THE WIRED NEIGHBORHOOD by Stephen Doheny-Farina


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 Another entry in the tired line of books expressing alarm over the Internet and its effect on our eroding communities. The author (Technical Communications/Clarkson Univ.) starts by waxing poetic about his own rustic town in upstate New York, and then worries about what globalization and the increased popularity of the Internet will do to it. He writes, ``In immersing ourselves in the electronic net, we are ignoring our real dying communities.'' To his credit, Doheny-Farina does counter the wild hyperbole of some of the more enthusiastic Net-hype, which promotes the Internet as a replacement for real social interaction. But such books always use the worst addicts and most tedious online conversations to discredit the Internet, and they completely ignore all of the far more significant causes for our troubled communities. This volume is no exception. The author uses boring chat-room conversations and the text-based networks called MOOs (now out of style) to illustrate his points. As a solution, he recommends steering the Net toward community networks that stimulate local interaction. No realistic consideration is given to how the Internet, which ignores geographic boundaries, can be used in this manner. Even worse, the tone is overly academic, and readers seeking simple prose will choke on sentences like ``This vision represents the manifestation of our will to virtuality.'' The author also falls into one of the greatest pitfalls facing writers on modern technology: The pace of change is so great, they often miss the latest developments. Doheny-Farina fails to properly consider the emergence of the Web, which has shifted the focus of the Internet from text-based chat communities to publishing, commerce, and entertainment. Though his concern for our troubled localities is justified, Doheny-Farina takes the wrong path in blaming the Internet and seeing in it the means to a solution.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-300-06765-8
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1996