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Lauren Ipsum

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  375 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
No computers will be found in this book. If the idea of a computer science book without computers upsets you, please close your eyes until you’ve finished reading the rest of this page.

The truth is that computer science is not really about the computer. It is just a tool to help you see ideas more clearly. You can see the moon and stars without a telescope, smell the flowe
ebook, 150 pages
Published December 3rd 2011 by Off-By-One Press (first published November 18th 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 806)
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Nov 20, 2011 Michael rated it really liked it
Shelves: programming
This book is supposed to be released in December, but since I helped funding it through Kickstarter, I received my copy 3 weeks early and couldn't wait to read it. Written by an engineer working for Facebook and his wife, "Lauren Ipsum" is meant to be a book for teaching computer science to children. This is done in the form of a fairy tale that doesn't actually involve any computers, but instead focusses on programming as a way of thinking. This is a commendable teaching approach and to be hone ...more
Jason Hall
Dec 16, 2011 Jason Hall rated it really liked it
Sort of an Alice in Wonderland for computer nerds. Also had elements of Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land, except with better explanations of the algorithms used.
John Schwabacher
My son Sam was assigned this book for an honors Computer Science course at the UW.

It is the closest thing I've ever found to one of my favorite kids's books - The Phantom Tollbooth. It follows a young girl through a fantasy land where she is introduced to computer science ideas (with no computers in the story at all) and solves problems to reach her goals. There are quirky characters and gratuitous puns. Very enjoyable.
Jul 25, 2015 Julianne rated it liked it
{3.5 stars}
Anna Wiggins
Apr 11, 2013 Anna Wiggins rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, humour
I really wanted to like this book more than I do. It is a mosaic adventure story in the tradition of Alice and The Phantom Tollbooth, and it does that well enough, but the emotional payoff at the end of the book just doesn't work. The book never quite makes you care about any of the characters. Instead, it's very invested in its ideas. There are some good ideas, and some great and terrible jokes... but without an emotional core to hold it together, it all just feels a bit flat.
Dec 24, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it
This book is basically The Phantom Tollbooth, but for computer science. I think the first time I tried to read it, I was too caught up in trying to understand every little nuance and how it related to computer science. I picked it up again today, and just read it a a story -- much more enjoyable! I even feel like I learned something!
Suvash Thapaliya
Jul 14, 2015 Suvash Thapaliya rated it really liked it
A fun book
Oct 05, 2015 Kate rated it it was amazing
Shelves: work
This was a really fun read - it's meant to introduce computer science concepts, without beating you over the head with them.

I really enjoyed how the book had different layers - on the surface it's a story about a girl who gets lost and has to find her way home. But on the way she encounters a Travelling Salesman, Fencepost problems, binary decisions ... and a chameleon named XOR who doesn't blend very well with his surroundings. The more you pay attention, the more fun the details are. And there
Jan 09, 2016 Meagan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In its best moments this book reminded me of The Phantom Tollbooth (quirky and thought-provoking with funny word play and turning of abstract ideas into entertaining characters and scenarios). Some of it felt more contrived than the Phantom Tollbooth, but it was overall an enjoyable read.

My biggest complaint about the book is that the "guide" that helps the reader relate everything in the story to its reference point in computer science is located in the back of the book. Given that this book i
Kam-Yung Soh
Aug 03, 2015 Kam-Yung Soh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: computing, technology
An interesting tale about a girl who wanders into Userland and while reading about her quest to return to her home, the reader picks up concepts in Computer Science and Programming without ever encountering a computer (which is just a concrete application of Computer Science).

Starting with meeting Jargon-like creatures that nearly overwhelm her, she meets up with the Travelling Salesman who directs her to a person who creates ideas which starts her on a journey delivering telescopes to various l
H Lynnea
Apr 14, 2012 H Lynnea rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Computer Science fans, fans of The Phantom Tollbooth
Shelves: temp-read
I adored this book. There, no beating around the bush for me.

This books is very short, and a nice quick read, and surprisingly informative. It's about computer science and computer programming, without having a single computer in it. How do you do that? By showing the underlying principles. The basis of any computer programming is being able to apply logic and to break down complex ideas into simple ones. These are some of the principles that the book teaches.

Like one of my most favorite books,
Dec 07, 2014 Curtis rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. I'm not the target audience, though. I put this on my wishlist partially because I wanted to evaluate how appropriate it would be for gifting to the children in my life. I'm convinced that people who are already familiar with computer science/engineering would enjoy this and find it clever. It perhaps might be appropriate for children with a parent or very close adult with whom they could discuss the topics in the book. My intuition is that children without such a resource o ...more
look at me im davy crockett
This book is absolutely brilliant. I try be critical in my reviews and put a lot respect into the rating system, reserving the 5 star spot for those only really deserving and valuable- trying to stay objective for books I know I enjoyed far more than it was worth.

The logic puzzles Lauren encounters along the way use great real world examples to teach new concepts that force you to stretch your imagination when problem solving.

Young readers should find the book easily approachable. It remains tim
Mar 13, 2015 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bibliopapa
One day, Lauren Ipsum - Laurie to her friend - got lost in the forest by her house. As she tried to find her way home, she instead found herself in a strange new place populated by Jargons, Elegants, Mailer Daemons, and talking Turtles (Green Round animals with a Shell) called Userland. Before long, she'd met the Wandering Salesman (who must visit all the towns in Userland without repeating his path), discussed infinity with Achilles and a Turtle (exploring Xeno's famous paradox), befriended a t ...more
Michael Larsen
Dec 14, 2014 Michael Larsen rated it it was amazing
As part of my current experience with teaching my daughter how to write code, I am finding myself getting into territory that I somewhat understand at various levels, but struggle to explain or make clear enough for a thirteen year old to likewise understand. How does someone explain recursion without causing a bunch of confusion in the process? In the past I have found myself struggling with ways to explain certain topics that help ground ideas of computer science, computing and programming, an ...more
Malcolm Rowe
Feb 06, 2015 Malcolm Rowe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The obvious comparison are to Alice in Wonderland and (though I haven't read it recently enough to really compare) The Phantom Tollbooth.

This is a short book, though (the story is only 154 pages, plus 30 pages or so of what are effectively footnotes or annotations), so a better comparison might be to Flatland.

While I like it a lot, I wonder to what extent the story itself will stand alone, without the CS background: a lot of the fun was in spotting allusions to things I already knew about, from
Nov 04, 2014 Raj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a quite sweet fairy tale about a girl who gets lost and has to find her way home, going through the traditional quests and challenges. It also just happens to be a lovely little primer on some of the fundamental concepts and problems of computing science (without any mention of computers).

It's short and I was able to read it in an afternoon. It was nice to see a lot of concepts that I'm familiar with as a CS graduate and software engineer by trade be introduced here so subtly that (hopef
Sep 02, 2012 Mayjune rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
I loved this book. You can think of this book as Pre - "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs" i.e. book to read before you read SICP. It's really fascinating to read such a beautifully written book. It's a short book which you finish it in few hours. And I would say it is for everyone and anyone. Even if you are not into computer science, this book will talk about the bigger ideas which are applicable to any field.
Mar 15, 2014 Valjean rated it it was amazing
Lauren Ipsum is a delightful blend of whimsical imaginative story, logical thinking, and philosophy. Written to fill a void in computer science education for children, this book only mentions computers in the introduction. From then on, the fun begins. Soon you are hooked into logical problem solving as Lauren ends up in a strange place after walking too far into the woods and then must find her way home. It is a delightful adventure. For an long-time computer hack like me, it was refreshing to ...more
Keith Peters
Sep 22, 2012 Keith Peters rated it it was ok
Shelves: technical, childrens
This was sold to me as a nice introduction to algorithms for kids. It's definitely Alice in Wonderland for ideas and algorithms, but the connection seems as tenuous as Alice in Wonderland teaching about non-Euclidean geometry.

And it felt like just a large collection of in-jokes for people who already had a firm grasp on the material.
Maurizio Codogno
Si possono insegnare le basi dell'informatica a un ragazzino di dieci anni per mezzo di un'opera di narrativa? Non lo so, però con questo libro l'ex dipendente di Facebook Carlos Bueno ci tenta. (Ex-dipendente perché poi ha deciso di entrare in una startup, non perché è stato licenziato per aver scritto questo libro!) Io posso dire che mi sono divertito molto a leggere il libro, ritrovando concetti classici e meno classici dell'informatica teorica, oltre a qualche divagazione standard: ma per l' ...more
Jun 18, 2015 Miss rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is quite cute! lauren ipsum gets lost in the woods after fighting with her mother. she makes her way through userland, encountering all sorts of interesting situations and problem-solving her way through. this is basically the phantom tollbooth with computer science. the story is a little thin but the imagery attached to the problems is whimsical enough to be fun anyways. it's a nice refresher too if you happen to work something adjacent to comp sci and so only use the concepts occasionally ...more
Sep 19, 2014 Clayton rated it it was amazing
A children's story that takes the reader through a few concepts of mathematics, computer science, and even some software engineering without ever mentioning those words. It does, at a few points, occasionally dip into sounding a bit like a more educational book, but it remains entirely readable and parsable.

I've read this for my daughters three or four times. Each time through, I find more to appreciate as an adult. The depth and subtlety of the references, jokes, and puns seem to be endless.

Patrick Barrett
Nice idea, fun for a child (it says 8+) with a logico-linguistic cast of mind. The puns etc (like 'Lauren Ipsum', which I think is never actually explained) are all groaners, dad jokes, whatever, which probably stick well in the mind, and there's a 'field guide' at the end, where some of the concepts used are explained or expanded. Bueno is a programmer, which probably accounts for the lack of novelistic excursions or experiential hooks in the story, but if he finds a more contemplative or chara ...more
Feb 16, 2014 Keelan rated it really liked it
An Alice in Wonderland-esque puzzle novel that introduces several fundamental concepts in computer science to a beginner with know background knowledge. There are also many computer science-related insider jokes that are not explained and will only be understood some readers (the title is a prime example of this). An enjoyable read, even if the plot seemed to develop at random most of the time (a complaint that I also have about Alice in Wonderland).
Nov 26, 2011 Eric added it
Quite a nice little book. Can't justify this, but feel it could use a little tightening up. Introduction of many many names/characters (not all disposable, who's Vana again?) kind of makes this a bit of a blur, but maybe mitigated if in a context where you're reading this to a kid like one chapter a day.

Definitely appreciate the computer science without computers aspect and just the fact that the book isn't really trying to teach so much as expose. Plant little seeds of computer science thinking
Sep 19, 2015 Neda rated it liked it
Like others have said, this is like the Phantom Tollbooth, except that many of the jokes & references don't make sense if you aren't a programmer or don't look at the guide in the back. That said, if you treat the chapters as lessons or thought exercise, this book is a pretty effective learning tool. 3 stars for teaching what it set out to teach, but failing to commit to being either a novel or a workbook.
Mar 03, 2015 Arensb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: geekery
I originally thought this would be a book to introduce kids to computer science. I suppose it's that, if you like. But it's closer in spirit to Alice in Wonderland: kids can enjoy the story, while adults familiar with computer science will find references to CS concepts (and a few in-jokes as well).
Jan 24, 2016 BiblioBickie rated it it was ok
Clever, reminded me of the Phantom Tollbooth. But I wonder about the audience for this book. I like that it helps each CS concepts in a narrative way. The most successful chapter is the one in which Lauren/Laurie figures out the most elegant way to get a mechanical turtle to follow her directions to make a circle. I will be interested to see whether this book finds any readers at our library.
Michael Hanscom
Oct 15, 2015 Michael Hanscom rated it really liked it
A thoroughly enjoyable short children's book introducing the basics of computing concepts -- or really, logical thought. Parts of it reminded me of some of the lessons in Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age: or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer.
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“There’s no need to use a big, complex idea when a small simple one will do.” 3 likes
“The truth is that computer science is not really about the computer. It is just a tool to help you see ideas more clearly.” 2 likes
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