THE EMPEROR'S VIRTUAL CLOTHES: The Naked Truth About Internet Culture by Dinty W. Moore

THE EMPEROR'S VIRTUAL CLOTHES: The Naked Truth About Internet Culture

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KIRKUS REVIEW

For those who have had enough of the Information Superhighway metaphor, Moore (English/Penn State Univ.) introduces a new conceit: the electronic lace doily. Homespun and honed puns are indeed the author's tactics as he goes about surveying the cyberlandscape, sampling its fruits, such as Usenet newsgroups and real-time conversation via Internet Relay Chat; debating relevant public policy issues such as unwanted advertising and access to adult-oriented material; and interviewing computer users as diverse as a happily married transvestite and a cog in the Washington Internet intelligentsia who hilariously insists on anonymity. Moore certainly proves himself to be a nerd, but he's the refreshingly old-fashioned kind who has read Walden too many times and is embarrassed to talk about sex. He has no interest in explaining what a gigabyte is or in spouting technobabble. In fact, to learn about the lifestyles of his subjects, this former UPI reporter actually leaves his keyboard to meet with them, sharing meals with them at times. (Take that, E-mail!) What we have, then, is a book on human nature and its current infatuation with a new communications toy. The downside to Moore's work, however, is that when he actually does need to explain Internet machinations, he either writes beneath us (""Katie and many others on the Net don't capitalize the first letter of sentences, which makes the typing simpler"") or fudges on the technology, as in a section on the World Wide Web that misrepresents the technical makeup of the system and underestimates its scholarly usefulness. On sabbatical in cyberspace: a prof gets wired and finds a community that is strikingly similar to the society that thrived before the advent of the modem.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
Page count: 266pp
Publisher: Algonquin