Breathing Machine, A Memoir of Computers
What if there were a world bigger than the one you can touch?
Leigh Alexander recounts a stormy adolescence alongside the mysterious early internet. From the surrealism of early video games to raw connections made over primitive newsgroups, from sex bots to Sailor Moon, Alexander intimately captures a dark frontier age.
Leigh Alexander writes about video games, interactive e...more
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Her announcement, seemingly out of nowhere, that she'd written a memoir about her youthful relationship to technology had me s ...more
this is a perfect little gem of a book (a "hard, pungent knuckle" of literary weed, to borrow her phrase) that makes me wish it was three times as long. it's got the same early-internet nostalgia as christine love's "digital: a love story," and the poetic, pithy punch of alexander's best writing is here in spades.
to give yourself over to ...more
This is an entirely biased rating and review. I can't do anything else, because oh dear, this book is too close to home.
OK, to disclaim: I am actually younger than Alexander, and didn't get started online until around 2000, and computers themselves in 98/99. Nonetheless, even if I missed out on some of the things she discusses in this brief book, like two-colour displays and truly enormous machines and ADVENT and such, I still eke into the era she discusses, and certainly occupied a simila ...more
For me (and I would guess for many technophiles in a similar age group) this feeling always tears a thick scab off of a wellspring of regret... I didn't have an ecommerce startup. I didn't ri ...more
It's a fascinating account to read if only the way it reminded ...more
I expected a memoir of the technologies of the time, and what I found was more a chronicle of the sickos of the world. One old internet friend was characterized as being boring bec ...more
Along the way, Leigh writes, among other things, about her early experiences online, about memories we all share (what was the first gruesome picture you saw online?), about virtual spaces and the human need for escapism.
I am always impressed by ...more
Prior to reading this, I had never considered how profoundly the lack of even a slow dial-up connection in my childhood home shaped my earliest computing experiences. That assumption of isolation continues to inform my technological expectations in the present, even as I thumbtype t ...more
Recommended for: People who felt ostracized by their local community and instead chose to grow up amongst text adventures and newsgroups, occasionally looking at Goatse and tubgirl.
Strongly recommended for anyone who wants to spend a couple of hours reliving this neon-tinged period of recently-modern life - particularly of the late 1990s and the turn of the Millenium.
If you expected to like Ready Player One but didn't, read this instead.