First Monday Reviews

First Monday


Working the Web's Global Community: new books

Daniel J. Barrett
NetResearch: Finding Information Online.
Sebastopol, Calif.: O'Reilly & Associates, 1997.
paper, 186 p., ISBN 1-565-92245-X, $US24.95
O'Reilly: http://www.ora.com/

For those new the Internet, locating facts, opinions, and colleagues can be intimidating. Which search engine works best to locate an e-mail address? Where can I find a site to download shareware? What's a meta-search? Daniel Barrett answers these and many other questions in NetResearch, an excellent introduction to the Internet as a massive, badly organized library. With a little practice and Barrett's practical advise even the most overwhelmed novice will be able to locate a server, file, program, graphic, and long-last friend. In four parts, the opening chapters explain the Internet, from Gopher and Usenet news to the Web and FTP. The core of the book explains search engines, simple and advanced queries, domain names, white pages, whois, newsgroups, and bookmarks. Plenty of tables, URLs, and illustrations provide lots of help in understanding the basics of the Internet and its resources.Each chapter ends with a quiz (answers are in an appendix at the end of the book) that helps you review your newly developed skills. Lacking the pretensions of many other Internet research guides, this brief guide will provide welcome relief from those encyclopedic tomes and over-comprehensive manuals to many Net neophytes. Highly recommended to anyone needing a basic atlas of Internet resources and tools.- ejv End of article

Ted Gesing and Jeremy Schneider
JavaScript for the World Wide Web.
Berkeley, Calif.: Peachpit Press, 1997.
paper, 182 p., ISBN 0-201-68814-X, $US17.95
Peachpit Press: http://www.peachpit.com/

What's the difference between Java and JavaScript? Event handlers trigger what kinds of responses? How can I create an interactive map? In twelve chapters and three appendices, Gesing and Schneider describe the basics of JavaScript, with abundant examples and explanations. The opening chapters provide you with scripting fundamentals, from values and variables to objects, events, and functions. Forms, loops, conditionals, images, and image maps are well explained after this excellent beginning, with details to do almost everything from generating random numbers to creating scripts for nested frames. Appendices provide an overview of object hierarchy and the essential JavaScript features of Netscape 3.0 and Internet Explorer 3.0. For the JavaScript expert, this book will function as a handy reference guide; for the beginner, it will help you learn the essentials so you can incorporate scripts into your Web projects quickly and efficiently.- ejv End of article

Olin Lathrop
The Way Computer Graphics Work.
N. Y.: Wiley, 1997.
paper, 202 p., ISBN 0-471-13040-0, $US32.95
Wiley Computer Publishing: http://www.wiley.com/compbooks/

With the increased use of graphics on the Internet, it's easy to be confused about the differences between lossy and runlength compression, fractals and graftals, and Tstrips and a quad mesh. With plenty of color illustrations and digestible explanations, this book will help even the most graphically confused understand electronic figures and digital images. Beginning by describing the cathode ray tube and its creation of color images, this book explains graphic primitives, vectors, transforms, and modeling, before organizing the entire cast of characters into a series of pictures on a screen. Rendering - from wire-frame to dithering - and animation are then described in understandable prose, making it possible for you to understand the most arcane graphic descriptors with relative ease. An excellent index at the end of book defines many graphics terms with cross-references to examples in the main body of the text. For anyone curious about digital figures or for the beginning digital artist, this book will become a well-worn companion and assistant into the ever-evolving world of computer graphics. - ejv End of article

Marshall McLuhan, with graphics by Quentin Fiore
War and Peace in the Global Village.
San Francisco: HardWired, 1997.
paper, 190 p., ISBN 1-888-86907-0, $US9.95
HardWired: http://www.hardwired.com/

With the rapid growth of global electronic communications, there has been a fascinating revival of interest in the writings of Marshall McLuhan, in part stimulated by Wired's own tireless promotion of McLuhan as its "patron saint." This re-issue of War and Peace in the Global Village is more than a simple reprinting of the sequel to The Medium is the Massage, it is a graphical "re-mastering" with plenty of marginalia (quotes from Finnegans Wake and a few other tidbits) to arouse or confuse, depending on your perspective. The real value of this version of War and Peace thankfully does not hinge on the additions to the format - the black-and white illustrations, the endless babble of Joyce in the margin. Instead, the handy format of this book makes it possible to joyfully re-read War and Peace from beginning to end, and to revisit it whenever the whim strikes. Like the original pocket books of Aldus Manutius, you can carry this edition with you wherever you go, to refresh a particular phrase in memory, to feast on those strings of improbable words. When HardWired exhausts the opera of McLuhan, who will they turn to next for "re-mastering "? There are plenty of saints in Wired's digital heaven, awaiting their turn for colorization and commentary.- ejv End of article

Edward J. Renehan, Jr.
Science on the Web: A Connoisseur's Guide to Over 500 of the Best, Most Useful, and Most Fun Science Websites.
N. Y.: Springer, 1996.
paper, 382 p., ISBN 0-387-94795-7, $US19.95
Springer: http://www.springer-ny.com/

Given the scientific and technical heritage of the World Wide Web, it is not surprising that there's an abundance of information available on everything from artificial life to oceanography to zoology. Renehan opens with a few fundamental about the Web for the novice with a quick review of browsers and other tools. He then jumps right into a subject analysis of Web servers, covering hundreds of sites dedicated to fifteen general topics. An additional section covers publishers and book dealers on the Web, but it is far from comprehensive (no Amazon.com!). Many of sites listed are designed for a general audience; an expert in many a discipline would marvel at the absence of certain servers from this compendium. More of a general introduction to scientific information on the Web rather than an exacting description of many technical sites, Science on the Web provides one snapshot of science in this networked environment. For students and some teachers, this book will be a good place to start exploring some of the many facets of scientific information on the Internet.- ejv End of article

Dawn Rodrigues
The Research Paper and the World Wide Web.
Upper Saddle River, N. J.: Prentice Hall, 1997.
paper, 212 p., ISBN 0-134-61724-X, $US18.67
Prentice Hall: http://www.prenhall.com/

Designed for students and teachers of composition, Rodrigues' book explains how the World Wide Web can be integrated into the usual research that accompanies a term or class paper. In three essential parts, the opening chapters provide the reader with a good overview of the Web and its tools. The middle chapters build on this information, by taking the reader to libraries, specific servers, mailing lists, and other resources, all helpful in the course of exploring a topic for a paper. The last chapters explain how to best organize notes and sources (I only wish more Internet authors would follow this advise), accurately documenting Internet sites and servers for future reference.The book ends with a brief but adequate glossary, references, and index. Teachers and instructors at the high school and college level would find this book an excellent text for composition classes, especially those that involve the use of the Internet. Students will find the examples and illustrations helpful, and the lack of jargon refreshing and most welcome. - ejv

Telecommunications: Glossary of Telecommunication Terms.
Rockville, Md.: Government Institutes, 1997.
one CD-ROM, Product Code #4090
Government Institutes: http://www.govinst.com/

Standards, the universe and all its agencies revolve around them. Without standards, such as those described on this compact disc, the Web and all of its many elements would not function . For many agencies, organizations, corporations, and individuals, understanding the exact meaning of a given standard is fundamental. This compact disc conveniently brings together in one place standards for telecommunications developed by several agencies, including the U. S. Departments of Commerce and Defense and the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences. Every word from MIL-STD-188 120, FED-STD-1037, NTIA-SP 79-14, NBS Handbook 140, FED-STD-1037A, FED-STD 1037B, FED-STD-1037C, and other documents can be found in hypertext form. In both HTML and PDF versions, this disc makes it easy to move from one term to another. From atto to Zulu Time, every possible term, abbreviation, and acronym can be found on this well-designed product. Two separate appendices provide tables for abbreviations and subject groupings of terms. This disc proves the value of a simple interface to a complex collection of terms; for those constantly referring to printed or microform versions for explanations of telecommunications terminology, this disc will provide welcome relief. - ejv End of article

Eric Tilton, Carl Steadman, and Tyler Jones
Web Weaving:Designing and Managing an Effective Web Site.
Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley Developers Press, 1997.
paper, 545 p., ISBN 0-201-48959-7, $US24.95
Addison-Wesley Developers Press: http://www.aw.com/devpress/

Not yet another introduction to HTML, Web Weaving takes a decidedly holistic approach to infostructure, the organization of information on the Web. In three parts, the authors first examine the creation of digital documents, discussing the manipulation of digital documents with HTML (with some details on various HTML editors). The mid-section of the book examines the existence of documents in the greater whole of the Web, looking at the never-ending maintenance and security chores as well as a quick look at CGI. The final part of the text deals with the development of a style guide and includes a reference section for HTML. Four appendices treat URLs, Internet media types, character entries, and VRML and Java. Web Weaving collects and organizes a great deal of diverse information for a rich and rewarding review of Web document aesthetics; experienced Web authors will learn much the authors' advise and experiences in this valuable book. - ejv End of article


Copyright © 1997, First Monday

Working the Web's Global Community: new books.
First Monday, Volume 2, Number 7 - 7 July 1997
http://www.firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/541/462





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