The Globe and Mail "Review of Books",
The Globe and Mail - May 1999
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Reviews of Spirit of the Web:
"...remarkable...poetic...(a) renaissance sweep of imagination...SPIRIT OF THE WEB is an engaging hybrid of popular scholarship: part archive, part science textbook, part philosophy, part polemic about the nature of authority and the control of information in all ages...Like life, digital networks are an emergent system; Rowland helps put their past and future in perspective."
"...thoroughly and trenchantly chronicles the vagaries of information technology ...a spirited, stimulating and sophisticated network of stories...philosophical and original."
"...colourful and compelling...enlightening new history...Without hype or hyperbole, SPIRIT OF THE WEB provides its readers with an informed context with which to understand the implications of their actions in the Age of Information."
"Spirit of the Web is an excellent examination, not just of the invention
of these technologies, but of their economic, social and cultural
"A brilliant book. I couldn't put it down."
"Rare insight into the history of the information
"It is hard to think of a topic that has generated so much shallow commentary and narrow vision as the whole information technology revolution in general and the Internet in particular. But now and then someone comes along to take another look at things and really puts some meaning back into the discussion.
Enter Wade Rowland. Rowland is a Canadian science writer, but what impressed me most about his book is, firstly, he effectively places the whole history of technological development in a wider social context, including some interesting commentary on on the role of philosophy, and second, he is not afraid to remind us of the much ignored human dimension. In particular Rowland's treatment of the Internet is interesting and insightful, and while rightly critical of much of what has occurred (especially the debasement of popular culture under pressure from commercial interest) he is optimistic about the genuine liberatory qualities of the net (as opposed, for instance, to broadcast TV).In my view this is an extraordinarily successful book, and hopefully raises the bar in an area where both profound thought and good writing have been rare. If you do not read any other book about the information age and the net, read this one."
Dr Peter McMahon is a writer and academic currently teaching at Murdoch University.
Spirit of the Web:
by Wade Rowland