Current Issue #488

Book Review:
Uncanny Valley

The New Yorker‘s Silicon Valley correspondent Anna Wiener offers a personal journey through the city’s ‘disruptive’ tech industry, and the ethical and existential issues of American start up culture.

Upon leaving a job in publishing at 25, Anna Wiener is lured by the tech industry’s higher salaries, benefits and flexibility.

However, over time, the cult-like culture of startups with their unchecked data surveillance, prolific sexual harassment and glaring class discrepancies pushes her to the brink.

Wiener’s subsequent memoir of working in Silicon Valley is adorned with inimitable praise from Rebecca Solnit: “Joan Didion at a startup”.

While this may set many up for a fall, comparing Wiener’s debut to the iconic essayist is befitting. Uncanny Valley carries a documentary sensibility akin to Didion’s coverage of the city in the 1960s, posing similarly critical and ethical questions.

This is an intelligent memoir and necessary exploration of the technological gold rush from the inside.

Author: Anna Wiener
Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Kylie Maslen

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Kylie Maslen is a writer and critic from Kaurna/Adelaide, and the author of Show Me Where it Hurts: Living with Invisible Illness (Text Publishing).

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