The setting of the first part of the novel is Redmond, Washington, a small city mostly consumed by Microsoft. Redmond is set up for the thousands of computer people (or as Coupland would call them, "nerds") who work there.
Most of the first part of the novel takes place on the campus of Microsoft and in the communal house where the central characters reside. Most of their waking hours are spent at the Microsoft campus, often fifteen hours a day. Although he does not make an appearance, "Bill" (assumed to be Bill Gates, though his last name is never mentioned), haunts the background. He is the super-genius who “leads a company like no one else could.” Fear of "Bill" is in every corner. The employees feel he is constantly watching them. The narrator watches the Microsoft stock rise and fall every day, calculating how much "Bill" has either won or lost.
The house this group lives in is described as being poorly furnished, rundown, dirty, and cluttered. Interior decoration sways towards juvenile paraphernalia: blow-up sharks, collections of bottles, and a huge trampoline in the front yard. The natural surroundings are bundles of green nurtured by the Seattle area’s notoriously rainy climate. Tall evergreens, lush lawns, and mold that creeps insidiously up the sides of the houses are the norm.
When the group transfers to California, they set up their workstations inside Dan's parents' house in Palo Alto, because they do not have enough capital to rent an office. Since Dan's father has been recently fired, Dan's parents are glad to put them up in order to earn a little side cash. When Michael’s brainchild, the game “Oop”!, looks like it might be a success, they finally manage to lease an office, which they decorate with Legos. Every nerd, Dan speculates, has played with Legos as a kid.
Defining the parameters of nerdiness is important to Dan. He outlines the society of the computer nerd while in...
(The entire section is 567 words.)