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From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet [Paperback]

John Naughton
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Jan 2012

Our society has gone through a weird, unremarked transition: we've gone from regarding the Net as something exotic to something that we take for granted as a utilitarian necessity, like mains electricity or running water. In the process we've been remarkably incurious about its meaning, significance or cultural implications. Most people have no idea how the network works, nor any conception of its architecture; and few can explain why it has been - and continues to be - so uniquely disruptive in social, economic and cultural contexts. In other words, our society has become dependent on a utility that it doesn't really understand.

John Naughton has distilled the noisy chatter surrounding the internet's relentless evolution into nine clear-sighted and accessible areas of understanding. In doing so he affords everyone the requisite knowledge to make better use of the technologies and networks around us, and see lucidly into their future implications. Along the way FROM GUTENBERG TO ZUCKERBERG covers areas as diverse as the science of complexity, the economics of abundance, the appeal of disruption and the problematic nature of intellectual property.

FROM GUTENBERG TO ZUCKERBERG gives you all the basic, conceptual equipment you need to understand the Internet phenomenon.

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From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet + The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires + Tubes: Behind the Scenes at the Internet
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (5 Jan 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857384252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857384256
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 299,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'A fantastic read and a marvel of economy. This is the kind of primer you want to slide under your boss's door' Cory Doctorow, Observer.

'An accessible guide to the internet, which covers the nine need-to-know ideas about its cultural significance. Naughton draws on more than two decades of study to explain how the internet works and the challenges and opportunities it will offer to future generations' The Times.

'As Naughton points out, most internet users are far more ignorant than they realise. His book is as useful to them as to neophytes' Mail on Sunday.

'From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg comes at a point when much of the traffic associated with desktop computers is migrating to mobile devices and cloud computing is a new thing. It helps those of us stuck in the old paradigm (or no paradigm at all) to catch up on what it all means' Glasgow Herald.

From the Back Cover

We've gone from regarding the Net as something exotic to something that we take for granted, like mains electricity or running water. Yet most people have no idea how the network functions, not any conception of its architecture; and few can explain why it has been - and continues to be - so uniquely disruptive in social, economic and cultural contexts. John Naughton has been thinking, arguing, lecturing and writing about the Net for over two and a half decades, and in From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg he has distilled the noisy chatter surrounding the internet's relentless evolution into nine accessible ideas. Take the long view: learning from Gutenberg. The Web is not the Net. For the Net, disruption is a feature, not a bug. Think ecology, not just economics. Complexity is the new reality. The network is now the computer. The Web is evolving. Copyrights and copywrongs: or why our Intellectual Property regime no longer makes sense. Orwell vs Huxley: the bookends of our networked future? From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg gives you a unique understanding of our networked information environment and an insight into the threats and opportunities that it offers for the future.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
The Internet is now the background to most of our lives - for some it is central - but how much do
we really understand about how it works and what it's doing to us? This book by John Naughton is a great place to start. It gives you the history, enough of the technology and most importantly, a very good way past the myths and into the real significance of the Internet.

Naughton is in a good place to do this. He is part geek, part academic, part journalist, part enthusiast. The result is a book with comfortable authority. He doesn't let his knowledge get in the way of your understanding.

I am supposed to be a new media expert, but really I'm just a journalist interested in its effects. For me, the Internet is not just central to our lives, but environmental. However, I don't really know much about how it works. So From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg was very useful. What is the difference between the Internet and the Web? How can a digital system have a virus? How can I get information from a cloud? All these and more of the technical questions are answered. But Naughton goes further than simply providing a kind of Haynes Manual for the Internet.

From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg explores the concepts that make the Internet such an interesting and probably unique media force for social, political and economic change. He reminds us that the Internet is constantly evolving both as a structure as well as its content. He tells us to remember that disruption is the norm not the exception for the Internet. He asks us to think of the Internet as an ecology - a kind of living system, not a machine.

But it gets even more interesting and a little more contentious when he looks at the future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And you really do need to know it. 17 Mar 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very readable and not too technical. But essential if you want a snapshot of where we're at with the internet now, what we need to be aware of and with hints as to where we might go. Fascinating with some very surprising facts and figures. Read it! Or maybe read JN's 1999 book first.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Adequate 16 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A potted history of a selection of technologies from the 14th century to the present day - nothing insightful, no detail and little referencing except to other journalistic books of this type i.e. no scholarship, nor originality. If you have read the same eight to a dozen books you may come to the same non-conclusions. More like a assemblage of adricles or essays for a Sunday colour supplement and so targeted at the reading age of a 14 year old, or at best an undergraduate in their first year of .... well, I'm not sure.
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I found this book in a bargain bin at The Works, which just goes to show that you can find great stuff in bargain bins – this book is, without a doubt, one of the best books that I’ve ever read about the internet. How much you enjoy it will probably depend upon how much you used the internet in the early days – there’s some great stuff about the founding of Napster, for example, that you’ll only really relate to if you used it the first time around.

Napster itself was only made possible by both the internet itself and the creation of the mp3 encoding format, two subjects that Naughton explains eloquently and in detail. If you’re a bit of a computer geek like I am then you’ll probably enjoy it, but it might be a bit too much if you’re not interested in the inner workings of the computers and networks that power our civilization.

Of particular interest is Naughton’s comparison of the internet to the Gutenberg press, another invention which revolutionised the way that we communicate. In fact, he begins the book by covering off the invention and adoption of the Gutenberg press and the way in which it changed the world for the better – the internet, he argues, will have a similar effect over time.

It’s also interesting to read Naughton’s views on the copyright culture that we live in, a set of views that I happen to share – I won’t go in to them in too much detail because I suggest that you go out and buy a copy of the book for yourself. Naughton also has some interesting ideas when it comes to predictions of the future – he looks at the dystopian futures proposed by Orwell and Huxley, and explains why they could both be right when it comes to their depressing view of what our society might become.

All in all, this book is a pleasure to read and a must-have for anyone who’s a regular user of the internet. So check it out!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking 18 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
On this the 25th anniversary of the WWW, this book is a well written view of history and also puts the WWW in its context today. I recommend highly.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible. Couldn't get past the first 3 pages... 29 Dec 2013
This reads like a selection of copied and pasted Wikipedia pages linked together by the most unspectacular observations this side of the parody Twitter account "@PippaTips". The writing and analysis is amateurish - akin to an unedited freshman-level essay.
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5.0 out of 5 stars highly intuitive 10 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Thought provoking but reassuring. The IP issue in chapter 8 is worthy of some consideration but the lawyers will hate it
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Following Ed Snowdens appearance I realised that I couldn't really function any more as an active and informed citizen unless I got to grips with the Internet. After a false start with Heather Brooke's truly cringe making 'The Revolution Will Be Digitised' I was desperate for something that spoke in a language and to ideas that non technorati could understand but which didn't treat me as a complete idiot ripe for being fed slf serving tripe about mainstream journalists being our saviours. This book would be worth it's price alone just for the short but fair and balanced account it gives of Wikileaks relay ship with traditional media. But the book contains so much more and gives much food for thought. Well written, with an ease of style and just enough humour to make you really warm to Naughton. I disagree with another reviewer who felt that the penultimate chapter didn't belong to this book. The subject of copyright and piracy is one that had struggled to understand and one that often divides older people like myself from the young. I came away from this feeling that I had gained more insight not just into the Internet itself, but also into the ideas of a lot of the young activists who have grown up with it. I hope with all the recent events that you can hold on to some of your enthusiasm Mr Naughhton and thank you.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars need to explain the internet revolution to your parent/grand parent ?
Need to look no further in my case. My parent are nearing 65 yo and as opposed to me, a lot of the inner part of how computer and the internet works (on a theoretical level) are... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Thomas Roche
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely a "must read" book
I loved this book so much that I bought four more copies for my family and friends.
They have all thanked me and said they are reading it with fascination. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Angela Bowey
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a good book - everyone should read it
Very informative, easy to read and diverse, going into lots of topics related to the internet, with backgrounds. Even as a techy person myself, I have learnt so much. A+++
Published 18 months ago by Piers
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
I had read John Naughton's A Brief History of the Future: Origins of the Internet and found it incredibly informative and accesible. This book is even better! Read more
Published 20 months ago by Deane Mark Narayn
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and well written
I like John Naughton's writing in the Observer. And on his blog. In fact, come to think of it, he is one of my favourite technology writers. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Clarke
4.0 out of 5 stars Broadbrush History of the Internet
a part history of the internet and how we got to where we are, and part contemplation on the direction that the internet should go in
Published 23 months ago by Half Man, Half Book
5.0 out of 5 stars almost a personal history
What a good book! - readable, unpatronising, illuminating. The only section I was less keen on was the Gutenberg chapter. Read more
Published on 16 July 2012 by Ms. J. Jones
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