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Humanities LibreTexts

11.2: Description Essay

  • Page ID
    187814
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    By Vanessa Friedman

    Introduction

    after the firm reportedly lost at least $8 billion of customer money. U.S. prosecutors alleged he orchestrated a years-long scheme, where he used FTX deposits for various investments and daily expenses at his trading firm Alameda Research. Click on the title link to read Vanessa Friedman's article, in which she explains how Bankman-Fried's Silicon Valley image as an irreverent tech disrupter played a role in convincing customers to invest in a fraudulent scheme. Some key definitions are listed below. Then consider the discussion questions.

    Definitions:

    Cryptocurrency: an encrypted data string that denotes a unit of currency. It is monitored and organized by a peer-to-peer network called a blockchain, which also serves as a secure ledger of transactions such as buying, selling, and transferring.

    FTX: A now bankrupt company, founded by Sam Bankman-Fried, that was one of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges. It enabled customers to trade digital currencies for other digital currencies or traditional money; it also issued its own cryptocurrency known as FTT.

    Exercise \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    1. How does Friedman define the Silicon Valley tech "uniform"?
    2. What changes is she arguing for in this essay?

    1. What do you think each one was trying to communicate to cryptocurrency investors?

    1. Do you agree with Scott Galloway's comment about Bankman-Fried's appearance: "If a person of color or a woman or a 50-year-old showed up like that, security probably would not let them in the building"? Is the Silicon Valley uniform only applicable to certain genders, ethnicities, and age groups?
    2. How could you rebut Friedman's statement: "In many ways, the dress code is yet another example of the double standard rife in Silicon Valley"?
    3. Friedman writes that people like Bankman-Fried communicate that they "don't have the time to worry about what they are wearing because they are thinking such big, world-changing thoughts," and their mystique "plays on our general insecurity around science and the tech world . . . language, made in code, impenetrable, that magically shrinks down all sorts of possibilities and puts them in the palm of your hand." Does this fascination with tech lead us to believe in unproven people and products like Bankman-Fried and his crypto company FTX?

    Ideas for Writing

    1. Steve Jobs in his black turtleneck set the spare, simple style of Apple, and Mark Zuckerberg in his hoodie set the irreverent, "move fast and break things" style for Facebook. Can you describe examples of other entrepreneurs or CEOs have been influential in establishing their products' appeal? Have you ever bought a product based on the image of an advertising spokesperson?
    2. Have you made important decisions about personal or business relationships based on someone's appearance and dress? Did your judgment turn out to be correct? Explain your decision and its consequences.
    3. Have others made judgments about you based on your appearance or dress? Explain whether your appearance has been misinterpreted and the consequences.

    Work Cited

    Friedman, Vanessa. "Hey Silicon Valley, Maybe It's Time to Dress Up, Not Down." New York Times, 13 Dec. 2023, www.nytimes.com/2022/12/13/style/sam-bankman-fried-style.html. Accessed 2 Jan. 2023.