Hunsinger, Klastrup, and Allen have put together a valuable book consisting of 31 essays, research reports, and professional papers on Internet issues, research, controversies, and more. The book could be useful as a personal reference, or as a source for ideas for one’s own research agenda. It could be useful in an advanced undergraduate or graduate course covering computers and society, information systems and society, or simply advanced study or research. Businesses might find it useful as a source of ideas for new business Internet ventures.
The book contains 31 research reports (chapters). The fact that the editors included two appendices (Appendix A, “Degree Programs,” and Appendix B, “Major Research Centers and Institutes”), along with two indices (an author index and a subject index), speaks volumes about the editors’ focus on making this book a research tool. An observation is that the book lacks an editorial overview, introduction, and classification or taxonomy of its contents (although it includes a subject index).
“The Internet in Latin America” research report uses Miniwatts Marketing Group’s world Internet usage and population statistics, its data on Internet usage, and other basic socioeconomic indicators for Latin American countries (gross national income (GNI), e-readiness, connectivity, and technology infrastructures) calculated by the World Bank, Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), and IBM/IBI to analyze and classify Internet penetration into Latin America into three categories.
Another research report, “(Dis)Connected: Deleuze’s Superject and the Internet,” investigates and theorizes on the human component within the various facets of the Internet, using the ideas of other researchers (Deleuze, Guattari, Marx, et al.), who have articulated a language to describe the interfaces and effects of human/technology experiences in other (earlier) realms. This report is a dense reading experience, perhaps because of the author’s style, or because of the difficulty of trying to communicate the recognized, innovative characteristics of the Internet/human realm. Nevertheless, a reader must navigate concepts and terminology from other human/technology experiences in order to understand the radical concepts and terminology in the Internet/human realm (such as superject) that are presented in the report. This all culminates in the possible emergence of new political and ethical constructions that need to be investigated with further research. This illustrates the seminal nature of all of the reports, making the book a basis for research ideas and projects.
“Intercreativity: Mapping Online Activism” poses the question, “How do activists use the Internet?” and includes a summary of research done. The report examines Tim Berners-Lee’s concept of intercreativity, and identifies and discusses four areas of Net activism through examples “around one cluster of issues: support campaigns for refugees and asylum seekers.” Some issues remain to be addressed, such as investigating the disturbing issue of the Internet becoming “increasingly shaped and re-shaped by national governments.”
The report on “Internet Sexualities” investigates the current state of research in Internet sexuality, finding 450 academic papers in the PsycInfo and Web of Science databases. The report discusses research and findings on “pornography, sex shops, sex work, sex education, sex contacts, and sexual subcultures on the Internet.” It also lists obvious research gaps (such as sexual Internet use in Islamic countries).
Due to the various topics discussed, the book is best used as a research tool.