Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents

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Picador, Feb 28, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 208 pages
2 Reviews

With a New Introduction by Jaron Lanier

A Salon Best Book of the Year

In 1997, the computer was still a relatively new tool---a sleek and unforgiving machine that was beyond the grasp of most users. With intimate and unflinching detail, software engineer Ellen Ullman examines the strange ecstasy of being at the forefront of the predominantly male technological revolution, and the difficulty of translating the inherent messiness of human life into artful and efficient code. Close to the Machine is an elegant and revelatory mediation on the dawn of the digital era.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - kiparsky - LibraryThing

This is not a book about software or engineering or the economics of highly-portable information and fluid capital. This is a good storyteller telling stories which have to do with those things and ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jmiedema - LibraryThing

Computers offer a cool alternate reality. Programming takes one into a transcendental zone like mathematics, where reality is symbolic and gritty human particulars don't matter. Programmers are ... Read full review


0 Space Is Numeric
1 Transactions
2 Sushi
3 Real Estate
4 Software and Suburbia
5 New Old and Middle Age
6 Virtuality
7 Money
8 The Passionate Engineer
9 Driving

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About the author (2012)

Ellen Ullman is an American computer programmer and author. She has written novels as well as articles for various publications, including Harper's Magazine, Wired, The New York Times, and Salon. Her essays and novels analyze the human side of the world of computer programming. Ullman earned a bachelor's degree in English at Cornell University in the early 1970s. She then turned to business programming in the following years. She eventually began writing about her experiences as a programmer in 1995 when she wrote an essay titled "Out of Time: Reflections on the Programming Life." She lives in San Francisco.

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