The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America by Margaret O’Mara casts a far-reaching net to construct a long view perspective on the rise of Silicon Valley as a culture and society in its own right. O’Mara provides a superbly readable and fresh look at an area demonstrably not previously explored in such detail. The depth of research and careful craft involved in parsing such an ambitious scope into an approachable volume is successfully accomplished. Although I found it a slightly longer read than necessary at times, it brought forth tantalising previously unexposed tales as she worked towards demonstrating the unique confluence of time, place and personality that all came together to bring us to the technologically entwined society of today. She explores the nature of periodic cycles of investment in the military-industrial complex and its deep relationship with specific academic bodies in the US. At times I have to admit that her attempts to bring to light what has been termed ‘unjustly ignored’ contributions by women and minorities seems somewhat contrived – the importance of undertaking this search and identifying these previously unrecognised contributions is critical. It simply sometimes comes across as disproportionate – especially when held up against the more common tales that have been recounted in almost all other works. This is probably the point, but at times it seems to jar with her deeper conclusions about Silicon Valley as a socio-economic phenomenon.
This is a worthy read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.