What are great books on software written by non-men?
July 1, 2017 11:23 AM   Subscribe

What are some great books on software, computer science or related topics written by women or non-binary people?

I've decided to read no books by men this year and as far as literature goes, that's been wonderful and easy. However, I'd like to read some technical things, but when I receive list of classics and recommendations from people, they're invariably all dudes.

I'm looking for fairly general topics, not deep dives into specific pieces of software or theoretical niches. Yes to things like What is a P-Value Anyway? or Code Simplicity: The Fundamentals of Software. No to Hidden Markov Models for Time Series: An Introduction Using R or Mastering Concurrency in Go.
posted by Cogito to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Do they have to be books specifically? Julia Evans's blog posts and zines are reliably great.
posted by asterix at 12:11 PM on July 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Lara Hogan's Designing for Performance (free to read online) and Susan Fowler's Production-Ready Microservices (free excerpt available) both address organizational best practices while explaining common problems that may be meaningful analogues to software challenges you face, even if they're not exactly what you're working on.
posted by Wobbuffet at 12:22 PM on July 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh, I love (and follow) Julia Evan's already. Thank you for reminding me to read more! I've actually worked with Lara (but not read her book, *facepalm*), so I'm going to get right on that. Susan Fowler is a good suggestion too!

Keep 'em coming; this is wonderful!
posted by Cogito at 12:49 PM on July 1, 2017

I don't know if you'd consider novels but I really enjoyed reading The Bug by Ellen Ullman about a computer software project, some tech guys and an unfindable bug.
posted by jessamyn at 2:46 PM on July 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

Thinking in Systems: A Primer, by Donella Meadows. An introductory book about system dynamics by a pioneer in the field. Total classic, can't recommend it enough.
posted by rollick at 3:49 PM on July 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

this is one of my favorite things! a few ideas:

- weapons of math destruction by Cathy O'Neil (on machine learning)
- Kathy Sierra's books on Java and user experience (and her great blog)
- Effective DevOps (Katherine Daniels & Jennifer Davis)
- founders at work by Jessica Livingston
- The Manager's Path by Camille Fournier is about engineering management and i liked it
- Amy Wibowo's zines (bubblesort zines) are delightful
- The Recompiler magazine
- database reliability engineering by Charity Majors & Laine Campbell

(sorry for the lack of links, phone :()
posted by oranger at 3:54 PM on July 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende’s Chile[*] by Eden Medina is a book about Project Cybersyn.

It's a history of technology book, rather than a technical book itself. But it's sort of making the point that when technology is used for political change, historical knowledge and reading are essential to real understanding. Plus it's well written and well researched, and the events it describes are bizarre and fascinating from a modern perspective (read that Wikipedia article on Project Cybersyn and you will only end up wanting to learn more).

There are some good videos on YouTube of Medina talking about the book. Here's a nice short one.
[*]In Cybernetic Revolutionaries, Eden Medina tells the history of two intersecting utopian visions, one political and one technological. The first was Chile’s experiment with peaceful socialist change under Salvador Allende; the second was the simultaneous attempt to build a computer system that would manage Chile’s economy. Neither vision was fully realized—Allende’s government ended with a violent military coup; the system, known as Project Cybersyn, was never completely implemented—but they hold lessons for today about the relationship between technology and politics.

Eden Medina is Associate Professor of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University Bloomington and the author of Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende’s Chile. She received the IEEE Life Member’s Prize in Electrical History in 2007 for her work on Chile’s experiments with cybernetics and socialism.
posted by rollick at 4:20 PM on July 1, 2017

Also Ellen Ullman's Close to the Machine, which sadly was pretty right about what could go wrong. And, heck, Category Theory in Context.
posted by clew at 7:21 PM on July 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

def gotta check out Radia Perlman's Interconnections: Bridges, Routers, Switches, and Internetworking Protocols
posted by armoir from antproof case at 12:09 AM on July 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Practical Object Oriented Design in Ruby, or POODR as it is affectionately know, by Sandi Metz, is one of my favorite books on programming ever. It has really shaped the way I design and write my code and I would recommend it to anyone.
posted by bibliotechy at 4:56 AM on July 2, 2017

The Real World of Technology by Ursula Franklin is more philosophy/theory but very interesting if you're interested in general concepts of tech.
posted by ch1x0r at 6:25 AM on July 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Was going to pop in and suggest Sandi Metz' book, but see that's been done so I would like to wholeheartedly second that one!
posted by iamkimiam at 10:06 AM on July 2, 2017

Finding stone classics is going to be hard for infuriatingly obvious historical reasons... but not impossible. I can highly recommend Jean Sammet's magnificent survey and analysis of Programming Languages from the earliest days of computing to the late 1960s. Sammet was a major pioneer of computer science who designed several important programming languages, including COBOL.

(Holy crap, I just noticed Amazon is selling it for 1 million dollars. There are many copies of this book in libraries, or just Metafilter-mail me and I'll loan it to you.)
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 2:44 AM on July 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm stopping in to second The Manager's Path by Camille Fournier.
posted by soleiluna at 9:02 PM on July 3, 2017

Ada Augusta, Countless of Lovelace, Notes on L.F. Menabrea's Sketch of The Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage

Mrs. Grace M. Hopper and Professor Oystein Ore, New types of irreducibility criteria

Barbara Liskov, Turing Award lecture, The Power of Abstraction

Mary Shaw, Prospects for an Engineering Discipline of Software

Bonnie Nardi, "A Small Matter of Programming"
posted by at at 10:46 PM on July 5, 2017

Possibly Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto.
posted by clew at 1:06 AM on July 6, 2017

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