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Visit to Facebook, Google, and Apple? Within the Absurd New Rush of Silicon Valley Tourism

T she's Mani's family had a picture with a huge "Like" symbol that kept the silence of Menlo Park's headquarters Facebook, but they were not allowed in 1 Hacker Way. No tourists, unless they have an appointment with an employee.

Toronto residents were happy, and later that day, Eva Mani changed her cover photo to Facebook in the image of a smiling family of four in the sunny office of Google.

In the parking lot, his two sons learned about the results of their visit.

Rahul Mani, who wants to code and wants to grow up to become an engineer, said he knows that he knows better Facebook after seeing its offices.

His older brother Rohan disagrees: "We all see the sign and take pictures here! How do you feel you know Facebook better?"

Tourism Tech is so many-thousands of people go to Silicon Valley every year from around the world. Browsing the Instagram location tags for Facebook, Google, and Apple displays hundreds of posts in dozens of languages. I spoke to people from Canada, Spain, Italy, Hong Kong, Colombia, Chile, Japan, Philippines, Texas, and California on tech campuses for this story.

So what will tourists do? Can you contact Google to the person you want on google.com? The tech giants bring about seismic change worldwide, but they are not a historical sign that is open to the public in the way of a museum. It does not matter how many times Apple calls its stores "town squares," they are private buildings full of people on computers. They do not offer tours.

Google and Apple, which both operate visitor centers that are open to the public, are more attractive to tourists than YouTube offices, Netflix, Instagram, and Facebook, offering only opps of picture their logo on the side of the road. YouTube is only 1

5 kilometers south of San Francisco, and if you keep driving from previous highway billboard advertising webinar software and iPhone, you'll see next Facebook and Instagram, then Google, then Yahoo !, Apple, Netflix, and, ultimately, eBay, a total of 56 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge. You will not find the parking place in any of these.

A YouTube engineer, who asked to remain unknown for fear of professional restoration, summed it up: "It's very strange. I'm not sure what people are out here. The only thing that's probably a good thing is seeing everything behind closed doors, but even if it's just an office. "

The tourist experience on YouTube is very similar to Facebook. Visitors without employee connection are not permitted in offices, but they may take a photo with a signed out front. A security guard on YouTube confirmed that the company did not offer tours: "Not much see."

But these lifestyle brands are technology firms, and people are traveling on their sites billions of times. Employees of Instagram Instagram themselves at Instagram HQ, and YouTubers take pictures with this empty sign to post about meetings with company liaisons. An image in a Silicon Valley company, whether you are in the job or not, gives you a desired state of mind and wealth. It looks like you are in control, however short, in the internet architecture we all use.

For some, the reasons for the visit did not arouse too many questions.

"Why go to Google because it's my life I'm using Google every day, so I want to know where all the creations come from," says Clement Poidatz, a resident of Milan, who stands in front of Facebook sign.

He and a friend from Spain came to Facebook "just say we're here. It's a life we've been here, so why not?" As a fan of Netflix mafia drama Suburra he also plans to visit the video streaming company, the joke he wants to ask about the new season.

Even after scandals that Facebook has experienced, both this year and far beyond, visitors are still pouring out. Fame is fame. Kanako Yanai came from Tokyo to see Facebook because he watched Social Network three years ago.

For young tourists such as Rahul, Silicon Valley also show a vision in the future. Students from a computer graphics class at Pittsburg High School, one hour north of Silicon Valley, came to Google after visiting the Computer History Museum. Five girls sit in the Android sculpture garden, with operating system logo statues that have been transfigured with different desserts.

Senior Carsheala Bankston said, "The museum has made me a real scientific computer, as I really know what I'm doing … You see computers from the beginning, and when you get in the modern part, you like, & # 39; Or this is what I'm doing in class. & # 39; "

Dayahna Celestine, a senior also, added," There was a signal about the expressions of Boolean, and we are doing the Boolean in the class. We really do what we see. "

They just left the Google visitor center, where tourists can buy Google-branded t-shirts, sweatshirts, $ 37 stuffed Androids animals, and some Google products like Chromecast or a Nest thermostat. Location conversion from office space to store is not yet finished; an artist painted a mural on a wall the day I arrived. Visitors can also visit their hometowns on a massive Google Earth display.

In comparison to the museum, the giant tech has failed girls.

"I'm looking forward to seeing Google phones and Chromebooks, but it's just a bottle of water on Google. Then there's this park with no slides or swings," says Celestine, describing Android sculptures .

To make matters worse, the de facto tour guide of the students was released from them. (Google does not offer formal tours, so the guide has become an employee.)

But before I can ask them, our interview is disturbed by the appearance of one of their classmates riding on Google Bike, painted the unique tricolor of Google and opened for anyone on the campus of the company . The girls rushed to their bicycles and flew to the circles at nearby parking.

Other Toronto tourists in the visitor center have the same debate as Rahul and Rohan are on Facebook. "I think you do not really know a better brand here. Google is a search engine, and it sells things like phones and anything else," says George Springer, a teenager who goes along to his family.

He felt the same way about Facebook, which was visited by the family earlier in the day: "Others are a social media company; you do not have to go to a physical location to find out anything about it. you access it online, it's the same. "

" Google appears to be tracking the movement of tourists as they buy. "

His mother answered her" the headquarters, where all this comes from. That's why we're here. "

George's father Peter was noisy:" You do not have to see where it's done. we are talking about a car, where you can tour the factory. It's another industrial area. Any city has an industrial manufacturing area … I would prefer driving on the hills. You see the concrete and iron in you hit where. "

But Dora received the final words:" Here we are on the other side of the country from Toronto. We're all Googling. Our whole life is Google. Let us walk and see where all these things go. Maybe it's just a wall, another brick and mortar building, maybe there's more! We do not know. We're not here yet! This is an adventure! "

Google's physical spaces are more like digital than Peter Singer thinks. The company mistakes human bodies for data as it does in their online actions. Two Velodene LIDAR sensors, the type used to guide self-driving vehicles, to the gift shop above the heads of visitors. Google is constantly tracking the movements of tourists as they store. The company does not responded to the request for comment on what it does with that data.

Pittsburg High children have not only dropped out of their visit.

eBay, one of Silicon Valley's oldest successes , appears to be confused about what visitors want to do. When I told a security guard I was a reporter and asked him about the tourist on eBay, he said the cafe was open to the public and Sometimes sellers come. As well as the peculiar tourists, he said, though nothing seemed to be there that day. He was angry when I asked him his name for this story and said he did not know I was a reporter. I left the lobby.

In the cafe court, a second security guard approached me and requested that I leave, saying the company was "restricting access to only eBay employees and people with a deal." A third security guard, The SUV with its mermaid lights, followed me outside the parking lot, pointing out his camera phone in my car.

eBay does not respond to a request for clarification in the lobby policy.

The debates about seeing tech companies are particularly noticeable at the Apple visitor center, a soft bungalow that appears to be the roof being supported by the windshield .

On a rainy Sunday of March, the glass-and-wood building on pods, purchase of equipment, coffee, and $ 40 branded Apple-Park t-shirt. Shirts, such as the iPhone, are made in China.

Apple called his $ 108 million visitor center "an extension of the architecture of our private campus." It has been open since November 2017 and reduces it as a gift shop museum. Employees explained that the gray stone staircases and corners of the aluminum roof were curved on the same curve as the edge of your iPhone, a questionable point that sometimes goes on Instagram's tourist posts.

"I thought we could have been in the ring, so we were hoping to see everything, but the iPad thing was cool," says Cindy Lam, a Boston University student from Hong Kong.

He said he sees the office, even from afar, has done what he wants to work with Apple. He bought a t-shirt.

"I'm an Apple user, and I like their products, but now I like them even more," he said.

Mark Badella drove two and a half hours from Sacramento so her 3-year-old son Leon could play in the visitor center.

"Gustavo [[Leon] loves going to Apple stores. He always wants to go," Mark says. "He's familiar with the iPhone, although a 3-year-old can use the iPhone with a swiping motion. Maybe he's getting a connection between and the real world."

The iPhone is seems to influence how Leon interacts with the world. He wants every screen to respond to his touch. As we talked, he tried to swipe itself into a giant display used by Apple for demonstrations. This is not a touch screen.

Visitors are not allowed in the actual Apple Park, designed by starchitect Norman Foster, thus giving them a replacement: a model of the big ring, viewed through an iPad, leap into life in augmented reality. Looking from the roof deck, the iconic ring is obscured behind a stand of trees. Almost 80 percent of office areas are professionally landscaped. The placement of that plant blocking the guts may be an accident; it may not be. While the company refused to comment, Apple hires a tree specialist for his new campus known to Steve Jobs himself, a CEO known for his intense attention to detail.

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