San Francisco looks different to everyone. Start-up dreamers see it as a tech utopia, filled with money and optimism. Some old-line progressives see it as a city sold out to corporate interests, and stripped of its cultural heritage by brats bearing iPhones and stock options. Real-estate brokers see it as a gold mine, foodies see it as paradise. And the rest of the country – well, they see it as a world unto itself.
Lost in the clichés, though, is that this futuristic, tech-driven city is a real, vibrant home for 800,000 very different people. Programmers from Dropbox and Yelp intermingle with construction workers, meter maids and coffee shop owners. Women in high heels manage to not miss a step while texting and walking across the MUNI tracks. And a shoeshine man on the corner of 2nd and Townsend has a witty remark on hand for people passing by.
I'm Pendarvis Harshaw and I'll be capturing portraits of San Franciscans for a new photo series: Cyborgs of San Francisco. (The name is an homage to Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton's justly famous photo series and bestselling book.) My focus will be the people of San Francisco, and the ways in which technology is woven into life, community, and commerce here. My portraits will be posted regularly to the Cyborgs of San Francisco Facebook page. To give you a taste of what's to come, the first five installments are below.
"To get yourself an Atari gaming system, back in the late 70s it was still like $150 or $175. And the games were still $25 or so! That was too much. I remember, I had to go to a friend's house to play with it. I had never experienced it before, you know? My dad was born during World War II, so he didn't have anything. He was born in Germany. He grew up in a no-technology society. I mean, nowadays, every single kid knows how to use an iPad. And so, you're like, born into it."
How has the tech world changed San Francisco?
"In certain ways, it's wonderful. Like, I can sit there and find my way around with my maps, and my phone. But I think, in many ways, it's made people less personable. Less people have the gift of gab because they think they've got friends on the Internet." – Mark
"I'm a paper-pusher at Ubisoft. I've been here for 9 years. I love it. If I had to live with only one piece of technology, it'd have to be my TV. Gotta watch my sports, you know? Yeah, the Cowboys have been having a hell of a year."
Has technology taken you away from your family?
"If anything it's made me closer. Especially now that my boys are getting older. I can play video games with them." – Lance
"I'm working as a nanny, caregiver. I've been doing it for 14 years. All in San Francisco. Actually, I don't use any technology – even a computer." – Yolanda
"I'm actually here from out of town. I'm late for a meeting. I'm interviewing for a job in sales. Well, advertising, but it's all technology-related." – Bryan
"They take pictures of me and they buy flowers. I've been here for 20 years. I've seen it change a lot. When the Occupy stuff happened, that's when it was hard." – John
For more Cyborgs of San Francisco, subscribe to the Facebook page.
"I write about the future (Associate Producer at @ThisIsFusion).
I write about the past (publisher of #OGToldMe).
Oakland, CA raised me."