Deeper (Magill Book Reviews)
John Seabrook, a staff writer for THE NEW YORKER, began his two-year exploration of cyberspace in late 1993 when he was assigned to do a profile of Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corporation, and decided that it might be a good idea to buy a modem and communicate with Gates via e-mail. The book is a personal account of Seabrook’s discovery of the unique on-line world from e-mail to the World Wide Web.
The first three chapters focus on the e-mail Seabrook received from Bill Gates as well as some of the responses he and Gates received after the profile appeared. Subsequent chapters describe Seabrook’s first flame letter, a scorching criticism of his failure to give due credit to one of his sources for the Gates article; his first virtual sexual experience during a private chat session, in which he pretends to be female; his efforts to find a community of computer users on the WELL, a hippie-yuppie bulletin board; and his creation of his first World Wide Web site.
This is not a book for experienced on-line addicts or web surfers; it is written for the millions of computer users just discovering the Internet and the Web. Seabrook’s approach is that of a “newbie” who traverses the on-line world in a tentative, exploratory way; his persona is that of a pioneer in a frontier world. The tone of the book is personal, with the emphasis neither on information or philosophic implications of the on-line world, but rather Seabrook’s...
(The entire section is 324 words.)
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Deeper (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
John Seabrook, a staff writer for The New Yorker, began this personal odyssey in cyberspace with an assignment to write a profile of Bill Gates, computer guru, chairman of the giant Microsoft Corporation, and richest man in the known universe. Buying a modem for the first time in late 1993, Seabrook went on line and began an e-mail exchange with Gates that resulted in a face-to-face meeting and the publication of the profile. The published piece, in turn, generated several hundred e-mail responses both to Gates and to Seabrook, all of which introduced Seabrook to the powerful communication potential of the Internet. From this point onward, to use the metaphor of the book’s title, Seabrook moved deeper and deeper into cyberspace, like an early American pioneer venturing deep into a new continent.
The first three chapters focus on the Gates encounter and include several of the e-mail messages Seabrook received from Gates. Although it is mildly interesting to read Gates’s views on on-line communication, these ideas are common and can be found in other places where Gates is his own best spokesman; the real focus here, as it is throughout the book, is Seabrook’s examination of his own reactions to the phenomenon of electronic communication—how it differs from hard-copy text, how it affects his assumptions about computer users, and how it offers the potential for a widespread sharing of ideas. As such, the account is a sort of roller-coaster...
(The entire section is 1924 words.)