TECHNOLOGY

Uncanny Valley: A Memoir

MCD. Jan. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9780374278014. $27. MEMOIR
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In Wiener's absorbing, fast-paced debut, the New Yorker staff writer recounts her experience moving from an ebook start-up in New York to a data analytics company in San Francisco, and, later, to an open-source start-up, all while in her 20s. Wiener's descriptions of Silicon Valley expose an industry in which sexism and misogyny are commonplace, where work and personal identities blur and overlap as people become indistinguishable from their brands. For Wiener, regular occurrences, including inappropriate comments and touching, combined with uncertainty around her own identity, led to a sense of loneliness and unease. She excels when challenging the tech industry: questioning its reluctance to diversify and refusal to hold itself accountable for digital surveillance. Brief, fervent chapters tell of working on, and for, the internet; the negative impact it had on Wiener's psyche; and the burnout and imposter syndrome she experienced as a result.
VERDICT Wiener is a talented writer, and her story will engage fellow millennials who have found themselves obsessively refreshing social media or mindlessly scrolling to pass the time. Insight into the history of Silicon Valley, and the ideologies transforming society, are a bonus that will ensure the book's longevity.

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