5 stars Surfing The Net Effect
"At a time when how-to-do-it books on computing spawn in a seemingly endless stream,
Beth Porter has written an intelligent, highly readable book that has little to do with the how
and a great deal to do with the why and where-to of the internet.
"The Net Effect, a well-illustrated, carefully documented, incisive theoretical work starts with the little known,
virtually unwritten history of the internet and concludes with some futuristic speculations
about the internet phenomenon. The book, although sophisticated, is absorbing and accessible to a reader, like me,
who has only a basic general knowledge of the internet.
"Between the historical and the predictive are chapters that focus on the socio-cultural paradigm shift that has
occurred and is still occurring as a consequence of rocketing internet growth. Two large sections of the book focus
on, first, the "da Vinci Syndrome," or the dramatic rise in the close links between art and technology, and,
secondly, the increasing interconnectedness of all postmodern, non-linear human experience, fueled and
supported by the internet.
"Porter examines and illustrates how the internet can connect virtually everyone to everyone else,
how the democratic organization of the net enables people not only to use it effectively but influence its direction,
and how it fosters interactivity among its users.
"Porter, an independent Media Consultant, award-winning website producer, and internationally known lecturer
and writer on internet issues, displays a wide breadth of knowledge and experience that
pervades every page of the book.
"But the book is far from pompous--spiced as it is by appealing anecdotes, recounted with wit and verve.
For me, the most interesting section of the book is the chapter that deals with the technology of the internet
and its impact on the contemporary arts scene. Drawing on and building upon her extensive background in theatre,
film, and television, Porter explains lucidly some basic ways in which the internet has changed
not only the contemporary artist's vision and production of art but the entire relationship between artist,
art work, and audience.
"At its best, the internet can and does involve its audience more actively with the art work than
was possible in the pre-internet era. As Lord Puttnam of Queensgate CBE comments in his
foreword to The Net Effect, Beth Porter "has written a totally accessible account
of the history and effect of the new technology, with enthusiasm and flair, and without a
hint of the expected computer nerdiness that would, I confess, ordinarily scare me off."
" I can't agree with Lord Puttnam more. I read and re-read The Net Effect with great interest
and emerged from my brief immersion in the history and theory of the
internet with a much better understanding of its power and with much less fear of its impact. "
Arnold Newman, Professor of English (Emeritus), Kutztown University of Pennsylvania