From Publishers Weekly
In this critical but optimistic overview, academics Palfrey (of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society) and Gasser (of the Swiss U. of St. Gallen) share their concern about the legal and social ramifications of the Internet with regard to the generation of "Digital Natives" born after 1980. In a wide-ranging examination of "the future opportunities and challenges associated with the Internet as a social space," Palfrey and Gasser find most young people fail to recognize the vulnerability of their information-that internet posts are never really private-and suggest tactful parental and school oversight. They find a more serious problem in the failure of the U.S. to regulate data mining by search engines, which even now have the potential to create cradle-to-grave dossiers on individuals, including online medical and financial records; they compare the U.S. system with Europe's policies, which have put in place much more effective data protection. Parents and educators will benefit from Palfrey and Gasser's discussion of issues like safety, content control and illegal file sharing; with proper attention from them, the authors see a bright future for the Internet that should foster "global citizens" with a "spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship and caring for society at large."
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Boomers may think they’re too cool and forever-young to find themselves on the wrong side of a generation gap, but technology has created a great divide. Digital Natives, the Internet Age generation, are so acclimated to cyberspace they verge on being another species. Palfrey and Gasser, lawyers who specialize in intellectual property and information issues, document the myriad ways downloading, text-messaging, Massively Multiplayer Online Games–playing, YouTube-watching youth are transforming society. Energetic, expert, and forward-looking, the authors serve as envoys between the generations, addressing issues that worry parents and educators, from privacy and safety concerns to the quality of digital information, the psychological and physical effects of information overload and excessive online time, and legal and ethical issues, all the while stressing the need for digital literacy and critical thinking. Palfrey and Gasser believe in the value of the participatory culture the Internet fosters, and in the Internet’s nurturing of creativity, collaboration, entrepreneurship, and global citizenship. As old institutions crumble, there is a need for just this sort of enlightening, commonsensical, and positive guide to digital reality. --Donna Seaman
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