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Book Cover
Author Stoll, Clifford, author

Title Silicon snake oil : second thoughts on the information highway / Clifford Stoll
Edition First edition
Published New York : Doubleday, 1995


Location Call no. Vol. Availability
 MELB  303.4823 Sto/Sso  AVAILABLE
Description 247 pages ; 25 cm
Contents Preface -- A speleological introduction to the author's ambivalence -- An amalgam of popular fictions about the Internet, including brief trips to China and the city of no illusions -- Further explorations into the culture of computing, leading to questions about the isolation of networks, the nature of tools, the utility of sewers, and the author's continuing ambivalence; with a sidetrack into a four-wheeled discussion of maintaining the national infrastructure -- In which the author contemplates the computer's universal ability to generate frustration -- A short chapter about the short lives of digital things -- Comparing the digital tools of computing, such as image manipulation, with the physical tools we're leaving behind : this chapter is heavily biased by the author's astronomical bent -- Much business, some computing, precious little astronomy -- Comparing the Usenet to CB radio, without any astronomy -- On classrooms, with and without computers; some basic astrophysics for the intrepid -- An inquiry into mail, an experiment with the Post Office, and a comment on cryptography -- Wherein the author considers the future of the library, the myth of free information, and a novel way to heat bathwater -- Where the author considers bulletin boards, user groups, and reexamines his modem settings -- An embarrassing and self-referential addendum to chapter 12, included because the author's sister said she'd beat him up if he didn't -- A conclusion, which does not mention axolotls -- Appendix : Not quite a bibliography
Summary Grounded in common sense, Silicon Snake Oil is a meditation full of passion but devoid of hysteria. Anyone concerned with computers and our future will find it startling, wholly original, and ultimately wise
Stoll asks: when do the networks really educate, and when are they simply diversions from learning? Is electronic mail useful, or might it be so much electronic noise? Why do online services promise so much, yet deliver so little? What makes computers so universally frustrating? Silicon Snake Oil is the first book that intelligently questions where the Internet is leading us. Stoll looks at our network as it is, not as it's promised to be. Yet this is no diatribe against technology, nor is it one more computer jock adding his voice to the already noisy chorus debating the uses of the networks. Following his personal inquiry into the nature of computers, Cliff meets a Chinese astronomer with an abacus, gets lost in a cave, and travels across the Midwest on a home-brew railroad cart. And, at the end of the journey, we're all a bit wiser about what this thing called the information highway really was, is, could, and should be
Ah, the information highway. No phenomenon in modern times has received more attention, held out more promise, nor achieved more mythic stature than the information highway. This computer utopia is said to educate, entertain, and inform. It will supply us with vast amounts of information, put us in close touch with one another and turn our fractious world into a global village. Not so, says Cliff Stoll. Stoll knows. He's the author of The Cuckoo's Egg - the bestselling book about how he caught German spies prowling through computers - and a genuine legend on the Internet. Involved with networks since their earliest days, Stoll has watched the Internet grow from an improbable research project into a communications juggernaut. He knows computers; he loves his networked community. And yet.
Analysis Computer networks
Computer security
Computers and civilization
Information and communications technology
Information superhighway
Information technology
Internet (Computer network)
Overseas item
Notes Includes index
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages 238-239) and index
Subject Computers and civilization.
Information superhighway.
Information technology.
Computer Communication Networks.
LC no. 95002537
ISBN 0385419937