on Thu, 10 Jul 1997 21:48:07 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> A work on monopoly and its antidote

==> The public library system here in Milwaukee holds 14 copies of
    "The first $20 million is always the hardest: a Silicon Valley          
    novel."  This level of representation is almost unheard of
    for a new author working with a less than universal theme,
    and redeems the unfortunate title, which misleads about the 
    book's focus and literary flavor.  Though author Po Bronson
    is associated with Wired magazine, this work does not reflect
    the tendentious theorizing and messianic hype that sometimes
    make Wired an exhausting and dubious reading experience.
    Here's Bronson in his own epilogue, which tells as much as
    any browser needs to know for an informed choice.
                                                  Occupied America

                         Author's Note

When I told people in Silicon Valley I was writing a novel about
their industry, so many of them asked me, "Is it about Bill Gates?"
that for a while I considered titling this novel "Not Gates."
  I guess if you were going to let some air out of the business, 
he would be the biggest doughboy. A lot of people wanted me to 
bring him down, but I was more interested in writing about today's 
entrepreneurs than today's moguls.
   There is an important double entendre to "Not Gates," though.
The basis of the computer is the silicon transistor, three layers 
of silicon that can hold a small electrical charge. Transistors are 
connected into three types of simple logic gates: the AND gate, 
the OR gate, and the NOT gate. The function of a NOT gate is to 
turn a 1 into a 0. When electrical power comes into a NOT gate, 
the charge is canceled.
   While investigating the power dynamics of Silicon Valley on 
assignment for Wired magazine, I kept hearing stories that repre-
sented, in effect, NOT gates: entrepreneurs who had been impeded,
cheated, or canceled by the gatekeepers of power. Unfortunately,
their experiences were also NOT stories, certainly not magazine 
stories, which are more about the powerful than the powerless,
more about those companies who went public than all those who
went belly-up. So in order to expose the NOT gates, I turned to
   Maybe this book is about Bill Gates implicitly. By having    
masterminded a near monopoly on desktop computer operating systems,
he is the ultimate gatekeeper of power in Silicon Valley. More than
any other person, he decides which gates are AND, which are OR, and 
which are NOT. What was going on in Silicon Valley in 1995 was that
thousands of enterprising minds were busily negotiating his gates,
attempting to pass through. By 1996, though, things were different. 
Quite suddenly, so many of those enterprising minds were attempting 
to bypass Gates's gates entirely, inventing a new paradigm of 
technology that ignored operating systems. If they couldn't go through, 
they would go around. It was an inspiring surge of can-do ingenuity.
  As of this writing, those efforts may or may not succeed. This book
is for all those who are making the attempt and to all those who
remind us that the human creative spirit is irrepressible.

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