Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet by Claire L. Evans (May 2018)
The history of technology you probably know is one of men and machines, garages and riches, alpha nerds and brogrammers. But the little-known fact is that female visionaries have always been at the vanguard of technology and innovation--they've just been erased from the story. Until now.
Women are not ancillary to the history of technology; they turn up at the very beginning of every important wave. But they've often been hidden in plain sight, their inventions and contributions touching our lives in ways we don't even realize.
Viv's reaction: I struggled with this book! Although I appreciated the gaps in my knowledge being filled - and the gaps were large, I actually thought there was quite a lot of both technical detail and poetic editorialising. I thought a lot of it could have been trimmed down to make for a shorter story. That said, I love that at every point in the history of the computer, women have been there defining it, improving it, and making huge marks on the way we interface with technology. It’s important that this untold story is being committed to print and directly contradicting those who say ‘women haven’t done anything in history’ or ‘women just aren’t very technical’.
Kit's reaction: I loved the beginning, finding out about all these women (beyond Ada Lovelace) and what they did. The stories of the early computers during WW2 and beyond were especially interesting to me, and I thought she brought up a lot of challenging points about women’s approach to technology that I’m excited to get into with you all. But, as we got into the 90s sections I really found my interest flagging. I thought the second half of the book wasn’t nearly as interesting, mostly for the sheer amount of time spent on some stories leading up to and including the bubble bursting around 2001. I wish she would’ve shortened this and maybe spent more time bringing us up to present day, tying current online feminist movements with the historical figures from the beginning. But, as a whole, I definitely appreciated the history lesson and feel like I’ve got a much better handle on the evolution of the internet. And the whole thing made me want to get back into math and engineering, which was fun.