By Manuel Castells, Oxford University Press, $25
Now that the Internet’s evolution has slowed enough to let us stop and think about it, nobody is thinking more clearly than Manuel Castells. A professor of planning and sociology at UC-Berkeley, Castells cheerily predicts, on the one hand, that future organizations will exploit the Internet’s ability to provide hierarchical control and networked adaptability. On the other, he warns of the risk that technology trumpeted as a fount of freedom will morph into a tool of oppression. Throughout, he reminds readers of the limits to our current understanding of how the Internet will change us in the not-too-distant future. Castells is “the first significant philosopher of cyberspace,” according to The Economist. He wears the title well, and, based on this book, will own it for a while.
MAKING IT PERSONAL: HOW TO PROFIT FROM PERSONALIZATION WITHOUT INVADING PRIVACY
By Bruce Kasanoff, Perseus Publishing, $26
When you’re online, marketers can secretly record the articles you read, how long you linger, and even your reading speed. Scary, huh? The technology used to collect such information is applied narrowly, but it’s a good example of the issues explored in this expert treatise on the intersection between personalization, profit, and privacy.