Artifacts: An Archaeologist's Year in Silicon Valley
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 She explores the sense that whatever one has is instantly superseded by the next new thing—and the effect this has on economic and social values.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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