To my mother, there were two kinds of people: blood relatives and strangers. It's hard to imagine what she would have made of today's genetic testing, which shows, among other things, the complex and convoluted ways an African-American may be descended from a white Scot, and that all the many Cohens in the world may be related.
ZDNet UK Book Reviews
Essential reading for technophiles
Location, location, location: it's not just for estate agents any more. As smartphones take a larger share of both the phone and the computing market, where we are (or where we want to be) becomes ever more important.
The investigative reporter Heather Brooke could not have known when she corrected the galleys for The Revolution Will Be Digitised: Dispatches from the Information War that the week it was released the former partnership of Julian Assange and the The Guardian would implode in a burst of headlines.
Tumblr might be the biggest social network you've never heard of. You might well have come across Tumblr in the wake of the London riots, as it was used for a popular blog showcasing images of rioters amusingly-photoshopped to show them clutching stuffed toys or wearing Justin Bieber T shirts.
Never mind 20 million Google+ users. Since 2008 there have been more 'things' connected to the internet than there are people on the earth: by 2050 there will be 50 billion connected devices — from cattle with wireless sensors that report when a cow is sick or pregnant, to implanted defibrillators that upload diagnostic information and heart rate patterns, to bridges that record every time a boat sails underneath them.
We noticed this novel on its release last year, but lagged in getting around to actually reading it. Still, this is a good moment to catch up with it if you're looking for summer reading.
At a recent house party, I briefly found myself exchanging texts with a non-attending friend. I plead that this particular friend is rarely available — nonetheless, I was the only person texting at the party, and during that time I was, although physically present, not entirely there.
Can we keep the internet open and free, a democratic medium for the rest of us? In studying this question, Becky Hogge's flash-published Barefoot Into Cyberspace joins Jonathan Zittrain's The Future of the Internet — and How to Stop It (2009) and Tim Wu's The Master Switch (and, to some extent, my own 1997 book, net.
Quick: are the spacesuits worn by the Apollo astronauts more like medieval suits of armour, diving suits or the girdle my mother wore in 1960? (If you need a refresher course on what girdles were really like, allow me to recommend the TV show Mad Men, whose costume designer is meticulous in all such foundation details.
What can someone find out about your tweets, and the people who retweet and respond to them? Rather a lot: despite being limited to 140 characters, tweets include metadata such as what kind of character encoding they use, and a great deal more.
Bad things that can happen to kids online have been the stuff of tabloid stories for some years now. Frederick Lane's new book, Cybertraps for the Young, is more intelligent and more subtle than that.
Over the last 20 years or so, there have been intermittent moves by the EU and the UK government to implement various levels of online surveillance — first by requiring ISPs to install equipment to facilitate wiretapping, and second by storing the masses of communications data created by all of us.
The National Academies of Science has posted free PDFs and online reading versions of the more than 4,000 science books it publishes, and also provides code so you can host individual titles on your own site. Many of these are workshop reports, policy documents and the like, rather than textbooks.
The 34 interviews and articles that make up this book may be familiar to long-time readers of Gallup Management Journal; they will, however, be new to the rest of us. The decade in question is September 2001 to January 2011 — the range of publication dates of these pieces.
It's not complexity that drives people mad, argues Donald A. Norman in his latest book; it's confusion.
The best of ZDNet, delivered
- 1 The Practice of Network Security Monitoring, review: A hands-on guidebook
- 2 Climbing Trillions Mountain: a field guide to the Internet of Things
- 3 Big Data, Data Mining, and Machine Learning, book review: A sound but traditional approach
- 4 Technocreep, book review: The erosion of privacy in a connected world
- 5 David Brin's Existence: Book review