The better question is, "What kind of drugs?" Compared to New York, L.A, or D.C. the Valley is low on coke-addled dealmakers, drunk bosses, and celebrity rehab cases. But there's a decent chance some of the hardware and software you're using right now was conceived, and maybe implemented, by a big brain with a buzz on.San Francisco, the epicenter of 1960's counterculture, was made over by pot-smoking progressives. Down in Silicon Valley, the budding high tech industry fostered a different kind of hippie: The pot-smoking libertarian. In his recent book What the Dormouse Said, veteran New York Times journalist John Markoff reports that some of the Valley's original innovations - what if everyone had a computer! And we were all hooked together! - were thought up by inventors who were high at the time. Markoff says Steve Jobs once told him that "taking LSD was one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life." Separately, Jobs once suggested Bill Gates should've tried the stuff. Gates, in a Playboy interview, tacitly acknowledged that he had. At the dawn of the Internet boom, Wired magazine's day-glo digital revolution pamphlet was preceeded by a similarly shiny mag called Mondo 2000, which mixed the same personal technology and global networking themes with creative chemical use. What about today? "Some people experiment with interesting drugs, most people don't, and there's not that much peer pressure any more either way," former Mondo editor RU Sirius told SVUG. "Most people don't fuss about it and it doesn't tend to become as big a part of people's identities as it was for those of us who were young in the 60s and 70s." These "interesting drugs" include:
- Marijuana, great for focusing on a knotty logic problem - or a nap.
- Ecstasy or MDMA, which blocks anxieties and lets users be candid about their feelings.
- LSD and other psychedelics, which bring on hallucinations.
- Nitrous oxide, or "laughing gas," which wears off in time to answer the phone.
- NEVER talk about anyone's actual drug use unless they, and the drugs, are in the room at the time. What happens at Burning Man stays at Burning Man.
- NEVER presume you can tell if anyone uses or doesn't. Your tied-dyed sysadmin who cranks up Pink Floyd may be a Mormon. A wrong guess either way can be a career-limiting move.
- When in doubt, always give the impression that you're clean, at least these days, but you're open-minded to the idea that others who do drugs are alright and may actually have a creative leg up on you.