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18

Come in, CQ

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notes

Ullman, E. (2017). Come in, CQ. In Ullman, E. Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology. MCD, pp. 18-38

28

Ironically, those of us who most believe in physical, operational eloquence are the very ones most cut off from the body. To build the working thing that is a program, we perform "labor" that is sedentary to the point of near immobility, and we must give ourselves up almost entirely to language. Believers in the functional, nonverbal worth of things, we live in a world where waving one's arms accomplishes nothing, and where we must write, write, write in odd programming languages and email. Software engineering is an oxymoron. We are engineers but we don't build anything in the physical sense of the word. We think. We type. It's all grammar.

Cut off from real working things, we construct a substitute object: the program. We treat it as if it could be specified like machinery and assembled out of standard parts. We say we "engineered" it; when we put the pieces of code together, we call it "a build." And, cut off from the real body, we construct a substitute body: ourselves online. We treat it as if it were our actual self, our real life. Over time, it does indeed become our life.

—p.28 by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 5 months ago

Ironically, those of us who most believe in physical, operational eloquence are the very ones most cut off from the body. To build the working thing that is a program, we perform "labor" that is sedentary to the point of near immobility, and we must give ourselves up almost entirely to language. Believers in the functional, nonverbal worth of things, we live in a world where waving one's arms accomplishes nothing, and where we must write, write, write in odd programming languages and email. Software engineering is an oxymoron. We are engineers but we don't build anything in the physical sense of the word. We think. We type. It's all grammar.

Cut off from real working things, we construct a substitute object: the program. We treat it as if it could be specified like machinery and assembled out of standard parts. We say we "engineered" it; when we put the pieces of code together, we call it "a build." And, cut off from the real body, we construct a substitute body: ourselves online. We treat it as if it were our actual self, our real life. Over time, it does indeed become our life.

—p.28 by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 5 months ago
35

A storm was coming in off the Pacific. The air was almost palpable, about to burst with rain. The wind had whipped up the ocean, and breakers were glowing far out from the beach. The world was conspiring around us. All things physical insisted we pay attention. The steady rush of the ocean. The damp sand, the tide pushing in to make us scuttle up from the advancing edge. The birds pecking for dinners on the uncovered sand. The smel of salt, of air that had traveled across the water all the way from Japan. The feel of continent's end, a gritty beach at the western edge of the city.

—p.35 by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 5 months ago

A storm was coming in off the Pacific. The air was almost palpable, about to burst with rain. The wind had whipped up the ocean, and breakers were glowing far out from the beach. The world was conspiring around us. All things physical insisted we pay attention. The steady rush of the ocean. The damp sand, the tide pushing in to make us scuttle up from the advancing edge. The birds pecking for dinners on the uncovered sand. The smel of salt, of air that had traveled across the water all the way from Japan. The feel of continent's end, a gritty beach at the western edge of the city.

—p.35 by Ellen Ullman 1 year, 5 months ago