The Whole Internet: The Next Generation

Helen Varley Sargan (University of Cambridge)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 1 June 2000




Varley Sargan, H. (2000), "The Whole Internet: The Next Generation", Online Information Review, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 255-267.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Still on my shelf is The Whole Internet: User’s Guide and Catalog (2nd edition), which I bought and read in 1994. It says something for the book that it is still on my shelf and not in the bin or the museum. I was able to compare the new book with the old, which gave insight into how the authors think the audience has changed.

Looking at the change in content, it is evident that back in 1994 getting connected to the Internet was a challenge, and doing this and understanding the basics of how it worked took up a large part of the book. Now it is assumed that users understand the basics and can connect easily, but could do with help broadening their knowledge and optimising their skills. We hit the ground running with sections entitled E‐mail and News and (slightly scarily) Conquering e‐mail and move rapidly through using the Web, privacy, transactions (buying, selling and banking), games, creating Web pages and new technologies. There is much emphasis on personal involvement with the Internet, rather than the observer status most of us had in the early 1990s. Given the amount of general information available in the media this is probably a useful change, but it is somewhat undermined by Connection Strategies towards the back – after the technologies have been covered, followed by searching and finally installing files. This is not an order I would have chosen.

The breadth of content can be both perplexing and enlightening, depending on one’s skills. The chapter on creating HTML does not reflect the advice I would give a user, but that does not necessarily mean it is wrong. I found the Online Gaming chapter fascinating, not knowing anything about it. The resource catalogue is an interesting ragbag of predominantly US links. Overall this is a somewhat chaotic, interesting but not essential look at the Internet, and will remain a historical snapshot of Internet technologies in 1999.

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