Microserfs was my favourite book of the late 90s and possibly in the top ten all time, but I’ve always been reluctant to go back a re-read again for fear that it wouldn’t stand up (unlike other Douglas Coupland books which I have read again). Well now I don’t have to as Alex Pappademas has nailed a look back at Microserfs mixed with review of Silicon Valley and Halt and Catch Fire (both of which I’m mid-season 1 with) – it’s like he wrote this exactly for me.
One reason why Microserfs is a strange read that feels epochs and not just decades old today is that its vision of Gates has been superseded in the culture at least twice…..Rather than an on-the-ground account of the first tech boom, then, Microserfs is an inadvertent time capsule of the moment just before the explosive growth of the consumer-facing Internet transformed society’s relationship to technology.
Ironically at the time I was working in something more like a McJob than “lost in a large corporation” job at fast growing company like Microsoft (quite apart from living in the West Midlands not Seattle / Silicon Valley). But despite the massive disparity in situations I still felt some kinship with the characters and their struggle to find themselves and meaningful work.