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Book Review

David Pullinger
Information Technology and Cyberspace

Extra-connected Living
ISBN 0-232-52397-5
DLT, London, 2001, £8.95

(price at publication of review)

Reviewed January 2003; © Copyright, The Society of Saint Francis, 2002

This is an interesting book, which in a sense poses more questions than it seeks - quite openly - to try to answer. The reader in introduced to the concept of social space and the encroachment of 'technology', particularly through the internet: personal interaction and activity with others is replaced by email communications, by web games, by chat rooms and so forth. This leads to split personalities: 'Who am I when I can be "this" to one person online and "that" to another, face to face?'. This is more and issue for the young, which leads to ethical questions for the future. There is a reminder of technology through the ages and human reaction to it, a useful synopsis of how and when the internet was born, and where it might be going. Again, this is set against and discussed in the context of relationships between people and the ethical dilemmas that arise as a consequence. A further aspect that is explored is the overriding wealth of information that is available through the web - not all of it accurate or tasteful. There is the expectation that all sources of information must be reviewed (leading to overload), be it emails or possible websites to view before writing a report. But we are reminded that this is 'information' not 'analysis'.

The real issues as discussed in this book are the interaction of self and technology and what the implications are for society in the context of individuals interacting with other individuals. Technology is bringing about change in this area. People's awareness of themselves and their identities are being clouded as natural communication - from children playing to family conversations across the table - is being superseded when we turn to the personal computer for comfort through the room dialogue. What a future! But this is where faith comes in, and the hope it can give in keeping technology in context, and reminding us of the importance of self and interaction with others.

Phillipa Foster Black

Director, Institute of Business Ethics.


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