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Silicon Valley Outsiders

Our focus on C-suite executives and venture capital-funded unicorns distracts from the underclass that keeps the San Francisco Bay Area running.
De-Bug: Voices From the Underside of Silicon Valley. (Photo: Heyday Books)

De-Bug: Voices From the Underside of Silicon Valley. (Photo: Heyday Books)

De-Bug: Voices From the Underside of Silicon Valley
Raj Jayadev and Jean Melesaine, Editors
Heyday Books

No one is starving for news from Silicon Valley. Every day brings a torrent of in-depth articles about technology firms’ latest product rollouts, executive shake-ups, and stock market maneuvers. De-Bug, a quarterly magazine based in San Jose, covers this world from a radically different angle, telling stories of the low-wage, low-prestige workers—cleaners, drivers, waiters, warehouse staff—who keep things going behind the scenes.

This De-Bug anthology, the first ever, consists almost entirely of first-person essays by Valley denizens writing about their jobs. There’s the pool builder dreaming of the day he breaks ground on a pool of his own; the biotech-warehouse worker whose company asks him to sell his blood between shifts; and the drug dealer with Hewlett-Packard engineers as clients. When the dealer ends up addicted himself, he loses his apartment and starts living in a squatter camp beside the freeway. In a particularly memorable passage, he recalls coders from Adobe stopping by the camp for crack fixes.

Some of the contributors—the sign holder, the parking valet—profess to enjoy their jobs. But the overall impression is of a world with all of the tech sphere’s whiplash-inducing “disruption” but no big paydays at the end of the rainbow. It’s a terrible program, one overripe for de-bugging.


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