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From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet Paperback – 30 Aug 2012
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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. (Cory Doctorow, Observer)
'An accessible guide to the Internet, which covers the nine need-to-know ideas about its cultural significance' Sunday Times. (Sunday Times)
About the Author
John Naughton is Professor of the Public Understanding of Technology at the Open University and a Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge. He is also the Observer's 'Networker' columnist and a prominent blogger at memex.naughtons.org. His last book was A Brief History of the Future: The Origins of the Internet.
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Top customer reviews
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. At this point Naughton changes persona somewhat from the affable guide to the Internet tapping away in his Cambridge study. Now we have John Naughton the Internet activist who believes that copyright is an outmoded restriction on the freedom that makes the Net such as creative force: "we're facing a situation where large numbers of our fellow citizens are effectively being criminalised by unenforceable laws".
In the final chapter Naughton takes us on a tour of the future of the Internet with competing utopian and nightmare visions. Through Orwell, Huxley and then Steve Jobs we journey through the battlefield for the Open Internet. Naughton cites the excellent Timonthy Wu and Evegeny Morozov to warn us of how corporations as well as authoritarian governments might want to use the Internet to control and exploit us. But in the end this feels more like a sober celebration of the Internet than a diagnosis of decay.
This is a clear, readable, unpatronising, well structured book where the appendix and glossary are actually very useful. I would recommend it to anyone seeking to understand the Internet in the round. Perhaps you already know about programming, or web design or blogging. Perhaps you do online marketing, journalism or campaigning. Or perhaps the Internet is just where you go for friendship, amusement or shopping. In any case, you will know at least part of this story, but Naughton's book gives you the whole picture.
London School of Economics
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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