Cyberselfish: a critical romp through the terribly libertarian culture of high-tech by Paulina Borsook (Public Affairs, 2000).

One day our Internet access was down for 3 hours in the library where I work, and I found this 12-year old book on a shelf and starting reading it. Paulina Borsook is a former writer for Wired, and the premise of “Cyberselfish” is that the computer industry (particularly in northern California) is dominated by a a libertarian worldview. She calls these anti-government, free-market enthusiasts “techno-libertarians”, whose individualist ethos doesn’t leave any room for government help or private charity. I’m not sure Borsook completely explains why so many high-tech engineers and executives are libertarian, but she does reveal some key insights. For example, she seems to feel that their hatred of government stems from their subconscious (though not necessarily correct) belief that the government is populated by the popular kids that beat them up for being nerds.  They also willfully ignore any factors outside of themselves that may have contributed to their success (such as government-provided infrastructure or being in the right place at the right time).  Having met a lot of folks like this in the engineering field, I think Borsook is right on the money.

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Filed under Engineering, Social Science

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