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[Comments] (2) The Soul of a New Machine: The second of the books I was compelled to read by an anonymous commenter who I don't know--the IP address is from Wisconsin, and the only person I know from Wisconsin is Courtenay Teska, and it's probably not her, and that's not even her name anymore because she got married. Anyway.

I would have liked this book a lot more if I'd read it before spending eight years working in the computer industry. It's archetypal. By this point I and many of my friends have lived it. Reading about it isn't that interesting, but it would have been a very interesting read when I was in college.

A little while ago I mentioned the huge influence of The New Hacker's Dictionary on my teenage self. It was a glimpse of another world, a book I could read over and over again and always get pleasure from it. After writing that entry I started rereading it for some project I've already forgotten, and I got to C before putting it aside. The bookmark's still in here at core leak-cracker.

It's not just that TNHD is old and the hacker community too large and diffuse to need or find a dictionary useful anymore. It's not even that I've read the book seven or eight times. I was using its lessons as the best available substitute for participating in this world, and now I participate and I don't need the book. That's how SoaNM felt, only I absorbed its lessons the hard way before ever reading the book.

Anyway, that's me being down on the book. If you're not a programmer or computer engineer, it's still pretty good at giving the flavor of the work and the strange power dynamic between labor and management, even though it's over 25 years old.

Next I'm reading Born Standing Up because it's a library book that needs to go back. But if you want to get in on the compelling action some have called "compelling", check out my unread books (do a tag search for 'unread') and leave a comment saying what I should read next. Unlike last time I'm not going to put a limit on how many books you can put in my queue, but I'm also not going to slavishly follow your demands.

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Posted by Adam Kaplan at Thu Jun 05 2008 16:33

We had to read it in History 2A. You Engineering 95-ers were denied the experience. I still think it's an excellent read for a layman to understand the experience of designing a processor. I can completely understand your sentiment though...if you've lived it, reading about it is shrug-inducing.

I wish all my friends (a good number of which have not had experience in the computer industry) would check it out sometime, if only to understand what it is I'm doing while they're out every night partying. :)

Posted by Leonard at Fri Jun 06 2008 08:08

Eng 95 was pretty much a waste of time. Was History 2A an option for me or was it just for CS&E people?


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