Close to the Machine: Technophilia and its discontents

In her memoir Close to the Machine, Ellen Ullman delves into the programming process, from the initial beauty and structure of the code to the chaos that can arise. She highlights how programming becomes all-consuming, with the creation of the system becoming the ultimate goal. Ullman also explores the idea of life as a performance, where one’s actions are dictated not by personal desires but by societal expectations. She criticizes users who believe the internet holds infinite knowledge but struggle to navigate it effectively. Ullman argues that software design is a reflection of ourselves and that embracing the unknown is essential for programmers. Overall, her writing is engaging and relatable, providing insights into computer culture that resonate even decades after the book’s publication.

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