Ullman is a software engineer who runs a company out of her loft in San Francisco. She reveals the seduction of abstract information, algorithms, and networks, and the constant social and philosophical repercussions that keep her connected to the human race and material world. She finds cyberculture neither the death nor the salvation of civilization, but the vulnerable creation of people who are not so sure where they are going. No index or bibliography. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Ullman�software engineer, businesswoman and rugged individual�wittily spills the beans about the technology on which we all depend. "If people really knew how software got written, I'm not sure if they'd give their money to a bank or get on an airplane ever again." The dirty little secret, says Ullman, is that she and her associates, "barely know what we're doing." Software projects start out crisp and clear, the epitome of rationality, but then real life and real requirements intrude and soon the clean design is covered with jury-rigging. Old software programs ("legacy systems") are particularly treacherous; the longer they've been around, the less any one person understands them. As for the personality factor, programmers are such odd-balls that managing them is like "trying to herd cats." But for the programmers themselves, computing is just plain fun, and working with others on a high-pressure project can be a nearly sexual pleasure. Accordingly, the scenes in this short memoir with the most electricity have to do with last-minute rushes to complete software projects and the tension of midnight debugging sessions fueled by pizza, beer and Chinese food. Tellingly, the passages about Ullman's bisexual personal life aren't always as compelling. Ullman has contributed essays to Resisting the Virtual Life, Wired Women and commentaries to National Public Radio. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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February 28, 2012
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