Nathalie Azoulai, writer queen of coding

LNow most of our actions depend on the Web and its computer languages. We can no longer fly an Airbus A380 without the active support of a million lines of code, and that number is growing exponentially. Back to binary, the opening sentence Research It turns into an endless series of Proustian 01001100/01101111 that can keep us from sleeping forever. But even thanks to these codes, our iPhone 13 can perform trillions of calculations per second: it is impossible to ignore those digitized servers that are Java, Ruby, HTML, C# or Swift.

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Nathalie Azoulai has a soft spot for Python. Why him? Because everything is used – Google, Instagram, Spotify, Uber speak Python – and because the name fascinates him, he does not forget that he is a writer. He bangs his head in front of these masses of signs, like Champollion in front of the Rosetta Stone, but he is determined to grasp the logic of this language, with others, in the process of relegating human languages ​​to the level of the ancients. things. For this he “hires” a coder, Grace Hopper, to pay tribute to the American pioneer of the discipline, and then he meets coders almost from adolescence – his curiosity is not without erotic intentions – including Guido, the creator of Python, who. he gave her thousands of hours without pay, but who considers it the most extraordinary thing that ever happened to him.

World Wide Web and Uniform Resource Locator

This search would have depressed others, but it is done with the vitality and fantasy that Nathalie Azoulai knows how to put into her books. It leads him to trace the history of an invention that Leibniz and Francis Bacon can be proud of as godfathers, and in the process discover the meaning of WWW (World Wide Web) and URL (Uniform Resource Locator). His hunt also takes a poetic turn when it turns out that it’s possible to archive that vast source code and store it ad vitam aeternam beneath the Arctic ice, if there’s still such a future with global warming.

“Python”, By Nathalie Azoulai (POL, 222 p., €20).

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