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Net Slaves 2.0: Tales of Surviving the Great Tech Gold Rush Paperback – March 1, 2003
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
"Feel the love and live the flashbacks." -- Time Out New York
From the Publisher
The dot.com rise and fall has been indelibly linked to images of money and stock value in the national memory. Overlooked in the media frenzy, however, was the most vital element: the human cost. In NetSlaves 2.0, a startling and inspiring sequel to their acclaimed NetSlaves, authors Bill Lessard and Steve Baldwin offer a behind-the-scenes account of what became of American tech industry workers.
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Charles is a young ambitious college student who loves the idea of creating an online zine. Instead of handing out a Xeroxed packet of articles to his 10 closest friends, he knows that the Internet will give him a whole new audience of readers from around the world. His passion even leads to a job at the ultimate destination for tech-nerd-intellectuals, Wired. Unfortunately Charles falls in love with the wrong girl at the same time that the Internet bubble is bursting, so Charles must find his inner resolve in order to survive physically and emotionally.
What may make NetSlaves 2.0 a frustrating read for some is the fact that most of the characters in these stories do not find a happy ending. That may leave readers wondering why the authors have bothered to bring these stories to the page at all. The reason may be that Bill Lessard and Steve Baldwin simply want these stories to be heard. They have also chosen to use a mix of fact and fiction when telling these stories which may add to this frustration. The reader is sometimes left wondering how much of each story is fact or fiction.
NetSlaves 2.0 rings true because it highlights the willful ignorance that many had as they jumped on the Internet bandwagon. One of the least sympathetic characters in the book is Gene. Gene is a 12-year Proctor and Gamble marketing man who is on the brink of a mid-life crisis. Instead of buying a red Porsche and spending his evenings down at the strip club, Gene decides to pin all of his hopes on the Internet. It seems obvious from the start that his dreams of getting rich quick will never come to pass but it's still painful to see him lose his wife, kids, and house. Gene does manage to stumble upon redemption as he comes to accept his fate and bounce back to minor entrepreneurial success.
The most compelling story in the book is the Matrix-esque tale of Vincent who finds himself in possession of something extremely valuable to his employers. The drama unfolds as the company resorts to illegal tactics in order to protect their corporate assets. Vincent is standing on strong legal ground, as he tries to protect what is clearly his intellectual property, but the ultimate challenge will be coming up with the money to fight a company with nearly limitless legal resources.
Netslaves 2.0 is a quick history of how the Internet debacle occurred and the lives that were changed in the process. Bill Lessard and Steve Baldwin chronicle the daily lives of some of the individual net slaves while also looking at a larger world that includes paranoid AOL execs pawing through employee emails in order to silence rumors that could hurt the company's bottom line. It is an enjoyable ride from the height of dot com mania to the crash of economic reality.
After reading Netslaves 2.0, I realized something. I was an idiot. Bill Lessard and Steve Baldwin have removed looked past the facade of of 24 year-old CEOs and free-money stock-options and dreams of reinventing the world and revealed just how miserable life at the average dot-com was. The book is hillariously funny, but its comedy in the Mel Brooks sense: "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall down a manhole and die." The lives and experiences of these dot-com worker-bees while on the surface had me laughing out loud, they also anecdotally reveal the systemic problems of the cheap-money craze between 1998 and 2000.
Lessard and Baldwin continue the pity party. Dotcom workers who hoped to cash in for big bucks were disappointed. Boo Hoo.