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Sam Sifton Wrote a Humor Book: A Field Guide to the Yettie

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Here's something you probably didn't know about New York Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton: he wrote a humor book about dot-commers called A Field Guide to The Yettie. It was published in 2000 as a Talk Miramax/Hyperion paperback original. In case you don't have the four dollars to purchase a copy of your own, here's a handy guide to everything you need to know about Sifton's stab at techie humor.

You know how Sifton sometimes writes at length about the "scene" of a restaurant, where he describes what everyone is wearing, what their jobs are, and maybe where they went to school? This book is basically like that, stretched out to 150 pages.

The people he's lampooning here are "America's young entrepreneurial technocrats," or "yettie" for short. (Sifton probably invented the term, although it didn't really catch on).

In the introduction, he writes:

The first good look I had at a yettie was in a bar on the eastern edge of Silicon Alley in Downtown Manhattan. The realization that I was looking at an entirely new cultural phenomenon, one as mannered and unique as its evolutionary forebears in the world of business culture, came to me slowly, like fog lifting off the San Francisco Bay. But then — contacting host...loading...document complete — there he was! There were a legion of him, and dozens of her. All of them crowding into this bar in Manhattan to coalesce in front of me as this new, new thing: a fellow standing there in full Banana Republican mufti, with his head shaved close, yapping on a silver Nokia cell phone and tapping his skateboard-shoed food against the gray slate floor. It was 10 at night. The average age of the bar's patrons was in the neighborhood of 28. "Stock!" the young man exclaimed into the phone. "I'm so psyched!" After explaining how the yetties came into existence, and how they're actually different from yuppies and gen-Xers, Sifton gets into the real meat of the book: his character portraits of different yetties, with descriptions of their backgrounds, quirks, and sartorial styles. There are 19 profiled in the book, here's a gallery of seven of them:

The book ends with a glossary of yettie terms. Here are some highlights: Big Pharma The really big drug companies, such as Procter & Gamble. A yettie might say, "We're courting Big Pharma on this interactive biotech thing." Burger A start-up company created in the hope that it can be sold — or "flipped" — before its underlying problems are discovered. Sayeth the yettie: "This is a burger company, man. No revenue, but high visibility in the submarket. Oracle's interested."

Digerati A Slickster media term for the digital elite.

Netizen A "citizen" of the Internet, or someone who uses networked resources. And emoticons in his e-mail.

Silicon Valley Food Stamp A $50 bill.

Yesterday In the New Economy, "Now."

Sifton is currently hard at work on his second book. That one's about Thanksgiving.
· All Previous Editions of Overthinking Sam Sifton [~ENY~]

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