Books by Don Tapscott

Released: Oct. 21, 1997

Add this to the swelling pile of books on new media that pose many questions and leave all but a few unanswered. Tapscott's (The Digital Economy, not reviewed) problems begin with his formulation of the ``net generation'' of his subtitle—or ``N-Geners'' as he conveniently packages them—on so broad a canvas that the term is devalued: N-Gen may be as young as 2 or as old as 29. As a result, the theories that Tapscott draws from his study of the N-Gen's tastes and inclinations are as shaky and weak as a house built on sand. There may be, Tapscott suggests, as many as seven million young North Americans under the age of 18 spending time on the Internet. While that figure is impressive, and the impact on the country sure to be considerable, Tapscott seems to ignore the fact that many children and adults have no access to the Internet. In this brave new electronic world, the poor and disadvantaged seem to be largely invisible. Tapscott is well over two-thirds of his way into the book before directly addressing the question of how expensive technology is to be made available to the disadvantaged. And when he does, he has little to offer. He suggests, for instance, that the homeless may find shelter information at wired libraries, but he does not address how local libraries will afford the technology to connect to the Internet (let alone the unlikelihood of a homeless person entering or being welcome in the library). Crucial matters are slighted in favor of voluminous anecdotal evidence meant to chart the tastes of a generation growing up unafraid of technology. Too vaporous and unreflectingly enthusiastic to be of much use to anyone deeply interested in the questions of new tehcnology and American society. (illustrations, graphs, not seen) (First printing of 100,000; $100,000 ad/promo; TV satellite tour) Read full book review >