Author and serial startup founder Arianna Huffington is on a mission to make tech healthy again, whether it’s helping put Uber’s house in order or re-teaching us all (including Elon Musk) healthy sleep habits. Huffington’s latest project, an upcoming National Geographic limited series called Valley of the Boom, traces the remarkable rises and fated falls of three Silicon Valley startups of the boom-era 1990s. Huffington, one of the show’s executive producers, was drawn to the project because of her current work on what she calls “the unintended consequences of that era.” “It wasn’t really until very recently that we’ve gotten away from the triumphalism that assumed that anything in tech is good for humanity automatically,” she tells me in an interview. Huffington, warm and engaging in conversation, reminisces briefly about the late 1990s, when it seemed a techno-utopia was under construction. When I lament about being blindsided by a modern digital culture filled with trolls, scammers and fake news factories, she’s quick to reassure me. “I don’t think many people saw it,” she says, reiterating that we’ve only recently begun to take tech’s side effects seriously. “Whether it’s in terms of privacy or hijacking our attention or making it harder for our children to grow up without being depressed and anxious about their social standing in social media.” Valley of the Boom, she says, is something of a cautionary tale about three overnight success stories from the beginning of the tech renaissance: Web browser pioneer Netscape, early social network TheGlobe.com… [Read full story]
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