Close cookie details

This site uses cookies. Learn more about cookies.

OverDrive would like to use cookies to store information on your computer to improve your user experience at our Website. One of the cookies we use is critical for certain aspects of the site to operate and has already been set. You may delete and block all cookies from this site, but this could affect certain features or services of the site. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, click here to see our Privacy Policy.

If you do not wish to continue, please click here to exit this site.

Hide notification

  Main Nav
Life in Code
Cover of Life in Code
Life in Code
A Personal History of Technology
Borrow Borrow

The never-more-necessary return of one of our most vital and eloquent voices on technology and culture, the author of the seminal Close to the Machine

The last twenty years have brought us the rise of the internet, the development of artificial intelligence, the ubiquity of once unimaginably powerful computers, and the thorough transformation of our economy and society. Through it all, Ellen Ullman lived and worked inside that rising culture of technology, and in Life in Code she tells the continuing story of the changes it wrought with a unique, expert perspective.

When Ellen Ullman moved to San Francisco in the early 1970s and went on to become a computer programmer, she was joining a small, idealistic, and almost exclusively male cadre that aspired to genuinely change the world. In 1997 Ullman wrote Close to the Machine, the now classic and still definitive account of life as a coder at the birth of what would be a sweeping technological, cultural, and financial revolution.

Twenty years later, the story Ullman recounts is neither one of unbridled triumph nor a nostalgic denial of progress. It is necessarily the story of digital technology's loss of innocence as it entered the cultural mainstream, and it is a personal reckoning with all that has changed, and so much that hasn't. Life in Code is an essential text toward our understanding of the last twenty years—and the next twenty.

The never-more-necessary return of one of our most vital and eloquent voices on technology and culture, the author of the seminal Close to the Machine

The last twenty years have brought us the rise of the internet, the development of artificial intelligence, the ubiquity of once unimaginably powerful computers, and the thorough transformation of our economy and society. Through it all, Ellen Ullman lived and worked inside that rising culture of technology, and in Life in Code she tells the continuing story of the changes it wrought with a unique, expert perspective.

When Ellen Ullman moved to San Francisco in the early 1970s and went on to become a computer programmer, she was joining a small, idealistic, and almost exclusively male cadre that aspired to genuinely change the world. In 1997 Ullman wrote Close to the Machine, the now classic and still definitive account of life as a coder at the birth of what would be a sweeping technological, cultural, and financial revolution.

Twenty years later, the story Ullman recounts is neither one of unbridled triumph nor a nostalgic denial of progress. It is necessarily the story of digital technology's loss of innocence as it entered the cultural mainstream, and it is a personal reckoning with all that has changed, and so much that hasn't. Life in Code is an essential text toward our understanding of the last twenty years—and the next twenty.

Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:

Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • Ellen Ullman is the author of a novel, The Bug, a New York Times Notable Book and runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and the cult classic memoir Close to the Machine, based on her years as a rare female computer programmer in the early years of the personal computer era. She lives in San Francisco.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 15, 2017
    Novelist and former computer programmer Ullman returns to the domain of her seminal memoir, Close to the Machine (1997), an unflinching insider’s account of the digital revolution, with this equally eloquent collection of previously published essays from the past 20 years. Providing much-needed nuance to the binary world of code, the essays gracefully move between intimate anecdotes, frustrated rants about the unconscious bias and hypercompetitiveness that dominate much of venture-capitalist startup culture, philosophical meanderings about artificial intelligence and the nature of human thought, and big-picture analysis about the relationship between technical design and human desire. Not only is Ullman an astute observer of the changing culture but she proves prescient on a diverse range of issues including the siloing effect of the internet, the growing digital divide, and corporate-assisted government surveillance. Neither technophilic nor technophobic, this collection creates a time-lapse view of the rapid development of technology in recent years and provides general readers with much-needed grounding for the sweeping changes of the revolution underway. It’s also simply a pleasure to read.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from June 15, 2017
    A sharply written, politically charged memoir of life in the data trenches by computer pioneer Ullman (By Blood, 2012, etc.)."I once had a job where I didn't talk to anyone for two years," writes the author, who is known in computing circles for many things, not least her work on the graphical forerunner to Windows. As Ullman notes, programmers live in "mind-time" and not the ordinary time-space continuum the rest of us inhabit, and in any event they're poorly socialized; one early boss had intended to hire her simply to inflict a woman on an underling ("evidently, Peterson was some manager he wished ill, and I was the ill"), then was demoted to the underling's position and grudgingly had to supervise her himself. Early on, by her account, Ullman brought ethical considerations to bear on her work, reminding teammates on a project that veered into epidemiology that the best solution was not the Nazi one of killing off carriers of a particular disease, which earned her the sneer of a male colleague: "This is how I know you're not a real techie." More than a personal account, Ullman's narrative is a you-are-here chronicle of the evolution of things we take for granted, from the early AI research of the 1970s and the first flickerings of the personal computer to the founding of Google--and now, to a decidedly dystopian present that is the real thrust of a sometimes-rueful confession. As Ullman writes without hyperbole, all the liberatory promise of the personal computer has been swallowed up by corporations. Corporate leaders may promise that they're changing the world, but that proclamation is "but an advertisement, a branding that obscures the little devil, disruption, that hides within the mantra" and threatens to destroy what little civilization we have left. What Anthony Bourdain did for chefs, Ullman does for computer geeks. A fine rejoinder and update to Doug Coupland's Microserfs and of great interest to any computer user.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Title Information+
  • Publisher
    Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • OverDrive Read
    Release date:
  • EPUB eBook
    Release date:
Digital Rights Information+
  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

Status bar:

You've reached your checkout limit.

Visit your Checkouts page to manage your titles.

Close

You already have this title checked out.

Want to go to your Checkouts?

Close

Recommendation Limit Reached.

You've reached the maximum number of titles you can recommend at this time. You can recommend up to 1 titles every 7 day(s).

Close

Sign in to recommend this title.

Recommend your library consider adding this title to the Digital Collection.

Close

Enhanced Details

Close
Close

Limited availability

Availability can change throughout the month based on the library's budget.

is available for days.

Once playback starts, you have hours to view the title.

Close

Permissions

Close

The OverDrive Read format of this eBook has professional narration that plays while you read in your browser. Learn more here.

Close

Holds

Total holds:


Close

Restricted

Some format options have been disabled. You may see additional download options outside of this network.

Close

You've reached your library's checkout limit for digital titles.

To make room for more checkouts, you may be able to return titles from your Checkouts page.

Close

Excessive Checkout Limit Reached.

There have been too many titles checked out and returned by your account within a short period of time.

Try again in several days. If you are still not able to check out titles after 7 days, please contact Support.

Close

You have already checked out this title. To access it, return to your Checkouts page.

Close

This title is not available for your card type. If you think this is an error contact support.

Close

An unexpected error has occurred.

If this problem persists, please contact support.

Close

Close

NOTE: Barnes and Noble® may change this list of devices at any time.

Close
Buy it now
and help our library WIN!
Life in Code
Life in Code
A Personal History of Technology
Ellen Ullman
Choose a retail partner below to buy this title for yourself.
A portion of this purchase goes to support your library.
Close
Close

There are no copies of this issue left to borrow. Please try to borrow this title again when a new issue is released.

Close
Barnes & Noble Sign In |   Sign In

You will be prompted to sign into your library account on the next page.

If this is your first time selecting “Send to NOOK,” you will then be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

The first time you select “Send to NOOK,” you will be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

You can read periodicals on any NOOK tablet or in the free NOOK reading app for iOS, Android or Windows 8.

Accept to ContinueCancel