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Visit Facebook, Google, and Apple? Inside the absurd new wave of tourism in the Silicon Valley

T The Manny family poses for a photo with a huge "I Like" symbol, which keeps the idyllic headquarters of Meno Park on Facebook, but they were not admitted in 1 Hacker Wei. There are no tourists unless they have an appointment with an employee.

Toronto residents were having fun anyway, and later that day, Eva Mani changed her facebook photo to a photo of the smiling family of four in Google's solar offices. The results of their visit.

Rahul Manny, who likes to code and wants to become an engineer, said he feels better acquainted with Facebook after seeing his offices.

His older brother, Rohan, disagreed: We did the sign and take pictures with him! How do you feel you know Facebook better? "

Technical tourism is great ̵

1; thousands of people come to the Silicon Valley every year from around the world. Viewing location tags for Instagram for Facebook, Google and Apple reveal hundreds of posts in dozens of languages. I have spoken with people from Canada, Spain, Italy, Hong Kong, Colombia, Chile, Japan, the Philippines, Texas, and California on the technology campuses of this story.

So what do the tourists out of it? Can you interact more with Google personally, what would you do on google.com? Technological giants cause seismic changes around the world, but they are not historical attractions open to the public the way it is a museum. No matter how many times Apple calls its stores "urban squares," these are private buildings filled with people on computers. They do not offer tours. Google and Apple, which work as visitor centers, are more friendly to tourists than YouTube, Netflix, Instagram, and Facebook offices, which only offer photographers with their side-by-side logos. YouTube is just 15 kilometers south of San Francisco, and if you continue to drive from the previous billboards for webinar and iPhone advertising, you will see Facebook and Instagram, then Google, Yahoo, Apple, Netflix, and eBay at full 56 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge. You will not find any parking space on any of them.

A YouTube engineer who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of professional repression, summed up: "It's very strange. I'm not sure what people are going out of it. The only interesting things that can be seen are behind closed doors, but even then it's just an office. "

YouTube's travel experience is the same as on Facebook. Visitors who have no connection with employees are not allowed in the offices, but can take a photo with the sign. YouTube Security Officer confirmed that the company does not offer tours: "There's nothing to see."

But these are the brands of lifestyles, as much as technology companies, and people have roamed their sites billions of times. Employees of Instagram themselves Instagram at Instagram headquarters, and YouTubers shot with the same infertile sign to post corporate meetings. A Silicon Valley company image, whether you're there for work or not, provides a preferred status of intellect and wealth. It seems you control, albeit in a nutshell, the architecture of the Internet we all use.

Some reasons for visiting do not cause so many questions.

"Why go to Google? Because that's my life. Every day I use Google, so I'm curious to see where all the creations come from, "said Clement Poidats, a Milan resident who stands before the Facebook sign.

He and a friend from Spain came to Facebook "just to say that we were here. Once in my life we ​​will be here, so why? "As a fan of the mafia drama Netflix Suburra he also plans to visit the video streaming company, joking that he wants to ask for the new season.

Even after the Facebook scandals, both this year and the past, visitors are still invading. Glory is glory. Kanako Yanaj came from Tokyo to see Facebook because she had seen the Social Network three years ago.

For young tourists like Rahul, the Silicon Valley also presents a vision of the future. Pupilsburg high school students, one hour north of the Silicon Valley, came to Google after visiting the Computer History Museum. Five girls sat in the garden of the Android sculpture, populated with statues of the operating system logo turned into various desserts. "The museum made me feel like a real computer scientist, because I actually know what I'm doing … You see computers from the beginning, and when you get to the modern part," Oh that's what I'm doing in class. "

Diana Celestein, also senior, added:" There was a sign of boolean expressions and we are boolean in class. We actually do what we came to see. "

They have just left the Google Visitor Center where tourists can buy Google T-shirts, Sweatshirts, $ 37 Android and some Google products like Chromecast or a nest thermostat. Transforming office space into a store is not complete; artist painted a fresco on the wall the day I came. Visitors can also search for their native cities on a large Google Earth display.

Compared to the museum, the tech giant disappointed the girls.

"I expected to see Google phones and a Chromebook, but these were just Google water bottles. Then there is this park without slides or swings, "said Celestine, pointing to the sculptures on Android.

To make matters worse, de facto, the student's travel guide saved them. (Google does not offer official excursions so the management would be an employee.)

But before I could ask them more, our interview was interrupted by the appearance of one of their classmates who ride a Google Bike painted distinctive tricolor on Google and open to anyone to ride in the company campus . The girls rushed to take their own bicycles and went on a round at the nearby parking lot.

Other Toronto tourists at the Visitor Center held the same debate as Rahul and Rohan on Facebook. ] "I do not think you could get to know the brand better here. Google is a search engine and sells stuff like phones and everything else, "says George Springer, a teenager who has come with his family.

He feels the same way for Facebook that the family had visited earlier in the day: – The other is a social media company; you do not have to go to the physical location to know something about it. Everywhere you have access to it online, it's the same.

" Google seems to track the movements of tourists when shopping. "

His mother Dora replied:" But this is the headquarters. Here everything comes from. That's why we are here. "

George Peter's father grimly said," You do not have to see where it was done. We're not talking about a car where you can go around the factory. This is another industrial area. Every city has an industrial production area … I prefer to climb the hills. You can see concrete and steel everywhere.

But Dora got the last word, "Here we are on the other side of the country from Toronto. We already offer everything on Google. Our whole life is Google. Let's take off and see where all these things happen. Maybe it's just a wall, just another building of bricks and mortar, maybe there is more! We do not know. We have never been here! This is an adventure! "

Google's physical spaces are more like digital than Peter Singer can think of. The company harvests human data bodies, just as their online activities do. Two Velodyne LIDAR sensors, used to drive driving cars, are turned into a gift shop over the heads of visitors. It seems that Google tracks the movement of tourists when shopping.

The tall girls in Pittsburgh were not the only ones who were disappointed by their visit.

An eBay, one of the oldest successes of Silicon Valley, appears. confused about what he wants to do with visitors. When I told the security guy that I was a reporter and asked him about eBay tourists, he said that coffee was open to the public and that vendors sometimes came. Like the strange tourist, he said, though no one seemed to be there that day. He was upset when I asked him about his name and said he did not know I was a reporter. I walked out of the lobby. A second guardsman approached the inner courtyard of my coffee and asked to leave, saying the company "restricted access only to eBay employees and recruits." Jeep with the sirens turned, followed me from the parking lot, directed the camera to my phone.

eBay did not respond to the request for clarification on lobbying policy.

The technology visions are noticeably absent in the Apple Visitor Center, a soft bungalow whose roof appears to be supported by air columns [19599007]. the glass and wood building in the pods, the Apple-Park brand, coffee and Apple-t-shirts. Shirts, like iPhone, are made in China.

Apple calls your visitors' worth $ 108 million worth of "architectural extension of our private campus." It is open from November 2017 and smells like a gift shop in the museum. Employees explain that the gray stone stairs and the corners of the aluminum roof bend in the same curve as the edge of your iPhone – a moment that sometimes paves its way to Instagram posts in Instagram. The ring. As we are here, we were hoping to see everything, but things on the iPad were great, "said Cindy Lam, a Boston University student from Hong Kong.

She said the vision of the office, even from a distance, made her want to work at Apple. She bought a T-shirt.

"I am an Apple consumer and I like their products, but now I like them even more," she said.

Mark Badela drives two and a half hours from Sacramento, so his 3-year-old son Leon can play in the center of the visitor.

"[Leon] loves walking in Apple's shops. He always wants to go, "Mark said. – He is familiar with the iPhone. Even a 3-year-old can use the iPhone with a gesture of slip. Maybe he creates a connection between this and the real world. "

The iPhone seems to have influenced Leon interacting with the world. He wants every screen to react to his touch. While we talked, he tried to push right on a giant display Apple used for demos. This was not a touchscreen.

Visitors are not allowed into Apple Park itself, designed by starchitect Norman Foster, so they are given a substitute: a model of the huge ring that, viewed through the iPad, jumps into life in expanded reality. Looking at the roof, the emblematic ring is shaded behind the trees. Around 80% of the office are professionally shaped. Putting this blocker on the woods can be an accident; it can not. While the company declined to comment, Apple hired a wood expert for its new campus, who met with Steve Jobs, CEO, who is known for his demanding attention to detail.

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