tressider (what in the world is a Subway doing here?), checking my mail after doing a couple interviews and sitting in on product design class. I’m starting to work on a piece on product design in Silicon Valley, and was interviewing a couple people in the PD program– the source of a large number of the region’s designers. The article’s basic premise is that Silicon Valley is morphing from a geek capital to a capital of cool– but a very specific geeky sort of cool, at the (rather broad) interface between high tech and high design.

I’ve also been advocating do a project at the Institute on the future of design, so these interviews will get used in that project, should it ever happen.

There are numerous parents around– enough for me to think that it’s a non-random series of spottings, and something’s bringing them here. Is it an event? Have admissions letters gone out, and people coming to check things out? Who knows.

It’s weird, but after years of either being at Stanford or ints orbit, the thing– the one thing– I like best about the place is its wireless network. Maybe it’s just that I’m now blinded by familiarity to all of its other charms. But I find it much more pleasant to come down here, get onto the network, hook up to the Institute’s VPN, open my browser, and be in three places at once. I think– hope– I’m one of those people who can get more done by multitasking than by focusing on one specific thing at a time, and being in a single geographic and social space.

The kids with parents look too clueless. They must be prospectives. Everyone sticks a little too closely together. I don’t think my parents SAW my alma mater until graduation: they certainly didn’t help me move in my freshman year (when it might have been useful), or any subsequent year (when it would have been embarassing). Instead, I took the train, which turned out to be one of those Homeric kinds of travel events: it left Richmond at 4 AM, and got into Philly five or six hours later. You left one world in the dead of night– and for a 17 year-old who’d spent most of his teenage years waiting impatiently to finish high school and get to college, one life– and woke up in another. Amtrak Crescent as chrysalis.

Okay, a little more work before I leave.


  1. Since this is spring break for most high schoolers, the students were most likely high school juniors taking a look at colleges. My parents did not take me to move in frosh year either, they sent me on a plane, and we were grounded in St.Louis for the night, and my friend Chris and I spent the night at the Noah’s Ark Motor Inn — I have photos of the place somewhere. It really did have an arc in the parking lot, and animal themed things everywhere. Scary.

  2. That makes a lot of sense. The kids weren’t quite excited enough to have been accepted.

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