Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology by Ellen Ullman is an excellent nonfiction read. This book will get the brain cells churning as you think about technology and how it has changed you and the world. The author was in San Francisco in the 1970s as a computer programmer. She worked in this predominant boys club and her perspective is interesting. Her viewpoint as an early coder looks at the sweep of technology, cultural, and financial revolution. She writes in very clear concise concepts and terms and is very thoughtful in her assessment.
p.83 At the time, I had my reservations about the web, but not so much about the private, dreamlike state it offered. It seemed like surfing was a sometimes interesting, sometimes trivial waste of time, but in a social sense it seemed harmless. Something changed….Fall of 1998 she saw a huge billboard in San Francisco that said, “now the world does revolve around you.”
p.87 Companies now make you believe that only you can take care of yourself. The lure of personal service is being withdrawn. In the internet age, under the pressure of globalized capitalization and its slimmed down profit margins, only the very wealthy will be served by actual human beings. The rest of us must make do with web pages, and feel happy about it.
p. 243 In regards to programming, one must develop a high tolerance for failure, learn to move forward from discouragement, find a ferocious determination, a near passionate obsession to solve a problem, meanwhile summoning the pleasures of the hunt.
p.303 I wanted to race in and shake young people out of their internet dreams. I wanted them to see the damage the web is doing to our culture, banishing privacy, widening the divide between rich and poor, hollowing out the middle class.
She wants folks to stay vigilant. Be aware of the good and bad uses of the internet. Still depend on people. Try to not let the world revolve around you.
Life in Code will push some buttons if you read it.