Read Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology Online Free - The never-more-necessary return of one of our most vital and eloquent voices on technology and culture, from the author of the seminal Close to the Machine.
When Ellen Ullman moved to San Francisco and became a computer programmer in the late 1970s, she was joining an idealistic, exclusive, and almost exclusively male cadre that had dreams and aspirations to change the world. In 1997, she wrote
Close to the Machine, the now classic and still definitive account of life as a coder at the birth of what would be a sweeping technological, cultural, and financial revolution.
The intervening twenty years has seen, among other things, the rise of the Internet, the ubiquity of once unimaginably powerful computers, and the thorough transformation of our economy and society—as Ullman’s clique of socially awkward West Coast geeks became our new elite, elevated for and insulated by a technical mastery that few could achieve.
In Life in Code, Ullman presents a series of essays that unlock and explain—and don’t necessarily celebrate—how we got to now, as only she can, with a fluency and expertise that’s unusual in someone with her humanistic worldview, and with the sharp insight and brilliant prose that are uniquely her own. Life in Code is an essential text toward our understanding of the last twenty years—and the next twenty.
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October 17, 2017
Ellen Ullman's memoir Close to the Machine is one of the books I remember most vividly from the 1990s. She followed it up with two novels; I admired but didn't love 2003's The Bug, but I thought By Blood, from 2012, was fantastic. When I found out about Life in Code, I was ecstatic, expecting Ull...
August 31, 2017
This is a very thoughtful book of essays by a woman who has long experience as a software engineer while morphing into a career as a novelist and essayist. The book comprises chapters that span Ullman's career from the 1990s up through 2017. She remembers her life in programming and the toxic env...
September 12, 2017
Another must-read, and a pleasure to read, given the quality of her thinking and writing. And I say that despite the fact that it is a collection of pieces from across three decades, only one of which was written in early 2017. If you are in my age group, and particularly if you lived in San Fran...
December 23, 2017
I don’t really give five star reviews and I was hesitant about this one, but this book made me feel things. I especially loved the essay “Dining with Robots” because it painted cooking and programming (art and science?) as two different things, valuable in their own right but certainly not the sa...
November 19, 2017
A rich philosophical discussion of technology. A striking contrast to literature whose philosophical moments rarely seem to reach past adolescence.
Explores questions about the mindset of technology. The genius and self-doubt. Questions about artificial intelligence, intelligence itself, and the...
October 09, 2017
An interesting read. As a female working in technology (although not an engineer myself) I found the first 1/3 to be very interesting and helped explain some phenomena I have observed. 4 our of 5 stars because there was a middle section which talked about AI for what seemed like a really long tim...
September 20, 2017
An interesting collection of essays about programming and technology through the years. I really enjoyed ‘The Rise and First Fall of the Internet’ written in 1998. Ullman's fears about the Internet and its affect on our culture are largely true today. I also enjoyed Ullman's personal stories abou...
August 31, 2017
A great series of essays that look at the evolution of technology from the 90's to now. Ullman gives a very personal look at her experiences and thoughts on the changing state of our world through the eyes of technology.
September 18, 2017
Read via audiobook.
GREAT book. At most, maybe half or so is spent explicitly discussing tech culture and its lack of diversity, etc, but the other half is insightful analysis/commentary about tech and computers and life. A real love of coding and computers that made me want to dive deeper and lea...
September 25, 2017
Ullman is exactly as mad as you think she ought to be about everything.