First Monday Reviews
First Monday
Technological lives: new books

Gareth Branwyn
Jargon watch: A Pocket dictionary for the jitterati.
San Francisco: HardWired, 1997.
boards, [166] p., ISBN 1-888-86906-2, $US8.95
HardWired: m/
Jargon Watch: http://www.jargonwatc

Definitely not Eric Raymond's The New Hacker's Dictionary (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1993) or Stan Kelly-Bootle's The Computer Contradictionary (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1995), Jargon Watch is a funny collection of cyberslang, accumulated in part from the pages of Wired . Starting with "ABCD" (an acronym referring to the joint efforts of the ABC Network and Disney) and ending with, most appropriately, "Zen Mail" (electronic mail with no text), Branwyn's blithe and brief definitions will have you laughing and recycling much into your ordinary digital conversations. Some of terms in this collection have already crossed the line from jargon into more common ordinary use (such as "road rage"); it would be fascinating to track the number of terms in Jargon Watch that eventually become mainstream (in newspaper headlines, television programs, and elsewhere) in six months, a year, two years. The tiny format of this book - a mere 12.5 cms. by 9 cms. - will make this book the perfect, essential, and non-electric accessory for any traveler. Buy this book, you won't regret it. I only hope Branwyn teams up with a few international colleagues to devise translations of all these terms so I can find the French equivalent of "link rot" and the Japanese version of "Dilberted."- ejv End of article

Judi Fernandez
MIME, Uuencode, & Zip: Decompressing & decoding Internet files.
New York.: MIS: Press, 1997.
paper, 317 p., with diskette. ISBN 1-55828-528-8, $US24.95

With terabytes of files, programs, and images floating on the Internet, compression and decompression utilities are becoming more and more important, to save time and reduce bandwidth consumption. Fernandez takes a practical approach in this useful guide to the sometimes befuddling chore of deciphering formats and files. Written largely for those using Windows machines, this book describes the basics of compression; how to download and upload files; and viruses. The heart of the book describes how to operate WinZip, PKZip, and Stuffit Expander, with plenty of examples and illustrations. The last chapter outlines - very clearly - how to attach files to electronic messages and how to upload and download files in America Online, CompuServe, Netscape, Eudora, and the Microsoft Network. This book will be quite valuable to those just beginning to explore the mysteries of file transfer, compression, and decompression with their Windows and Internet-connected computers. Those looking for more technical details would best be served by Mark Nelson and Jean-Loup Gailly's The Data Compression Book (New York: M&T Books, 1996).- ejv End of article

Simson Garfinkel with Gene Spafford
Web security & commerce.
Sebastopol, Calif.: O'Reilly & Associates, 1997.
paper, 483 p., ISBN 1-565-92245-X, $US32.95

With digital break-ins, browser loopholes, and server compromises making headlines, it is not surprising that security is the number one issue among administrators and Web content providers. In seven sections and nineteen chapters, Garfinkel and Spafford provide a concise survey of the many problems with solutions, scripts, and commonsense. The first third of the book examines the fundamental security issues for users and their browsers to server operators and their scripts and code. The middle parts of the book treat digital certificates and cryptography while the last part examines UNIX and Windows NT server security and civil and criminal issues. Appendices touch on certificates, the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol, and PICS, among other topics. This book is written not just for security experts and server managers; for those looking for a good introduction to security, cryptography, and electronic commerce, this book definitely fits the bill. Comprehensive and highly readable, with many illustrations and digital references, Web Security & Commerce is a welcome addition to the growing collection of books dedicated to security on the Internet.- ejv End of article

Wayne Rash, Jr.
Politics on the Nets: Wiring the political process.
New York: W. H. Freeman & Co., 1997.
cloth, 206 p., ISBN 0-716-78324-X, $US22.95
W. H. Freeman: m/

The Internet and especially the World Wide Web are increasingly playing a large role for politicians and their constituents in local, state, and national elections in the United States. Rash's Politics on the Net examines the complex uses of the Internet in the American Presidential campaigns in 1996, as well as in some other races of importance. With many examples (including a collection of color plates), Rash explains how some sites worked and some didn't and how the Internet became part of overall strategies in reaching voters of all sizes, shapes, and digital connections. There's good advice for politicians contemplating a Web site (keep your site interactive) and for voters learning more about a candidate. For all of those involved in the democratic process, there is much to learn. For example, the chapter on the press is particularly valuable in understanding the role of the Internet as a "source. " Focused on American politics, there is not much in this book on the use of the Internet for political ends elsewhere in the world. That's unfortunate because many political uses of the Internet in the U. S. have inspired politicians elsewhere to exploit this medium. Providing a generous overview of the American approach to this subject, Politics on the Net is a good place to start understanding this new and rapidly evolving scene. - ejv End of article

Gregory J. E. Rawlins
Slaves of the machine: The Quickening of computer technology.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1997.
cloth, 135 p., ISBN 0-262-18183-5, $US25.00
MIT Press: http://www-mitpress.

A fascinating book, Rawlins describes Slaves of the Machine as something you would "read at the beach" to learn more about what computers "can do for you - or to you." Six short and absorbing chapters take you on a wild cerebral ride on your nearest beach, looking at the history and future of computing. For those more experienced in the ways of computing and the history of technology, Rawlins will challenge your assumptions. His ideas on the future of programming, especially those involving a move toward a more adaptive style of computer systems, are refreshing and challenging. Throughout this all too brief book, Rawlins imposes a sense of order on the computer past and present and, with this framework, analyzes what the future may bring in the form of truly intelligent computers. Full of quotes, details, and ideas, this book should find its place not only on the beach but in classrooms and corporate board rooms.- ejv End of article

Jonathan Rosenoer
CyberLaw: The Law on the Internet.
New York: Springer-Verlag, 1997.
cloth, 362 p., ISBN 0-387-94832-5, $US34.95
Springer-Verlag: http://www.springer-n

It is no small task to summarize, in a mere 363 pages, legal issues related to the Internet. Rosenoer, creator of CyberLaw at, tackles this topic with gusto, making many legal opinions and judicial decisions understandable to mere mortals. Sixteen chapters examine copyright, defamation, privacy, criminal liabilities, electronic contracts, ethics, and other topics. Several chapters - on copyright, trademarks, defamation, privacy, liability, commerce, and ethics - include appendices that discuss the issues in greater detail by focusing on specific cases and decisions. Given the rapidly shifting scenery of law related to the Internet, this book provides a good starting point for anyone getting up to speed with many of these convoluted topics. Focusing on decisions in the United States, Rosenoer's opus helps the average Internet user understand the sometimes rough,confusing, and dangerous interface between computers, digital networks, law, and the courts.- ejv End of article

Copyright © 1997, First Monday

Technological lives: new books.
First Monday, Volume 2, Number 8 - 4 August 1997

A Great Cities Initiative of the University of Illinois at Chicago University Library.

© First Monday, 1995-2019. ISSN 1396-0466.