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Virtual Unreality: Just Because the Internet Told You, How Do You Know Its True? Hardcover – June 26, 2014
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Mr. Seife (a professor of journalism at New York University and the author of five books on science and math) . . . is a meticulous writer, and he quickly won me over—unfortunately. . . . [H]is portrait is persuasive and thus disconcerting and frightening.
—Howard Schneider, The Wall Street Journal
“Virtual Unreality is a talisman we gullible can wield in the hope that we won’t get fooled again.”
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
Praise for Proofiness
"Passionate...this is more than a math book; it's an eye-opening civics lesson."--The New York Times Book Review
"An admirable salvo against quantitative bamboozlement by the media and the government."--The Boston Globe
"A delightful and remarkably revealing book that should be required reading for...well, everyone."--Booklist (starred review)
"Detailed and hardhitting."--The Charlotte Observer
"If Stephen Colbert had had time to write a math book, he surely would have written Proofiness."--The Dallas Morning News
Praise for Decoding the Universe
"For the former liberal arts major and other right-brainers, Seife is the man."--Salon.com
"A timely book."--New Scientist
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Top Customer Reviews
Topics in the book include such things as:
- Stock manipulation
- Spam and the various money-making schemes that would have been impossible prior to the Digital Age
- Wikipedia and the dangers of relying on it.
- How the Digital Age has changed, and is continuing to change, the way that news is gathered and disseminated.
- Fake identities, fake profiles, and sock puppets.
- How search engines have changed not just the way that information is shared but also how it is created.
- Digital manipulation.
- Social media
And the "Top Ten Dicta of the Internet Skeptic," including such gems as "A social media site's purpose is to serve its users -- in the same sense as a zoo's purpose is to serve its animals."
The book can be dry at times and some of this information is pretty widely known. But I'm a pretty well-informed technical guy who makes a living in the online world and some of the information here was eye-opening, not just the details but the history and theory behind it. Seife also provides some practical advice on how you can protect yourself, at least to a certain extent. The listed length of the book is a bit misleading, by the way, since 30% of the book consists of links, footnotes, and an extensive index.
If you think you know everything about the internet, and feel like you could never be fooled, then read this book. I'll bet that there is some way that you have been fooled and never realized it. Virtual Unreality not only tells you how you get tricked, it also tells you how avoid being fooled. A fast, worthwhile read.
Also, I have a large sum of money that I could tranfer to you - I just need $500 to help me release the funds.
Overall, I found that much of the information contained here is really beyond my need-to-know, at least for the present. However, some information was truly astonishing and useful to me – particularly the chapter on Wikipedia. I think that this alone was worth the read. Something else that I did not expect to find here is information on various aspects of psychology and human behaviour - which, in retrospect, makes a lot of sense. Facebook, LinkedIn, Match.com and several other social media were also discussed to varying degrees.
As usual, the author’s writing style is clear, friendly, lively and quite captivating. As far as the book’s audience is concerned, I think that anyone who uses the Internet in some capacity will likely benefit, to varying degrees, from reading this book and heeding its warnings.
Seife provides plenty of material for information literacy discussions with his discussions of the interaction of information versus knowledge versus wisdom, the problem with authority (citing sources and proving sources), trolling, fake people, interconnection rather than communication, copyright issues, etc. He also discusses the problems of too much information with noise drowning out signal, the dumbing down of intelligence, and the use of public/private information being used for private gain by companies and individuals.
Charles Seife packs a lot of information in a small book with the unfortunate result that it feels like a collection of essays rather than a coherent argument. The coverage of multiple and divergent topics and some of the examples used will leave this book feeling dated in a few short years. That being stated, the author has provided many coherent arguments that should be examined and discussed not just by librarians, information literacy specialists and academics, but by the public as a whole.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read with a bit of self-reflection and thought, this book may just leave you feeling a bit depressed when you're through with it. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Sloan
I have read a bunch about this topic, so there wasn't a lot of fundamental info for me. It would be very instructive for most people I know, but most are too much involved with... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Jeff Bennett
Lots of good information here. While many are aware of fake profiles, scams and falsehoods online, too many aren't. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Janet K Hoadley
This book may be worth reading even for experienced and cautious internet users. It's worth knowing enough about the modern communications business to be able to adopt the... Read morePublished 13 months ago by XY
incredible read! really enjoy this book. captivated three of us within the first chapter. I am not surprised at how often lies come about on the internet, what I am fully... Read morePublished 15 months ago by D. Winter
Don’t believe everything that you read on the Internet? Neither does Charles Seife. In his thought-provoking book, "Virtual Unreality," Charles debunks many Internet... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Jen Selinsky