Behind the Silicon Curtain
Hayes, DennisPublisher: Black Rose Books, Montreal, Canada
Year Published: 1990
Pages: 215pp Price: $16.95 ISBN: ISBN 0-921689-62-4
Resource Type: Book
Cx Number: CX4272
Abstract: This book dispels the popular illusion of the Silicon Valley as a land of prosperity, and exposes a nightmarish reality. Hayes argues that ambition and the pursuit of wealth have stripped the valley's inhabitants of normal, well-adjusted lives. Selfish corporate policies, hazardous working conditions, two-hour commutes, a frantic job turnover rate, and a polluted environment (among other problems) have reaped desperation, alienation, and compulsive and obsessive habits: "They turn their neuroses into product and sublimate their desire for love and community with hackers' highs."
Hayes backs up his speculation with some simple facts. Consider the figures presented to the reader in the introduction: the valley boasts the highest divorce rate in the country, three quarters of the working population are victims of substance abuse, and over half are in therapy.
One of the more disturbing chapters describes the working conditions in a "clean room," where the safety of dust-sensitive computer components is placed above that of the workers. Workers are routinely exposed to some of "the most toxic substances in the biosphere" -- gases prized by the industry because they impart electrical properties to microchips. Yet the "bunny suits" the workers wear "provide no protection from the chemicals; rather they protect the clean room from us -- the invisible particles our bodies throw off with every slight movement."