FM Reviews
First Monday

Privacy, Security, and Information: new books

Privacy, Security, and Information: new books

Philip E. Agre and Marc Rotenberg (editors)
Technology and Privacy: The New Landscape
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1997.
cloth, 325 p., ISBN 0-262-01162-x, $US25.00
MIT Press: http://mitpress.mit.edu/

Computers have caused more concerns over privacy than any other device invented, certainly in recent history. With the growth of computer networks, there has been additional (and in some cases well-founded) new interest in policies dealing with the misuse of personal information. This book examines some of the issues both in the United States and elsewhere in ten well-written and thoughtful contributions, authored by Simon Davies, Robert Gellman, Marc Rotenberg, and others. Each of the contributors look at ways in which technology influences government policies and economic issues, as well as the ways in which policies and economics alter the evolution of technology. Each essay assumes some familiarity with the basics of privacy and computing, but thankfully each contribution is devoid of arcane terminology. With much food for thought, this book is a real bargain for anyone looking for a snapshot of current thinking on privacy and computing. - ejv

Sheryl Burgstahler
New Kids on the Net: A NetWork Sampler
Needham Heights, Mass.: Allyn and Bacon, 1997.
paper, 199 p., ISBN 0-205-19873-2, $US24.95
Allyn and Bacon: http://www.abacon.com/

With more and more teachers and students using the Internet every day, there is a real need for a package of lessons to help young people (and their instructors) take advantage of this educational medium. With 80 tear-out worksheets, organized in ten lessons, this book helps K-12 students learn all the basics, from electronic mail to the Web, discussion groups, and Internet directories. Each lesson clearly explains its objectives and procedures and includes exercises and questions to help students get up to speed quickly. There are many pointers throughout the book to sites and servers as well as explanations to guide students through FTP and telnet sessions. The very last chapter is a template for instructors to create additional lessons, that develop as a result of the exercises in this book. Basic and practical, New Kids on the Net will be invaluable to instructors developing Internet lessons and exercises. Students will find its no-frills approach not very entertaining, and the lack of colorful graphics boring, but their increased skill in using the Internet as a result of the exercises will more than compensate for this book's serious style. - ejv

Alfred and Emily Glossbrenner
Search Engines for the World Wide Web
Berkeley, Calif.: Peachpit Press, 1998.
paper, 228 p., ISBN 0-201-69642-8, $US16.96
Peachpit Press: http://www.peachpit.com/

Given the terabytes of information on the World Wide Web, it is not surprising that there has been a parallel explosion in tools to hunt for the exact fact or file. The authors divide up this information hunt into three parts, by emphasizing search strategies in the first part, examining the idiosyncrasies of the leading search engines - AltaVista, Excite, Lycos, Yahoo, and others - in the second part, and treating specialized search engines in the final section. Four appendices provide a quick reference on basic search engines, a short description of Internet domain names, an even briefer analysis of Usenet newsgroups, and finally a little self-marketing (is this really necessary?). Search Engines for the World Wide Web is an improvement over the now-dated Web Search Strategies by Bryan Pfaffenberger (New York: MIS:Press, 1996), but you still might find Paul Gilster's Finding It on the Internet (New York: Wiley, 1996) or Daniel Barrett's NetResearch (Sebastopol, Calif.: O'Reilly and Associates, 1997) infinitely more useful, even though Gilster and Barrett barely discuss search engines ad nauseum. For those seeking professional advise on search strategies, find a librarian and her book, such as Mary Ellen Bates' excellent The Online Deskbook (Wilton, Conn.: Pemberton Press, 1996). Bottom line: if you are just interested in search engines, this new book by the Glossbrenners will fit the bill. If you're looking for help in finding digital information, try any or all of the aforementioned books. - ejv

David Lithicum
David Lithicum's Guide to Client/Server and Intranet Development
New York: Wiley, 1997.
paper, 526 p., ISBN 0-471-17467-x, $US34.99
Wiley: http://www.wiley.com/compbooks/

Client-server approaches to computing and information are changing the ways in which businesses handle their day-to-day tasks and long-term plans. The author, a well-respected client-server expert, explains in this book everything from the fundamentals to the latest solutions in five parts and 24 chapters. Not a theoretical exposition on client-server architecture, this book is a practical, step-by-step approach to client-server implementation for a corporation. The opening section treats the basics by asking the right questions about computers, "plumbing," and middleware. The second part looks at databases and their servers, designing the right applications correctly by avoiding a "development death spiral." The third section, the longest in the book, analyzes client/server development, database, decision-support, and other tools. As with other chapters in this book, there is plenty of advice to avoid hype and glamour in software, with a realistic emphasis on practical and utilitarian tools. The next part of the book pulls together software and hardware into several architectures, and the final section discusses implementation. For any novice embarking on a client-server applications, this book is full of commonsense and experiences; for a seasoned pro, there are many welcome reminders in this book of all of the risks in developing successful client-server applications. David Linthicum's Guide is simply an excellent guide to the fundamental techniques in client-server design. - ejv

James D. Solomon
Mobile IP: The Internet Unplugged
Upper Saddle River, N.J.: PTR Prentice Hall, 1998.
cloth, 350 p., ISBN 0-138-56246-6, $US46.00
PTR Prentice Hall: http://www.prenhall.com

With increasing mobility, there has been a parallel dependence on computing and telecommunications solutions to provide time-sensitive information anywhere, at any time. How can Internet-based tools fit into this picture? Mobile IP makes it possible for Internet information to become as mobile as its users and creators. Approved in 1996 by the Internet Engineering Steering Group, Mobile IP is a proposed standard, growing out of fundamental work by the Internet Engineering Task Force. This book describes the need for mobile IP, provides a framework for it, and describes how it will work in the near future. In four parts, James Solomon starts by explaining the ways in which routing traditionally occurs and how mobile IP will overcome some of the problems with standard routing solutions. He then discusses the development of mobile IP and the questions it answered in its evolution as a standard. Solomon then addresses the fundamental concerns over privacy and security, describing the current state of solutions to these troubles. Finally, he peers into the future, analyzing how mobile IP will work with the next generation of the Internet Protocol, IPv6. An exciting book, anyone interested in mobile communications and the near future of the Internet will find Solomon's Mobile IP engrossing and highly practical in its approach. - ejv

Robin Williams and John Tollett
The Non-Designer's Web Book
Berkeley, Calif.: Peachpit Press, 1998.
paper, 287 p., ISBN 0-201-68859-x, $US29.95
Peachpit Press: http://www.peachpit.com/

Colorful, witty, and very practical, The Non-Designer's Web Book is simply the Web design book for the Rest of Us - the graphically-impaired and HTML-dim Web users. Plenty of colorful illustrations help explain many of the points in the well-written and funny text. Why there are even helpful quizzes (really!) to test your skills before you attack a computer. In five parts, Williams and Tollett explain the Web and its pages and work with you on fundamental design issues. Most of the book looks at graphics and the sensible use of color and fonts (thank you) in the course of six central chapters. The last section explains how you can test your handiwork, where you can upload it, and finally publicize its existence. For anyone dreaming of becoming an information provider on the World Wide Web and thinking that you need to be a programmer and a van Gogh at the same time, this book was written just for you. This book is just the best introduction to Web design for mere mortals since the invention of the Internet. - ejv


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