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

Clive Thompson. Penguin Press, $28 (448p) ISBN 978-0-7352-2056-0
In this revealing exploration of programming, programmers, and their far-reaching influence, Wired columnist Thompson (Smarter Than You Think) opens up an insular world and explores its design philosophy’s consequences, some of them unintended. Through interviews and anecdotes, Thompson expertly plumbs the temperament and motivations of programmers. Thompson explains how an avowedly meritocratic profession nevertheless tends to sideline those who are not white male graduates of prestigious university computer science programs, tracing this male-dominated culture back to 1960s and early ’70s MIT, where the “hacker ethic” was first born. Remarkably, though, he makes clear that programming is an unusual field in that successful practitioners are often self-taught, many having started out with only simple tools, such as a Commodore computer running the BASIC programming language. This book contains possibly the best argument yet for how social media maneuvers users into more extreme political positions, since “any ranking system based partly on tallying up the reactions to posts will wind up favoring intense material.” Impressive in its clarity and thoroughness, Thompson’s survey shines a much-needed light on a group of people who have exerted a powerful effect on almost every aspect of the modern world. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 12/24/2018
Release date: 03/26/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-0-7352-2057-7
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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