Paulina Borsook should be considered California’s first generation net critics, writing a decade before Carr, Lanier, Keen, Turkle and Morozov took the center stage and mainstreamed the genre. Much like the scattered initiatives and individuals such as Bad Subjects, Steve Cisler, David Hudson and Phil Agre (just to list a few random names), Paulina Borsook was one of the first to criticize the self-centred libertarian tendencies in the computer industry. Different from UK critics Barbrook and Cameron (who published their Californian Ideology in 1995), Borsook was an insider, for instance closely connected to Louis Rosetto and the first generation of Wired magazine contributors. In 2001 I did an interview with her to promote her book Cyberselfish, A Critical Romp Through the Terribly Libertarian World of High-Tech. The interview was included in my MIT Press interview collection Uncanny Networks. I was also able to invite her to speak in Europe at the Dark Markets event in Vienna, in September 2002.
Even though Pauline wasn’t part of the nettime community at the time, I saw her unique view from inside Silicon Valley as a part of the same movement expressing socio-political and artistic discontent where the internet industry was heading. In a strange way Cyberselfish even came too late: the dotcom bubble had already crashed a few months earlier, and the book was launched mid 2000, around the dubious election campaign of G.W. Bush, a year before 9/11. Consequently, Cyberselfish disappeared into a black hole. 15 years later, Paulina approached INC with the request to publish two new texts: an auto-biographic note and an update of Cyberselfish, a 2015 afterword, if you like. We were honoured she asked us. Enjoy!