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A journey into the Cyberselfish world

Cyberselfish: A Critical Romp Through
the Terribly Libertarian Culture of High Tech
Paulina Borsook
Public Affairs
Pages: 265 Price: $16.80

Are nerds playing into the hands of the corporate elite? Commentator Paulina Borsook examines the politically and philosophically libertarian world of high-tech culture in Cyberselfish and finds it wanting a soul. In Cyberselfish, Borsook rants about high tech culture, profiling the worlds of ravers, gilders, cypherpunks, anarchocapitalists, and other Silicon Valley life forms. She explores the theory and practice of what she dubs `technolibertarianism' in all its manifestations.

Cyberselfish is sure to raise the hackles of high techies. Formerly a writer for Wired, Borsook made a career out of alienating the technology priests and worshippers just enough to keep them reading. Now she is free to go whole hog and say exactly what she thinks. Her leftist-liberal slant helps her see the `me me me' attitudes behind the anti-government, pro-freedom rhetoric spouted reflexively by so many programmers in Silicon Valley and its virtual suburbs.

Unfortunately, that same slant keeps her from respecting that many techies hold these beliefs following years of struggle and thought -- and prevents her from understanding that many libertarians are as sympathetic with liberals as with conservatives. Still, her insights far outweigh her biases, and Cyberselfish is a fascinating take on the Weltanschauung of mid-90s capitalists. It seems unlikely that Borsook's dark visions of a heartlessly anarchic free market, populated by self-indulgent code millionaires presiding over the long- suffering masses, will materialize on schedule -- but her predictions do make for thought-provoking reading while we wait to find out.

paulina b.

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