Exploring the world of the personal computer. (book reviews) Steve Gray.
Exploring the World of the Personal Computer, by Jack M. Nilles. Prentice-Hill, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ. 249 pages, paperback $12.95.
The back cover says this is a "review of low-cost computers as their usage expands in the present, and a forecast of the potential implications inherent as they proliferate."
The 14 chapters are divided into three parts: Personal Computers and Personal Computing (the information society, personal computers, personal computers in the home), Uses (office computers, fun and games, learning via personal computers, more about home personal computers, medical uses), Reflections (Big Brother, the have-nots (personal computers as luxuries), international personal computers, standards, personal computers and mental health, blaming the computer). A brief epilog discusses whether the personal computer is friend or foe, followed by a glossary and "bibliography and recommended reading" section.
The author, a senior research associate at USC's Center for Futures Research, takes a middle-of-the-road approach, presenting the personal computer as neither a scary privacy-invading monster, nor a simple tool we can all easily cope with. In his last paragraph, he says, "As with all powerful technologies, we can use it for our ultimate good or we can do a great deal of harm with it. almost as bad, we might do only trivial things with it."
Nilles uses the scenario technique to help the reader evaluate the personal computer as a factor for his lifestyle, and then keys dialogs to the scenarios, as a way of presenting arguments for and against a particular applications.
This book is recommended to those who want a thoughtful, conservative, realistic look at the present and future of personal computers, presented quite well in just over 200 pages of main text.
Review Grade: C