That the Internet has caused the third biggest revolution in recent civilization is not unknown. However, what’s of importance is the fact that different nations of the world have progressed differently and that many are still catching up. This 2017 report from the Chinese Academy of Cyberspace Studies is an intense look at the development of the Internet and its usage, governance, security, and other aspects. Translated from the original Chinese, this book is quite comprehensive in its coverage of the aforementioned facets of our Internet. Needless to say, due to this translation process, numerous typographical errors have crept into this otherwise quite detailed coverage of the topic areas. As the Chinese Academy is a government-funded organization, the Chinese government’s views and advances with regard to the development of cyberspace governance are quite evident.
The book begins with a somewhat greatly detailed (52 pages) overview of the Internet, covering--or rather comparing--its infrastructure, capacity, development, application, cyber security, and governance as implemented in the top few countries of the world with regard to each of these aspects. Although this is an overview, it’s a prodigious read, as the comparative aspects of different countries provide one with an idea of where most of the interesting places stand. For example, the included radar charts are very striking and will appeal to readers who are visually oriented. Just a caution: the chart on page 38 (p. xxxviii) is for Singapore and not for the United Kingdom (UK).
The book consists of eight chapters in all. The first chapter recaps the development of the Internet in our world: its history, right from its humble beginnings as the ARPANET at DARPA, to the birth of the World Wide Web (WWW) and the development of Web 2.0. Further, it discusses blogs, wikis, peer-to-peer (P2P), and the rise of social media. The subsequent chapter reviews the information infrastructure of the world. It points to the fact that the basic resources required for access to the Internet are rather unevenly distributed across various nations; as a result, unfortunately, its adoption is not uniform. In this process, the chapter also covers various generations of mobile broadband. Quite logically, chapter 3 follows the infrastructure needed, including the network information technology (IT) needed, to sustain the Internet. Very interestingly, this chapter covers, in a paragraph, the more recent blockchain technology.
Cybersecurity and its governance appear to be a great concern of all nations. As a result, some of the succeeding chapters cover this important topic in detail, including various basic areas like the types of cybersecurity threats we currently face. Other chapters cover the world’s digital economy, the development of electronic governance, the Internet media, and, finally, international cyberspace governance.
Overall, silly mistakes aside, the book is useful reading for those researching IT related to the Internet. In case the authors are thinking of republishing the book as a second edition, they may do well by getting it proofread, as numerous sentences and sections are not easy to follow.