It's rare indeed to come across a good software developer who can also write streams of intelligent prose that give some profound insights. It's even rarer when that person is female. From "The dumbing-down of programming" to "Sliced off by the cutting edge", Ellen Ullman's essays highlight some of the darker corners of the computing and software development business. Here's just a few nice quotes from a couple of her essays:
"When the humans come back to talk changes, I can just run the program. Show them: Here. Look at this. See? This is not just talk. This runs. Whatever you might say, whatever the consequences, all you have are words and what I have is this, this thing I've built, this operational system. Talk all you want, but this thing here: it works."
"Arrogance is a job requirement for a software developer. It is the confidence-builder that lets you keep walking toward the thin cutting edge. It's what lets you forget that your knowledge will be old in a year, you've never seen this new technology before, you have only a dim understanding of what you're doing, but who cares since you'll figure it all out somehow."
"Human thinking can skip over a great deal, leap over small misunderstandings, can contain ifs and buts in untroubled corners of the mind. But the machine has no corners. In the painstaking working out of the specification, line by code line, the programmer confronts an awful, inevitable truth: the ways of human and machine understanding are disjunct."
Salon has a list of her online essays, and if you love good writing I recommend that you take a look. Her work alone justifies a trial subscription, although I actually bought a full Salon subscription after reading some of the interesting articles in their "Tech and Business" archive.
DISCLAIMER: I have no connection whatever with Salon, apart from being a subscriber.