Culturally, code exists in a nether zone. We can feel its gnostic effects on our everyday reality, but we rarely see it, and it’s quite inscrutable to non-initiates. (The folks in Silicon Valley like it that way; it helps them self-mythologize as wizards.) We construct top-10 lists for movies, games, TV—pieces of work that shape our souls. But we don’t sit around compiling lists of the world’s most consequential bits of code, even though they arguably inform the zeitgeist just as much.
So Slate decided to do precisely that. To shed light on the software that has tilted the world on its axis, the editors polled computer scientists, software developers, historians, policymakers, and journalists. They were asked to pick: Which pieces of code had a huge influence? Which ones warped our lives? About 75 responded with all sorts of ideas, and Slate has selected 36.
Read My Contribution To This List: The Police Beat Algorithm
Love them or fear them, hackers are the cool kids of the Internet. They’re the ones who know what’s really going on around here, and that makes for a great story. Fictional or factual, tales of digital espionage rarely bore. Check out these books about hackers to get pumped for an all-night coding session, inspire yourself to don the white hat, or just to vicariously enjoy the thrilling tale of a digital daredevil.
I do need to address, as always, that we need more diversity in this little corner of publishing. Hell, we need more diversity in computers period. This list is short on women and short on ethnic diversity, which drives me nuts because coding is awesome and everyone deserves to enjoy it. To make that happen, I strongly encourage you to go check out Girls Who Code, Color<Coded>, and People Of Color In Tech. Code is one of those skills you can 100% learn outside of the educational establishment, so also see my list of coding books for kids. (And adults. Not gonna lie: I own a bunch of those myself and I’m well over 30.)
Let’s go hack it up.
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