Close to the Machine

by Ellen Ullman · read March 16, 2023


I love Ullman's writing, and I especially love her willingness to acknowledge the flaws in who and what she loves. Reading her reflections on the craft of programming is a delight.

My favourites from this collection: 'Transactions', 'Software and Suburbia', and 'Virtuality'.

But the computer is not really like us. It is a projection of a very slim part of ourselves: that portion devoted to logic, order, rule, and clarity. It is as if we took the game of chess and declared it the highest order of human existence. … The only problem is this: the more we surround ourselves with a narrowed notion of existence, the more narrow existence becomes. … We think we are creating the system, but the system is also creating us.

Julia Cooke © 2024