First Monday

Kimberly S. Young
Caught in the Net: How to Recognize the Signs of Internet Addiction and a Winning Strategy for Recover
N. Y.: Wiley & Sons, 1998
cloth, 248 p., ISBN 0-471-19159-0, $US22.95
Wiley & Sons: Click here to buy the book on-line ($16.07)


"My name is Monica and I'm an Internet addict."

It's not a joke. Internet addiction is real. A quick search on Excite resulted in 3,140 different sites that discuss this growing problem. The Center for On-line Addiction, the Assessment of Internet Addiction, Internet Junkies Anonymous and even the Internet Addiction Support Group (an online discussion support group!) are just a small sample of the dozens of support organizations which have sprouted in response to this problem.

In addition, a just completed two-year, $1.5-million study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, funded by the National Science Foundation and major technology companies, has concluded that Internet use appears to cause a decline in psychological well-being.

In Caught in the Net, the author, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh shares the results of her three-year study. This book claims to be the first authoritative medical book written by a member of the mental health community. Dr. Kimberly Young defines Internet addiction as a problem that must be taken as seriously as alcoholism or drug addiction. Through her research, she has uncovered that many Internet addicts suffer the same problems most addicts face: low self esteem, depression and anxiety. She delves into why the Internet is so compelling to so many people and discusses how some people have crossed the line between recreational or business use and an out-of-control habit.

Young gives many examples of actual cases. The chapter on "Profiles on On-lineaholics" includes a list of who is in danger of becoming addicted and their personality types.

  1. People with significant emotional or psychiatric problems before they ever go online
  2. Former alcoholics or other ex-addicts
  3. Women: Internet addiction is not limited to young, male "techies." Women made up 61 percent of respondents to Young's survey.
  4. In general, gender issues surface in the way people use the Internet. Men use it to gain power, status and dominance while women use it to form supportive friendships, seek romance or complain about their husbands.
  5. Many Internet addicts adopt new personas online
  6. Internet addicts are not shy people
  7. Most Internet addicts deny they have a problem

Young then continues to give some chilling examples of how some people have let the Internet completely run their lives, even mothers who virtually abandoned their children to spent hours at a time in chat rooms.

In the chapter "The Fraternities of Netheads," Young discusses Internet addiction on U. S. college campuses. In "Cyberwidows" she gives examples of cyberaffairs and how destructive they can be on a couple's relationship.

This book also includes a twenty-question test to help you determine if you have a problem with Internet addiction. Questions include:

  1. How often do you find that you stay online longer than you intended?
  2. How often do you neglect household chores to spend more time online?
  3. How often do you check your e-mail before something else that you need to do?
  4. How often do you lose sleep due to late-night log-ins?
  5. How often do you choose to spend more time online over going out with others?

It's a revealing self-examination of one's Internet usage. I was personally a little uncomfortable with the results of my self-test.

However, there is a hopeful side to Caught in the Net. Young believes that it is possible to recover from Internet addiction and she gives some very concrete advice and steps to take to get this monkey off one's back. - Monica Ertel

Maria Langer
Database Publishing with FileMaker Pro on the Web
Berkeley, Calif.: Peachpit Press, 1998
paper, 410 p., ISBN 0-201-69665-7, $US29.95
Peachpit Press: Click here to buy the book on-line ($23.96)

Webmasters looking for an easy way to put a database on the Web now have a new ally in FileMaker Pro 4.0. This book explains the alternatives available for making the most of that ally to publish Web databases. Claris' built-in "instant Web publishing" option, and its custom Web publishing options are illuminated. Web security as well as static versus dynamic publishing options are examined in detail. Claris' companion program, Claris Home Page 3.0, is also discussed. However, some readers may find themselves wishing that discussion had been far more extensive, since the two programs are so closely integrated, if not altogether interdependent.

In addition to the built-in Web-publishing features of version 4.0, the author covers third-party solutions including Lasso, Tango, and WEB*FM. The final sections provide examples of basic data publishing, using graphics in FileMaker Pro, making data interactive, performing calculations, and handling transactions. A companion Web site provides readers access to files and solutions for most chapters, a feature which significantly enhances the value of the book.

Overall this book is a well-written, nicely organized work that will provide useful examples and guidance for would-be Web database publishers. - James Hodson, University of Illinois at Chicago,

Shirley Duglin Kennedy
Best Bet Internet: Reference and Research When You Don't Have Time to Mess Around
Chicago: ALA Editions, 1998.
paper, 194 p., ISBN 0-838-90712-1, $US35.00
ALA Editions: Click here to buy the book on-line ($23.96)

A print filter of the Internet? Best Bet Internet is an attempt to take a snapshot of the best of the Internet, according to a librarian. Twelve chapters, three appendices, a glossary, bibliography, and index make up this analysis of the Internet. What criteria are used to decide the best? Good question. Unfortunately, there's no description of the author's own evaluative process to decide what makes the grade, and what fails. A chapter entitled "Information Quality, Information Quantity" discusses some criteria that might be used - such as "accuracy, authority, objectivity, currency, and scope" - but there's no indication that the author applied her own rules to the contents of the book. Plenty of URLs and illustrations fill this book, but as always, some of the hyperlinks are inoperative. If you're looking for helpful information on Gopher, telnet, WAIS, FTP, and finger, look elsewhere. Overall, a disappointing book that should have been considerably less breathless in its review of Internet resources. - ejv


Derek Leebaert (Editor)
The Future of the Electronic Marketplace
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1998.
cloth, 383 p., ISBN 0-262-12209-x, $US35.00
MIT Press: Click here to buy the book on-line ($35.00)

Electronic commerce seems to be a future quickly turning into a reality. Politicians rave about it ("In just a few years, the Internet will be generating hundreds of billions of dollars in sales of goods and services. If we establish an environment in which electronic commerce can flourish, then every computer can be a window open to every business, large and small, everywhere in the world." - U. S. Vice President Al Gore). As Derek Leebaert remarks in the beginning of this book, "Anyone with access to electricity can make a market at will." In four sections, the eleven chapters of the book take you from the fantastic to the merely logical, in describing the digital futures of consumerism. The first section describes the importance of information in this future because, as Edward Horowitz of Citicorp notes, "The Internet will have to be everything to everybody." In the second section of services and goods, intelligent agents are described as information filters, content screeners, and ultimately humanizers of technology. The "new" economy is described in the third section, where "global commerce is a logical extension of the Internet's ideal of instant universal access" (according to David Braunschvig of Lazard Frères). The last section addresses the thorny issues of privacy, forms of digital currencies, interoperability, and other difficult topics. An impressive and thought-provoking collection of essays, this book is required reading for anyone interested in economics and finance in the next century. - ejv

Charlie Scott, Paul Wolfe and Mike Erwin
Virtual Private Networks
Sebastopol, Calif..: O'Reilly & Associates, 1998.
paper, 177 p., ISBN 1-565-92319-7, $US29.95
O'Reilly & Associates: Click here to buy the book on-line ($23.96)

Given some of the problems associated with the public Internet, it's not surprising that virtual private networks have emerged as a solution for organizations to speed access and protect users. This book attempts to tackle these newly evolving networks in ten all-too-brief chapters and two appendices. Ranging from the basics of "why deploy a VPN?" to firewalls and tunnels, the authors try to do a little bit of everything for everyone. Unfortunately, this sort of technical stew means that some topics are completely glossed over or ignored. For those with some experience in VPNs, this book will not provide much technical help; those seeking some basic information will find the introductory four chapters confusing. Those concerned about security issues will be best served by many other recent surveys on Internet and Web security; with hope, perhaps this book will inspire a more fundamental review of VPN technicalities in the very near future. - ejv

John E. Simpson
Upper Saddle River, N. J..: Prentice-Hall PTR, 1998.
paper, 381 p., ISBN 0-139-43417-8, $US34.99
Prentice-Hall PTR:

Click here to buy the book on-line ($27.99)


XML - the eXtensible Markup Language - will change the way the World Wide Web works, by finally allowing the "Internet to understand itself" (according to the author). From that philosophical premise, John Simpson takes you on a grand tour of the basic features of XML, intertwined with his personal fascination with "B" movies (I am not making this up). Eleven chapters in five parts provide a sound and quite readable introduction to XML (and the repeated references to obscure films (well, obscure to me) make this book certainly different from any other tome on the subject). Introductory chapters explain XML's structure and terminology; plenty of examples help you understand links, pointers, and other details that drastically differ from HTML. The middle part of the book is dedicated to more advanced features such as style sheets and DTD. The last part of the book examines XML's prospects, including software solutions such as editors and style sheet tools. For those looking for an introduction to XML without pretensions, JustXML is for you. - ejv

Contents Index

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