Artifacts: An Archaeologist's Year in Silicon Valley

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MIT Press, 2002 - Computers - 244 pages

An archaeologist explores the material culture of Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley, a small place with few identifiable geologic or geographic features, has achieved a mythical reputation in a very short time. The modern material culture of the Valley may be driven by technology, but it also encompasses architecture, transportation, food, clothing, entertainment, intercultural exchanges, and rituals.

Combining a reporter's instinct for a good interview with traditional archaeological training, Christine Finn brings the perspectives of the past and the future to the story of Silicon Valley's present material culture. She traveled the area in 2000, a period when people's fortunes could change overnight. She describes a computer's rapid trajectory from useful tool to machine to be junked to collector's item. She explores the sense that whatever one has is instantly superseded by the next new thing -- and the effect this has on economic and social values. She tells stories from a place where fruit-pickers now recycle silicon chips and where more money can be made babysitting for post-IPO couples than working in a factory. The ways that people are working and adapting, are becoming wealthy or barely getting by, are visible in the cultural landscape of the fifteen cities that make up the area called "Silicon Valley."

 

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ARTIFACTS: An Archaeologist's Year in Silicon Valley

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A year spent in Silicon Valley and environs, trying to understand what sorts of clues it will leave for archaeologists of the future.No one would argue that anything in California is permanent, but ... Read full review

Contents

Preface
viii
Acknowledgments
xv
Photo Essay
xxvii
The Way to San Jose
2
The Long Then
15
The Other eword
19
The Fifteen Cities
23
I Remember the Orchards
32
The Early Technology Trail
130
Computer Fieldwork
139
Profile of a Collector
156
Recycling Memory
161
Ghosts in the Machine
171
The Newest New Thing
174
Words without Manuals
180
Finding Meaning
188

How Arty Is My Valley?
39
Signs and Symbols
49
SiVaThe Concept
57
The Demolition Derby
64
Crossing Cultures
80
Better to Fail Hopefully
88
Social Strife
93
Ways of Being
100
Trains and Planes and SUVs
108
Dancingladiescom
116
Foreign Connections
194
Is This It?
204
An Archeological Text
208
Logging Off
211
Epilogue
214
Selected Reading
217
Photo Credits
224
Index
231
Afterword
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

Christine A. Finn is a journalist and a Research Associate in the Institute of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, UK.

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