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Uncanny Valley: A Memoir

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The prescient, page-turning account of a journey in Silicon Valley: a defining memoir of our digital age In her mid-twenties, at the height of tech industry idealism, Anna Wiener—stuck, broke, and looking for meaning in her work, like any good millennial--left a job in book publishing for the promise of the new digital economy. She moved from New York to San Francisco, wher The prescient, page-turning account of a journey in Silicon Valley: a defining memoir of our digital age In her mid-twenties, at the height of tech industry idealism, Anna Wiener—stuck, broke, and looking for meaning in her work, like any good millennial--left a job in book publishing for the promise of the new digital economy. She moved from New York to San Francisco, where she landed at a big-data startup in the heart of the Silicon Valley bubble: a world of surreal extravagance, dubious success, and fresh-faced entrepreneurs hell-bent on domination, glory, and, of course, progress. Anna arrived amidst a massive cultural shift, as the tech industry rapidly transformed into a locus of wealth and power rivaling Wall Street. But amid the company ski vacations and in-office speakeasies, boyish camaraderie and ride-or-die corporate fealty, a new Silicon Valley began to emerge: one in far over its head, one that enriched itself at the expense of the idyllic future it claimed to be building. Part coming-age-story, part portrait of an already-bygone era, Anna Wiener’s memoir is a rare first-person glimpse into high-flying, reckless startup culture at a time of unchecked ambition, unregulated surveillance, wild fortune, and accelerating political power. With wit, candor, and heart, Anna deftly charts the tech industry’s shift from self-appointed world savior to democracy-endangering liability, alongside a personal narrative of aspiration, ambivalence, and disillusionment. Unsparing and incisive, Uncanny Valley is a cautionary tale, and a revelatory interrogation of a world reckoning with consequences its unwitting designers are only beginning to understand.


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The prescient, page-turning account of a journey in Silicon Valley: a defining memoir of our digital age In her mid-twenties, at the height of tech industry idealism, Anna Wiener—stuck, broke, and looking for meaning in her work, like any good millennial--left a job in book publishing for the promise of the new digital economy. She moved from New York to San Francisco, wher The prescient, page-turning account of a journey in Silicon Valley: a defining memoir of our digital age In her mid-twenties, at the height of tech industry idealism, Anna Wiener—stuck, broke, and looking for meaning in her work, like any good millennial--left a job in book publishing for the promise of the new digital economy. She moved from New York to San Francisco, where she landed at a big-data startup in the heart of the Silicon Valley bubble: a world of surreal extravagance, dubious success, and fresh-faced entrepreneurs hell-bent on domination, glory, and, of course, progress. Anna arrived amidst a massive cultural shift, as the tech industry rapidly transformed into a locus of wealth and power rivaling Wall Street. But amid the company ski vacations and in-office speakeasies, boyish camaraderie and ride-or-die corporate fealty, a new Silicon Valley began to emerge: one in far over its head, one that enriched itself at the expense of the idyllic future it claimed to be building. Part coming-age-story, part portrait of an already-bygone era, Anna Wiener’s memoir is a rare first-person glimpse into high-flying, reckless startup culture at a time of unchecked ambition, unregulated surveillance, wild fortune, and accelerating political power. With wit, candor, and heart, Anna deftly charts the tech industry’s shift from self-appointed world savior to democracy-endangering liability, alongside a personal narrative of aspiration, ambivalence, and disillusionment. Unsparing and incisive, Uncanny Valley is a cautionary tale, and a revelatory interrogation of a world reckoning with consequences its unwitting designers are only beginning to understand.

30 review for Uncanny Valley: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ariel

    HM. The first 25% was so strong but then it became a long decrescendo. I enjoyed this as an audiobook, I find memoirs work really well when someone is reading them to you and you feel like they're coming right from the authors mouth, but this definitely started to become repetitive and the message of "tech is sexist and I didn't fit in" got boring. I definitely learned some stuff and enjoyed moments but it fell a bit flat 3 HM. The first 25% was so strong but then it became a long decrescendo. I enjoyed this as an audiobook, I find memoirs work really well when someone is reading them to you and you feel like they're coming right from the authors mouth, but this definitely started to become repetitive and the message of "tech is sexist and I didn't fit in" got boring. I definitely learned some stuff and enjoyed moments but it fell a bit flat 3

  2. 4 out of 5

    Meborn

    Wiener is a very good writer, and I really liked the original essay that inspired the book. But this felt too much like a long-form essay extended into a book, with little narrative arc. I never felt that invested in the narrator (Weiner), or what would happen in the broader world she's inhabiting. Just when you think a subplot is developing it peters out, or is muted by a lack of elaboration (eg Pizzagate). The narration felt very distant, like someone who's chipping away at a core truth, but ca Wiener is a very good writer, and I really liked the original essay that inspired the book. But this felt too much like a long-form essay extended into a book, with little narrative arc. I never felt that invested in the narrator (Weiner), or what would happen in the broader world she's inhabiting. Just when you think a subplot is developing it peters out, or is muted by a lack of elaboration (eg Pizzagate). The narration felt very distant, like someone who's chipping away at a core truth, but can't quite get at it. For example, almost all the characters are reduced to tech bro archetypes. Everyone thinks they're crushing it, they don't ever think about the consequences. But these are people, too. Why are they this way? Why does the tech ecosystem reinforce such insular behavior? Wiener seems more interested in condemning tech than understanding the underlying psychology. For a non-fiction book, I wanted more nuance. Instead, this felt to me like watching a Hollywood movie caricaturing Wall Street. That said, Wiener has a sharp wit, with some good turns of phrase.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    In her debut memoir, Uncanny Valley, Anna Wiener recounts how, at age 25, she abandoned her drab job at a New York literary agency for a high-paying customer support role at a Silicon Valley start-up. In compulsively readable prose the writer describes how the excitement she first felt toward working in the tech industry soon soured, after repeated encounters with her white male peers’ sexism, racism, and disregard for user privacy. As she recounts her story she adroitly links her disillusionmen In her debut memoir, Uncanny Valley, Anna Wiener recounts how, at age 25, she abandoned her drab job at a New York literary agency for a high-paying customer support role at a Silicon Valley start-up. In compulsively readable prose the writer describes how the excitement she first felt toward working in the tech industry soon soured, after repeated encounters with her white male peers’ sexism, racism, and disregard for user privacy. As she recounts her story she adroitly links her disillusionment to the nation’s growing disgust with the amorality and arrogance of Big Tech and Big Data. The work’s swift and easy to digest, but there’s not much reportage or analysis here and Wiener’s critique of Silicon Valley’s culture of privilege is solid but offers little that’s new.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kate Olson

    UPDATE 11.24.20 - how the HELL did this qualify to be one of NYT’s Best Books of the Year? I just quit reading their list after seeing it on there because REALLY??? I mean, it wasn’t the worst book of the year but I MEAN..... so so so many others could have filled that spot. ORIGINAL REVIEW 2.14.20 (free review copy) Hmmmm. Sigh. I had such such high hopes. Well, how about a summary: Privileged 20-something white female goes to work in Silicon Valley in tech. Literally nothing happens to her except UPDATE 11.24.20 - how the HELL did this qualify to be one of NYT’s Best Books of the Year? I just quit reading their list after seeing it on there because REALLY??? I mean, it wasn’t the worst book of the year but I MEAN..... so so so many others could have filled that spot. ORIGINAL REVIEW 2.14.20 (free review copy) Hmmmm. Sigh. I had such such high hopes. Well, how about a summary: Privileged 20-something white female goes to work in Silicon Valley in tech. Literally nothing happens to her except she now knows more about tech and makes more money than she should and becomes disillusioned with the ridiculousness of it all. Then all of a sudden there’s an election and everyone else also kind of gets disillusioned but also keeps making tons of money and doing exactly what they were doing anyway. And she’s still privileged. The end. A memoir that didn’t really need to be a memoir but whatever, everyone has a right to their story. Read if all that sounds interesting to you.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I usually avoid reading about tech, but the excerpt on n plus one made me laugh out loud. Once I actually picked the book up, it was really hard to put down. The writing in this book is so good. It's funny, and it's incisive, and it really captures a specific time and place extremely well. Men in restaurants are "dressed, typically, to traverse a glacier." Perks offered by Google "land between the collegiate and the feudal." Anna Wiener captures what it's like to work at a five-person startup, t I usually avoid reading about tech, but the excerpt on n plus one made me laugh out loud. Once I actually picked the book up, it was really hard to put down. The writing in this book is so good. It's funny, and it's incisive, and it really captures a specific time and place extremely well. Men in restaurants are "dressed, typically, to traverse a glacier." Perks offered by Google "land between the collegiate and the feudal." Anna Wiener captures what it's like to work at a five-person startup, to work at an early-stage company, to work in customer support, to work as a woman for a tech company run by men. Because this is a memoir, I didn't really need it to be more than it was; I don't know if I want to read the book on how Github eventually cleaned up their forum issues (if they did). But this book is an exceptionally good chronicle of working in an incredibly strange industry at an equally odd time. The only truly annoying writing quirk is, of course, Wiener's stylistic choice to remove all company names. This could be fine when applied to the smaller companies (do you really need to know that she works at Mixpanel?), but borders on ridiculous when she's describing Amazon, or Google, or even Ikea. I had the Medium list open on my phone for the duration of the book. Finally, this!!!!!! To solve our problem, management arranges for a team-building exercise. They schedule it on a weeknight evening, and we pretend not to mind. Our team-building begins with beers in the office, and then we travel en masse to a tiny event space at the mouth of the Stockton Tunnel, where two energetic blondes give us sweatbands and shots.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Doon

    This book is badged as an inside look into the world of tech bro’s by a woman who was there. However, the books main insights, that the men who work in Silicon Valley are mainly white, middle-class and supremely confident men who think that every idea they have has value, are nothing you didn’t already know. I kept on reading, expecting that there would be a ‘gotcha’ moment, an insight into a well-known public occurrence, but it never came. It felt like it was written for people who don’t follow This book is badged as an inside look into the world of tech bro’s by a woman who was there. However, the books main insights, that the men who work in Silicon Valley are mainly white, middle-class and supremely confident men who think that every idea they have has value, are nothing you didn’t already know. I kept on reading, expecting that there would be a ‘gotcha’ moment, an insight into a well-known public occurrence, but it never came. It felt like it was written for people who don’t follow the online world at all. I’ve never worked in tech but there are so many articles about Silicon Valley culture that give you the same insights without subjecting you to excruciatingly detailed descriptions of awful sounding parties. The author was often negging herself while humble bragging. An odd, but not unenjoyable read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    Swimming In the Kool-Aid Here’s the skinny: your attempt to change the world will result in more global misery; your commitment to some idea/dream/vision will inevitably be subjugated to your need for the power necessary to realise it; your enthusiasm will gradually transform into obsession which will alienate the people who care about you the most. Ultimately you will be disappointed and probably blame others. You won’t be wrong to do so. Baby-boomers did not invent the notion of self-actualisati Swimming In the Kool-Aid Here’s the skinny: your attempt to change the world will result in more global misery; your commitment to some idea/dream/vision will inevitably be subjugated to your need for the power necessary to realise it; your enthusiasm will gradually transform into obsession which will alienate the people who care about you the most. Ultimately you will be disappointed and probably blame others. You won’t be wrong to do so. Baby-boomers did not invent the notion of self-actualisation, but we made it popular. ‘Be all you can be.’ ‘There are no limits.’ ‘Make your life meaningful.’ These were some of the motivational phrases. They are difficult to reject, primarily because of fear of missing out (FOMO) and associated middle class aspirationalist pathologies. Falling victim to someone else’s enthusiastic commitment is even more destructive. This is what Anna Wiener writes about. The lure of wealth, prestige, peer reputation is certainly there but the trigger for her was the smooth confidence of some tech entrepreneurs in New York City whose mission it was to “disrupt” the publishing business through an e-reader app. Pushed for an explanation of why publishing needed a disruption, there only possible rational response can be ‘efficiency.’ It’s cheaper to publish on-line than through a system that requires office and editorial staff, print works, and of course masses of paper. But the irrational response is much more honest: ‘because we can.’ But New York was only a taster for the much larger narcissistic, gas-lighting show on the West Coast. San Francisco is where the art of the techno-scam had reached its peak. Wiener found her niche among battalions of fellow-hopefuls: “The mark of a hustler, a true entrepreneurial spirit, was creating the job that you wanted and making it look indispensable, even if it was institutionally unnecessary. This was an existential strategy for the tech industry itself.” And the central figure in this cultural drama was, still is, the charismatic visionary like her new CEO: “‘We are making products,’ the CEO said, building us up at a Tuesday team meeting, ‘that can push the fold of mankind.’” Intoxicating stuff - quite literally. The costs of attaching oneself to this kind of life with its revolutionary veneer, it’s flattering salary, and its faux, misogynistic camaraderie only become apparent after one is hooked. Like crack-cocaine, one needs more and more just to feel normal. There seems no lethal limit to the commitment required: “All anyone is asking is for us to pour our hearts and souls into this unstoppable adventure.” This sort of idealism, of course, has its own jargon, used repetitively to create tribal solidarity: “Down for the Cause: the phrase was in our job listings and our internal communications. It meant putting the company first, and was the highest form of praise.” What is required is, as in dogmatic religion of any sort, is “the mass suspension of disbelief.” And as in religion, a transformation, a metanoia, slowly takes place - not like the fall of St. Paul from his horse but just as decisively. Wiener describes the process in excruciating detail. “Work had wedged its way into our identities. We were the company; the company was us.” A management theorist’s dream - the company’s interests written on every heart as if these interests were their own. The process by which this ideal corporate state was achieved is simple and known to the military-minded for millennia: “… keep people busy until they forget about the parts of their life they left behind, … the twenty-four-hour hustle”~ The culture of Silicone Valley is certainly not unique in the corporate world - Wall Street firms and big management consultancies are similar. But arguably the most successful execution of ideas about the business corporation that have been developed over the last half-century or so is in these high-tech star-ups which combine financial chicanery, managerial manipulation, and technological hysteria. This is the intellectual legacy that the boomer generation gave its professional progeny. This legacy has impoverished life in incalculable ways. What could be more telling than Wiener’s observation that “The sole moral quandary in our space that we acknowledged outright was the question of whether or not to sell data to advertisers.”

  8. 5 out of 5

    Clare

    DNF - got bored and stopped about halfway through. The memoir is unfocused and uncompelling. There are many stories out there about sexism and naked ambition in Silicon Valley but, unfortunately, this one doesn't contribute anything to those dialogues. There's a lot of telling and not much showing. Wiener pops the word sexism in every now and then as if she forgot that it was supposed to be a proper topic of conversation in her memoir. Or maybe it's not and it's the blurb's fault for being inaccu DNF - got bored and stopped about halfway through. The memoir is unfocused and uncompelling. There are many stories out there about sexism and naked ambition in Silicon Valley but, unfortunately, this one doesn't contribute anything to those dialogues. There's a lot of telling and not much showing. Wiener pops the word sexism in every now and then as if she forgot that it was supposed to be a proper topic of conversation in her memoir. Or maybe it's not and it's the blurb's fault for being inaccurate. The memoir is in fact at its most interesting when she's talking about data harvesting and surveillance. Also, I really dislike it when people push sexism as a cover for a hit to their self-esteem. This happens about 100 pages and it annoyed the heck out of me to such an extent that it tainted the rest of the pages I read. Wiener goes to a party with her computer engineering partner that is filled with other male engineers and feels left out, at one point, of a conversation about self-driving cars. She boldly decides to intrude and offers her own opinion only to get patronised by the others. I understand the effect she was trying to produce but it was an ill-chosen narrative to demonstrate it. The opinion she in fact offered was, by her own account, spoken for the mere sake of speaking. I am a non-technical person too but the opinion she proffered was clearly designed to be provocative. The author then goes on to write: 'What unfettered sexists, I said. How dare they be so dismissive, just because I was a woman—just because I did customer support and was considered nontechnical. Their lives were no better than my life. Their opinions were no more valid than mine.' I'm sorry but: (1) her opinions, though no less valid, can be less valuable and (2) no sexism was conveyed in the way the men spoke back to her. It was patronising AF, yes. But it appeared to be wholly on account of her having spoken out of, in their opinion, ignorance. And if there were sexist undertones or more to the story, Wiener did not bother to write it in. Good God, I too am guilty of rolling my eyes when someone offers an unsubstantiated opinion in an area of study I've specialised in. I get particularly ticked if it's clear the person opining has no interest in the subject area anyway and Wiener herself professes elsewhere in the book to have no interest in learning more about coding or thinking about the value and implications of the products her industry is producing. If you converse with me on a bad day in this manner, I might be curt in my reply. Just because it happens to be a man doing it to you does not automatically make it sexist. I am a feminist. I am a woman of colour. I've been on the receiving end of casual racism and sexism. And nothing makes me more annoyed than having accusations of sexism flung around; it dilutes the power of the word and distracts from real incidences when they occur.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brandice

    Uncanny Valley is Anna Wiener’s story of working in tech, primarily in Silicon Valley. Anna is looking to leave her NY-based job in publishing, seeking more from a career. Millennials were flocking to the West coast, where the tech industry continued to grow — software, digital service providers, and social media platforms, all making a name for themselves and marking their presence. Anna decides to join them. In this book, she details her work experience at a few different companies: one book r Uncanny Valley is Anna Wiener’s story of working in tech, primarily in Silicon Valley. Anna is looking to leave her NY-based job in publishing, seeking more from a career. Millennials were flocking to the West coast, where the tech industry continued to grow — software, digital service providers, and social media platforms, all making a name for themselves and marking their presence. Anna decides to join them. In this book, she details her work experience at a few different companies: one book related, one focused on data analytics, and the other, open source software — both the day-to-day and events like offsite team retreats. Anna holds customer service side roles, and quickly observes, across the industry, these positions are often valued less than their technical counterparts. Perhaps because Silicon Valley has been this way for the bulk of my career years so far (Anna and I are the same age), I just didn’t find much of this surprising or novel — A male-dominated culture of intellect, with a significant effort to maintain confidentiality and privacy of the company, while access to the privacy of customers and users sometimes remains vague (check, check, and check). I wasn’t expecting Bad Blood but the revelations were minimal at best. Every industry has room for improvement, tech is certainly not immune, but I struggled with Anna’s complacency — If you don’t like what you see and it’s not changing, why stay? This wore on me, especially in the second half of the book. Startups are an interesting topic I find myself returning to, countless times, in both fiction and nonfiction. My single experience working at one for one year—albeit much smaller than the West coast giants—led me to recognize they aren’t my jam, but I still find the concept of them engaging. I am pleased to see Anna has since found success in writing, and been able to build her career around it. While I don’t have a specific one currently at hand, a quote about returning home would be fitting here. Thank you to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing an advance reader copy of Uncanny Valley in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook....read by Suehyla El-Attar [8 hours and 14 minutes] For Anna Wiener, working in the high tech industry from where she came from - a literary book background - was like learning a foreign language. For the old farts who have lived in the Bay Area and witnessed the Silicon Valley growth - the tech growth - the changes from fruit orchards to new startups - will be shaking their heads - smiling & laughing - cringing occasionally - while saying....”oh, my gosh, YES”.....THE SILICON VALLEY i Audiobook....read by Suehyla El-Attar [8 hours and 14 minutes] For Anna Wiener, working in the high tech industry from where she came from - a literary book background - was like learning a foreign language. For the old farts who have lived in the Bay Area and witnessed the Silicon Valley growth - the tech growth - the changes from fruit orchards to new startups - will be shaking their heads - smiling & laughing - cringing occasionally - while saying....”oh, my gosh, YES”.....THE SILICON VALLEY is sooo well presented through the eyes of *Anna*.... Parts are very enjoyable- really funny - and it’s always fun to read another person write about the streets we’ve walked many times - and a topic and culture that has affected our lives directly. This book is well written - and relatable to many of us locals. It’s relatable to the 20 year olds who are wiz-kids driving the tech companies to new heights. It’s ALL AROUND ME..... AND...interesting ....as of 10 minutes ago SILICON VALLEY is on lockdown. ALL RESIDENTS - no matter what age -ARE ON HOME LOCKDOWN OTHER ....than grocery stores - and pharmacies- everything is to close NO SOCIAL GATHERING.... SO.... I was trying to write this review but maybe some of you can understand how distracted I am at the moment. Our lives are GREATLY AFFECTED. WITH NO INCOME COMING IN..... well.... it’s not a laughing matter.... But a few more tidbits about this book ( while I can concentrate and not worry about my husbands job)....and people EVERYWHERE..... LOTS OF LAUGHS in here...from $18 salads, from Anna moving out of the Castro district to her first one bedroom apartment- to the ACCURATE VISUALS of the culture and life around the SFBay Area: People playing guitar on the streets, pot smoking, petting the dogs, head-shops, free clinics, panhandling, micro neighborhoods, nudist drinking coffee‘s and cafés, The Haight district in SF..... tourists get the wrong idea.... They think the people wearing tie-dye leggings and T-shirts are leftover hippies from the 60s..... many really are just homeless .... But, yes, there is a nostalgic for the 60s in parts of the Bay Area that has never really left completely. I loved when Anna was sharing about herself and how she function,here - coming from New York with no tech experience. She was great at her job, a quick study! It was easy to visualize her walking to Golden gate Park, alone on the weekends. She felt free. She felt invisible. She also felt very lonely. I love this woman....hope to meet Anna Wiener some day! Ha...she mentioned Airbnb too. I’d gladly give her a couple nights free at our spa oasis. I must say, though ....due to the coronavirus- this is the second - wonderful - contemporary book - that given our NEW NORMAL.... THIS BOOK FEELS DATED ( in a matter of days) > SCARY! Not a book for everyone ....it’s definitely a SELF SELECT ‘type’. Thank you Theresa ....for making sure I didn’t miss it. Three times I checked this book from the library. The first two times - I was busy reading some other book .... FINALLY....I dedicated time to it ( while in the sauna or pool often) I’m actually VERY PROUD OF THIS BOOK..... FABULOUS OBSERVATIONS of ‘what is’..... or shall I say ‘was’ last week!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Julie Ehlers

    These are the days of miracles and wonder this is the long-distance call the way the camera follows us in slow-mo the way we look to us all the way we look to a distant constellation that’s dying in a corner of the sky these are the days of miracles and wonder and don’t cry, baby, don’t cry I heard Paul Simon’s “Boy in the Bubble” in the car this morning and felt the way I always do when I hear it: That it could have been written yesterday. And because I’ve been thinking about Uncanny Valley lately, it These are the days of miracles and wonder this is the long-distance call the way the camera follows us in slow-mo the way we look to us all the way we look to a distant constellation that’s dying in a corner of the sky these are the days of miracles and wonder and don’t cry, baby, don’t cry I heard Paul Simon’s “Boy in the Bubble” in the car this morning and felt the way I always do when I hear it: That it could have been written yesterday. And because I’ve been thinking about Uncanny Valley lately, it made me think about that. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by startup culture. I think part of it is that I feel like it happened while my back was turned. While I was working for a small press that still sent authors hard copies of proofs, people on the other side of the country were remaking the world. I took a programming class when I was twelve; it I had been able to recognize the future when I saw it, maybe I could have been one of them! Of course, I graduated college in 1993, so I might’ve been gone after the first pop of the bubble, who knows. But for some reason I think about this. So a memoir like Uncanny Valley, about a young woman who leaves the idea of a life in publishing for a career in Silicon Valley, is automatically interesting to me, and for me this book primarily functioned as a workplace memoir, taking place in one of the weirdest and yet most powerful and influential industries imaginable. I reveled in the bizarre stories. I identified with the existential angst. I learned a lot about how things work out there, but I was always aware that it was just one woman’s story and that probably every single person she worked with had their own take, some diametrically opposed to Wiener’s. Some of it I expected: the sexism, the outrageous sums of money. I guess none of it was really unexpected. Well, except this: Sorry to generalize, but in a lot of books and articles by younger people who’ve grown up with the internet, they may acknowledge that the internet is harming us, but still they seem to resist the idea of a life that doesn’t revolve around it (Jia Tolentino, whose work I like, may be the most prominent example of this). Wiener is different: Her time in the trenches makes her want to get as far away from the whole thing as she possibly can. She wonders if she can break away from analytics and customer support, and become a writer instead. And although she is humbled by how irrelevant serious writing and books are in Silicon Valley, she does it anyway. (The cashed-in stock options helped, of course.) So that was different, and rightly or wrongly, it made me trust her a little more. And because I trusted her a little more I was willing to overlook some of this book’s faults, most particularly a weird tendency to turn everything into a symbol, from the décor of bars to company-branded T-shirts of the sort that have actually been around for decades. I couldn’t help thinking, this all happened 5 years ago; it’s too soon to know what’s really a symbol of anything and what those symbols might mean. It added a level of portentousness that felt artificial. Except that maybe it didn’t feel that artificial, not really. Having it spelled out, exactly how much information tech companies have about us and how seriously they were not taking it, it was terrifying, and grim. Things are moving a lot faster than they used to; it’s possible all the portentous symbols mean exactly what they look like they mean. And maybe that’s the reason why something that initially seemed so miraculous already feels like it’s become what everything else becomes—a few people grabbing a lot of power and a lot of money while the rest of our backs are turned. We don’t know where it’s going, and with people like Wiener bailing out, who’s even going to tell us now?

  12. 4 out of 5

    jasmine sun

    uncanny valley was a weirdly intimate look into a bubble i know all too well. i congratulated myself for understanding wiener's references to both dead french theorists and viral vc tweets, remembered my own first encounters with cowen-style rationalists and custom slack reacts, then wondered whether it was self-indulgent to read a 200 page inside joke. but so what? i've grown to expect every tech piece i read to be either a how-to guide or an investigative take-down. at its core, uncanny valley uncanny valley was a weirdly intimate look into a bubble i know all too well. i congratulated myself for understanding wiener's references to both dead french theorists and viral vc tweets, remembered my own first encounters with cowen-style rationalists and custom slack reacts, then wondered whether it was self-indulgent to read a 200 page inside joke. but so what? i've grown to expect every tech piece i read to be either a how-to guide or an investigative take-down. at its core, uncanny valley is neither of the above. instead, it had the primary effect of making me feel a little less alone, arranging my intuitions into beautiful words and familiar representations. so the systems-level message remains implicit, concealed in snapshots of people she (and we) have known and places she (and we) have been. technology - like politics, religion, media, and other industries trying to Change The World - will always come with a certain dose of surrealism. reality is twisted to fit a theory of change that always makes room for our sustenance, where there are sometimes missteps but always agency. wiener doesn't completely condemn that self-importance: it's all too human. through her own story, she shows how a worldview that forefronts jobs and companies can make us forget our subjectivity - that there are options beyond the kool-aid - that there's always an option to power off.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kasia

    Mis-sold and over-hyped. More space in this book was given over to description of shoes, clothes and food than to actual issues of gender discrimination. Also, quite self-absorbed. Maybe she was not taken seriously in technical companies, because she had zero technical background, not because she happens to be a woman? I am sure there are many men out there who did not make it for this reason. Oh, and another highly annoying thing - hardly anyone has a name, people are just walking job titles an Mis-sold and over-hyped. More space in this book was given over to description of shoes, clothes and food than to actual issues of gender discrimination. Also, quite self-absorbed. Maybe she was not taken seriously in technical companies, because she had zero technical background, not because she happens to be a woman? I am sure there are many men out there who did not make it for this reason. Oh, and another highly annoying thing - hardly anyone has a name, people are just walking job titles and companies are their own strap-lines. It is also written in like an overly-trying-too-hard-intellectual twitter feed. Choppy. Annoying.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Smith

    This is the third audiobook I’ve listened to in the past few months that is focused on Silicon Valley. The first two concentrated on the development and life of specific companies, namely Yahoo and Google, whereas this book takes a look at the culture of technology start-ups. Having previously worked in publishing and at a literary agency in New York, Anna Wiener joined a four-person start-up who were developing an eBook reader app. She was to be the person who knew books amongst this small grou This is the third audiobook I’ve listened to in the past few months that is focused on Silicon Valley. The first two concentrated on the development and life of specific companies, namely Yahoo and Google, whereas this book takes a look at the culture of technology start-ups. Having previously worked in publishing and at a literary agency in New York, Anna Wiener joined a four-person start-up who were developing an eBook reader app. She was to be the person who knew books amongst this small group of techies. This experience turned out to be short lived, however, as she was soon tempted out to San Francisco where she worked at a data analytics company for the next 18 months. Her third job in a technology start-up, also in the Bay Area, was at an open source software development company – essentially a company that develops software for software developers. I’d observed from the Yahoo and Google books that a clear distinction exists between technical staff (typically computer engineers or coders) and non-technical staff (sales people, administrators and others in customer facing roles). In short, the technical staff are valued the most. Anna finds this out quite quickly and though it clearly rankles she also finds enough interest and reward to keep her working in this industry for a number of years. She walks us through her various roles, her interactions with people inside the companies and her mindset as she wrestled with elements of her work that clearly don’t sit easily with her. One element here that I found frustrating is that Wiener seems to have an aversion to names: the people she comes across are simply labelled entrepreneur, technologist, CEO, venture capitalist etc. And the same goes for the companies she works for, uses or simply expresses an opinion upon, these being designated as the Seattle software conglomerate or the social media platform everybody hates. Is there a reason for this or is it simply a style choice? I’m not sure, but I didn’t like it. I did manage to work out some of the companies touched on (I think), with my list including Amazon, Google, Uber, eBay and Facebook. But of course I may be wrong. The other key thing here – and I found it to be the main thrust of the book – is that in Wiener’s opinion Silicon Valley is run by men, and usually men she doesn’t like very much. She particularly dislikes the way that these men treat the women in their employ. The author, a self confessed feminist, does go some way to explaining how she formed this view and the examples she gives are reasonably persuasive. But for me what fights against this is her obvious antipathy toward the male species in general. Others may disagree but I found it to be a pervasive flavour throughout. Overall I enjoyed the insight this book provided into how things work in a technology start-up. I also admired the author’s ability to string sentences together, often using obscure words and phrases. But Wiener herself came across as a royal pain in the arse. I know I'll be an outlier here but I'm afraid I found the whole thing to be way too annoying and for this reason I can only award it two stars.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Brown

    Too real. I drank at those bars. I ate those salads. I did the scavenger hunt that the team building place by the tunnel puts on. This book was uncomfortable for me to read. But I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a chronicle of a very specific place and a very specific time that suddenly feels decades ago to me. Too. Real.

  16. 4 out of 5

    david

    I am truly vexed as to why this book is getting so many positive reviews from so many people I admire. The author projects herself as naive as to the power and harm of tech and capitalism. I don't buy this narrative of naivete. But even if one does, she never fully investigates her position. Instead, she projects a constant tone of blase guilt and self-loathing, while still working in tech and being compensated VERY well for her trouble. It’s all just cheeky jokes and cliches about how silly Sil I am truly vexed as to why this book is getting so many positive reviews from so many people I admire. The author projects herself as naive as to the power and harm of tech and capitalism. I don't buy this narrative of naivete. But even if one does, she never fully investigates her position. Instead, she projects a constant tone of blase guilt and self-loathing, while still working in tech and being compensated VERY well for her trouble. It’s all just cheeky jokes and cliches about how silly Silicon Valley tech billionaire bros are. But then, it’s like: you are friends with them! You are part of this ridiculousness. And you are getting massively rewarded for it! Essentially her attitude towards Silicon Valley capitalism etc all amounts to a very well paid shrug emoji. She simply doesn't want to wrestle with her contradictions and choices. Fine enough. But, why write a memoir then?

  17. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    DNF. I tried and tried again but my interest in start ups and the excessive money they draw is just not there. For the most part this is garnering good reviews, but it's just not for me. DNF. I tried and tried again but my interest in start ups and the excessive money they draw is just not there. For the most part this is garnering good reviews, but it's just not for me.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Moha Dem

    As a young person myself, I am interested into anything tech. Though I'm not familiar with all the references she mentioned in the book - and how damn lot they were - I enjoyed this very much. As a young person myself, I am interested into anything tech. Though I'm not familiar with all the references she mentioned in the book - and how damn lot they were - I enjoyed this very much.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lou (nonfiction fiend)

    Silicon Valley, a place in which Anna Wiener was overwhelmingly outnumbered by men in the technological sphere, is still as dominated by white males as it was decades ago. Minorities and female workers are present but not as often as you might believe. Wiener certainly has some mettle to overlook these issues and decide to add at least one more woman to the Silicon Valley workforce. She details some important topics and discusses just how prevalent sexism, unwanted sexual advances and sexual har Silicon Valley, a place in which Anna Wiener was overwhelmingly outnumbered by men in the technological sphere, is still as dominated by white males as it was decades ago. Minorities and female workers are present but not as often as you might believe. Wiener certainly has some mettle to overlook these issues and decide to add at least one more woman to the Silicon Valley workforce. She details some important topics and discusses just how prevalent sexism, unwanted sexual advances and sexual harassment were during her employment at a tech start-up. At its heart, it is a feminist coming of age tale and instead of telling the sugar-coated version of events she courageously tells it exactly how it was. She calls for more women to be employed in these type of corporations to at least try to give some semblance of equality. It makes you think with the thought-provoking and important topics it touches on but it also is highly readable; I don’t usually read biographies but this one caught my attention and I am so glad I decided to pick it up. I am full of admiration for her but certainly do not envy what she experienced. Every so often we need reminding of the issues still faced by women in the workplace, and this book does a superb job in broaching topics that absolutely need addressing. It's an inspiring, intelligent read with a fierce female telling not just her story but the story of so many other women; the me too movement has certainly started the ball rolling and people feel they are now able to talk about such harmful problems. This is a fascinating book that sheds light on the male-dominated workforce but it's high time this changed. Many thanks to Fourth Estate for an ARC.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    This isn't exactly a memoir, at least not in a traditional way. And it isn't an exposé of Silicon Valley, since not much in here is very surprising. Wiener takes us in her experience but also holds us at arm's length. Her prose has a level of remove to it: she rarely refers to people or companies by name, she moves us through this brandless, nameless place as if we're seeing it all through a muddying lens that blurs it all. She rarely tells us her own feelings or experiences, you can forget it's This isn't exactly a memoir, at least not in a traditional way. And it isn't an exposé of Silicon Valley, since not much in here is very surprising. Wiener takes us in her experience but also holds us at arm's length. Her prose has a level of remove to it: she rarely refers to people or companies by name, she moves us through this brandless, nameless place as if we're seeing it all through a muddying lens that blurs it all. She rarely tells us her own feelings or experiences, you can forget it's a memoir much of the time. I am not exactly sure why she takes this approach, can't say whether it's protective or defensive or a way to make her individual experiences feel more general, but it can be alienating. Sometimes I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep reading. Ultimately I did, but if it was a longer book I'm not sure I would have. I have worked at a very small very early startup, and at a startup that grew into a large, successful company but still wanted to keep that small identity. Neither was in San Francisco, but a lot of what Wiener talks about was familiar to me. I often shivered with recognition and felt grateful that I'd avoided her path. Wiener has the most critical factor necessary to write a book set in the very near past: a willingness to see her own flaws. Being almost the only woman in a company, doing non-technical work at a tech company, these are situations that can lead to a significant amount of gaslighting and can require a lot of compartmentalization and denial to get through in one piece. Wiener can see this all clearly now and describes it in great detail. What kept me going in this book was seeing these moments laid out. Wiener is given additional duties and when she asks for a raise she is told "You're doing this because you care." (She notes, "and I must have cared, because I kept doing it.") She notes that her male coworker's work was seen as "strategy" while hers "was interpreted as love." She can jump on the incisive truth of these moments, though other times her musings feel more like musings. (When talking about employees' hope for an IPO, she notes, "we knew in our hearts that money was a salve, not a solution," this and other statements though maybe true elsewhere, didn't feel true in context.) There is enough accuracy to override the other issues I had, enough queasy recognition. She nails Silicon Valley tech bro culture to a T. But then it ends, rather abruptly, and it's not clear what we're supposed to do now. It's only a memoir in the sense that she shares her own experiences and there's not much of a personal narrative now that we've left the few years she's focusing on. But it's not enough of an indictment of Silicon Valley culture to then move into conclusions and recommendations. It just ends without an ending, all feeling suddenly rather pat. While there's certainly an immediacy to Wiener's story, we haven't left any of this behind yet and all the problems she shows us are still prevalent, that strange distance leaves us all just floating in space once it's done since we weren't really moored to anything in the first place.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    Anna Wiener left behind NYC and a job in publishing for a position at a Silicon Valley startup.  With no experience in tech, her position in customer service / data analytics isn't valued by the industry. It's a boy's club supported by venture capitalists and dripping in extravagance.  There are ski vacations, open bars at the office, and flexible schedules while demanding corporate fealty above the personal lives of employees. The lifestyle perks and salary lure Wiener in to the bubble but not wi Anna Wiener left behind NYC and a job in publishing for a position at a Silicon Valley startup.  With no experience in tech, her position in customer service / data analytics isn't valued by the industry. It's a boy's club supported by venture capitalists and dripping in extravagance.  There are ski vacations, open bars at the office, and flexible schedules while demanding corporate fealty above the personal lives of employees. The lifestyle perks and salary lure Wiener in to the bubble but not without eventually understanding the culture created by the industry, which she isn't afraid to discuss in detail. Wiener expertly weaves her personal story into the rise of Silicon Valley and the problems it has created (most notably in data security) while calling out the extreme bro culture, rampant sexism, and absurd arrogance she observed regularly. I recommend Uncanny Valley to readers who enjoy tech/memoir. Thanks to MCD and Edelweiss for providing me with a DRC in exchange for my honest review.  Uncanny Valley will be released tomorrow, January 14, 2020. For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    In this her first book, Anna Wiener has nailed the world of tech culture from her vantage point of being an insider yet feeling like an outsider. She moves to San Francisco after being a Brooklynite for most of her 25 years and experiences the dislocation blues acutely like most people. For those of us on the outside, it's not really clear what her high paying job entails or what the startup produces. For that matter, what do any of the startups she eventually works for do to amass the enormous In this her first book, Anna Wiener has nailed the world of tech culture from her vantage point of being an insider yet feeling like an outsider. She moves to San Francisco after being a Brooklynite for most of her 25 years and experiences the dislocation blues acutely like most people. For those of us on the outside, it's not really clear what her high paying job entails or what the startup produces. For that matter, what do any of the startups she eventually works for do to amass the enormous paydays and perks that their employees enjoy. What this reader got from this book was not a deeper understanding of those roles, but of what it meant for a book loving person finding herself working for an industry that is attempting to dismantle that industry, and what it means to be a woman in a mostly male-driven industry. I have been a resident of the Bay Area for over 35 years and found her depiction of San Francisco to be dead on. Two friends who have lived here since the early 70's pointed out that it wasn't their city any more, thanks to the impassable streets, the endless construction, the disappearance of businesses that had occupied the same locations for decades. "The city, trapped in nostalgia for its own mythology, stuck in a hallucination of a halcyon past, had not caught up to the newfound momentum...". Making way for housing, restaurants, and bike stands that cater to the tech community -- "... I was stuck in an industry that was chipping away at so many things I cared about." Weidner's insecurity in never quite feeling a part of this world doesn't keep her from being a solid observer.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Hype can be a good and bad thing for a book. For me, the hype ruined Uncanny Valley. Since maybe July of last year, this book has been heralded as a send-up of Silicon Valley, a scathing and witty critique of everything wrong with tech culture, by Goodreads and The New York Times alike. I was expecting such when I picked it up, only to discover that it is a completely mediocre, not very well written piece of nonfiction that recycles many opinions about tech that I've heard before. The author, An Hype can be a good and bad thing for a book. For me, the hype ruined Uncanny Valley. Since maybe July of last year, this book has been heralded as a send-up of Silicon Valley, a scathing and witty critique of everything wrong with tech culture, by Goodreads and The New York Times alike. I was expecting such when I picked it up, only to discover that it is a completely mediocre, not very well written piece of nonfiction that recycles many opinions about tech that I've heard before. The author, Anna Wiener, is a tech outsider. She's an assistant at a publishing company in New York, working hard for minimum wage, before deciding to leave the industry and work for an ebook startup - still literature-adjacent, but with more of a tech bent. When that job doesn't work out, she moves to San Francisco and joins a data analytics startup in a customer support role. After a few years there, she moves to work for Github. She realizes that she does not like the self-importance of tech, how everyone in the industry thinks they're changing the world when they're really ruining it. She critiques the subcultures and hobbies that abound here: spiritualism (think: yoga, astrology, reiki, sound baths, silent meditation retreats), crafts and working with your hands for fun, obsessive and mandatory team bonding in city-wide scavenger hunts and happy hours and ski trips, etc. She hates the sexism and lack of diversity that is so commonplace here. (Another reviewer pointed out that maybe she wasn’t taken seriously because she has zero technical skills, not because she’s a woman, and there may be some truth to that.) She hates talking to other people in tech, particularly brogrammers (despite kinda dating one, oops). She hates it all! But she doesn't leave the industry. Oh, in fact she is exactly part of the culture she is criticizing, making way too much money and enjoying all the perks of working for a tech company. I felt that Wiener's book may have been more topical and relevant a few years ago. In fact, it ends right after the 2016 election, where the author is truly awakened out of her coastal elite bubble. Since then, we've seen countless send-ups of the industry, repeating the same ideas that everyone has of how overrated and self-obsessed tech is. I don't think that this book adds anything new to the growing zeitgeist of how terrible Silicon Valley is. The writing style was also off-putting to me. Instead of referring to companies and people by their names, she dubs them with obvious epithets, repeats them a million times, and makes the reader do the work of putting two and two together. Facebook is "the social network everyone hates." Amazon is "the online superstore." Google is "the search engine giant." Microsoft is "the litigious Seattle-based software conglomerate" (or something like that). Her own employer, Github, is "the open-source startup." Even The Matrix is "a movie about a group of hackers who discover that life is a simulation." THE MATRIX. JUST SAY THE NAME OF THE DAMN MOVIE. I didn't form a connection with any of her coworker-characters because she didn't even give most of them names. Instead, she referred to them by job title: "the solutions manager," "the data analytics company CEO," "the technical co-founder," etc. All of this felt lazy and impersonal to me. Wiener also does a lot of telling, not showing. Instead of giving us a compelling narrative about one of her work retreats, she presents a list of compound activities of general actions that happened on the trip: e.g. there was drinking, people played games, we ate at a diner. Not only is she generalizing these activities and implying that the apply to every company in this industry, but she's not making me feel engaged with the subject matter and story at hand. This technique might be effective for an article or essay (which I understand is how this book was originally presented), but it's not effective for a long-form work of nonfiction. Overall, the hype killed this for me. If I hadn't expected something great, I might have liked this a little more (still not that much, I'll admit). I don't think this is anything new, and frankly I didn't enjoy the experience of reading it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Debut author Anna Wiener shares her engaging professional story of her move from a small Brooklyn, N.Y. literary agency to an exciting new tech start-up: “Uncanny Valley: A Memoir” highlights the big money, big deals, contracts of big business, the big talent and big egos of the male staff that dominated the Silicon Valley tech industry. Fifty men and six women worked at the (unnamed) tech start-up where Weiner was first employed. While living in her North Brooklyn apartment --furnished with seco Debut author Anna Wiener shares her engaging professional story of her move from a small Brooklyn, N.Y. literary agency to an exciting new tech start-up: “Uncanny Valley: A Memoir” highlights the big money, big deals, contracts of big business, the big talent and big egos of the male staff that dominated the Silicon Valley tech industry. Fifty men and six women worked at the (unnamed) tech start-up where Weiner was first employed. While living in her North Brooklyn apartment --furnished with second hand furniture, a roommate she barely knew, Wiener’s position as an assistant editor at a NYC literary agency had run its course. There was no room for advancement except to marry rich, inherit money, wait for colleagues to transfer or die. Wiener’s $31,000 annual salary (no benefits) wasn’t enough to live on—even with no credit card or educational debt and no dependents. Wiener loved the free hardback books, and the rapidly shrinking book world as she knew it— still, she interviewed for a non-tech position for an e-book start up: she got the job. “Hello, San Francisco!” The $65,000 annual salary with company dental and medical benefits was almost too good to be true. Wiener treats readers to amazing descriptions not only of the tech industry, but of San Francisco: the Castro and Mission districts (where she lived) the hippies, freaks, weirdos, leather daddies, the rambunctious homeless population, the paid company group ski trip and various company sponsored retreats. Wiener’s new job was similar to providing customer support to a small team of (boy-men) software developers: “like immersion therapy for internalized misogyny”. Wiener soothed, cheered them up, affirmed, advocated for success and ordered them pizza. One colleague had a PhD in Biology and wanted to be known as the doctor. The 25 year old CEO was “ambitious and awkward”; she appreciated his “hard-won praise”, and he reminded her of her high school classmates at a Manhattan math science school. Often the storyline was hard to follow. Wiener seldom named names and never identified start-ups or tech companies she wrote about. Rereading the story doesn’t help. Her boyfriend Ian, worked in robotics and very little was revealed about their relationship. I wondered if they had broken up a few times. Noah, a trusted co-worker, was fired from her team and was (likely) very successful in tech. Now “Patrick”, I think, may have been the man himself—though, we have no way of knowing. Still, Wiener is a marvelous storyteller, and I wouldn’t want to miss anything she might write in the future. ** With thanks and appreciation to Farrar, Straus, Giroux, via NetGalley for the DDC for the purpose of review.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amar Pai

    I really enjoyed this, disturbing as it is. Every veiled reference in this book is immediately recognizable to someone working and living in tech SF during the 2nd dot com boom. For better or for worse. She nails the time and place. Wiener is scathing, precise; her writing is top notch as you'd expect from a New Yorker contributor. Part of the draw of the book is that she isn't above it all; she's seduced by the scene even as she recognizes how gross it is. So many tech bros in dot com shirts, s I really enjoyed this, disturbing as it is. Every veiled reference in this book is immediately recognizable to someone working and living in tech SF during the 2nd dot com boom. For better or for worse. She nails the time and place. Wiener is scathing, precise; her writing is top notch as you'd expect from a New Yorker contributor. Part of the draw of the book is that she isn't above it all; she's seduced by the scene even as she recognizes how gross it is. So many tech bros in dot com shirts, so much optimizing and growth hacking. But also a genuine historical moment, in a city that remains beautiful even as it becomes a playground for the rich. Anyone who worked at Goodreads (one of the less gross dot coms of the era, if you ask me) needs to read this. I felt like she was describing our original office at one point. Irregular bucket drumming. And then our next office near the Gold Club. She also goes on the same scavenger hunt team building thing that we all did!! LOL Ettore do you remember that one? Shout out to everyone who worked at Goodreads. I have a lot of affection for that place and the people who were there, even if the surrounding city and atmosphere was already becoming the capitalist hellscape it is now.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Otis Chandler

    I agree with my friend and former coworker, Patrick Brown - too real. I was a startup CEO in San Francisco for over 10 years, and I ate at those restaurants, went to those bars, took my company for an outing at the same place by the Stockton tunnel. Weird to see a different lens on the places I know. And yet, I don't recognize the San Francisco she describes. In fact, I found myself rejecting it again and again, and almost put this book down. I do recognize that the gold rush of tech has brought I agree with my friend and former coworker, Patrick Brown - too real. I was a startup CEO in San Francisco for over 10 years, and I ate at those restaurants, went to those bars, took my company for an outing at the same place by the Stockton tunnel. Weird to see a different lens on the places I know. And yet, I don't recognize the San Francisco she describes. In fact, I found myself rejecting it again and again, and almost put this book down. I do recognize that the gold rush of tech has brought a lot of people to the "Valley" (aka the Bay Area). And some of these people may not love what they do as much as those of us who are there because we love what we do. I think this is one of the biggest challenges tech is facing, which is why reading this book, while uncomfortable, was interesting.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    mmmm bleh. i enjoyed the first half way more than the second half. i just really wanted the book to end differently, in a more confronting-complicity-in-tech kind of way but this really wasn’t that kind of book unfortunately. i thought i’d read this and feel a little better about some of the ppl in tech and the state of san francisco but i really fooled myself! lol anna is a good writer but i just wanted more complicated FEELINGS. my only notable thing to take with me is this little passage i lo mmmm bleh. i enjoyed the first half way more than the second half. i just really wanted the book to end differently, in a more confronting-complicity-in-tech kind of way but this really wasn’t that kind of book unfortunately. i thought i’d read this and feel a little better about some of the ppl in tech and the state of san francisco but i really fooled myself! lol anna is a good writer but i just wanted more complicated FEELINGS. my only notable thing to take with me is this little passage i loved on liking an inefficient life, contrary to tech’s profiting off convenience and efficiencies. my goal is to lean in to joyful inefficiencies and the spontaneity of human living. “unfortunately for me, i like my inefficient life. i liked listening to the radio and cooking with excessive utensils; slivering onions, defanging wet herbs. wringing out warm sponges. i liked riding public transportation: watching strangers talk to their children; watching strangers stare out the window at the sunset, and at photos of the sunset on their phones. i liked taking long walks to purchase onigiri in japantown, or taking long walks with no destination at all. folding the laundry. copying keys. filling out forms. phone calls. i even liked the post office, the predictable discontent of bureaucracy. i liked fill albums, flipping the record. long novels with minimal plot; minimalist novels with minimal plot. engaging with strangers.” also, on working at an ad tech/data analytics startup: “the surveillance apparatus was larger and more complex than originally reported, and silicon valley was deeply implicated. “i didn’t think about it while i was working there, because the product was so business oriented. i didn’t necessarily see it as a problem for society. plus, i don’t think i had the information that all the money from the internet comes from surveillance.”

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jenee Rager

    Try as I might I could not get into this book. I think the story itself was informative, and it could have been interesting had it been written in a different style. I really struggled with the lack of names. Instead of just calling her co-workers "John" or "Mary" or whatever name she felt like, the author referred to them by their job description, making it impossible for me to connect with any of them. This was a goodreads giveaway and I appreciate the opportunity to try reading something new Try as I might I could not get into this book. I think the story itself was informative, and it could have been interesting had it been written in a different style. I really struggled with the lack of names. Instead of just calling her co-workers "John" or "Mary" or whatever name she felt like, the author referred to them by their job description, making it impossible for me to connect with any of them. This was a goodreads giveaway and I appreciate the opportunity to try reading something new and different, but it was not my cup of tea.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jolanta (knygupe)

    'The uncanny valley is a concept first introduced in the 1970s by Masahiro Mori, then a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Mori coined the term “uncanny valley” to describe his observation that as robots appear more humanlike, they become more appealing—but only up to a certain point.'-google ... tuo pačiu pavadinimu yra ir survival horror kompiuterinis žadimas. Tai čia tokie pasufleravimai apie ką šie prisiminimai iš autorės keturių metų darbo ir gyvnimo patirties Silicon Valley. Ne 'The uncanny valley is a concept first introduced in the 1970s by Masahiro Mori, then a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Mori coined the term “uncanny valley” to describe his observation that as robots appear more humanlike, they become more appealing—but only up to a certain point.'-google ... tuo pačiu pavadinimu yra ir survival horror kompiuterinis žadimas. Tai čia tokie pasufleravimai apie ką šie prisiminimai iš autorės keturių metų darbo ir gyvnimo patirties Silicon Valley. Ne be humoro...apie start-up kulturą, tech kulturą, apie rasizmą, ageism'ą, sexism'ą... Feministėms nervus tai tikrai patampys. Man patiko, kad knyga parašyta iš pykčio, bet ne piktai.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Liu

    Dazzling and brutal at the same time. If you're disillusioned with Silicon Valley, you'll want to read this book. If you're not, you won't want to read this book, but you should. Dazzling and brutal at the same time. If you're disillusioned with Silicon Valley, you'll want to read this book. If you're not, you won't want to read this book, but you should.

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