Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology - Ellen Ullman

Staff Pick

A self-taught computer programmer and one of the few women in the industry, Ellen Ullman wrote code from the 1970s to the 1990s. Then, to redeem the human from the machine, she wrote a pair of brilliant novels and the sharply observed, engaging, and very smart essays gathered here. Life in Code (MCD, $27) both evaluates the promise and reality of the internet and looks back at important moments —Y2k, the dotcom boom and bust, several generations of hard- and software—that brought us to where we are today. Ullman is a deeply informed, witty, and often passionate writer. Unlike most of her colleagues, she never aspired to change the world with technology, though she believes the web should be more than a platform for shopping, advertising, and surveillance. Also unlike the young white and Asian men who still define “the closed society where code gets written,” Ullman craves human contact. Conversation. Openness. She wants to “stick a needle into the shiny bubble of the technical world’s received wisdom,” and remind it of messy human emotions, bodies, and stories. By putting her insights about technology into the context of difficult bosses, gentrification, marriage, cats, and dinner parties (how would a programmer translate social cues and multiple forks for a robot?), she vividly reminds us that even today, as more and more people adopt the 24/7-online habits of alienated tech geeks, “technology is not the driver of change, what drives technology is human desire.” People are still in charge.

Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology By Ellen Ullman Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374534516
Availability: Backordered
Published: MCD - August 8th, 2017

The Internet of Us - Michael Patrick Lynch

Staff Pick
Philosopher Michael Patrick Lynch approaches the Internet age with a question framed in the traditions of epistemology: how does reliance on the information made available by the Internet alter our ability to understand or have knowledge of a subject?  How is fingertip-accessible information, or Google-knowing, affecting our ability to reason? As he considers how the Internet has altered our relationship to knowledge, he raises concerns about the future of thought that are particularly pressing in an age where networks, smart objects, wearable tech, and the advent of neuromedia increase the presence of the Internet in daily life in irreversible ways.
The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data By Michael P. Lynch Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780871406613
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Liveright - March 21st, 2016

The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data By Michael P. Lynch Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781631492778
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Liveright - May 9th, 2017

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution - Walter Isaacson

Having written thorough lives of individual visionaries including Einstein and Franklin, Walter Isaacson was already at work on the group portrait that would become The Innovators (Simon & Schuster, $35) when Steve Jobs interrupted him to write Jobs’s authorized biography. After completing that bestseller, Isaacson returned to his abandoned manuscript, which is now this polished and masterful narrative of how diverse wizards of technology worked at myriad intersections of art and science to create both computers and the internet. Many will be astonished to learn that the earliest insight into this technology was achieved by Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), daughter of Lord Byron, who is credited with being the first computer programmer and with developing the first algorithm. Lovelace worked with Charles Babbage on his Analytical Engine, a distant prototype of many later devices theorized and assembled by figures including Alan Turing, John von Neumann, Vannevar Bush, Grace Hopper, and many more. Isaacson documents in fascinating detail these hard-working geniuses’ decades of trials and errors.

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution By Walter Isaacson Cover Image
$20.99
ISBN: 9781476708706
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 6th, 2015

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