Zeroes and Ones: Digital Women and the New Technoculture

Sadie Plant

Published by Doubleday, 1997
ISBN 10: 0385482604 / ISBN 13: 9780385482608
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Synopsis: Not since The Female Eunuch has there been a book so radical in its scope, so persuasive in its detail, so exhilarating in its polemical energy.  Beginning with Ada Lovelace and her unheralded contributions to Charles Babbage and his development of the Difference Engine, Sadie Plant traces the critical contributions women have made to the progress of computing.  Shattering the myth that women are victims of technological change, Zeros + Ones shows how women and women's work in particular--weaving and typing, computing and telecommunicating--have been tending the machinery of the digital age for generations, the very technologies that are now revolutionizing the Western world.

In this bold manifesto on the relationship between women and machines, Sadie Plant explores the networks and connections implicit in nonlinear systems and digital machines.  Steering a course beyond the old feminist dichotomies, Zeros + Ones is populated by a diverse chorus of voices--Anna Freud, Mary Shelley, Alan Turing--conceived as exploratory bundles of intelligent matter, emergent entities hacking through the constraints of their old programming and envisioning a postpatriarchal future.

Astonishing, inspiring, witty, and perverse, Zeros + Ones is a love song to Ada, a soundtrack for the next millennium, a radical revision of our technoculture that will forever change the way we perceive our digital world.

Review: Meet Ada Lovelace, daughter of mathematician Annabella Byron and poet Lord Byron, and a major contributor to Charles Babbage's famous Analytic Engine. Lovelace is in many ways the patron saint of Sadie Plant's exploration of women's roles in the creation of modern technology. The book begins with Lovelace's story, and elements of her writings appear throughout the book--sometimes to emphasize points but often to exemplify attitude. They also serve to anchor Plant's dynamic, almost stream-of-conscious approach as we travel to 19th-century Europe to meet the nameless women who laid the foundation of modern technology with the development of weaving, survey the major female technological innovators of today, and even explore female figures in technology-based fiction.

Plant's "cyberfeminist rant," as William Gibson calls it, attempts to demonstrate that women have always used technology. You won't find victims here, rather women who were empowered by the technological innovations in their lives. What emerges is a very nontraditional feminist picture, one in which women are neither bystanders nor victims but are in many ways the unsung heroes of technical innovation. The author also points to a future where, within zeros and ones of cyberspace many such dichotomies of life/machine, let alone male/female, may blur in unexpected ways.

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Title: Zeroes and Ones: Digital Women and the New ...
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: 1997
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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