“A Chip On Her Shoulder” offers an opportunity to learn history from an assembled cast of multi-generational computing-oriented characters engaging in conversational and planned action in a fictional year 2019. I hope you enjoy my history, my disability, my reflections, my risks, and my satire. Please pass on your impressions and objections to me at email@example.com, also requests for ;passwords for protected sections.
Why care about history of computing? We live within the pros and throes of Silicon Valley. We watch the Internet grow up. Some of us recall the “Dawn of Web Time”, circa 1995. “It is what it is”, some say. But how did we get here and can our .com brains envision alternatives until climate or political forces take over?
What’s to know about search engine competition?, non-USA computing initiatives? early non-WWW communities? or pioneers’ passages? What mattered to computing about missile defense, or Sputnik, or WW II science, or Victorian looms? Well, ask any computer science student or practicing software engineer and you’ll likely find a big “duh?”. Can you trust a profession that cannot compare today’s technology with earlier generations? that grow up with one programming paradigm that molds their minds against other ways of thinking? that gets wealthy by manipulating you as ‘living data’? that uses bug bounties to sustain its software supply chain?
One thing I learned writing this story is how little I understood events and eras as I was witnessing them while I bounced around jobs and published my papers and taught software engineering courses. A lifelong learning environment now takes me back through history but cannot fully connect world events and national economies with technology Ideas I encountered.
This book evolved from memoir to hero’s journey to historical clarification through imaginary inter-generational conversations. Flipping a switch on our industrial computing model, circa 2017, spawned the CumuLinker architecture and social motives that gave my characters something to play with.
Of course, I leave behind some feelings about women in computing, but only one is bitter. Otherwise, the characters have fun with technology, take pride in their discoveries, and live on by adjusting.
One more unusual outlook enriched this story. As my vision loss set in, congenital but non-intrusive until 2005, I learned another culture and technology. Disability was fought by writing blogs and self-training on assistive technology. Adapting to synthetic speech brought not only a useful tool but also a different way of seeing, and possibly even a threat. My career working with professionals who had assimilated a mind full of risks added a theme to the story. Then the pandemic set in and CumuLinker kept going while I wrapped up the writing and its lessons for me.
Hey, this novel has a give-away idea, once called a “hack”, for readers to experiment with a simple, often effective, alternatives search strategy. Give the Controversy Discovery Engine a try!
One more experiment in this story is a series of simulated podcasts that explain both technologies and motivations for a saga called the Pink Page Rampage, where rebels use visual weapons to disrupt the already chaotic WWW. Yes, I’m a podcast addict for much of my news and continuing education. Will Marilyn grab control over Team 3Gen from protagonist Casey Hawke? Will the younger generations learn from the elders of Team 3G?And who has a chip on her shoulder?