Net Slaves: True Tales of Working the Web

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9780071352437: Net Slaves: True Tales of Working the Web

This volume offers eyewitness accounts of how self-destructive the Internet business can be is based upon net slaves.com, which Wired sited as "the only site where the 'web working poor' can air their feelings". This collection of horror stories, both amusing and not so amusing, documents the real-life stories of those who work the Web, in their own words.

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Review:

Authors Bill Lessard and Steve Baldwin neatly summarize the operating principle behind NetSlaves: "People are nuts, no matter what profession they're in, but people forced to work like dogs with the carrot stick of stock options and 'untold' wealth dangling under their noses are especially nuts."

If all you know about the Internet business is what you've read in the financial press, then NetSlaves provides a cold slap of reality. For every headline-making company like Yahoo! or Amazon.com, there are hundreds or perhaps even thousands more like the ones Net vets Lessard and Baldwin have worked for. These are the startups that never finish up, companies that hire hundreds of programmers and Web-site designers and techies of all stripes, then merge or downsize or go out of business before anyone can cash in. The authors take the reader on an anthropological expedition through what they call the New Media Caste System. At the bottom rung are the "garbagemen," the guys who have to get the server up and running when it crashes, who have to rush to help the digital morons who can't figure out how to open their e-mail. At the top, of course, are the "robber barons," the guys who really do get mind-blowing wealth and profiles in Wired magazine. For each level, the authors tell an instructive, cautionary tale of life in the new economy.

Although Lessard and Baldwin clearly set out to create revenge journalism, enjoyed by all those who've lived on pizza and Mountain Dew for months on end only to end up with pink slips, those outside the tech universe should enjoy it, too. Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but it's easy to warm up to NetSlaves. --Lou Schuler

From the Back Cover:

"The ultimate corrective to Internet IPO mania." --Entertainment Weekly. "On NetSlaves you won't read about getting rich. Instead you'll read false promises and broken dreams." --Fast Company. "The ultimate chronicle of Net failure." --WIRED News. Yes, the Internet is "HOT." Just ask the workers who've been burned by it. Behind the industry propaganda and media hype are thousands of individuals trying, against the odds, to make a decent living while they keep everything going. In the dark corners of the Web, they labor: a freelancer owed thousands of dollars by a giant corporation; a tech supporter tethered to his tasks by cell phone and beeper 24 hours a day; a "perma-temp" worker, kept by caste from health benefits and a decent wage even after years of full-time work; an "online editor" whose Max Perkins dreams dissolve in mind-numbing chat room censoring or HTML coding; a content provider, pink-slipped as soon as the Web-based start-up she works for starts making a profit. These, then, are the NetSlaves, and their stories are what has been missing from all the gleeful talk of the future of the Web.Based on interviews with workers from across the spectrum of Internet-related jobs, the book offers humorous and not-so-humorous eyewitness accounts of the grueling hours, poor management, dehumanizing pressures and paranoia-inducing stresses faced by the women and men on the e-business frontier. To read it is to enter a shadowy world of Fry Cooks, CyberCops, porno spammers, doomsayers, golddiggers, code-packers and moles. This world isn't the creation of some cyberpunk novel: It's real. These "horror stories" are all true. And this is also true: You don't really know the net until you've met the NetSlaves.

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