DEEPER by John Seabrook


My Two Year Odyssey in Cyberspace
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 A chronicle of one writer's foray onto the Internet and his initiation into its eccentric, often hostile online community. New Yorker staff writer Seabrook writes from the perspective of the cyber-virgin: He is the clueless newcomer, wrestling for the first time with the technical and social issues of the online world. Material first published in the New Yorker makes up the best part of this book: In one section Seabrook tells of an ongoing and revealing E-mail exchange with Microsoft honcho Bill Gates about his views on the Internet; another relates the author's experience of receiving a ``flame''--a ribald insult sent via E-mail. Both are funny tales offering clever commentary on the Internet as a new mode of communication. But the rest of Deeper is only a meandering elaboration on this electronic coming-of-age story. We see Seabrook experimenting with cybersex (with his wife hovering over his shoulder), putting up a home page on the World Wide Web, and suffering professional criticism by other writers on the WELL, an online service heavily populated by journalists. We also get the by-now-familiar story of the Internet's creation and reports on the potential problem of online addiction. But the real flaw is Seabrook's misguided conceit: that the Internet is like an exotic country in which he is adventurously journeying and providing us with a Baedeker. If Seabrook's adventures were at all unusual, or had they occurred earlier in the Net's development, this tale would be more compelling. But everyone who ventures online gets flamed, and anyone with access to a computer can put up a home page. Though the salted-in autobiographical details are endearing and Seabrook is an enthusiastic tour guide, he doesn't do anything on the Net that a reader couldn't duplicate in one good night on America Online.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-80175-2
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1996


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