Start-up Costs: ‘Silicon Valley,’ ‘Halt and Catch Fire,’ and How Microserfdom Ate the World
Douglas Coupland’s novel Microserfs is about the spiritual yearnings and time-frittering activities of youngish coders immersed in the drudgery of the software-development process, and how those activities become an expression of those yearnings. It was published 20 years ago this month, which as far as I’m aware makes it the earliest significant stab by a fiction writer at the Great North American Tech-Company/Start-up Novel. It predates Po Bronson’s The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest, Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge, Dave Eggers’s The Circle, numerous other neuroman-à-clefs, score-settling pseudomemoirs and murder-dot-com whodunits,1 as well as tech-sector TV shows like Silicon Valley and Halt and Catch Fire, serials that pick up where the novels leave off.[more inside]
She's been called "the greatest posthumous success story in music history." But when she died of melanoma at age 33, few people outside of the Washington DC-area had heard of Eva Marie Cassidy. [more inside]
The Terrorism commercial from Redmond. "I help make the internet vulnerable to terrorists." (quicktime parody)
Bill & Melinda Gates' $24 Billion Charity "The Gates Foundation often makes grants only on condition that governments or other nonprofits match them, and requires that recipients meet regular goals for performance—or risk losing their funding. (That hardball approach has met with criticism from some members of the philanthropic community, who argue that holding people to ambitious standards may make sense in Redmond but not in places where millions can’t read.) And experts have calculated that improvements in health care themselves have a huge ripple effect in the poorest countries: if parents believe their children will live longer, they save more and reproduce less. That will help create capital for investment, which will spur more development and so on, in a "positive feedback loop," as the techies like to say in Redmond."