First Monday

FM Reviews

Curt Cloninger.
Fresh Styles for Web Designers: Eye Candy from the Underground.
Indianapolis, Ind.: New Riders, 2001.
paper, 224 p., ISBN 0-735-71074-0, US$35.00.
New Riders: http://www.newriders.com

Curt Cloninger. Fresh Styles for Web Designers.

This book carries intriguing strap line on its cover. "Is your creative cupboard bare?" it whispers, and to reinforce the point, the book cover itself is a photograph of a refrigerator with just half a dried up orange and pint of milk forlornly perched on the shelves. The cover tells us a lot about the book itself, particularly its aim which is to give designers a kick-start, an infusion of new ideas or challenge existing orthodoxies about Web design. So does the book deliver on this promise, and will you emerge from reading it bursting with new ideas and creative energy?

I think the answer to this is yes - but it depends on who you are. If you are a Web design novice and you want a book which will take you through building a site then prepare to be disappointed, if not completely bamboozled. This book assumes throughout that you already know about HTML stylesheets, Flash and most of the other technologies and techniques used on today's Web. This is not a book which is technology obsessed or geeky, but it's not a dummies guide either. Cloninger does frequently explain the tricks and workarounds used by the designers and these are some of the most valuable parts of the book for Web designers as the contents can be seized on and used immediately in projects. But don't expect step by step instructions, a good level of knowledge is always assumed.

The modus operandi of the book is simple. Ten Web styles are identified and made the subject of a chapter in the book, these are topped and tailed by an introduction and conclusion which explain the theoretical basis of the book and provide an impromptu manifesto for creative design on the Web. The sites which are representative of these 10 styles are all, in the words of the book, "sites of passion". The book really begins to win because of the knowledge and sensitivity to Web design displayed by the author. The styles themselves have suitably alluring titles: "Pixelated Punk Rock style; 1950s Hello Kitty style; Super Tiny Sim City style" and Cloninger's excellent eye for detail and his ability to sum up designs and pick out salient features is used to good effect in all chapters. Once you begin to see how Cloninger is identifying the styles and begin to look at the designs with his eyes you can see quite how acute his vision is. The confirmation of his radical perception of graphic design came when I saw the recent "live unltd" ads for Ikea on U.K. television. These use the "Paper Bag style" of chapter 5, and show that design movements which begin underground so move to become part of the mainstream idiom of design and presentation. This is a point which Cloninger also appreciates and many of the designers he showcases in the book have some really big clients on their books.

The book itself is beautifully presented. Printed on glossy paper and bursting with screenshots to let you see immediately how the underground geniuses of the Web scene have woven their magic. Whether this justifies the UK£27.50 price tag is a matter of personal opinion, and of course the book is also full of URLs so you can visit the sites to see the real thing in action, which is necessary for many of the sites because of their high degree of interactivity.

You might expect someone with such an eye for visual modes of communication to not excel in written communication, but Cloninger bucks the trend here as the book is a well written and full of engaging ideas coherently expressed. The prose is informal and easy-going, and Cloninger is always saying something of interest.

Throughout the book Cloninger conducts a low level battle with the "usability" faction, arguing that usability alone is only one facet of Web design and that creative designers should be able to push the envelope in their quest for new styles. Some of the sites he chooses for the book would probably make Jakob Neilsen's blood boil, but once you've visited them and been tricked, bemused and beguiled you begin to side with Cloninger against what he would argue is the unnecessarily reductive and limiting aesthetic of the usability crusaders.

This review should have made it clear who should buy this book. Buy it if you've run out of ideas, it will certainly get you thinking again about the enormous possibilities on the Web. You should also buy it if the last three sites you designed all looked the same or (even worse) all looked like Microsoft.com. If you are about to commission a Web site it may also be a good investment, just give the book to the Web designers at your first meeting. - Dr. Matthew Pearson End of Review


Richard Discenza, Caroline Howard, and Karen D. Schenk.
The Design and Management of Effective Distance Learning Programs.
Hershey, Pa.: Idea Group Publishing, 2002.
hard cover, 312 p., ISBN 1-930708-20-3, US$74.95.
Idea Group: http://www.idea-group.com/

Richard Discenza, Caroline Howard, and Karen D. Schenk. The Design and Management of Effective Distance Learning Programs.

Much of the ground covered in this collection will be familiar to those involved in distance education, but the volume takes an interesting variety of perspectives; in chapter one, Diane Matthews emphasizes the disadvantages of DE for the student, the instructor, and the institution, and this survey raises some interesting points concerning quality assurance (the topic also of chapter ten), effectiveness, and the tension between commercial and pedagogical forces. Despite this tension, which runs throughout the book, the conclusion of this chapter is optimistic: "Educators have the opportunity to define, design, and manage effective and robust teaching and learning systems, programs, and courses ... . No generation will have the opportunity that we have to put a mark on the look of education in the future" (p. 17).

Although the authors in this volume include academics from major distance learning institutions in the U.S. and Australia, the design and management referred to in the title is in many cases reduced to the ad hoc efforts of individual instructors. At the institutional level, chapter three "review[s] the telecommuting literature and put[s] forward a model that outlines the potential influences affecting the adoption of distance education for use by academic institutions in their decisions related to this area" (p. 38). This necessarily ignores the specifically pedagogical factors, but is able to draw some interesting conclusions, in particular that "telecommuting research would suggest that the programs will work best where they fit neatly into current organizational work practices ..." (p. 50). The idea that distance learning programs should be accommodated within existing structures rather than determine the directions in which the institutions develop is indicative of the idea pervading the book that distance learning is a supplementary way of delivering course content, rather than a fully fledged pedagogical strategy in its own right.

This is borne out in chapter four, where Gary Saunders considers the future of distance learning in the traditional university, citing majority support in a survey he conducted for the view that "Internet courses are simply correspondence courses presented with new technology" (p. 55). The accounting department chairpersons and the deans of Colleges of Business who participated in the survey will presumably not put a mark on the look of education in the future. In common with many of the attitudes expressed in this book, they seem to miss the point that the technology underpinning flexible delivery is just one element contributing to the revolution in the way people choose to learn; in particular, it overlooks the fact that one of the most important functions of ICT is to facilitate new approaches to learning.

Saunders' claim that "During the 1990s ... terms like 'distance learning' ... were added to the academic lexicon" betrays a surprising lack of perspective; distance learning both as a concept and as a term was certainly in existence by the 1960s, when the U.K. Open University was founded, and Onay (p. 234 in this volume) states that "the history of distance education can be traced back to the mid-nineteenth century."

Given that most large Higher Education institutions now offer distance courses (Saunders quotes a figure of 87% of those with more than 10,000 students), it is difficult to see why he ignores the ideological and pedagogical reasons in order to focus disparagingly on the economic aspect, which he characterizes as "rushing headlong to cash in on the lottery" (p. 59).

He is right to ask the question "Do Internet courses represent a new and significant improvement over traditional pedagogy for educating students or just a lessening in the rigor of academic programs?" (p. 59), but the stance in this chapter suggests that he has made up his mind before considering the evidence. This stance is typified by the statement (p. 71) that "Universities are challenged to develop students' interpersonal and group skills and to teach students how to 'think critically'. Meeting these particular challenges would seem to be next to impossible when a student never has direct, face-to-face contact with either an instructor or other students." However, no evidence is offered for this position, which contradicts the daily experience of online educators who use the facilities of CMC for online collaboration, making group work an integral part of learning.

Chapter five presents data from a variety of sources describing faculty perceptions of teaching at a distance; surprisingly, most of the cases cited as examples of successful distance education concern individuals creating websites, and there is no consideration of the pedagogical issues involved in adapting a course for distance learning. A typical example is described as follows: "She had already developed a website for her course and had put all course materials on the web for her residential students anyway, so there was relatively little extra work to do for the added web section" (p. 86).

A useful corrective to this is provided in the following chapter, which notes that "with the rapid growth of distance learning, it's timely to look at some of the most important psychological principles of learning and see how they might be exploited to create the most effective possible distance learning environment" (p. 95). The authors discuss applications of these principles in formats including MUD/MOO environments, bulletin boards and real-time online lectures, and provide suggestions for the development of effective instructional tools.

The point that online courses can actually enhance learning is also taken up in chapter ten, where Richard Ryan begins with the assertion that there are two main reasons why universities offer online courses; to provide access to people who would not otherwise get an education, or to improve the quality of learning. He claims that these two goals are rarely combined, and posits the need for strategies for quality assurance. In common with many authors in this volume, Ryan, with his talk of "posting a class online", ignores the experience of large-scale distance education institutions in adapting the use of available technologies to their pedagogical strategies. He does acknowledge that often the way Internet capabilities are incorporated into online courses is not creative, but the conclusion, in the guise of quality assurance, is a capitulation to market forces. "Offering resource rich online classes using the Internet is a cost efficient opportunity for industry and academia to partner. There is great potential for exceptional classes to be industry-sponsored productions, combining emerging capabilities of the Internet, the best Instructors, and the latest industry driven content" (p. 169).

God save our universities from the latest industry-driven content. - Peter Beech End of Review


Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchin.
Atlas of Cyberspace.
Boston: Addison-Wesley, 2001.
cloth, 288 p., ISBN 0-201-74575-5, US$39.99.
Addison-Wesley: http://www.aw.com/cseng

Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchin. Atlas of Cyberspace.

At first glance the idea of mapping cyberspace must rank with the concept of plaiting fog or juggling with spaghetti; how does one create maps of what is, in essence, ephemeral? However this book, the fruit of five years research, draws together maps and spatializations covering the first thirty years of the Internet, and the scale and breadth of the images used demonstrates not only the scale of the Internet but the level of technology now employed in creating such images.

Chapter one might be seen as the pre-flight warning, it covers "The issues to consider when viewing images" (p. 3) which includes several questions we might consider such as "Why was the map created?", "Are the data used reliable?" and "Is the map ethical?". The chapter then continues with the reasons behind these critical assessments by dealing with the way cartography has been used to create and distort knowledge through the ages.

Although fascinating and valuable, this chapter really serves as the ante room before you enter the true splendour of the edifice. After images showing a precursor to the Internet, the U.S. telegraph system, we see the first - and arguably one of the most famous - Internet-related map. The simple sketch of the ARPA Network dated September 1969 showing the first IMP at UCLA and the first host. A circle and a square roughly drawn on the back of an envelope.

Each map is accompanied by a legend showing the chief cartographer, the aim of the map, its form and the technique used, the date and sources of further information. This alone makes the images come alive and hints at some of the issues raised in chapter one. Maps of MUDS hand drawn by players vie with 3-D landscapes used to visualise and interact with databases or Z-factor animated maps used to provide interactive Web site navigation yet the legend grounds some of the more detailed and, frankly, impenetrable images by showing the designer's intention and the audience for whom the map was intended.

I've used the term "maps" as shorthand here but it would be wrong to suggest that every image is a graphical representation of the geography of cyberspace. Many of the images actually map information or discussion flows - from an Internet "weather" report which shows Internet congestion on animated geographic maps of the world to NewsMaps, a two-dimensional landscape of hills and mountains used to summarize the main topics in news stories and the relationships between them. Maps are used for navigation, a number of images show 3-D interfaces designed to allow users intuitive access to hypermedia data. There are also maps of virtual worlds within cyberspace, MUDs and MOOs, many hand-drawn but some - the Cobot map of the social structure of LambdaMOO is a good example - are complex in the extreme and stand as works of visual art as much as representations of information. And then we have the images of imagined buildings in social cyberspace - Mock Tudor houses, p. 197 in the book and 1635 N, 2397 W in AlphaWorld, maps of the playing areas and images of the rooms in Quake and Doom.

Although the images are the stars of the book the text is used to great effect to explain the techniques used, the type of information portrayed and the purpose of the visualization. It would be too easy for this book, with its stunning images and "kitsch" title to be seen as nothing more than a coffee table ornament. It is far, far more than that. It is a valuable resource for any students of cyberspace who want images to support or explain a particular phenomenon - if the image isn't here the links to further resources might help and, failing that, the imaging techniques and data collection methods might generate new ideas. It is also a useful documentary on the growth of the Net: from the image mentioned above it moves through the ARPANET maps of 1977 to a 1999 map showing the undersea routes of fibre optic cables. Above all that it is sumptuous! - Nigel Gibson BSc (Hons) End of Review


Hubert Dreyfus.
On the Internet: Thinking in Action.
New York: Routledge, 2001.
paper, 144 p., ISBN 0-415-22807-7, US$12.95.
Routledge: http://www.routledge-ny.com, http://www.routledge.co.uk

Hubert Dreyfus. On the Internet: Thinking in Action.

"The world's fundamental misfortune," Sören Kierkegaard writes, "is ... the fact that with each great discovery ... the human race is enveloped ... in a miasma of thoughts, emotions, moods, even conclusions and intentions, which are nobody's, which belong to none and yet to all."

On The Internet: Thinking in Action raises the following questions: Can we leave our vulnerable bodies while preserving relevance, learning, reality and meaning? Does life on the Internet achieve Plato's dream of overcoming space and time as well as body?

On the Internet is one of the first books to bring philosophical analysis to questions such as whether the Internet can solve the problem of mass education, and bring human beings to a new level of community. Dreyfus argues that the Internet deprives users of essential embodied human capacities such as trust and involvement in shared local concerns; and he believes that 'interactive' education leaves out the shared moods and risks that make learning possible.

Drawing on philosophers such as Sören Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the latest book by Hubert Dreyfus examines in detail the various perspectives of the 'Net through the "eyes of a philosopher." I will return to this point later in the review, where we will briefly see how this is done in On the Internet.

In his criticism of "life on the Internet," Dreyfus argues that the more one lives one's life through the 'Net, the more one loses a sense of what is relevant. So in spite of its initial attraction as a source for finding information, Dreyfus believes that those who live on the 'Net face the problem of finding the information one they are seeking.

Dreyfus also considers the question of distance learning. He admits that distance learning might be economically attractive. However, he suggests that because this type of learning substitutes telepresence for real presence, it leaves no place for risk-taking and apprenticeship, which play a crucial role in all types of skill acquisition. Furthermore, without a sense of bodily vulnerability, one loses a sense of reality of the physical world and one's sense of trust in other people. Finally, he says that while the anonymity of the 'Net makes possible experimentation, the overall effect of the 'Net is to undermine commitment, thus depriving life of serious meaning.

The book is divided into four chapters:

In "The Hype About Hyper-Links," Dreyfus discusses the hope for intelligent information retrieval and the failure of AI. He shows how the actual shape and movement of our bodies play a crucial role in grounding meaning so that loss of embodiment leads to loss of relevance.

In "How Far is Distance Learning from Education?" Dreyfus discusses the importance of mattering and attunement for teaching and learning skills, the phenomenology of skill acquisition, and the need for imitation in apprenticeship. Without involvement and presence we cannot acquire skills, Dreyfus says.

The chapter "Disembodied Telepresence and the Remoteness of the Real" describes the body as a source of our causal embedding and attunement to mood. Dreyfus discusses how loss of background coping and attunement lead to loss of sense of reality of people and things. (I see something like you, but I don't see you and I hear something like you, but I don't hear you.)

Without physical bodies, people can attain only intellectual competence in skills, Dreyfus says. They cannot proceed further to mastery of those skills, which involves having an intuitive understanding of using the skills in real situations that entail real risks. Without the emotional investment and visceral connections that come only from actually being somewhere and doing something, people lack the commitment to learn as much as they can. Ultimately, physical presence and action are the only ways we have to acquire skills, learn what information is relevant, know reality, and have meaningful lives, he says.

The final chapter, entitled "Nihilism on the Information Highway: Anonymity vs. Commitment in the Present Age," discusses in detail Dreyfus's view that meaning requires commitment and real commitment requires real risks. According to Dreyfus, anonymity and safety of virtual commitments online lead to loss of meaning. This chapter of the book is likely to be if interest to many educators.

Dreyfus challenges the popular view of the Internet as a global classroom in which anybody and everybody can participate in a process of so-called "hyper-learning." The Internet promotes risk-free anonymity and idle curiosity, both of which undermine responsibility and commitment. Dreyfus considers how the 'Net would promote Kierkegaard's two nihilistic spheres of existence, the aesthetic and the ethical, while repelling the religious sphere.

In the aesthetic sphere, the aesthete avoids commitments and lives in the categories of the interesting and the boring and wants to see as man interesting sights (sites) as possible. In the ethical sphere students would reach a "despair of possibility" brought on by the ease of making and unmaking commitments on the Net. Only in the religious sphere is nihilism overcome by making risky, unconditional commitments. Dreyfus concludes that only by working closely with students in shared situations in the real world can teachers with strong identities, ready to take risks to preserve their commitments, pass on their passion and skill to their students. In this shared context students can turn information into knowledge and practical wisdom.

Professor Dreyfus translates Kierkegaard's account of the dangers and opportunities of what Kierkegaard called the Press into a critique of the Internet so as to raise the question: what contribution - for good or ill - can the World Wide Web, with its ability to deliver vast amounts of information to users all over the world, make to educators trying to pass on knowledge and to develop skills and wisdom in their students? He then elaborates Kierkegaard's three-stage answer to the problem of lack of involvement posed by the Press - Kierkegaard claim that to have a meaningful life the learner must pass through the aesthetic, the ethical and the religious spheres of existence - to suggest that only the first two stages - the aesthetic and the ethical - can be implemented with Information Technology and 'Net, while the final stage, which alone makes meaningful learning possible, is undermined rather than supported by the tendencies of the de-situated and anonymous 'Net.

This fascinating discovery shows that the Internet has profound and unexpected effects. Presumably, it affects people in ways that are different than the way most tools do because it can become the main way someone relates to the rest of the world. Given the surprises and disappointments through the 'Net, Hubert Dreyfus explores the question, what are the benefits and the dangers of living our lives online?

This work is a clear discussion of the promises of the Internet. Can it really bring humanity to a new level of community and democracy and solve the problems of mass education? Dreyfus, a writer on philosophy and technology, brings a philosopher's eye to bear on an issue that affects us all. Drawing on a diverse array of thinkers, he draws parallels between the Internet and the birth of a media-obsessed public in the 18th century and the Enlightenment quest for a universal, abstract knowledge. He shows how the Internet ignores essential human capacities such as trust, moods, risk, shared local concerns and commitment. He also uses compelling examples from the experience of teaching to show what "interactive" education leaves out.

On the Internet is a sharp and stimulating discussion of the promises of the Internet. Going beyond the hype of the cybercrowd, Dreyfus a celebrated writer on philosophy and technology, asks whether the Internet can really bring humanity to a new level of community and solve the problems of mass education. Ethical people might use the Internet to make up and keep track of their commitments but would be brought to the despair of meaninglessness by the ease of making and unmaking in any domain. Only in the religious sphere is nihilism overcome by making risky, unconditional commitment. But the 'Net, which promises a risk-free simulated world, would tend to undermine rather than support such a commitment. Hubert Dreyfus also argues that learning a skill requires the kind of commitment which is undermined by the anonymity of the Internet and that education at its best depends on apprenticeship which is impossible in cyberspace. According to Sören Kierkegaard, "The human race became afraid of itself, fosters the fantastic, and then trembles before it."

Hubert Dreyfus's critique of hyper learning provides much food for thought and raises the level of the discussions amongst concerned educators and technologists.

Following Dreyfus, I have pointed out very effectively, what 'interactive' education leaves out. This awareness should inform the planning and use of educational technology. However, there is another aspect to interactive technologies that needs to be included in the discussion. An interactive (networked) environment allows a person to reveal some aspects of himself/herself to a large community, which could not be done as effectively in a less interactive environment. In this sense, the new information and communication technologies involve an expansion of scale and scope over which one might exercise (assert) one's humanity. That is its key appeal for me. Clearly, the book discourages any blind faith on the technology of interaction. - Arun Kumar Tripathi End of Review


Joan C. Durrance and Karen E. Pettigrew.
Online Community Information: Creating a Nexus at Your Library.
Chicago: American Library Association, 2002.
paper, 191 p., ISBN 0-838-90823-3, US$42.00.
American Library Association: http://www.alastore.ala.org/

Parsing the title of this book leads us into several discussions.

Online: where we are now - reading First Monday from home, from a cybercafe, from work (somehow this HAS to be work-related), from school, or perhaps on a computer in a public library.

Community: a much-abused word these days with Steve Case talking about the "AOL community" or George W. Bush citing the "International community", but the authors are talking about local places - suburbs, citiies, and neighborhoods, not affinity groups of Linux fanatics or Internet researchers or Barbie doll collectors.

Information: There is a phrase that few people inside the United States use: "information and communication technology(ies)" or ICT, but it is common jargon among people in other countries, especially in international development. It is a phrase like "informatics" that may never penetrate U.S. borders, but it assumes there is a split between information (databases, files, data sets, GIS, news) and communications (voice messages, electronic mail, chat, SMS, video conferencing, threaded discussion groups and mailing lists). The authors seem to include quite a bit of online communication in the definition of information. However, most libraries and the people running them focus on databases, Web files, and offline media and not on hosting discussion groups or public mailing lists.

This book will help redefine information and its uses. The authors have long been involved in the study of what they call CI, community information. In another era, it was called I & R, information and referral, and now with U.S. libraries having a wide presence on the Internet, Durrance and Pettigrew, both academics in U.S. library schools (oops, schools of information), have finished a far-reaching study to show how this information is being provided in digitized form to serve users in their communities (and beyond), to publicize library strengths and skills, and to help other local organizations serving the public.

They carried out several extensive surveys and seem to have had a very good response to even lengthy questionnaires. They studied three urban systems in depth: the suburbs of Chicago, the county that includes Portland, Oregon, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The book also includes best practices and examples of cooperation between the library systems and the local community networking efforts. As someone who worked in this area from the late 1980's, it has been both rewarding and frustrating to see what has happened and has not happened. Public libraries with their tradition of service and local support (tax base, legislation, and ranks of volunteers) are far more stable than the community networks (CNs) that blossomed in the late 1980's and early nineties and offered access to the Internet (usually free dialup service) some years before commercial Intenet service providers appeared.

The authors touch on the history and challenges that CNs have had. They provide evidence from their surveys about the degree to which libraries are involved in community networking as part of their efforts to disseminate CI, but library participation in the national community networking organization is minimal. The authors don't get the name and acronym quite right, nor do they provide a URL for further information. For the record, it is the Association For Community Networking (AFCN) at http://www.afcn.org. At present there is a handful of member librarians and libraries, but the natural alliance I envisioned never grew. As an example, the annual American Library Association conference is at the same time but a different place from the main community networking conference this year.

That said, it is very encouraging to see the kinds of activities that libraries are engaged in. They are not just providing information. They are convening meetings, helping with community network governance, hosting servers, running training sessions, providing conent, and even funding. The authors include many examples of innovative services provided by some libraries. Rural libraries are at a distinct disadvantage because it is hard to provide these with small staffs, but if you are in Seattle you can use the GIS workstation to select data sets and walk away with a color map. Other libraries are providing voting information, city council agenda, archives of historical interest, neighborhood profiles, databases of area obituaries, and real-time reference assistance. Most librarians agree that they do not market their services well enough. The authors include a number of suggestions to improve service and Web site design. They recognize that effective provision of electronic CI is going a major service pillar for most libraries in the coming years. There is an extensive literature review, as well as a discussion of their methodologies.

While this book is aimed at librarians, I hope that people outside the library field and the country will read it. In my work in Latin America with public technology centers (telecentros), the public library system is very weak, except in some parts of the region. The activists and community workers who are providing Internet access in local neighborhoods all recognize the need for more salient local information as well as the skills to make use of it, once it is online. The examples in this book can inspire them. Luckily, the authors have made much of their research data available, and this included case studies, best practices, benefits, and the final research report from which this book was drawn; see http://www.si.umich.edu/libhelp/. I hope that this will help build more links between librarians and those working toward similar goals outside the library field. - Steve Cisler. End of Review


Eric Larson and Brian Stephens.
WOW World Organization of Webmasters Web Server Training Course.
Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2001.
Boxed set, paper, 567 p., with CD-ROM, ISBN 0-130-89457-5, US$79.20.
Prentice Hall: http://www.phptr.com

I was not sure what was dropping onto my doormat when the WOW Web Server Training Course arrived in the morning post. The packaging suggested to me that it might be some new server software plus a very heavy manual. On closer inspection it turned out that it is an interactive training course for the administration of Web servers,including topics on Web security, site maintenance, e-commerce and a whole lot more besides. It is the official curriculum endorsed by the World Organisation of Webmasters and published by Prentice Hall as part of an extensive series of interactive training courses from UML through SQL, C++ and as far as IIS.

This really is a great bundle as you are getting one book in printed format, "Administering Web Servers, Security and Maintenance" and two more included on the CD-ROM, "Supporting Web Servers, Networks, and Emerging Technologies" and the "WOW Web Server Training Course". It seems to be a very comprehensive package covering all the administration tasks that might befall someone interested in following this path to become a networking guru. Aimed at anyone that aims to become an Internet professional, this could be a small business owner, a developer, a sysadmin, or most likely a corporate employee dealing with the job of administering a Local Area Network, (LAN) or a Wide Area Network, (WAN).

You will learn every key server administration task from registering Domain Names, planning server deployments, choosing hardware and software, configuring the server environments, database integration, maintenance, secure servers and network clients and protocols. It's a perfect real-world introduction to managing Web servers being totally interactive, you do not even require a server to be able to follow the course. The software loads easily and is mainly browser based. The course has over six hours of expert commentaries, more than 16+ animations, step-by-step guides, 30+ hours of digital video.

A lot of Web sites that exist on the Internet were created by self-taught Webmasters; this was because there were limited opportunities to obtain formal standards-based curriculums or programs. The World Organisation of Webmaster developed the Certified Professional Webmaster (CPW) program as a three-part goal to its membership of aspiring and practising professionals. The three-part goal was to provide educational institutions with standardised guidelines to develop course curricula. To assist students with a resource that allows them to develop proficiency and abilities for the workplace. The last goal was to provide employers with a standard of achievement to assess potential professional candidates.

The reader learns from experts in step-by-step lessons with every section including reviews to assist in checking answers and thereby a self-assessment of the reader's progress at every step. It would make a useful companion for use with a classroom environment or as a self-paced course with the final goal of becoming a Certified Web Master confident to tackle Web server administration and security. WOW also provide a supportive Web site where the reader can view updated material as it is included within the curriculum, discover more practice questions, and participate in a forum which brings other students and experts literally a mouse click away. For anyone interested in becoming a member of the World Organisation of Webmaster, additional information can be obtained by registering at the Web site http://www.joinwow.org.

Let me qualify that. It isn't that the questions are overly taxing - at least not to someone who has been running Unix systems for a while - but it was a good indicator of how heavily I lean on the man pages! Thankfully the multiple-choice questions, although Linux specific, seem to show some consideration for readers who are more familiar with BSD, say, and are not any trickier than they need be. By any measure, the sample questions in this book are much tougher than those offered from the LPI Web site (at http://www.lpi.org/) and should probably serve as a warning.

If your goal is to understand networking, Web servers, clients and protocols, and e-Commerce security, or even if you're working your way to a Webmaster certification, then this book is a giant starting block and well worth the investment. - Glenn Dalgarno End of Review


Peter Ludlow (editor).
Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates and Pirate Utopias.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2001.
paper, 451 p., ISBN 0-262-62151-7, US$24.95.
MIT Press: http://mitpress.mit.edu/

Peter Ludlow (editor). Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates and Pirate Utopias.

This book consists of a number of short articles by a variety of authors based largely in the U.S. Whilst it has many strengths, it was a little disappointing to find that the majority of the articles were written from about 1996-2000 with few updated to reflect the significant changes which have taken place since their original publication. The book therefore becomes more valuable to students of digital communication history than anyone seeking to answer questions on today's issues surrounding Cyberspace.

The Editor acknowledges that the articles are an "eclectic assortment" but they do fall into several broad categories:

The Sovereignty of Cyberspace?

This contained an extraordinary "Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace" (1996) warning Governments that the "global social space" being built in Cyberspace is independent and governments have no moral right to rule its members! The following articles debate a variety of issues concerning liberty and Cyberspace and whether the Internet could lead to the formation of a digital "free" nation.

Crypto Anarchy

These articles covered the political implications from the widespread use of encryption technologies and the concerns (in 1996) that governments would demand access to encrypted data on the grounds of security and fighting crime.

Shifting Borders

Articles here centre on the lost of income to the State with the development of e-commerce (particularly where local taxes are applied in the U.S.).

The structure of the book is slightly different from the usual, and this probably accounted for the initial difficulty as topics don't follow on from each other sequentially. The two main themes (how technology transforms our perception of the world and how culture is taking a life of its own) are explored from different perspectives in the three sections.

The Emergence of Law in Cyberspace

If there is one article which makes this book worthwhile, it is the fascinating account of the LambdaMOO which is a virtual world run by wizards, and the development of laws and acceptable norms within the virtual society. This provides a fertile field of exploration for any social scientist interested in how new legal frameworks evolve.

Utopia, Dystopia and Pirate Utopias

Following on from Section 4, writers in the last section speculate that the digital revolution offers a unique opportunity for the development of online utopias. However, for this virtual world all would need to have equal access to Cyberspace to be able to live out their dreams by developing a persona of who they would like to be rather than who they really are. - Peta Jellis End of Review


Gilly Salmon.
London: Kogan Page, 2000.
paper, 180 p., ISBN 0-749-43110-5, UK£18.99.
Kogan Page: http://www.kogan-page.co.uk

Gilly Salmon. E-Moderating.

This book looks at the change in teaching methods using electronic conferencing. Gilly sets the book out in a way to introduce the concept of E-conferencing and effectively uses case studies from the Open University and other educational establishments to demonstrate the process.

The book has two parts; the first takes you though concepts, case studies, roles, training and techniques. If you are new to this type of teaching you will find the first part a valuable introduction in what to expect as you start out on this technological teaching journey. As someone who already teaches on the Open University T171 course I came to the book out of interest rather than need. I was interested in seeing others approaches and to see if they followed my lines or offered other perspectives.

Also in the first part I think the reader will find the chapter on others experience a relief in realizing that your are not the only one with the same problems. The 'five step' model offered in the 2nd chapter is very useful (also found in resources 6) in at least offering some order to the process even if you have a different view. I think the experienced reader will find their own experiences can and do fit into the model when you do your own conference analysis.

The last two chapters on the experiences and the future, I feel, will be useful to reread when your feeling disheartened by your group and need a confidence boost and a recharge of the online batteries.

I found that if the reader is new or experienced they would find the first past of the book an insight into the e-conference concept and/or a refresher into the ideas behind teaching online.

The second part of the book will benefit the beginner as well as the most experienced practitioner in teaching online. Even if you do not agree with all the points or work in a different way, this part of the book will offer ideas and prompts as you progress and seek to enhance the learning experience for students.

There are references and citations to back up the writer's assumptions and conclusions. These pointers allow you to explore the subject for more information or for your own research.

In a sense, you are getting three books for the price of one, since the book is aimed at multiple audiences with differing experiences and needs. In some ways I wish I had read this book before starting to teach online. It is a valuable tool and I would recommend it for any e-teacher's bookshelf. - David Phillips End of Review

Contents Index

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