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F868.S25 E54 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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After Santa Clara county in California was labeled "Silicon Valley" in the 1970s, it attained a mythical quality in the public imagination. Although much of the myth is surely hyperbole, the region has experienced and continues to experience forces that will shape the future elsewhere in the United States and around the world. The paramount producer of the information revolution, Silicon Valley has become the icon for a lifestyle saturated with digital devices.
Whereas most books on the region focus on its entrepreneurial reputation, this book is an anthropological expedition into the everyday lives of people living in and connected to Silicon Valley--software engineers around the water cooler, a mothers' group at lunch, nannies in the park, rush-hour commuters--to get at the emerging texture of life. A specialized high-tech economy has drawn people from many countries, and the things that make Silicon Valley culture distinctive--technological saturation and cultural complexity--also define an emerging global culture, and in that context it operates as a natural experimental laboratory.
Based on ten years of anthropological research, the book is an ethnographic exploration of the impact of these momentous changes on a single region. Within schools, workplaces, and homes identities emerge, erode, transform, and are recreated to coalesce into a larger community of communities, producing many different choices for its inhabitants. These choices determine how technology is used, work is done, and families are made. People juggle these choices, often informed by the same pragmatic, instrumental reasoning that characterizes high-tech workplaces. Saturated by information technology and struggling to manifest civic life from deeply diverse identity communities, the inhabitants of Silicon Valley illustrate in microcosm the social and cultural identities of the future.

Author Notes

J.A. English-Lueck is Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, San Jose State University

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The author, her colleagues, and their students in the anthropology department at San Jose State University have studied Silicon Valley and environs for almost 15 years, posting the preliminary results of their work to a collective WWW site: . This first ethnography to come from their labors is based on an intensive and extensive sample of individuals, institutions, and organizations in the Valley. Amidst excellent descriptive narrative, three themes emerge. First, "Diversity" takes on complex, multidimensional meaning: individual identities are routinely assembled from disparate social elements in complex, sometimes counterintuitive, ways. Second, time is bent, distorted, stretched, and compressed in almost unimaginable ways: day and night take on new meaning--like the former British Empire, the sun never sets on Intel, Motorola, Nokia, IBM, etc. Third, broadband networks and other technologies permeate every aspect of life. In cyberspace, trust is hard to gain and more easily lost; if communication is effective, it must rely on shared meanings and tolerance for differences. If there is a dominant theme, it is how tolerance, trust, and joint understandings are created to make Silicon Valley a workable place. Good ethnographies are hard to find. This is not only a good one, but an excellent and timely one. All levels/collections. C. S. Peebles Indiana University-Bloomington

Table of Contents

Prologuep. 1
Part 1 A Technological Place
1. Culture Version I.X: A Technological Communityp. 7
2. Compressing: Using Digital Devices to Shape Space and Timep. 45
3. Networking: Building Community in Silicon Valleyp. 78
Part 2 Trafficking in Complexity
4. Input/Output: Emerging Global Culturep. 105
5. Executing: Culture at Work and Homep. 134
6. Reformatting: Creating Useful Culturep. 167
References Citedp. 183
Indexp. 197