Life in Code by Ellen Ullman

Life in Code

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 wroteClose to the Machine, the now classic and still defini...

Details Life in Code

TitleLife in Code
Release DateAug 8th, 2017
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Science, Technology, Writing, Essays, Womens

Reviews Life in Code

  • Marks54
    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 environment that still prevails for women in technology careers. In the middle of this, she also talks about artificial intelligence, philosophy, government...
  • David
    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 Francisco, you will recognize some of what the author is writing about. If you are younger, you may benefit from her perspective -- which sounds like I'm say...
  • Jenny GB
    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.
  • Rowena
    ~3.5An insightful, inspiring, warily hopeful and deftly written memoir. Parts I and II were most engaging, synthesizing technical details and personal moments into thoughtful conclusions on the clean edge of a penetrating style. The second half was not as well connected to Ullman's actual experiences with technology, sometimes being only tangentially related, and felt a bit more like proselytizing (though this may be appropriate given the larger ...
  • Marty Suter
    Interesting perspective from Ullman on the last 25+ years in technology development, programming, and everything Internet but have to admit I was a little disappointed that her essays veered off into meandering personal offerings, especially the long description of her relationship with her cat. I respect her views on the seedy underbelly of programming and where the Internet/tech startups have taken us--the divide of haves and have nots continue...
  • Kate
    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 about being a female programmer in a male dominated field in the 1970’s-90’s. Sadly much of what she experienced is probably still true today. If you...
  • Sweta Agrawal
    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 learn more. Beautifully written with catchy phrases (i.e. "thought fart" in reference to Donald's tweets). Really inspirational and thought-provoking. First...
  • Frank
    Most of the way through I wanted to give this three stars. It was an interesting read, but nothing very different from other stories of life in tech in the 90s. But then the last two chapters, mostly about the current tech wave, were excellent and tied back to so much from the first few chapters. So four stars it is!
  • Gabby
    An interesting and unique view of the world of programming. Intriguing connections made between the rise of technology and changes in our worldview.
  • Mark
    Interesting view of the last few decades of technology from a perspective that is not frequently heard from. If you are in technology you should read it, men specifically.
  • amy
    "Do they not teach labor history in schools anymore?" Nope.
  • Tel Monks
    The first few chapters were excellent for anyone who has ever programmed a computer, or wishes to know something about the people who do. Later chapters disappointed me, but still a very good read.
  • Darlene
    I enjoyed Life in Code. As a former computer programmer (1965-2002) I enjoyed the essay about the error in the Cobol program. I also enjoyed reading about what's new in the profession today. The young, white and Asian male dominance is troubling. The 70-80 hour work week might be discouraging women from entering the profession as software engineers.