: New: Book Report: Broad Band

It's a book of capsule biographies/short histories of women who programmed internet stuff (or maybe some other stuff) and/or created some early internet content. Thanks to this book, I know I want to read a not-so-short biography of Grace Hopper, whose capsule biography was maybe not as boring as I expected. (I knew her computer-y contributions were important—compilers! the real bug! I just didn't realize there might be a story behind it that was any more interesting than "tweedy intellectual thought hard while sitting near a teletype".) I've read enough history so that these short bits tended to be about folks where I'd already learned more details or else I wasn't so interested. (Though… Maybe some of that "wasn't so interested" just reflects my ignorance. One story was that of women.com, which I remembered as being a tepid website, but thanks to this history I find out that's because I didn't see it in the good ol' days when it was interesting, but only later when it had bland-ified itself in hopes of appealing to a broader audience. (I would have liked a where-are-they-now for the ChickClick bloggers… but how long did ChickClick last, anyhow? I shouldn't be surprised that women.com was a bigger deal, influence-wise. So it's not surprising that this book covered women.com in detail but just mentioned ChickClick in passing.) I know just enough about that topic to miss the fact that it used to be dangerous…)

I also got to find out some not-so-computer-y accomplishments. Like how Patricia Crowther, then-wife of Will Crowther, had been a big deal in caving, having explored two caves and wriggling through a tight space to show that they were all one cave system. I guess if I were trying to impress you with this book report, I'd talk about how this symbolizes the accomplishments of women computer professionals: under the surface, unknown to most computer geeks… But really when I was reading it, it wasn't so clear why this caving story was in a book that was supposedly be about internet stuff. (Yeah, Colossal Cave Adventure was a computer game, but I don't really think of it as an internet thing, you know?) Anyhow…

There is some history. For folks who consumed conten read newfangled web-sites back in the day when web-sites were newfangled, there's some nostalgia. It's some good reading, yep.

Tags: book

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