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REVIEW: "From Anarchy to Power: The Net Comes of Age", Wendy Grossman

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Ha
    BKANRPWR.RVW 20020523 From Anarchy to Power: The Net Comes of Age , Wendy Grossman, 2001, 0-8147-3141-4, U$24.95 %A Wendy Grossman
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 25, 2002
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      BKANRPWR.RVW 20020523

      "From Anarchy to Power: The Net Comes of Age", Wendy Grossman, 2001,
      0-8147-3141-4, U$24.95
      %A Wendy Grossman wendyg@...
      %C 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012-1091
      %D 2001
      %G 0-8147-3141-4
      %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
      predecessor.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2001 BKANRPWR.RVW 20020523


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      rslade@... rslade@... slade@... p1@...
      We die only once, and for such a long time. - Moliere
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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