Best Masturbatory Tech Thing

1133 15th St. NW
One Thursday at the end of March, a crush of traffic arrived in front of 1133 15th St. NW. Rush hour had limped away, but the sidewalk was thick with suits. Those suits possessed venture capital, and the evening ahead was an opportunity for any of the 80-plus startups that roost at 1776—the city government’s favorite innovation hub—to snag an angel investor. I know this because, for the past three months, I’ve taken a user experience design course through General Assembly’s 1776 setup, a training center that charges astronomical amounts (more than I was paying for one class of traditional grad school) to distribute knowledge of such lofty skills as front-end design, UX, and Web development. In order to make it past the security guards at the front door, I was instructed to show a pass on my iPhone. All of that is typical of the startup incubator that the city loves to point to as a sign of D.C.’s economic diversification. It’s a beautiful space, and a great idea. But tech is not a savior, a silver bullet, or a balm to heal the inequity and demographic strife in D.C. It’s just another industry. Which, inside 1776, it’s easy to forget.