"From Anarchy to Power: The Net Comes of Age", Wendy Grossman, 2001,
%A Wendy Grossman wendyg@...
%C 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012-1091
%I New York University Press
%O U$24.95 212-998-2575 fax 212-995-3833 feedback@...
%P 222 p.
%T "From Anarchy to Power: The Net Comes of Age"
Those who have read Grossman's columns in "Scientific American" (among
other places) will know that she has a fine analysis of technical
topics, combined with a grasp of the social issues surrounding them.
It is difficult to find a common thread to the essays in this volume,
although they link serially much better than those in "net.wars" (cf.
BKNETWRS.RVW). The material is informed and much more reasonable than
in most "information superhighway" works, but overall there is an
unfinished feel, as if the problems had been raised, but solutions had
not been explored to the same extent.
Chapter one takes the media to task not only for sensationalism, but
the many and enormous errors that make it into Internet stories in the
general press. (The myth of "Internet addiction" is given the
majority of the space.) The issue of community online is dealt with
in chapter two. It is an Internet truism that no individual or
company owns the net, but Grossman points out, in chapter three, that
no *country* owns it, either (with particular respect to the notion
that the United States was alone in developing the net). Chapter four
looks at both the central position of the DNS (Domain Name Service)
technology, and the controversies surrounding its management. (The
material would possibly be stronger and more convincing with just
slightly more explanation of how DNS works.) A number of other
weaknesses in the Internet system are explored in chapter five. The
five hundred pound Microsoft gorilla's actions and legal battles are
reviewed in chapter six. Moving to the other end of the development
continuum, chapter seven examines the open source and free software
movements. Chapter eight looks at the very complex questions of
copyright, and attempted "rights protection" technologies. "The
Future of Public Information," in chapter nine, contemplates
difficulties for education and libraries. Public access, as well as
the paradox of the Web moving from an enabling to a restricting
technology, makes up chapter ten. Chapter eleven outlines some of the
companies involved in Internet commerce. Privacy, in chapter twelve,
seems to be primarily concerned with commerce, whether international
or retail. Chapter thirteen finishes off with a somewhat unfocussed
look at where the net might be going, or what it might need.
Readable and reliable, if somewhat less exciting than it's
copyright Robert M. Slade, 2001 BKANRPWR.RVW 20020523
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