Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World

Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World

by Clive Thompson

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Overview

Hello, world.

Facebook's algorithms shaping the news. Self-driving cars roaming the streets. Revolution on Twitter and romance on Tinder. We live in a world constructed of code--and coders are the ones who built it for us. From acclaimed tech writer Clive Thompson comes a brilliant anthropological reckoning with the most powerful tribe in the world today, computer programmers, in a book that interrogates who they are, how they think, what qualifies as greatness in their world, and what should give us pause. They are the most quietly influential people on the planet, and Coders shines a light on their culture.

In pop culture and media, the people who create the code that rules our world are regularly portrayed in hackneyed, simplified terms, as ciphers in hoodies. Thompson goes far deeper, dramatizing the psychology of the invisible architects of the culture, exploring their passions and their values, as well as their messy history. In nuanced portraits, Coders takes us close to some of the great programmers of our time, including the creators of Facebook's News Feed, Instagram, Google's cutting-edge AI, and more. Speaking to everyone from revered "10X" elites to neophytes, back-end engineers and front-end designers, Thompson explores the distinctive psychology of this vocation--which combines a love of logic, an obsession with efficiency, the joy of puzzle-solving, and a superhuman tolerance for mind-bending frustration.

Along the way, Coders thoughtfully ponders the morality and politics of code, including its implications for civic life and the economy. Programmers shape our everyday behavior: When they make something easy to do, we do more of it. When they make it hard or impossible, we do less of it. Thompson wrestles with the major controversies of our era, from the "disruption" fetish of Silicon Valley to the struggle for inclusion by marginalized groups.

In his accessible, erudite style, Thompson unpacks the surprising history of the field, beginning with the first coders -- brilliant and pioneering women, who, despite crafting some of the earliest personal computers and programming languages, were later written out of history. Coders introduces modern crypto-hackers fighting for your privacy, AI engineers building eerie new forms of machine cognition, teenage girls losing sleep at 24/7 hackathons, and unemployed Kentucky coal-miners learning a new career.

At the same time, the book deftly illustrates how programming has become a marvelous new art form--a source of delight and creativity, not merely danger. To get as close to his subject as possible, Thompson picks up the thread of his own long-abandoned coding skills as he reckons, in his signature, highly personal style, with what superb programming looks like.

To understand the world today, we need to understand code and its consequences. With Coders, Thompson gives a definitive look into the heart of the machine.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780735220577
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/26/2019
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 115,938
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Clive Thompson is a longtime contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired. He is the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The Software Update That Changed Reality 1

Chapter 2 The Four Waves of Coders 27

Chapter 3 Constant Frustration and Bursts of Joy 59

Chapter 4 Among the INTJs 87

Chapter 5 The Cult of Efficiency 117

Chapter 6 10X, Rock Stars, and the Myth of Meritocracy 147

Chapter 7 The ENIAC Girls Vanish 185

Chapter 8 Hackers, Crackers, and Freedom Fighters 229

Chapter 9 Cucumbers, Skynet, and Rise of AI 267

Chapter 10 Scale, Trolls, and Big Tech 305

Chapter 11 Blue-collar Coding 343

Acknowledgments 377

Notes 381

Index 423

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