Dan Lyons’s memoir of his time as a conspicuously older employee in the twenty-something culture of HubSpot is a readable and entertaining evisceration of both the obvious and some of the more insidious poisonous aspects of Silicon Valley workplace culture. His experience as a tech journalist at Newsweek and elsewhere means that he also from time to time has some interesting insights into the strengths (and more often weaknesses) of HubSpot’s business which makes more edifying reading than a simple tour through a horror show.
I love post-mortem and process reading. The Cuckoo’s Egg is essentially a narrativization of Cliff Stoll’s logbook of a months-long surveillance of a hacker on his Berkeley computer lab’s Unix systems, and I found the sincere, guileless enthusiasm and detail with which he chronicled his work fascinating. From a historical perspective, the different level of infosec expectations at relatively sensitive sites on this early Internet compared versus basic consumer security expectations more than thirty years later is striking.
I use Git all day every day but, probably like most, only barely scratch the surface of its functionality. From a practical standpoint, Demaree’s book also does not go particularly deep into esoteric features of the software; I might have learned one or two practical tips and tricks. The book is instead a concise, accessible encapsulation of Git’s design perspective meant to help people engage with it on its own terms. As with many of the books in the A Book Apart series, its strength comes in the tightness and directness of its purpose. It’s difficult to point to a single insight that I have not yet encountered elsewhere or stumbled upon on my own, but I nonetheless have a better sense of what to expect from Git from encountering all of these ideas together, organized in this way, and articulated this clearly and succinctly.
Having spent last year in Berlin (and returning this year for the summer), I’ve been getting back into reading twentieth century European for the first time in roughly twenty years. Having heard about Blitzed on the Do By Friday podcast, I thought it would introduce a lighter vein to that area of my reading. Ohler is not as historiographically disciplined as a writer trained as a historian might be, but his account is nonetheless at least very suggestive and is certainly entertaining and disturbing. Sometimes the account—particularly in its riffs on the relationship between Hitler and his private physician—may indulge a little too much in the salacious for my tastes, but Ohler’s central conceit that the story of Hitler’s dependency and perhaps addictions is essential for its subversion of Nazism’s claim to moral purity is convincing.