SURFING ON THE INTERNET by J.C. Herz

SURFING ON THE INTERNET

A Nethead's Adventures On-Line

KIRKUS REVIEW

 What Jack Kerouac was to the dashboard, Herz (of Wired magazine) aspires to be to the keyboard in this dizzying ride on the information low road. This is no how-to book. It's a what's-up book, an intimate survey of the hippest Internet hangouts and a kiss-and-tell about the cyberpunk squatters therein. This is not the Internet of educational research and political debate. We're talking Kurt Cobain conspiracy theories and NetSleaze. Herz's writing style is a reflection of this environment and brings new meaning to the term ``hypertext.'' It's breathless and scattered, an English purist's nightmare, and of just the right timbre to express the underlying, disturbing dynamic of a world populated by seemingly quite lonely ex-teenagers who are beat because they've been up all night typing out their frustrations. Most of the book is given over to these cybernerds in the form of testimonials taken straight from the screen and endless, transcribed chat sessions, including a very graphic encounter between the author, disguised as a gay male, and another netter claiming like orientation. Herz goes on to note, ``You're yammering away with the fantasy personalities of total strangers like they're block captains of the local homeowners association. Your neighbors are people with names like Digital Blade...it all seems completely normal.'' Normal, perhaps, but intriguing only up to a point. A lengthy chapter on a Barney-the- dinosaur hate group, for example, drives the humor into the ground, while shorter takes--on a Frank Zappa shrine and a virtual bar where one need only imagine a pool table for it to exist--fare better in capturing the magical aspects of the Net, to which the author finds herself addicted. The book's Netspeak glossary will aid the uninitiated, but the book's mindset defies easy classification and is directed primarily at those already on intimate terms with their modems.

Pub Date: March 13th, 1995
ISBN: 0-316-35958-0
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1995




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