Ellen Ullman: Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology (2017)

21 March 2018, dusan

“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.”

Publisher Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2017
ISBN 9780374534516, 0374534519
viii+306 pages
via andre

Video talk (54 min, 2017)

Reviews: J.D. Biersdorfer (New York Times, 2017), Jessica Bennett (Elle, 2017).

Publisher
WorldCat

HTML

Finn Brunton: Spam: Shadow History of the Internet (2013)

14 May 2013, dusan

The vast majority of all email sent every day is spam, a variety of idiosyncratically spelled requests to provide account information, invitations to spend money on dubious products, and pleas to send cash overseas. Most of it is caught by filters before ever reaching an in-box. Where does it come from? As Finn Brunton explains in Spam, it is produced and shaped by many different populations around the world: programmers, con artists, bots and their botmasters, pharmaceutical merchants, marketers, identity thieves, crooked bankers and their victims, cops, lawyers, network security professionals, vigilantes, and hackers. Every time we go online, we participate in the system of spam, with choices, refusals, and purchases the consequences of which we may not understand.

This is a book about what spam is, how it works, and what it means. Brunton provides a cultural history that stretches from pranks on early computer networks to the construction of a global criminal infrastructure. The history of spam, Brunton shows us, is a shadow history of the Internet itself, with spam emerging as the mirror image of the online communities it targets. Brunton traces spam through three epochs: the 1970s to 1995, and the early, noncommercial computer networks that became the Internet; 1995 to 2003, with the dot-com boom, the rise of spam’s entrepreneurs, and the first efforts at regulating spam; and 2003 to the present, with the war of algorithms—spam versus anti-spam. Spam shows us how technologies, from email to search engines, are transformed by unintended consequences and adaptations, and how online communities develop and invent governance for themselves.

Publisher MIT Press, 2013
Infrastructures Series
ISBN 026201887X, 9780262018876
270 pages

review (Evgeny Morozov, The Wall Street Journal)
interview with author (NPR)

publisher
google books

Download (removed on 2013-5-20 upon request of the publisher)

Yongming Zhou: Historicizing Online Politics: Telegraphy, the Internet, and Political Participation in China (2006)

18 March 2013, dusan

It is widely recognized that internet technology has had a profound effect on political participation in China, but this new use of technology is not unprecedented in Chinese history. This is a pioneering work that systematically describes and analyzes the manner in which the Chinese used telegraphy during the late Qing, and the internet in the contemporary period, to participate in politics.

Drawing upon insights from the fields of anthropology, history, political science, and media studies, this book historicizes the internet in China and may change the direction of the emergent field of Chinese internet studies. In contrast to previous works, this book is unprecedented in its perspective, in the depth of information and understanding, in the conclusions it reaches, and in its methodology. Written in a clear and engaging style, this book is accessible to a broad audience.

Publisher Stanford University Press, 2006
Asian Studies / Political Science series
ISBN 0804751285, 9780804751285
304 pages

publisher
google books

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