A thorough detonation of the hype surrounding computers in our lives, by the bestselling author of The Cuckoo's Egg and Silicon Snake Oil.
In a book that should spark debate across the country, Clifford Stoll, one of the pioneers of the Internet and a renowned gadfly of the computer industry, takes an insightful, provocative--and entertaining--look at how computers have encroached on our lives. High Tech Heretic punctures the exaggerated benefits of everything from foisting computers on preschoolers to "free" software to computer "help desks" that help no one at all. Why, Stoll asks, is there a relentless drumbeat for "computer literacy" by educators and the high-tech industry when the computer's most common uses are for word processing and games? Is diverting scarce education resources from teachers and equipment in favor of computers in the classroom the best use of school money? Are supermarket checkout clerks computer literate because they operate a laser scanner? Has no one noticed that the closest equivalent to today's hot new multimedia and Internet Web sites are--(drumroll)--Classics Illustrated, the comic books based on literature?
In these fascinating contrarian commentaries, Stoll focuses his droll wit and penetrating gaze on everything from why computers have to be so darned "ugly" to the cultural aftershocks of our high-tech society, to how to turn an outdated 386 computer into something useful, like a fish tank or a cat litter box.
As one who loves computers as much as he disdains the inflated promises made on their behalf, Cliff Stoll is nothing less than a P. J. O'Rourke of the computer age--barbed, opinionated, and essential.