Clifford Stoll, the Frank Zappa of cyberculture, dances around and about information architecture in High-Tech Heretic: Reflections of a Computer Contrarian
. His friendly, just-folks style is accessible and entertaining, even for the painfully postmodern readers who most desperately need Stoll's quiet scepticism.
The 23 short essays are split between education and more general computer-related topics, but each reflects a unique and consistent viewpoint that is marginalised at best: computers might be neat, but they aren't revolutionary. He walks a very narrow path, eschewing both the utopians' rosy mirrorshades and the Luddites' monkeywrenches in favour of the least sexy accessory of all--critical thought. Why are we supposed to wire every classroom? Whose best interests are served by programs offering "computer literacy"? Can we really meet people online? Stoll asks the reader to check assumptions and suspend judgements while we determine what is really best for our children and our culture. His ideas aren't the stuff sound bites are made of, though his writing has enough pith and charm to keep even the most rabid techno-partisan engaged. It must be a blast to infuriate the smug and unthinking punditocracy for a living; High-Tech Heretic lets us in on the fun, while stretching our eye-rolling muscles and exercising our old-fashioned seawater brains. --Rob Lightner