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Scott Yates

OK. You convinced me. We're coming, too.

Brad Berens

Great that you'll be on the Best Coast for a while-- and the cognitive duration phenomenon you're talking about is one I've spent a lot of years pondering-- the difference between data-driven mental processing and schema-driven, and what the old Soviet Formalist Viktor Shklovsky called "ostranenie" or "making it strange." Congrats!

Anil Dash

Enjoy the shift in perspective! I hope you find, as I did after 2.5 years in SF, that it makes the return to NYC even more gratifying. :)

Mark Simmons

We just did the opposite move and have instantly started to appreciate the mental lift from breaking routine. Good luck with the move and enjoy the Bay.

And don't fall into the trap of believing there aren't seasons. They are just more subtle.


We need a book about the culture of the Bay Area versus the culture of the NY digerati. Promise!

Andrew Leonard

Finally! Someone moves from Brooklyn to the Bay Area and not the other way around. Welcome!


Lovely, lovely entry. My wife, our 9 month-old and myself are gearing up for the same move from Pittsburgh, PA where we have resided for the past 6 years. Thank you for the additional inspiration and confidence that we are making the right choice.

Jason R

Welcome to the Bay. Good timing too. The startup shoot are sprouting and the good part of the last dot-com era are beginning to come back. Probably means a new bubble will grow (just in time to move back to Brooklyn). In the interim you can take the kids to Chrissy Field, sip a blue-bottle coffee, and spot a harbor porpoise or too.


Beautifully written and inspiring. Thank you.


Welcome to the Left Coast. I know you're going to enjoy it out here.


I'll be looking forward to reading what writing emerges from your time in the bay...My wife and I teach in Marin so if you're looking for good schools feel free contact me. Happy trails...


Steven, we're thrilled to have you here, if only for two years. Can't wait to see you around.

Kristian Hansen

Awesome. Glad to hear you are making the jump.

As a Marin kid - from Kentfield, I can attest to the awesomeness of the area, the schools, the people and the atmosphere.

Funny to think that I moved from Marin to NYC to attend Columbia (back in 2001) and have done the transverse of Manhattan to Brooklyn as well.

Enjoy your time in the Bay. Its timeless.


As someone who moved to San Francisco from London via 6 years in Boston I sense what you're going through. Welcome to the most amazing place in the world I've ever spent time in.
It's the kind of place where good ideas come from:)


Congratulations on your move and thank you for sharing it. I moved from California to Brazil 13 years ago. You are absolutely right about how certain things that were in the background suddenly come into relief once you change your environment. It changes your perspective of not only time but of the origins of things. The things in your daily routine have changed (I don't just means things to buy or to eat, but the things that may have inspired you, irked you, motivated you in some way). Pay attention to this adjustment period in these first few months of being in a new place. The wonder and perspective of a tourist quickly wears off. The distinctness of the differences of place smooths over very quickly as routine sets in. Try to remember Marin as it is new to you. Also don't forget to consider all the changes that will happen to Brooklyn that you'll not be a part of once you're gone. Bottle up your Brooklyn somehow. Today my California no longer exists. It has been torn down, paved over - alive only in stories. Today I feel like a tourist when I visit California, and Brazil is no longer new to me. Keep us informed!

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We're 3/4 of the way through a year in London we took for the same reason. Some hassle involved, and we dearly wish we could stay longer (they're tossing us out come August; visa regs v v tight), but extremely glad we went for it, and the kids -- 6 and 9 -- have loved it. And it does slow things down, you're right.

Good luck with the move. See you sometime somewhere.

fred wilson

i buy all the reasons but that last one. i don't think you can slow down time. joanne and i and our kids have moved five times in the 20 yrs that my kids have been around. and that 20 years seems like it has gone by in a flash

Curt Warren

I noticed that with my frequent moves, the memory for dates and events improved as I became an adult. I had the opportunity as the son of a military father to move over 18 times during my K-12 education. Brutal as a was, it gave me an appreciation for time and place and how things change. My ability to see a past date and know where I was and what I was doing at that time became very accurate.

I also discovered that the ability to appreciate time was based on a persons time in life grade. Two years to a kid seems an eternity while to an adult it is....well....just 2 years.

Everything going forward is based on what you see in the rear view mirror. Which is why the mid age crazies hit us when we finally can view our death looking forward only after we can look back 35 to 40 years. In essence, we can only see as far forward in time as we have lived historically.

Jack Payne

You think moving to Marin county will not be a life-changer? Wrong! You've got a big surprise coming. Take this from an 85-year old writer (and curmudgeon) who lives close to the Shangri-La called Marin.

ceridwen morris

Came here hoping to get the recap and here it is. I love this post and think about what you've said here often. I think it's a grand idea! Being in a new place makes you see things. It's true.


Hum, maybe that is why we get itchy feet every few years. Thanks for articulating something that I couldn't identify!

Douglas W. Green, EdD

Steve: Good luck with the move. If you get a chance, check out my review of "Where Good Ideas Come From" at http://bit.ly/mkNyKr.

D Pak

Why are all these assholes writing about "what I did/ when we moved" and handing out bullshit advice from their unrelated lives?? Nobody cares; you are not an expert on anything. Put aside your smug "I"-first mentality for 10 seconds & maybe, just maybe, one day you'll actually begin to be truly happy and no longer need to validate your pathetic useless existence by adding your life story to the coattails of someone else's.
-- one who's already beyond all that.


I agree with Jack Payne. It'll be a life-changer, for all the reasons you mentioned: moves throw us and our lives into high relief.

As a fellow Berkeleyan said to me on a Marin night back in the '80s, looking at the reverse view across the bay: "it's a different night of mind."

I think I'm on my 30-somethingth home, my fourth country. I'll be heading back to the SF-Bay Area too, after 30 years around the world. Having glimpsed you at TEDGlobal last year, it will be a pleasure to see you there.

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My Photo
I'm a father of three boys, husband of one wife, and author of nine books, host of one television series, and co-founder of three web sites. We split our time between Brooklyn, NY and Marin County, CA. Personal correspondence should go to sbeej68 at gmail dot com. If you're interested in having me speak at an event, drop a line to Wesley Neff at the Leigh Bureau (WesN at Leighbureau dot com.)

My Books

  • Steven Johnson: How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

    Steven Johnson: How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World
    A history of innovation accompanied by a 6-part TV series on PBS and the BBC, this was the first of my books to crack the top 5 on the NY Times bestseller list. Appropriately for a book that celebrates diverse networks, this was the most collaborative of any of my books. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • Steven Johnson: Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age

    Steven Johnson: Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age
    My first book-length attempt to organize my writings about emergence and networks into something resembling a political philosophy, which I called Peer Progressivism. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

    Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation
    An exploration of environments that lead to breakthrough innovation, in science, technology, business, and the arts. I conceived it as the closing book in a trilogy on innovative thinking, after Ghost Map and Invention. But in a way, it completes an investigation that runs through all the books, and laid the groundwork for How We Got To Now. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : The Invention of Air

    The Invention of Air
    The story of the British radical chemist Joseph Priestley, who ended up having a Zelig-like role in the American Revolution. My version of a founding fathers book, and a reminder that most of the Enlightenment was driven by open source ideals. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : The Ghost Map

    The Ghost Map
    The story of a terrifying outbreak of cholera in 1854 London 1854 that ended up changing the world. An idea book wrapped around a page-turner. I like to think of it as a sequel to Emergence if Emergence had been a disease thriller. You can see a trailer for the book here. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter

    Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter
    The title says it all. This one sparked a slightly insane international conversation about the state of pop culture -- and particularly games. There were more than a few dissenters, but the response was more positive than I had expected. And it got me on The Daily Show, which made it all worthwhile. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Mind Wide Open : Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life

    Mind Wide Open : Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life
    My first best-seller, and the only book I've written in which I appear as a recurring character, subjecting myself to a battery of humiliating brain scans. The last chapter on Freud and the neuroscientific model of the mind is one of my personal favorites. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software

    Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software
    The story of bottom-up intelligence, from slime mold to Slashdot. Most of my books sold more copies than this one, but Emergence has influenced the most eclectic mix of fields: political campaigns, web business models, urban planning, the war on terror. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Interface Culture : How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate

    Interface Culture : How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate
    My first. The book I wrote instead of finishing my dissertation, predicting the growing cultural significance of interface and information design. Still relevant, I think. But I haven't read it in a while, so who knows what's in there! (Available from IndieBound here.)

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