[Reading] ➶ Microserfs Author Douglas Coupland – Saudionline.co.uk

Microserfs chapter 1 Microserfs, meaning Microserfs, genre Microserfs, book cover Microserfs, flies Microserfs, Microserfs c9725fe296d81 Narrated In The Form Of A Powerbook Entry By Dan Underwood, A Computer Programmer For Microsoft, This State Of The Art Novel About Life In The S Follows The Adventures Of Six Code Crunching Computer Whizzes Known As Microserfs, They Spend Upward Of Hours A Day Coding Writing Software As They Eat Flat Foods Such As Kraft Singles, Which Can Be Passed Underneath Closed Doors And Fearfully Scan The Company Email To See What The Great Bill Might Be Thinking And Whether He Is Going To Flame One Of Them Seizing The Chance To Be Innovators Instead Of Cogs In The Microsoft Machine, This Intrepid Bunch Strike Out On Their Own To Form A High Tech Start Up Company Named Oop In Silicon Valley Living Together In A Sort Of Digital Flophouse Our House Of Wayward Mobility They Desperately Try To Cultivate Well Rounded Lives And Find Love Amid The Dislocated, Subhuman Whir And Buzz Of Their Computer Driven WorldFunny, Illuminating And Ultimately Touching, Microserfs Is The Story Of One Generation S Very Strange And Claustrophobic Coming Of Age


10 thoughts on “Microserfs

  1. says:

    I just chose this as my favorite book in the 30 Days Book Challenge on Facebook, so I might as well review it, even though favorite book is a nebulous distinction at best and what s your favorite book is a stupid fucking question and I am afraid this might be a sentimental favorite than anything else.So yeah, I read this when I was 14 or 15 I bought it because it had a neat mirror cover with a Lego man I didn t know Douglas Coupland was the voice of a generation, and anyway, it wasn t even MY generation I was a dorky high school kid, but not dorky in any way much connected to computer programming, so there was no reason for me fall for a book about a bunch of cynical Microsoft employees living in pre tech boom Silicon Valley.But I loved it I read and re read it through high school and college It is a super dated 90s time capsule now, but it felt entirely new and fresh to me back then, and in many ways, it predicted how technology and the internet would explode all over our lives by the end of that decade It s also basically like reading someone s LiveJournal or blog the book takes the form of a digital journal kept by the narrator which wasn t something you could just do back then It isn t just the diary entries that tell the story, it s the everything else run downs of dream Jeopardy categories for all of the characters, musings on pop culture minutia like the sociological messages communicated by various cereal mascots Cap n Crunch Reasons this cereal is decadent a Colonialist exploiter pursues naive Crunchberry cultures to plunder b Drunkenness, torture and debauchery implicit in long ocean cruises Lots of lists Lots of navel gazing.It was what I imagined being an adult would be like working at a job you felt ambivalent about with a bunch of people who became your closest friends, sharing inside jokes and slowly gathering the wisdom that comes with age I was too introverted in college and made the mistake of living alone, and I would read this and yearn for that kind of connection and camaraderie Sappy, I know.I haven t read it since at least 2005, right after I picked up a paperback to replace the hardcover copy that I had read into tatters the only book I have ever done that for I have fond memories of the characters, I remember the whole plot, I still reference sections randomly most often this part about how different parts of your body store emotional pain I kind of never want to read it again I might hate it I certainly haven t read a Coupland book since that was a quarter as endearing and I read a lot of them before I realized I was chasing the dragon It is self conscious and twee and post modern and has a bunch of different fonts and, like, entire pages filled with a single word or random nonsense or ones and zeroes or no vowels, followed by all vowels It is big and sloppy and emotional and I don t know if I am still big and sloppy and emotional enough to love it liked I used to.Sure, favorite book Why not Facebook 30 Day Book Challenge Day 1 Favorite book.


  2. says:

    Edited to include flat foods at the request of an obsessive nerdy friend.Highly amusing little book of coders all aged 32, mentally if not in years, being obsessed with programming and living their messy student type lives shaped by this consuming passion.The idea of flat foods that can be slipped under a door for their Asperger s type friend who cannot leave his room until all the code is written is funny Kraft cheese slicesFruit leatherMelted icecream does this count Melba toastSaltinesCucumber slicesPastrami slicesPizza trianglesPumpernickel breadOk bored now I m sure there are a lot that would be quite sustaining for any obsessive AS coder


  3. says:

    Reasons why I love both this book and Douglas Coupland 1 I sandpapered the roof of my mouth with three bowls of Cap n Crunch had raw gobbets of mouth beef dangling onto my tongue all day Who hasn t had that happen to them And yet, nobody could have said it awesomer 2 I learned 1410 C the melting point of silicon.3 This book is totally the original Big Bang Theory.4 Dated references to things like Doom and Myst.5 I enjoy reading nerdy lists of things, like which school is the nerdiest answer view spoiler Caltech hide spoiler


  4. says:

    Fiction A little slice of the mid nineties, Microsoft, and Silicon Valley This was was my first Coupland book and it wasn t what I was expecting Apparently I was prepared for shallow postmodernism or something smugly impressed by its own cynicism I don t know where I got that idea, but this is an optimistic book, full of human moments, love and friendship, and the things that drive us to succeed I was surprised at how sweet it could be at times.It s also got plenty of computer talk programming, Microsoft vs Apple, the Cult of Bill Also LEGO It did get a bit showy at times I didn t care enough to decipher the two pages of binary, or pick through the page without vowels, but the book is framed as a series of journal entries, and it works on that kind of self indulgent level The sometimes short, choppy entries reminded me a lot of Kurt Vonnegut s writing style Coupland s narrator even has the same habit of ending sections with a single exclamation.Microsoft Five stars for making me feel like I was back in 1993, and for not turning this group of geeks into a joke This is, as corny as it sounds, a story with heart, as well as hardware.


  5. says:

    I was reading Microserfs, a novel about coders in the 1990 s, when I suddenly had a great idea What if I used technology to write down my thoughts and totally zany random observations while I was reading the book Then I could post my e thoughts onto a Goodreads review board and get all of the likes and 1 s This struck me as very one point oh, so here it is Random thought Replace IBM with Microsoft, Microsoft with Apple, and Bill for Steve and you ve got Microserfs for the 2000s If Microserfs was a Jeopardy board the categories would be Pop culture references from the 90 s Technology firms in the 90 s Animals vs Human Beings What s the difference Annoying Formatting that tries to be clever THE FUTURE Play Doh and Legos The word post modern Mind Body DualismDouglas Coupland probably did some research but it s clear he s not much of a nerd I am not a coder, but even I know that if a product is not ready seven days before it ships, our hero probably would not be wandering around talking to people or preparing to take vacation time He would be sitting in his cubicle for 14 hour shifts, trying desperately to make the deadline Realism This is a random list of words that makes up my computer s subconscious Pretend they re all formatted funny for no reason Manifesto Novices Chase Handyside v United Kingdom Trimix Randall Dougherty The Basel ConventionHere s a passage that makes no sense Abe is against the pure gung ho ishness of pure research He says that Interval a technology firm reminds him of an intellectual Watership Down I read that book cover to cover and I still have no idea what this reference means As I was coding on my Pentium 286, totally e flaming all my net superhighway buddies, I realized that every one of the characters in this novel were getting significant others and getting in shape they were getting a life Dan was getting a life Todd was getting a life Susan was getting a life Even Abe was getting a life I didn t care about any of them It was just like an episode of Melrose Place But then this startlingly banal observation was suddenly interrupted by an even banal instant mail I got from my web e mail servers What makes life worth living I was asked Only one answer Exclamation points at the end of paragraphs, of course Here is a list of all the italicized words on one, just one, page of this book Re member this counts as half, because for some reason the middle is italicized and the ends are not reels just he s his dating not truly me harderI talked with Doug on the phone today He said This format is a great way to disguise the fact that nothing interesting is happening in this book I agreed He said In the future, we need to be one point oh The future is like play doh and our consciousness will be transferred into machines I like buying stuff from Japan I sent him a wicked flame saying people don t ever talk like this, and even if they did I would not want to hear them I said to him that it kind of reminded me of Don Delillo People were just standing around spouting philosophy one liners divorced of any context or meaning at each other I told him I guess sometimes you get good stuff but most of the time it s a bunch of references and gibberish about machines, bodies, getting a life, and postmodernism He broke down crying Shiatsu massages


  6. says:

    This book is one of my all time favorites, a bildungsroman of the techie world set between its two 1990s axes Microsoft and Silicon Valley My friends hear me make quips from this book far too often, perhaps my favorite being Microsoft hired 3000 people last year and you know not all of them were gems The quick summary is boy goes to work for Microsoft, boy leaves Microsoft for startup in Silicon Valley, and lives and learns as he and his friends his coworkers struggle to ship product But it s not about the technology, and it s not about the business.The technical aspects of the plot such as it is were laughable then and even ridiculous now, but the dreams and aspirations and the surreality of life in both places and ages, as the characters grope through their 20 s and growing up come through clearly The book is an odd mixture of straightforward events, weird vignettes, and stream of consciousness observation of the totems and symbols of this weird, weird world, and somehow it works.I can t tell you if this is really a good book, though, because I spent time at Microsoft in the early 1990 s and I was a 20 something then and I moved to Silicon Valley in the late 1990 s and this book just got it it understood what it meant to be in this weird culture and this weird place and this weird age where anything could happen if you just worked hard enough and you let your health go to hell and you got to be in on one point oh 1.0 It might be less a novel of growth for our times than a historical artifact, capturing that experience that was the 90s, or it might just be the novel that somehow captured my life.All I know is that I keep reading it again and again and I still think it s good.


  7. says:

    Although this book is of its time, there is a high nostalgia factor here, at least for me, especially as I was nearly the same age as the author when he was writing in 1995 The story of several software developers in the middle 90s who form a kind of surrogate family and look for meaning in their lives is far from the experiences with which I was familiar, but the milieu is the same And by that I mean the culture of the time rather than the place What makes this different from, say, a film like Reality Bites 1994 is the ever present questioning among these young code writers of the changing relationship between humanity and technology In that regard, and in his faithfulness to the reality of the period, Douglas Coupland, in a hundred years, may look like Emile Zola does to us now This is a very optimistic book, which also seems looking back on it to fit with the time It isn t as if there weren t plenty of scary things still in existence during the period of 1993 2001, but in general there was a different feel to life than there is today Or, again, so it seems to me But I m not in my twenties any either things would probably look different to me now if I was 25 Anywayvery enjoyable the short snippet paragraph style may not be to everyone s taste, but it makes for a deceptively breezy read If young adults had trouble deciding what their life meant in 1995, I can only imagine the trouble they re having nowadays Whippersnappers.


  8. says:

    Douglas Coupland s Microserfs reads like a time capsule crossed with a nerds only Breakfast Club Focused on the California geek population who powered the late eighties early nineties technology boom, the novel focuses so much on time and place that it could arguably be classified as historical The CD ROM and early internet references seem, like an AOL disc or heavy monitor, both quaint and annoying Coupland transcends the period piece nature of Microserfs about 60% of the time, especially when he focuses less on era only details and on the way people interact with technology in concert with the way they interact with other human beings.Dan, the narrator, works at Microsoft with a stock ragtag set of programmers that, if the book were filmed, would consist of actors you had seen before but you weren t sure where When the smartest of the group hits on the idea of creating a CD ROM with on screen Lego like capabilities the group collectively leave the womb of Gates company and leap into the venture capital funded 1.0 world of internet, um, I m sorry, CD ROM start ups Coupland s staccato delivery, propelled by short, blogesque paragraphs, works well within the frenetic nature and outsider quality Dan and his colleagues embody The characters are significantly meta they know they re geeks, they re unsure of what they want, and they talk a lot about the pros and cons of nerd dom They bond over Star Trek references and analyze the fact they all buy their clothes at The Gap The creative and financial risks and rewards of the classic one big idea that could make us all rich leads the friends, especially Dan to address their strengths, shortcomings, and whatever it was that carried them, for better or for worse, to programming.Coupland has mined this territory before He s comfortable as in The Gum Thief framing anonymous corporate settings as canvases that, in their bland structure, both impede identity development and provide the opportunity for one to step back and respond to the lack of stimuli Dan s hobbledehoy disposition is laced with strength and insecurity He stitches his love of computers with the acquisition of his first real girlfriend and come to terms with the childhood death of an older brother Does that make for an exciting book No But Microserfs contains some compassionate passages, especially when the nerds speak honestly, Breakfast Club style, both through email which was probably still novel then and face to face, or when Dan s mother uses technology don t want to spoil it to communicate from a far away place.I don t love Coupland but I count on him for breezy, thoughtful novels when I m in the mood for something between light and heavy Microserfs lives up to that expectation but doesn t attempt to rise beyond the characters pursuit of quiet self acceptance in the anonymous Silicon Valley As I was reading I thought of getting lost, near Seattle, in what seemed like an endless landscape of strip malls and Olive Gardens The sterile, clinical environment does not preclude a desire for identity Dan and his colleagues would understand that desire as they ventured from their innominate apartments into the suburban night, probably stopping at a 7 11, grabbing something to eat, and talking about where to go next.


  9. says:

    When I was in high school, I read Generation X and Life After God and was thrilled by these tales of wry, vibrant, lost characters who fought for real meaning when their culture caused them to shrug at tragedy and love and weep over reruns and advertising campaigns I was a pretty lonely teenager, obviously When Microserfs came out, I remember picking it up at the bookstore a few times maybe this was 95 or 96 and thinking, Oh, it s this story about the information superhighway with all these inventive gimmicks like two pages of binary code and characters who live for email and chat rooms and Who Gives a Fuck At the time, my family didn t have a computer, I didn t have an email account, and it seemed like Coupland had fallen face first into an orgy of trend humping It seemed like these characters were actually embracing commodification, their own digitization, their own reduction to binary code Reading it now as less of a Luddite admittedly, with a job creating websites , it seems not only prescient one of the characters notes he receives 60 emails a day, they drink Starbucks, et al al al , but also prophetic it doesn t just know the technological future, it speaks on behalf of us in the face of the technological future The book is about characters struggling with their own identity in face of the inevitable digital deluge In some ways, they detest their own lego ization, they fear the duality that seems to divide their minds and their bodies, they struggle with what a prism identity is becoming, and fight to assert their true selves in tandem with technology And, when I read this 370 page book all the way through last night, and I was fascinated not just with looking for dated references to Apple s demise, or to flame emails but for they way the characters constantly struggle not only to make sense of the eternal verities, but also tremble in the face of an overwhelming technological force that they fear will make those verities inherently irrelevant Microserfs is an argument that certain truths are always truths, no matter what trends are being fucked that day It s an outstanding book.


  10. says:

    For Microserfs, I am straddling these two reader type extremes those who know nothing about geektech culture, and those who 100% techie, geeky nerds I am in between I feel this is the right place to be, because the book evoked lots of Yeahit really IS that way, isn t it and Oh those geeks Yet I m not so into the culture that I feel it was misrepresented I can t ever seem to attempt to write an approximation of some sort of objective review lulz so I ll just leave you with my idiosyncratic impressions 1 I felt computer programmers in Silicon Valley in the 90 s were really like how they were portrayed in the novel, and that made me happy and a little bit jealous that I was born in 1988, because the culture was presented so well Almost like an ethnography 2 Character Michael s short monologues were my favorite part, but looking back they were just simple summaries of theories I m reading about all the time I guess I liked ID ing with someone so much My other favorite moments were catching obscure references, though I know I didn t understand about 66 percent of them 3 It may just be that I read this in San Diego, but this is what I would define as my perfect beach book Juuuust the right about of thinking required.I also met a 30ish security guard who had just worked ComicCon, who showed me his 3 foot animatronic Lego robot, pictures of the garage he lives in at his parents , drawings of his comic future videogame storyboard, etc etc etc and I mentioned this book and he FLIPPED OUT I had just started the book, so our conversation was a total emotional and contextual amplifier for my Microserfs experience I d pay for that kind of thing to happen during every book I m reading.


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