Silicon Valley Design 2:

Beatniks Write Like Crazy



Do you want to write English that astounds your readers? Do you need to make a lot of interesting talk, either for your professional work, or just for your besties? Okay then, you'll need to start by thinking “out of the box”, as did, famously, Steve Jobs. Like many of his time and place, Jobs grew up under the influence of certain odd members of the older generation in San Francisco. They were called Beatniks. Beatniks really did “think different” – long before Jobs coined the phrase. Each had "existential" problems: unique, extreme, bizarre. But, to create solutions, they all had a similar approach – it was to talk and to write – a lot. This class looks at who they were and how they lived. Most importantly, it explores how Beatniks thought different, and wrote like crazy.


  • Creative professionals wishing to speak and/or write – a lot – in English
  • Entrepreneurs interested in design thinking and innovation
  • Anyone wishing to explore the roots of today's San Francisco/Silicon Valley cultures
  • Teachers in Project-based Learning (PBL) or Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math (STEAM)
  • Fans of Steve Jobs wishing for a deep dive into one aspect of his many-sided genius


12 hrs

Class Size

Participant Minimum = 6; Maximum = 18


    • Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different (high-quality, commercial ebook, here ----> )
    • Workbook (c. 20 pages - provided in course)


  • Heuristics for overcoming writer's block, fear of speaking, and "feeling that everything is dead"
  • Roll call of modern writers inspired by the Beatniks, plus examples of their work


By the end of the course, participants are to know how to:

  • Write a lot – and quickly – on what they care about most
  • Appreciate Beatnik problems, worldviews, and lifestyles
  • Analyze their most controversial and impactful writings
  • Explore their creative inspirations and writing methods
  • Trace their impact on Jobs and Silicon Valley design


Participants study Steve Jobs and six San Fransisco Beatniks, who were all thinking different when and where Jobs was born. One such is Lawrence Ferlinghetti, founder of the City Lights bookstore, where Beatnik books were first sold (and still are). Participants pay special attention to how Beatniks created solutions to the existential problems of their times. Participants use lessons learned to write – like crazy – about their own lives and passions.


1 Rexroth and His American Loves and Hates

  • The Social Lie
  • The Perfect Moment - in California and old Japan
  • Non-stop Composition

2 Ginsberg Howls

  • Child Sacrifice
  • Blake, Buddha, and NC: "Secret Hero of these Poems"
  • Nightmare Brainstorm Vision

3 Jack Kerouac On the Road

  • "my feeling that everything was dead"
  • The Rush of Narrative
  • Spontaneous Prose

4 Al Collins: Jazzbeau

  • SF DJ
  • Harrison, the long-tailed purple Tasmanian owl
  • Jive Talk

5 Ferlinghetti's "Dog", Books, and City Lights

  • Nagasaki
  • Portrait of the Artist as an Old Red
  • Humble Inquiry

6 Roy Kepler and His Bookstore

  • Paperback Bohemia
  • Non-stop Protest
  • Beatnik Roots of Silicon Valley

Continued Learning Plan

  • People Who "Write Like Crazy" Today
  • Becoming One of Them