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Uncanny Valley: A Memoir

Uncanny Valley: A Memoir

Written by Anna Wiener

Narrated by Suehyla El-Attar


Uncanny Valley: A Memoir

Written by Anna Wiener

Narrated by Suehyla El-Attar

ratings:
4/5 (141 ratings)
Length:
8 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jan 14, 2020
ISBN:
9781250261656
Format:
Audiobook

Editor's Note

Editor’s pick…

In her debut memoir, Anna Wiener writes incisively about tech’s outsized influence in everything from politics to privacy. But she’s even more incisive when describing the way she herself was seduced by tech, and — initially — nearly blind to its faults. The memoir may be primarily concerned with the early 2010s, but these insights remain crucially relevant as we turn to face the 2020s.

Description

The prescient account of a journey in Silicon Valley: a defining memoir of our digital age

In her mid-20s, 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.

Publisher:
Released:
Jan 14, 2020
ISBN:
9781250261656
Format:
Audiobook

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What people think about Uncanny Valley

4.1
141 ratings / 7 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (2/5)
    I didn't care for the style of writing. It was very hard to get in to and didn't leave a memorable impression on me. I will say I did find the aspect of how women are treated in tech industry interesting, but I feel this story wasn't as captivating as I had hoped.
  • (5/5)
    Having spent a career in tech - large enterprises - the author’s perspective is interesting and the style is very engaging. Also the voice actress who read it for the audio book is excellent
  • (3/5)
    Though this book starts out strong, giving a wonderful heartfelt account of exploring the world of tech in New York and Silicon Valley, 2/3 of the way through you get tired of the whining. The author seems to be able to complain about everything besides her own lack of initiative. She’s a Misandrist, endlessly complaining about about male culture, while failing to conceive of the possibility that that culture might have its own legitimate subjectivity, and that she could create a female business counter-culture of her own — if she had enough courage, will, imagination, and initiative. The fact that other people have this and she doesn’t seems to be the main problem with her endlessly looping psychology — and the main problem with everything in her life that she completely fails to see.
  • (4/5)
    Insightful and creative. She is definitely an outsider, but the author doesn’t give herself enough credit for her intelligence and contribution. Even so, she gives a very honest and unflinching account of searching for meaning and belonging.
  • (5/5)
    I loved it. Not sure what else to say. Thank you for this book.
  • (2/5)

    4 people found this helpful

    I’m a woman who’s a similar age to the author and have worked for several tech companies in the same market verticals. She made this industry seem deeply flawed, insidious, and exceptionally sexist. It’s just not a fair representation of the tech industry.

    Yes, sexism exists. And yes it exists across all industries. And of course we must always work to be better. But these tech companies have also given their employees more freedom, work/life balance, and more empowerment to call out discrimination than old-school companies offered. (I’ve worked for big, old-school industries too.)

    The author acts as if she’s on a moral high ground, but her money, career, and success were built working for these companies for years. It’s unfortunate that someone might read this book in 50 years and think this is what this tech revolution looked like.

    4 people found this helpful

  • (3/5)

    3 people found this helpful

    So many observations, so little insight.

    If we count the number of times the author says “I” we might notice a certain level of self-absorbed prose. She can write, she is an astute observer, but everything has the same depth of ironic detachment and abstract attention. The details are all there, but like an IKEA desk pulled out of the flat pack, the parts astutely and lovingly described, but never assembled into a functional finished ...

    3 people found this helpful