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The prescient, page-turning account of a journey in Silicon Valley: a defining memoir of our digital age In her mid-twenties, at the height of tech industry idealism, Anna Wienerstuck, 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 The prescient, page-turning account of a journey in Silicon Valley: a defining memoir of our digital age In her mid-twenties, 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.


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The prescient, page-turning account of a journey in Silicon Valley: a defining memoir of our digital age In her mid-twenties, at the height of tech industry idealism, Anna Wienerstuck, 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 The prescient, page-turning account of a journey in Silicon Valley: a defining memoir of our digital age In her mid-twenties, 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.

30 review for Uncanny Valley: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    In her debut memoir, Uncanny Valley, Anna Wiener recounts how, at age 25, she abandoned her drab job at a New York literary agency for a high-paying customer support role at a Silicon Valley start-up. In compulsively readable prose the writer describes how the excitement she first felt toward working in the tech industry soon soured, after repeated encounters with her white male peers sexism, racism, and disregard for user privacy. As she recounts her story she adroitly links her disillusionment In her debut memoir, Uncanny Valley, Anna Wiener recounts how, at age 25, she abandoned her drab job at a New York literary agency for a high-paying customer support role at a Silicon Valley start-up. In compulsively readable prose the writer describes how the excitement she first felt toward working in the tech industry soon soured, after repeated encounters with her white male peers’ sexism, racism, and disregard for user privacy. As she recounts her story she adroitly links her disillusionment to the nation’s growing disgust with the amorality and arrogance of Big Tech and Big Data. The work’s swift and easy to digest, but there’s not much reportage or analysis here and Wiener’s critique of Silicon Valley’s culture of privilege is solid but offers little that’s new.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Meborn

    Wiener is a very good writer, and I really liked the original essay that inspired the book. But this felt too much like a long-form essay extended into a book, with little narrative arc. I never felt that invested in the narrator (Weiner), or what would happen in the broader world she's inhabiting. Just when you think a subplot is developing it peters out, or is muted by a lack of elaboration (eg Pizzagate). The narration felt very distant, like someone who's chipping away at a core truth, but Wiener is a very good writer, and I really liked the original essay that inspired the book. But this felt too much like a long-form essay extended into a book, with little narrative arc. I never felt that invested in the narrator (Weiner), or what would happen in the broader world she's inhabiting. Just when you think a subplot is developing it peters out, or is muted by a lack of elaboration (eg Pizzagate). The narration felt very distant, like someone who's chipping away at a core truth, but can't quite get at it. For example, almost all the characters are reduced to tech bro archetypes. Everyone thinks they're crushing it, they don't ever think about the consequences. But these are people, too. Why are they this way? Why does the tech ecosystem reinforce such insular behavior? Wiener seems more interested in condemning tech than understanding the underlying psychology. For a non-fiction book, I wanted more nuance. Instead, this felt to me like watching a Hollywood movie caricaturing Wall Street. That said, Wiener has a sharp wit, with some good turns of phrase.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I thought I was burnt out on reading about tech, but many parts of this excerpt made me laugh out loud: Job listings are an excellent place to get sprayed with HRs idea of fun and a 23-year-olds idea of work-life balance. Also, this!!!!!! To solve our problem, management arranges for a team-building exercise. They schedule it on a weeknight evening, and we pretend not to mind. Our team-building begins with beers in the office, and then we travel en masse to a tiny event space at the mouth of the I thought I was burnt out on reading about tech, but many parts of this excerpt made me laugh out loud: Job listings are an excellent place to get sprayed with HR’s idea of fun and a 23-year-old’s idea of work-life balance. Also, this!!!!!! To solve our problem, management arranges for a team-building exercise. They schedule it on a weeknight evening, and we pretend not to mind. Our team-building begins with beers in the office, and then we travel en masse to a tiny event space at the mouth of the Stockton Tunnel, where two energetic blondes give us sweatbands and shots. https://nplusonemag.com/issue-25/on-t...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Julie Ehlers

    These are the days of miracles and wonder this is the long-distance call the way the camera follows us in slow-mo the way we look to us all the way we look to a distant constellation thats dying in a corner of the sky these are the days of miracles and wonder and dont cry, baby, dont cry I heard Paul Simons Boy in the Bubble in the car this morning and felt the way I always do when I hear it: That it could have been written yesterday. And because Ive been thinking about Uncanny Valley lately, it made me These are the days of miracles and wonder this is the long-distance call the way the camera follows us in slow-mo the way we look to us all the way we look to a distant constellation that’s dying in a corner of the sky these are the days of miracles and wonder and don’t cry, baby, don’t cry I heard Paul Simon’s “Boy in the Bubble” in the car this morning and felt the way I always do when I hear it: That it could have been written yesterday. And because I’ve been thinking about Uncanny Valley lately, it made me think about that. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by startup culture. I think part of it is that I feel like it happened while my back was turned. While I was working for a small press that still sent authors hard copies of proofs, people on the other side of the country were remaking the world. I took a programming class when I was twelve; it I had been able to recognize the future when I saw it, maybe I could have been one of them! Of course, I graduated college in 1993, so I might’ve been gone after the first pop of the bubble, who knows. But for some reason I think about this. So a memoir like Uncanny Valley, about a young woman who leaves the idea of a life in publishing for a career in Silicon Valley, is automatically interesting to me, and for me this book primarily functioned as a workplace memoir, taking place in one of the weirdest and yet most powerful and influential industries imaginable. I reveled in the bizarre stories. I identified with the existential angst. I learned a lot about how things work out there, but I was always aware that it was just one woman’s story and that probably every single person she worked with had their own take, some diametrically opposed to Wiener’s. Some of it I expected: the sexism, the outrageous sums of money. I guess none of it was really unexpected. Well, except this: Sorry to generalize, but in a lot of books and articles by younger people who’ve grown up with the internet, they may acknowledge that the internet is harming us, but still they seem to resist the idea of a life that doesn’t revolve around it (Jia Tolentino, whose work I like, may be the most prominent example of this). Wiener is different: Her time in the trenches makes her want to get as far away from the whole thing as she possibly can. She wonders if she can break away from analytics and customer support, and become a writer instead. And although she is humbled by how irrelevant serious writing and books are in Silicon Valley, she does it anyway. (The cashed-in stock options helped, of course.) So that was different, and rightly or wrongly, it made me trust her a little more. And because I trusted her a little more I was willing to overlook some of this book’s faults, most particularly a weird tendency to turn everything into a symbol, from the décor of bars to company-branded T-shirts of the sort that have actually been around for decades. I couldn’t help thinking, this all happened 5 years ago; it’s too soon to know what’s really a symbol of anything and what those symbols might mean. It added a level of portentousness that felt artificial. Except that maybe it didn’t feel that artificial, not really. Having it spelled out, exactly how much information tech companies have about us and how seriously they were not taking it, it was terrifying, and grim. Things are moving a lot faster than they used to; it’s possible all the portentous symbols mean exactly what they look like they mean. And maybe that’s the reason why something that initially seemed so miraculous already feels like it’s become what everything else becomes—a few people grabbing a lot of power and a lot of money while the rest of our backs are turned. We don’t know where it’s going, and with people like Wiener bailing out, who’s even going to tell us now?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Doon

    This book is badged as an inside look into the world of tech bros by a woman who was there. However, the books main insights, that the men who work in Silicon Valley are mainly white, middle-class and supremely confident men who think that every idea they have has value, are nothing you didnt already know. I kept on reading, expecting that there would be a gotcha moment, an insight into a well-known public occurrence, but it never came. It felt like it was written for people who dont follow the This book is badged as an inside look into the world of tech bro’s by a woman who was there. However, the books main insights, that the men who work in Silicon Valley are mainly white, middle-class and supremely confident men who think that every idea they have has value, are nothing you didn’t already know. I kept on reading, expecting that there would be a ‘gotcha’ moment, an insight into a well-known public occurrence, but it never came. It felt like it was written for people who don’t follow the online world at all. I’ve never worked in tech but there are so many articles about Silicon Valley culture that give you the same insights without subjecting you to excruciatingly detailed descriptions of awful sounding parties. The author was often negging herself while humble bragging. An odd, but not unenjoyable read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook....read by Suehyla El-Attar [8 hours and 14 minutes] For Anna Wiener, working in the high tech industry from where she came from - a literary book background - was like learning a foreign language. For the old farts who have lived in the Bay Area and witnessed the Silicon Valley growth - the tech growth - the changes from fruit orchards to new startups - will be shaking their heads - smiling & laughing - cringing occasionally - while saying....oh, my gosh, YES.....THE SILICON VALLEY Audiobook....read by Suehyla El-Attar [8 hours and 14 minutes] For Anna Wiener, working in the high tech industry from where she came from - a literary book background - was like learning a foreign language. For the old farts who have lived in the Bay Area and witnessed the Silicon Valley growth - the tech growth - the changes from fruit orchards to new startups - will be shaking their heads - smiling & laughing - cringing occasionally - while saying....”oh, my gosh, YES”.....THE SILICON VALLEY is sooo well presented through the eyes of *Anna*.... Parts are very enjoyable- really funny - and it’s always fun to read another person write about the streets we’ve walked many times - and a topic and culture that has affected our lives directly. This book is well written - and relatable to many of us locals. It’s relatable to the 20 year olds who are wiz-kids driving the tech companies to new heights. It’s ALL AROUND ME..... AND...interesting ....as of 10 minutes ago SILICON VALLEY is on lockdown. ALL RESIDENTS - no matter what age -ARE ON HOME LOCKDOWN OTHER ....than grocery stores - and pharmacies- everything is to close NO SOCIAL GATHERING.... SO.... I was trying to write this review but maybe some of you can understand how distracted I am at the moment. Our lives are GREATLY AFFECTED. WITH NO INCOME COMING IN..... well.... it’s not a laughing matter.... But a few more tidbits about this book ( while I can concentrate and not worry about my husbands job)....and people EVERYWHERE..... LOTS OF LAUGHS in here...from $18 salads, from Anna moving out of the Castro district to her first one bedroom apartment- to the ACCURATE VISUALS of the culture and life around the SFBay Area: People playing guitar on the streets, pot smoking, petting the dogs, head-shops, free clinics, panhandling, micro neighborhoods, nudist drinking coffee‘s and cafés, The Haight district in SF..... tourists get the wrong idea.... They think the people wearing tie-dye leggings and T-shirts are leftover hippies from the 60s..... many really are just homeless .... But, yes, there is a nostalgic for the 60s in parts of the Bay Area that has never really left completely. I loved when Anna was sharing about herself and how she function,here - coming from New York with no tech experience. She was great at her job, a quick study! It was easy to visualize her walking to Golden gate Park, alone on the weekends. She felt free. She felt invisible. She also felt very lonely. I love this woman....hope to meet Anna Wiener some day! Ha...she mentioned Airbnb too. I’d gladly give her a couple nights free at our spa oasis. I must say, though ....due to the coronavirus- this is the second - wonderful - contemporary book - that given our NEW NORMAL.... THIS BOOK FEELS DATED ( in a matter of days) > SCARY! Not a book for everyone ....it’s definitely a SELF SELECT ‘type’. Thank you Theresa ....for making sure I didn’t miss it. Three times I checked this book from the library. The first two times - I was busy reading some other book .... FINALLY....I dedicated time to it ( while in the sauna or pool often) I’m actually VERY PROUD OF THIS BOOK..... FABULOUS OBSERVATIONS of ‘what is’..... or shall I say ‘was’ last week!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    DNF. I tried and tried again but my interest in start ups and the excessive money they draw is just not there. For the most part this is garnering good reviews, but it's just not for me.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Smith

    This is the third audiobook Ive listened to in the past few months that is focused on Silicon Valley. The first two concentrated on the development and life of specific companies, namely Yahoo and Google, whereas this book takes a look at the culture of technology start-ups. Having previously worked in publishing and at a literary agency in New York, Anna Wiener joined a four-person start-up who were developing an eBook reader app. She was to be the person who knew books amongst this small group This is the third audiobook I’ve listened to in the past few months that is focused on Silicon Valley. The first two concentrated on the development and life of specific companies, namely Yahoo and Google, whereas this book takes a look at the culture of technology start-ups. Having previously worked in publishing and at a literary agency in New York, Anna Wiener joined a four-person start-up who were developing an eBook reader app. She was to be the person who knew books amongst this small group of techies. This experience turned out to be short lived, however, as she was soon tempted out to San Francisco where she worked at a data analytics company for the next 18 months. Her third job in a technology start-up, also in the Bay Area, was at an open source software development company – essentially a company that develops software for software developers. I’d observed from the Yahoo and Google books that a clear distinction exists between technical staff (typically computer engineers or coders) and non-technical staff (sales people, administrators and others in customer facing roles). In short, the technical staff are valued the most. Anna finds this out quite quickly and though it clearly rankles she also finds enough interest and reward to keep her working in this industry for a number of years. She walks us through her various roles, her interactions with people inside the companies and her mindset as she wrestled with elements of her work that clearly don’t sit easily with her. One element here that I found frustrating is that Wiener seems to have an aversion to names: the people she comes across are simply labelled entrepreneur, technologist, CEO, venture capitalist etc. And the same goes for the companies she works for, uses or simply expresses an opinion upon, these being designated as the Seattle software conglomerate or the social media platform everybody hates. Is there a reason for this or is it simply a style choice? I’m not sure, but I didn’t like it. I did manage to work out some of the companies touched on (I think), with my list including Amazon, Google, Uber, eBay and Facebook. But of course I may be wrong. The other key thing here – and I found it to be the main thrust of the book – is that in Wiener’s opinion Silicon Valley is run by men, and usually men she doesn’t like very much. She particularly dislikes the way that these men treat the women in their employ. The author, a self confessed feminist, does go some way to explaining how she formed this view and the examples she gives are reasonably persuasive. But for me what fights against this is her obvious antipathy toward the male species in general. Others may disagree but I found it to be a pervasive flavour throughout. Overall I enjoyed the insight this book provided into how things work in a technology start-up. I also admired the author’s ability to string sentences together, often using obscure words and phrases. But Wiener herself came across as a royal pain in the arse. I know I'll be an outlier here but I'm afraid I found the whole thing to be way too annoying and for this reason I can only award it two stars.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    Silicon Valley, a place in which Anna Wiener was overwhelmingly outnumbered by men in the technological sphere, is still as dominated by white males as it was decades ago. Minorities and female workers are present but not as often as you might believe. Wiener certainly has some mettle to overlook these issues and decide to add at least one more woman to the Silicon Valley workforce. She details some important topics and discusses just how prevalent sexism, unwanted sexual advances and sexual Silicon Valley, a place in which Anna Wiener was overwhelmingly outnumbered by men in the technological sphere, is still as dominated by white males as it was decades ago. Minorities and female workers are present but not as often as you might believe. Wiener certainly has some mettle to overlook these issues and decide to add at least one more woman to the Silicon Valley workforce. She details some important topics and discusses just how prevalent sexism, unwanted sexual advances and sexual harassment were during her employment at a tech start-up. At its heart, it is a feminist coming of age tale and instead of telling the sugar-coated version of events she courageously tells it exactly how it was. She calls for more women to be employed in these type of corporations to at least try to give some semblance of equality. It makes you think with the thought-provoking and important topics it touches on but it also is highly readable; I don’t usually read biographies but this one caught my attention and I am so glad I decided to pick it up. I am full of admiration for her but certainly do not envy what she experienced. Every so often we need reminding of the issues still faced by women in the workplace, and this book does a superb job in broaching topics that absolutely need addressing. It's an inspiring, intelligent read with a fierce female telling not just her story but the story of so many other women; the me too movement has certainly started the ball rolling and people feel they are now able to talk about such harmful problems. This is a fascinating book that sheds light on the male-dominated workforce but it's high time this changed. Many thanks to Fourth Estate for an ARC.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    Anna Wiener left behind NYC and a job in publishing for a position at a Silicon Valley startup.  With no experience in tech, her position in customer service / data analytics isn't valued by the industry. It's a boy's club supported by venture capitalists and dripping in extravagance.  There are ski vacations, open bars at the office, and flexible schedules while demanding corporate fealty above the personal lives of employees. The lifestyle perks and salary lure Wiener in to the bubble but not Anna Wiener left behind NYC and a job in publishing for a position at a Silicon Valley startup.  With no experience in tech, her position in customer service / data analytics isn't valued by the industry. It's a boy's club supported by venture capitalists and dripping in extravagance.  There are ski vacations, open bars at the office, and flexible schedules while demanding corporate fealty above the personal lives of employees. The lifestyle perks and salary lure Wiener in to the bubble but not without eventually understanding the culture created by the industry, which she isn't afraid to discuss in detail. Wiener expertly weaves her personal story into the rise of Silicon Valley and the problems it has created (most notably in data security) while calling out the extreme bro culture, rampant sexism, and absurd arrogance she observed regularly. I recommend Uncanny Valley to readers who enjoy tech/memoir. Thanks to MCD and Edelweiss for providing me with a DRC in exchange for my honest review.  Uncanny Valley will be released tomorrow, January 14, 2020. For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  11. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Brown

    Too real. I drank at those bars. I ate those salads. I did the scavenger hunt that the team building place by the tunnel puts on. This book was uncomfortable for me to read. But I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a chronicle of a very specific place and a very specific time that suddenly feels decades ago to me. Too. Real.

  12. 5 out of 5

    mindful.librarian ☀️

    (free review copy) Hmmmm. Sigh. I had such such high hopes. Well, how about a summary: Privileged 20-something white female goes to work in Silicon Valley in tech. Literally nothing happens to her except she now knows more about tech and makes more money than she should and becomes disillusioned with the ridiculousness of it all. Then all of a sudden theres an election and everyone else also kind of gets disillusioned but also keeps making tons of money and doing exactly what they were doing (free review copy) Hmmmm. Sigh. I had such such high hopes. Well, how about a summary: Privileged 20-something white female goes to work in Silicon Valley in tech. Literally nothing happens to her except she now knows more about tech and makes more money than she should and becomes disillusioned with the ridiculousness of it all. Then all of a sudden there’s an election and everyone else also kind of gets disillusioned but also keeps making tons of money and doing exactly what they were doing anyway. And she’s still privileged. The end. A memoir that didn’t really need to be a memoir but whatever, everyone has a right to their story. Read if all that sounds interesting to you.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Debut author Anna Wiener shares her engaging professional story of her move from a small Brooklyn, N.Y. literary agency to an exciting new tech start-up: Uncanny Valley: A Memoir highlights the big money, big deals, contracts of big business, the big talent and big egos of the male staff that dominated the Silicon Valley tech industry. Fifty men and six women worked at the (unnamed) tech start-up where Weiner was first employed. While living in her North Brooklyn apartment --furnished with second Debut author Anna Wiener shares her engaging professional story of her move from a small Brooklyn, N.Y. literary agency to an exciting new tech start-up: “Uncanny Valley: A Memoir” highlights the big money, big deals, contracts of big business, the big talent and big egos of the male staff that dominated the Silicon Valley tech industry. Fifty men and six women worked at the (unnamed) tech start-up where Weiner was first employed. While living in her North Brooklyn apartment --furnished with second hand furniture, a roommate she barely knew, Wiener’s position as an assistant editor at a NYC literary agency had run its course. There was no room for advancement except to marry rich, inherit money, wait for colleagues to transfer or die. Wiener’s $31,000 annual salary (no benefits) wasn’t enough to live on—even with no credit card or educational debt and no dependents. Wiener loved the free hardback books, and the rapidly shrinking book world as she knew it— still, she interviewed for a non-tech position for an e-book start up: she got the job. “Hello, San Francisco!” The $65,000 annual salary with company dental and medical benefits was almost too good to be true. Wiener treats readers to amazing descriptions not only of the tech industry, but of San Francisco: the Castro and Mission districts (where she lived) the hippies, freaks, weirdos, leather daddies, the rambunctious homeless population, the paid company group ski trip and various company sponsored retreats. Wiener’s new job was similar to providing customer support to a small team of (boy-men) software developers: “like immersion therapy for internalized misogyny”. Wiener soothed, cheered them up, affirmed, advocated for success and ordered them pizza. One colleague had a PhD in Biology and wanted to be known as the doctor. The 25 year old CEO was “ambitious and awkward”; she appreciated his “hard-won praise”, and he reminded her of her high school classmates at a Manhattan math science school. Often the storyline was hard to follow. Wiener seldom named names and never identified start-ups or tech companies she wrote about. Rereading the story doesn’t help. Her boyfriend Ian, worked in robotics and very little was revealed about their relationship. I wondered if they had broken up a few times. Noah, a trusted co-worker, was fired from her team and was (likely) very successful in tech. Now “Patrick”, I think, may have been the man himself—though, we have no way of knowing. Still, Wiener is a marvelous storyteller, and I wouldn’t want to miss anything she might write in the future. ** With thanks and appreciation to Farrar, Straus, Giroux, via NetGalley for the DDC for the purpose of review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    In this her first book, Anna Wiener has nailed the world of tech culture from her vantage point of being an insider yet feeling like an outsider. She moves to San Francisco after being a Brooklynite for most of her 25 years and experiences the dislocation blues acutely like most people. For those of us on the outside, it's not really clear what her high paying job entails or what the startup produces. For that matter, what do any of the startups she eventually works for do to amass the enormous In this her first book, Anna Wiener has nailed the world of tech culture from her vantage point of being an insider yet feeling like an outsider. She moves to San Francisco after being a Brooklynite for most of her 25 years and experiences the dislocation blues acutely like most people. For those of us on the outside, it's not really clear what her high paying job entails or what the startup produces. For that matter, what do any of the startups she eventually works for do to amass the enormous paydays and perks that their employees enjoy. What this reader got from this book was not a deeper understanding of those roles, but of what it meant for a book loving person finding herself working for an industry that is attempting to dismantle that industry, and what it means to be a woman in a mostly male-driven industry. I have been a resident of the Bay Area for over 35 years and found her depiction of San Francisco to be dead on. Two friends who have lived here since the early 70's pointed out that it wasn't their city any more, thanks to the impassable streets, the endless construction, the disappearance of businesses that had occupied the same locations for decades. "The city, trapped in nostalgia for its own mythology, stuck in a hallucination of a halcyon past, had not caught up to the newfound momentum...". Making way for housing, restaurants, and bike stands that cater to the tech community -- "... I was stuck in an industry that was chipping away at so many things I cared about." Weidner's insecurity in never quite feeling a part of this world doesn't keep her from being a solid observer.

  15. 4 out of 5

    jasmine sun

    uncanny valley was a weirdly intimate look into a bubble i know all too well. i congratulated myself for understanding wiener's references to both dead french theorists and viral vc tweets, remembered my own first encounters with cowen-style rationalists and custom slack reacts, then wondered whether it was self-indulgent to read a 200 page inside joke. but so what? i've grown to expect every tech piece i read to be either a how-to guide or an investigative take-down. at its core, uncanny valley uncanny valley was a weirdly intimate look into a bubble i know all too well. i congratulated myself for understanding wiener's references to both dead french theorists and viral vc tweets, remembered my own first encounters with cowen-style rationalists and custom slack reacts, then wondered whether it was self-indulgent to read a 200 page inside joke. but so what? i've grown to expect every tech piece i read to be either a how-to guide or an investigative take-down. at its core, uncanny valley is neither of the above. instead, it had the primary effect of making me feel a little less alone, arranging my intuitions into beautiful words and familiar representations. so the systems-level message remains implicit, concealed in snapshots of people she (and we) have known and places she (and we) have been. technology - like politics, religion, media, and other industries trying to Change The World - will always come with a certain dose of surrealism. reality is twisted to fit a theory of change that always makes room for our sustenance, where there are sometimes missteps but always agency. wiener doesn't completely condemn that self-importance: it's all too human. through her own story, she shows how a worldview that forefronts jobs and companies can make us forget our subjectivity - that there are options beyond the kool-aid - that there's always an option to power off.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jenee Rager

    Try as I might I could not get into this book. I think the story itself was informative, and it could have been interesting had it been written in a different style. I really struggled with the lack of names. Instead of just calling her co-workers "John" or "Mary" or whatever name she felt like, the author referred to them by their job description, making it impossible for me to connect with any of them. This was a goodreads giveaway and I appreciate the opportunity to try reading something new Try as I might I could not get into this book. I think the story itself was informative, and it could have been interesting had it been written in a different style. I really struggled with the lack of names. Instead of just calling her co-workers "John" or "Mary" or whatever name she felt like, the author referred to them by their job description, making it impossible for me to connect with any of them. This was a goodreads giveaway and I appreciate the opportunity to try reading something new and different, but it was not my cup of tea.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Siobhan

    Uncanny Valley is a memoir about Silicon Valley, about being a woman there, and about the changing tech landscape. Anna Wiener left being an assistant in New York City publishing to work in a startup and soon ended up in Silicon Valley, working in data analytics. The memoir charts her time there and then at an open source repository company, as she looks at how she became deeply embedded in some of the mindsets of Silicon Valley and still felt like an outsider in others, particularly as someone Uncanny Valley is a memoir about Silicon Valley, about being a woman there, and about the changing tech landscape. Anna Wiener left being an assistant in New York City publishing to work in a startup and soon ended up in Silicon Valley, working in data analytics. The memoir charts her time there and then at an open source repository company, as she looks at how she became deeply embedded in some of the mindsets of Silicon Valley and still felt like an outsider in others, particularly as someone in non-technical roles in those companies. The memoir is unsurprising in its content, but interesting in the chance to think about the workplace culture at startups and other tech companies. The writing style is like a long-read article, with similar long sections of detail followed by time jumps, and the style suits the book: it feels like this kind of article made longer. Wiener's careful skirting of names—both personal and company—in most cases (even for pop culture references at times) may make the book harder to read for some people, particularly as her use of job titles can make people forgettable. In some ways, it is the story of someone who was pretty lucky, and though she uses this to discuss some of the issues in the culture in Silicon Valley, there could be more reflection. Uncanny Valley is an interesting look at one person's experience in Silicon Valley, but though the tech company quirks such as endless wearing of company merchandise is good to roll your eyes at, the book doesn't quite say much that a shorter article on her experience couldn't.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amar Pai

    I really enjoyed this, disturbing as it is. Every veiled reference in this book is immediately recognizable to someone working and living in tech SF during the 2nd dot com boom. For better or for worse. She nails the time and place. Wiener is scathing, precise; her writing is top notch as you'd expect from a New Yorker contributor. Part of the draw of the book is that she isn't above it all; she's seduced by the scene even as she recognizes how gross it is. So many tech bros in dot com shirts, I really enjoyed this, disturbing as it is. Every veiled reference in this book is immediately recognizable to someone working and living in tech SF during the 2nd dot com boom. For better or for worse. She nails the time and place. Wiener is scathing, precise; her writing is top notch as you'd expect from a New Yorker contributor. Part of the draw of the book is that she isn't above it all; she's seduced by the scene even as she recognizes how gross it is. So many tech bros in dot com shirts, so much optimizing and growth hacking. But also a genuine historical moment, in a city that remains beautiful even as it becomes a playground for the rich. Anyone who worked at Goodreads (one of the less gross dot coms of the era, if you ask me) needs to read this. I felt like she was describing our original office at one point. Irregular bucket drumming. And then our next office near the Gold Club. She also goes on the same scavenger hunt team building thing that we all did!! LOL Ettore do you remember that one? Shout out to everyone who worked at Goodreads. I have a lot of affection for that place and the people who were there, even if the surrounding city and atmosphere was already becoming the capitalist hellscape it is now.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    mmmm bleh. i enjoyed the first half way more than the second half. i just really wanted the book to end differently, in a more confronting-complicity-in-tech kind of way but this really wasnt that kind of book unfortunately. i thought id read this and feel a little better about some of the ppl in tech and the state of san francisco but i really fooled myself! lol anna is a good writer but i just wanted more complicated FEELINGS. my only notable thing to take with me is this little passage i mmmm bleh. i enjoyed the first half way more than the second half. i just really wanted the book to end differently, in a more confronting-complicity-in-tech kind of way but this really wasn’t that kind of book unfortunately. i thought i’d read this and feel a little better about some of the ppl in tech and the state of san francisco but i really fooled myself! lol anna is a good writer but i just wanted more complicated FEELINGS. my only notable thing to take with me is this little passage i loved on liking an inefficient life, contrary to tech’s profiting off convenience and efficiencies. my goal is to lean in to joyful inefficiencies and the spontaneity of human living. “unfortunately for me, i like my inefficient life. i liked listening to the radio and cooking with excessive utensils; slivering onions, defanging wet herbs. wringing out warm sponges. i liked riding public transportation: watching strangers talk to their children; watching strangers stare out the window at the sunset, and at photos of the sunset on their phones. i liked taking long walks to purchase onigiri in japantown, or taking long walks with no destination at all. folding the laundry. copying keys. filling out forms. phone calls. i even liked the post office, the predictable discontent of bureaucracy. i liked fill albums, flipping the record. long novels with minimal plot; minimalist novels with minimal plot. engaging with strangers.” also, on working at an ad tech/data analytics startup: “the surveillance apparatus was larger and more complex than originally reported, and silicon valley was deeply implicated. “i didn’t think about it while i was working there, because the product was so business oriented. i didn’t necessarily see it as a problem for society. plus, i don’t think i had the information that all the money from the internet comes from surveillance.”

  20. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Liu

    Dazzling and brutal at the same time. If you're disillusioned with Silicon Valley, you'll want to read this book. If you're not, you won't want to read this book, but you should.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Anna Wiener's memoir follows her departure from the New York publishing circle and change of career where she takes up a position in a tech start-up in of Silicon Valley. This suffered from unrealistic expectations on my part: I've seen the book billed as a number of things - comparable to Joan Didion, a brutal expose on the sexist bro culture of the tech start-up business - and while, yes, the writing is good, companions to Didion are going a bit far. I don't know much about start-ups and while Anna Wiener's memoir follows her departure from the New York publishing circle and change of career where she takes up a position in a tech start-up in of Silicon Valley. This suffered from unrealistic expectations on my part: I've seen the book billed as a number of things - comparable to Joan Didion, a brutal expose on the sexist bro culture of the tech start-up business - and while, yes, the writing is good, companions to Didion are going a bit far. I don't know much about start-ups and while I don't wish to devalue the not so great experience Wiener had I just didn't find her revelations all that mind-blowing or revelatory. An easy breezy read (due to the solid writing) which I wouldn't discourage others from reading... I think I'm just burnt out on tech memoirs! Thank you Netgalley and 4th Estate/Farrar, Straus and Giroux for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    This isn't exactly a memoir, at least not in a traditional way. And it isn't an exposé of Silicon Valley, since not much in here is very surprising. Wiener takes us in her experience but also holds us at arm's length. Her prose has a level of remove to it: she rarely refers to people or companies by name, she moves us through this brandless, nameless place as if we're seeing it all through a muddying lens that blurs it all. She rarely tells us her own feelings or experiences, you can forget it's This isn't exactly a memoir, at least not in a traditional way. And it isn't an exposé of Silicon Valley, since not much in here is very surprising. Wiener takes us in her experience but also holds us at arm's length. Her prose has a level of remove to it: she rarely refers to people or companies by name, she moves us through this brandless, nameless place as if we're seeing it all through a muddying lens that blurs it all. She rarely tells us her own feelings or experiences, you can forget it's a memoir much of the time. I am not exactly sure why she takes this approach, can't say whether it's protective or defensive or a way to make her individual experiences feel more general, but it can be alienating. Sometimes I wasn't sure if I wanted to keep reading. Ultimately I did, but if it was a longer book I'm not sure I would have. I have worked at a very small very early startup, and at a startup that grew into a large, successful company but still wanted to keep that small identity. Neither was in San Francisco, but a lot of what Wiener talks about was familiar to me. I often shivered with recognition and felt grateful that I'd avoided her path. Wiener has the most critical factor necessary to write a book set in the very near past: a willingness to see her own flaws. Being almost the only woman in a company, doing non-technical work at a tech company, these are situations that can lead to a significant amount of gaslighting and can require a lot of compartmentalization and denial to get through in one piece. Wiener can see this all clearly now and describes it in great detail. What kept me going in this book was seeing these moments laid out. Wiener is given additional duties and when she asks for a raise she is told "You're doing this because you care." (She notes, "and I must have cared, because I kept doing it.") She notes that her male coworker's work was seen as "strategy" while hers "was interpreted as love." She can jump on the incisive truth of these moments, though other times her musings feel more like musings. (When talking about employees' hope for an IPO, she notes, "we knew in our hearts that money was a salve, not a solution," this and other statements though maybe true elsewhere, didn't feel true in context.) There is enough accuracy to override the other issues I had, enough queasy recognition. She nails Silicon Valley tech bro culture to a T. But then it ends, rather abruptly, and it's not clear what we're supposed to do now. It's only a memoir in the sense that she shares her own experiences and there's not much of a personal narrative now that we've left the few years she's focusing on. But it's not enough of an indictment of Silicon Valley culture to then move into conclusions and recommendations. It just ends without an ending, all feeling suddenly rather pat. While there's certainly an immediacy to Wiener's story, we haven't left any of this behind yet and all the problems she shows us are still prevalent, that strange distance leaves us all just floating in space once it's done since we weren't really moored to anything in the first place.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jolanta (knygupe)

    'The uncanny valley is a concept first introduced in the 1970s by Masahiro Mori, then a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Mori coined the term uncanny valley to describe his observation that as robots appear more humanlike, they become more appealingbut only up to a certain point.'-google ... tuo pačiu pavadinimu yra ir survival horror kompiuterinis žadimas. Tai čia tokie pasufleravimai apie ką šie prisiminimai iš autorės keturių metų darbo ir gyvnimo patirties Silicon Valley. Ne be 'The uncanny valley is a concept first introduced in the 1970s by Masahiro Mori, then a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Mori coined the term “uncanny valley” to describe his observation that as robots appear more humanlike, they become more appealing—but only up to a certain point.'-google ... tuo pačiu pavadinimu yra ir survival horror kompiuterinis žadimas. Tai čia tokie pasufleravimai apie ką šie prisiminimai iš autorės keturių metų darbo ir gyvnimo patirties Silicon Valley. Ne be humoro...apie start-up kulturą, tech kulturą, apie rasizmą, ageism'ą, sexism'ą... Feministėms nervus tai tikrai patampys. Man patiko, kad knyga parašyta iš piktumo, bet ne piktai.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eilonwy

    I'm not really sure what to say about this book. I enjoyed it all right. Mostly, it was interesting to read a book from someone who has been part of the Silicon Valley culture/experience but as a sort of outsider, so that she looked at the whole thing from a cynical perspective ("We're all making boatloads of money, but for what, exactly?") rather than a worshipful perspective ("they're all making boatloads of money; they must be truly deserving and awesome people!!!"). The book asks some I'm not really sure what to say about this book. I enjoyed it all right. Mostly, it was interesting to read a book from someone who has been part of the Silicon Valley culture/experience but as a sort of outsider, so that she looked at the whole thing from a cynical perspective ("We're all making boatloads of money, but for what, exactly?") rather than a worshipful perspective ("they're all making boatloads of money; they must be truly deserving and awesome people!!!"). The book asks some interesting questions about what kind of world you get when you let 20-something, mostly white, mostly decently privileged, mostly male people make big decisions about what we all need. But it's very much a memoir, not really an examination of any of this.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sonya

    Thanks to NetGalley for an advance review copy of this book, which I received in exchange for an honest assessment. Anna Wiener is a young woman with an English degree and no technical experience. Her memoir starts as she enters the heady and often overly optimistic world of start-ups. Sky high budgets, charismatic founders, lots of misogyny and non-diverse hiring make for a work bubble that glorifies the technological boom and downplays the downsides of the new world. Wiener is good at Thanks to NetGalley for an advance review copy of this book, which I received in exchange for an honest assessment. Anna Wiener is a young woman with an English degree and no technical experience. Her memoir starts as she enters the heady and often overly optimistic world of start-ups. Sky high budgets, charismatic founders, lots of misogyny and non-diverse hiring make for a work bubble that glorifies the technological boom and downplays the downsides of the new world. Wiener is good at evaluating her own process and beliefs as she moves from job to job as a support person, a role that doesn't garner a lot of respect even though she refuses to hide in the background of the companies where she works. She discusses with care and detail how the tech economy can isolate people and push out the middle class in cities where tech takes over. This is book is compulsively readable and asks readers to consider whether a predominantly online life has value or instead leaches life from our lives. Highly recommended.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sarah at Sarah's Bookshelves

    Thanks to MCD for an advanced copy of this book. Wiener has the unique perspective of joining the tech industry (first at a data analytics start-up, followed by an open-source software company) from publishing (an old-school culture that couldnt be more different from tech), so I enjoyed her quasi-outsiders perspective on the cult-like, all-encompassing, over-the-top, childs playground culture of Silicon Valley. She railed on what youd expect (i.e. the male and youth dominated culture, the wild Thanks to MCD for an advanced copy of this book. Wiener has the unique perspective of joining the tech industry (first at a data analytics start-up, followed by an open-source software company) from publishing (an old-school culture that couldn’t be more different from tech), so I enjoyed her quasi-outsider’s perspective on the cult-like, all-encompassing, over-the-top, child’s playground culture of Silicon Valley. She railed on what you’d expect (i.e. the male and youth dominated culture, the wild overspending) and she thoughtfully shared her moral struggle with what the data analytics company was doing (if you’re worried about “big data” tracking you online…you should be). Unfortunately, the second half of the book got boring and repetitive…it felt like a long diatribe of Wiener working out her conflicted feelings about Silicon Valley and tech in general. It felt like what should have been an essay was stretched into a full length book and the writing style was over-the-top at times. Though I enjoyed the first half, I kept wanting to be done with it in the second half. Visit https://www.sarahsbookshelves.com for more reviews.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Clare

    DNF - got bored and stopped about halfway through. The memoir is unfocused and uncompelling. There are many stories out there about sexism and naked ambition in Silicon Valley but, unfortunately, this one doesn't contribute anything to those dialogues. There's a lot of telling and not much showing. Wiener pops the word sexism in every now and then as if she forgot that it was supposed to be a proper topic of conversation in her memoir. Or maybe it's not and it's the blurb's fault for being DNF - got bored and stopped about halfway through. The memoir is unfocused and uncompelling. There are many stories out there about sexism and naked ambition in Silicon Valley but, unfortunately, this one doesn't contribute anything to those dialogues. There's a lot of telling and not much showing. Wiener pops the word sexism in every now and then as if she forgot that it was supposed to be a proper topic of conversation in her memoir. Or maybe it's not and it's the blurb's fault for being inaccurate. The memoir is in fact at its most interesting when she's talking about data harvesting and surveillance. Also, I really dislike it when people push sexism as a cover for a hit to their self-esteem. This happens about 100 pages and it annoyed the heck out of me to such an extent that it tainted the rest of the pages I read. Wiener goes to a party with her computer engineering partner that is filled with other male engineers and feels left out, at one point, of a conversation about self-driving cars. She boldly decides to intrude and offers her own opinion only to get patronised by the others. I understand the effect she was trying to produce but it was an ill-chosen narrative to demonstrate it. The opinion she in fact offered was, by her own account, spoken for the mere sake of speaking. I am a non-technical person too but the opinion she proffered was clearly designed to be provocative. The author then goes on to write: 'What unfettered sexists, I said. How dare they be so dismissive, just because I was a woman—just because I did customer support and was considered nontechnical. Their lives were no better than my life. Their opinions were no more valid than mine.' I'm sorry but: (1) her opinions, though no less valid, can be less valuable and (2) no sexism was conveyed in the way the men spoke back to her. It was patronising AF, yes. But it appeared to be wholly on account of her having spoken out of, in their opinion, ignorance. And if there were sexist undertones or more to the story, Wiener did not bother to write it in. Good God, I too am guilty of rolling my eyes when someone offers an unsubstantiated opinion in an area of study I've specialised in. I get particularly ticked if it's clear the person opining has no interest in the subject area anyway and Wiener herself professes elsewhere in the book to have no interest in learning more about coding or thinking about the value and implications of the products her industry is producing. If you converse with me on a bad day in this manner, I might be curt in my reply. Just because it happens to be a man doing it to you does not automatically make it sexist. I am a feminist. I am a woman of colour. I've been on the receiving end of casual racism and sexism. And nothing makes me more annoyed than having accusations of sexism flung around; it dilutes the power of the word and distracts from real incidences when they occur.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Deniss

    A page-turner memoir that reads like a coming-of-age novel. I really enjoyed Wiener's style and even though I think it's unfair for young writers to compare them to Joan Didion, I can see why people would say that about this author: you can't put the book down and even if she talks about stuff you don't understand or care about, you want to keep reading. Her observations on tech culture, gender disparity and other topics related to Silicon Valley might not be very insightful, but I don't think A page-turner memoir that reads like a coming-of-age novel. I really enjoyed Wiener's style and even though I think it's unfair for young writers to compare them to Joan Didion, I can see why people would say that about this author: you can't put the book down and even if she talks about stuff you don't understand or care about, you want to keep reading. Her observations on tech culture, gender disparity and other topics related to Silicon Valley might not be very insightful, but I don't think going deep into those problems was her intention; after all, this is a memoir, not a piece of journalism. I liked her descriptions of people, her relationship with her boyfriend, the way she talks about her friends back in NYC and the fact that she acknowledges her privilege and often reminds herself (and the reader) that she was also taking part on a lot of the things she criticizes and beneficing from it, even if she felt guilty about it. For me, this was a story about a girl who likes books, studied liberal arts, worked in publishing in NYC and somehow ended up at a startup in San Francisco during her late twenties. I wasn't here because of Silicon Valley, I just wanted to read a new author because I like memoirs written by women, and it did not disappoint. It could have been a little bit shorter though (Patrick Collison and I would have appreciated it) because it did get a bit repetitive at some point. Overall, I think this is a solid first book and I'd like to read more stuff by Wiener.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anna (lion_reads)

    What I liked most about Anna's writing is that she wrote about issues we already knew were there (i.e., white men in tech, misogyny in tech, reliance on surveillance tech, etc.) with understated subtlety. Rather than downplay the prevalence of these issues, though, it made them more visible, more absorbable. They sat with you. I liked that way of dissecting an industry because most of us don't experience social problems in "a big way" all the time. We probably experience them in small subtle What I liked most about Anna's writing is that she wrote about issues we already knew were there (i.e., white men in tech, misogyny in tech, reliance on surveillance tech, etc.) with understated subtlety. Rather than downplay the prevalence of these issues, though, it made them more visible, more absorbable. They sat with you. I liked that way of dissecting an industry because most of us don't experience social problems in "a big way" all the time. We probably experience them in small subtle ways that ingratiate themselves into our daily lives, similar to the way Anna Wiener writes about her own gradual disillusionment. I was also surprised that this book brought up questions to consider about tech that I should have already been asking. What are the implications of companies owning so much of our online identities? Who sees that data? How did it evolve this way? Who benefits, and does anyone care if harm is being done to you because of that collection? Who are online communities actually serving? (Like this one! Owned by Amazon, btw.) What role does Silicon Valley play in government and policies worldwide? Does it? And what version of the world do these companies promote? (Anna's disillusionment with the effect of optimization and efficiency culture on society really struck a chord with me!) Great read—thought-provoking and entertaining.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    This book was an incredible take on the craziness that is Silicon Valley- the money, the technology, the Bay Area... But I think it was particularly poignant to me because I'm going through almost exactly what Anna Wiener went through. I'm living it, working at a startup where the co-founders are 20 and 23. (I'm 23). Anna left her low-paying job at a publishing company in New York to check out the start up scene. On the outside, it is pretty impressive. Companies that grow and become valued at a This book was an incredible take on the craziness that is Silicon Valley- the money, the technology, the Bay Area... But I think it was particularly poignant to me because I'm going through almost exactly what Anna Wiener went through. I'm living it, working at a startup where the co-founders are 20 and 23. (I'm 23). Anna left her low-paying job at a publishing company in New York to check out the start up scene. On the outside, it is pretty impressive. Companies that grow and become valued at a billion dollars practically overnight. CEOs that are 24 years old. Everything is new- it's technology, the way of the future. "...all the one-hit wonders who had dropped out of school and become their own bosses and thought they knew how the world worked, thought they knew how to fix everything." Anna starts at a small start up in NYC- and her situation is strikingly similar to mine. She works for people younger than her (and she's 25). They all work in the same room (there's only 5 of them) but still communicate primarily via text. There are broad, random meetings about strategy but nothing is really implemented. She questions her self worth- why was she here? She didn't really have the qualifications- she was an assistant at a publishing company. Anna soon finds that there's a hierarchy: those that code and those that don't. Business sense isn't really a thing when CEOs are fresh young men out of college given 20 million dollars by investors to start a company. I related to this so much- I had "soft" skills (although how much of a soft skill financial modeling is is debatable). I was eager to learn and put my business studies to test, just to have no one really care. Basic things like primary revenue streams, pricing, and costs are irrelevant compared to gaining market share. The company I've been working at has been functioning for 7 months now and there is not one financial model in sight. This can't be right, can it? But alas, I'm not the only one with these feelings- Anna had this same experience. So... if you don't care about the business side of things- only care about coding product and sales... then what am I being paid for? “The hierarchy was pervasive at the analytics startup, ingrained in the CEO’s dismissal of marketing and insistence that a good product would sell itself.” And Anna shared a lot of these fears and feelings. Feelings of inadequacy, of her skills not really being valued. Plus there's the fact that Silicon Valley is a man's world. In fact, SF is the most obviously male dominated city I've ever been too- and I mean that in the most basic way. There are just tons of men. Going out to bars, there are groups of men with their corporate backpacks. The work place is dominated by the confident young CEO and the socially awkward coder that works for 24 hours then sleeps for 12, drinking Red Bull and taking Adderall. I could understand a lot to her feelings of misogynism (not that I've experienced it), but I have in certain ways felt like the tech-bros have a club that I'm not exactly wanted in. Then she mentions the income inequality- how stark it is with these wealthy young people and the people shooting up in the streets. It's bad. It's not an overreaction. Is it a fixable problem? Not anytime soon, unfortunately. She also goes into detail about sort of losing happiness in life when we surrender to technology- the constant checking of social media, glazing over tabs on our computer, flitting back and forth. In a way, I think that technology can definitely be worrisome- privacy is becoming harder to come by. Data is being collected about you all the time. Is it as scary as people think? Yes and no. I didn't agree with all of her points, but I don't read books just so I could read an echo chamber of my own thoughts. I felt that the issue she had with technology was a lot because she put herself in a position to never be offline. She didn't seek out what was meaningful to her, but an abstract version of success. And worse, it seemed like instead of getting inspired by the potential herself, in many parts of the book she admits that she wants to be liked by these enigmatic CEOs, she wants them to think her smart, she wants to feel validated by these young, white men. Instead of finding validation internally, she was desperate for it in other ways, which I think caused a lot of her unhappiness. I find it exciting to see young people with so much success. It's cool- I use it to push myself, but Anna seemed instead to just join someone else's ride. I loved this book because it made me think of my own life. After just moving a couple months ago to SF, it was scarily accurate to certain things I was experiencing. It was a great book to read so I don't fall into the same pitfalls as she did. But I also think that I'm quite different. I didn't come to the Bay Area to seek external validation or get rich quick. I didn't want to do a corporate job and I don't feel "stuck". So I don't have the fear of turning 29, and not really knowing what I did for the past 6 years. Anyway, I talked a lot about myself because I think I enjoyed this book immensely because it was so relatable to my situation. It isn't perfect, and I think she frames things in a way that are a bit "end of the world" ish and she has her internal bias really feed into the narrative, but still, this was her experience, and in many ways, I can see where she's coming from.

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