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David Brin takes some of our worst notions about threats to privacy and sets them on their ears. According to Brin, there is no turning back the growth of public observation and inevitable loss of privacy--at least outside of our own homes. Too many of our transactions are already monitored: Brin asserts that cameras used to observe and reduce crime in public areas have been successful and are on the rise. There's even talk of bringing in microphones to augment the cameras. Brin has no doubt that it's only a matter of time before they're installed in numbers to cover every urban area in every developed nation.
While this has the makings for an Orwellian nightmare, Brin argues that we can choose to make the same scenario a setting for even greater freedom. The determining factor is whether the power of observation and surveillance is held only by the police and the powerful or is shared by us all. In the latter case, Brin argues that people will have nothing to fear from the watchers because everyone will be watching each other. The cameras would become a public resource to assure that no mugger is hiding around the corner, our children are playing safely in the park, and police will not abuse their power.
No simplistic Utopian, Brin also acknowledges the many dangers on the way. He discusses how open access to information can either threaten or enhance freedom. It is one thing, for example, to make the entire outdoors public and another thing to allow the cameras and microphones to snoop into our homes. He therefore spends a lot of pages examining what steps are required to assure that a transparent society evolves in a manner that enhances rather than restricts freedom. This is a challenging view of tomorrow and an exhilarating read for those who don't mind challenges to even the most well-entrenched cultural assumptions. --Elizabeth Lewis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Science fiction writer Brin (The Uplift War) departs from technological fantasy to focus on the social and political ramifications of our information age. While addressing the technology-vs.-privacy debate, he offers an informed overview of the issues and a useful historical account of how current policies evolved. Also beneficial are his descriptions of the different viewpoints on encryption software, online anonymity, the Clipper Chip and techno-jargon. But when Brin opines on these topics, the book suffers from superficiality. He appends remarks to the end of each chapter as this: "When you've been invited to a really neat party, try to dance with the one who brought you." His main point--that information and criticism should flow unrestricted--is lost in a melange of armchair social science theory and unrelated observations on the media, morality, identity and manners. After making a thoughtful case for discouraging encryption and encouraging free speech on the Web, he undercuts his position by calling for e-mail civility, "because people who lash out soon learn that it simply does not pay," then states that a balance can be achieved between these two extremes. Despite a strong beginning, Brin's book ultimately lacks clarity and originality.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This is a great book. Its well researched and takes issues a step further for analysis. But, I do think that some of his solutions will not work in the real world. Read morePublished on Nov. 8 2001 by Tapan Karwa
David Brin has a lot to say and says it discursively, but he's done his homework--dipping into an impressive range of social science, philosophical, crytographic, and technical... Read morePublished on June 29 2000 by Paul Frandano
I bought the book after reading about it in _New Scientist_ (British science journal). Brin's ideas are fascinating but the book could use some serious editing. Read morePublished on June 4 2000
This book does a good job spelling out a counter argument to the Big Brother mythology. Brin suggests all of the information is, on average, better for society because the... Read morePublished on March 25 2000
David Brin is a storyteller whose stories have a meaning. This time he has written a non-fiction book but the text is so fluent to read that you almost forget, how important issues... Read morePublished on Dec 22 1999 by Jyrki J.J. Kasvi
This book is an EXCELLENT reference tool for anyone interested in this subject. I expected the book to focus more on technological developments and their implications, rather than... Read morePublished on Oct. 27 1999
I think this is a very important contribution to the debate over privacy, encryption, and information technology. Read morePublished on Oct. 25 1999 by Wayne
This is a very good book for people to be come aware of their rights and responsibilities when dealing in an ever connected world. Read morePublished on June 14 1999