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More like a dictionary of common digital terms, but a good introduction for non-techies
on 26 February 2012
The title of Tom Chatfield's book is really rather a misnomer as this is not so much a book about important ideas as a dictionary defining 50 digital terms you're likely to have heard of but may not know that much about.
One of the "ideas" for example is email. The mini-history of email is interesting and well-written, but it's not the sort of grand idea the book title might make you expect.
By presenting a potted history of how email (and the other 49 subjects) evolved, the book provides detail which all but the most knowledgeable reader will find new and interesting.
I suspect the book will appeal most to those who regularly use the internet but do not know much about the technology. What is a "server" which you sometimes see an error about not responding? Why is Babel Fish the name of a translation service? Isn't free software just stuff you don't pay for? These are the sorts of questions to which the book provides the reader with answers.
If those are questions you already know all about, the chances are the book will feel like a lot of reading for not much new knowledge. But if those questions are of interest and make you wonder about things you've heard of, yet not really thought about, then the book is for you.