Title: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet
Author: John Naughton
Page Count/Review Word Count: 373
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!