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Silicon Snake Oil: Second Thoughts on the Information Highway Paperback – Mar 1 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
Computer expert Stoll presents a backlash account of the Internet, questioning whether its potential influence is as far-reaching and positive as supporters claim.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Stoll, a Berkeley astronomer who chronicled how he broke a computer spy ring in The Cuckoo's Egg (LJ 9/15/89) and who has been netsurfing for 15 years, does an apparent about-face here, warning that the technophiles are trying to sell us a bill of goods on the promise of the Internet?one on which it can't deliver and that, ultimately, both ignores the cost of forsaking human interaction and actual financial costs. His is a lone voice countering the mass of media hype that has been touting the national information superhighway and the rush of individuals and businesses to get connected. In chapters dealing with everything from education to E-mail (Stoll reports he lost less mail via the U.S. Postal Service) to the "virtual" library, he details the limitations of the networks. Though he is occasionally not quite up to the minute on some library implementations, his message nevertheless should be read as a caution to every librarian rushing down the information highway. [For an interview with Stoll and an excerpt from his book, see p. 100.]?Francine Fialkoff, "Library Journal.
-?Francine Fialkoff, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Stoll is fascinating to watch and interesting to read. In a way, that's the point of this book: Genuine life experiences-- sights, sounds, tastes, touches-- are always richer than virtual life experiences, represented most obviously by the Internet.
Stoll hammers relentlessly at the absurdities of the connected life. He is, of course, right. One pictures the computer geek, alone with his machine, staring at on-line images of great art works, unaware of the museum down the street, or-- even worse-- unwilling to go there to experience the art first hand in the company of other people. So what? We are training a generation of children to do the same, to send e-mail to other students in their own schools rather than simply speaking to them and to paradoxically limit their worlds to the limitless world of the Internet.
This all has a oddly familiar ring: Over a hundred years ago, Emerson's "Self Reliance" warned that the machines of his day had already and irrevocably destroyed mankind's ability to function in the natural world.
Lets face it: Computers are simply machines. We determine their uses. At their best, they make our lives easier; at their worst, as Stoll sees it, they isolate us from our fellow humans and waste enormous amounts of our time.
Read this entertaining and provocative book. Then, before you sit at your keyboard, play with a puppy out in the snow. We can have it both ways.
I found the book to be a good page turned, and didn't really want to put it down. A well written, enjoyable read.
Can we just simply turn our backs on the network? Why? Because according to Stoll, [computer networks] isolate us from one another and cheapen the meaning of actual experience. They work against literacy and creativity. They undercut our schools and libraries(p.3). Although the Internet provides easier life to our society, a society deals with people, not computers. Human interactions and contacts involve with belonging. Of course, computer networks may also establish a community with the interaction, such as cybersex and cyber-relationship. However, this type of community is without church, cafe or theater. Yes, it has plenty of human contact, but no humanity. Then, what is missing from this neighborhood? We chat without speaking, smile without grinning, and hug without touching. We lose the real life experience and the humanity!
Throughout the book, Stoll's basic mode of argument is to compare two functional techniques: a computational technique (ex. email) and a less-computational technique (ex. postal service). Stoll intents to highlight various positive aspects of the latter technique that are missing in the former. For example, the post office allows a variety of style on envelops, signatures, letterheads, checks, and logos. With the email technique, everyone and every business use the same and uniform style to communicate - ASCII text. The only difference between your messages and others' is the contents.Read more ›
Stoll believes that the Internet is mainly used for an entertainment purpose.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This book contains a veritable catalogue of every fallacy known to the art and science of logic. As a treatise meant to persuade the reader, its reasoning and language is nothing... Read morePublished on Jan. 22 2004 by Auliya
Stoll wrote one of the best spy books of the information age before anyone knew that it could even happen. This follow up is very interesting reading, and I agree with most of it. Read morePublished on Nov. 7 2001 by Eric G Ensminger
Being absolutely fascinated by the author's book "Cuckoo's Egg", I was extremely disappointed by this book. Read morePublished on March 21 2001 by Ralph Janke
Stoll's book is showing the effect of time. While much of the info may have been cutting edge when written, it has now been surpassed by events. Read morePublished on Feb. 26 2001 by T. Stone
Cliff Stoll writes in such an engaging folksy style that you want to spend the evening with him at a cozy neighborhood restaurant. Read morePublished on Jan. 16 2001 by bub hub
Clifford is certainly in a good position to debunk the hype of the Internet, and I looked foward to reading this book. Read morePublished on Oct. 20 2000
Stoll, once an enthusiastic internet pioneer who helped construct the information highway, has published a warning to those following in his footsteps. Read morePublished on Sept. 21 2000 by David E Werner
Clifford Stoll is surely right in all of his discussions about the internet and computers and computer usage. Read morePublished on July 14 2000 by Maurice S. Cahn
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