In secret, underground, an amazing new world has taken shape, an alternate universe where technical communications sit alongside bulletin boards devoted to TV sitcoms, popular music, and every imaginable sexual proclivity. The Internet has its own language, its own rituals, its own code of ethics, and even its own ways of punishing outsiders. Let the newbie beware! Surfing on the Internet is a fearless excursion through this remarkable new world, in the company of one of the most inventive young nonfiction writers at work today. Fueled by Fruity Pebbles and caffeine, J. C. Herz, a digital Dian Fossey loose in the jungle of Net life, embarks on an on-line odyssey. Beginning with worldwide message boards that feature tips for phreaking (phone tapping) and plots to assassinate Barney the purple dinosaur, she brings to life the anarchic sprawl of the Net, exploring the flames (personal tirades), the aliases (one guy she meets has 158), the Net cities and virtual saloons where the digerati congregate.No corner of the Net is beyond the reach of her curiosity, and some of those corners turn out to be pretty dark. Sex on-line has its limitations, for instance (although the cross-gender possibilities are intriguing). There are the out-and-out nuts who stretch even the most liberal free-speech ethos. And there’s the chilling case of Kieran, the Internet ghost whose only off-line visitors for months are the people who deliver takeout food to his apartment. When last seen, J. C. Herz is checking into an Internet addicts support group – meeting on-line, of course. Surfing on the Internet is a romp through the frontier of the twenty-first century, and J. C. Herz is a brilliant and daredevil guide.Don’t log on without it.

Book cover for Cult of the Dead Cow

The shocking untold story of the elite secret society of hackers fighting to protect our privacy, our freedom — even democracy itself

Cult of the Dead Cow is the tale of the oldest, most respected, and most famous American hacking group of all time. Though until now it has remained mostly anonymous, its members invented the concept of hacktivism, released the top tool for testing password security, and created what was for years the best technique for controlling computers from afar, forcing giant companies to work harder to protect customers. They contributed to the development of Tor, the most important privacy tool on the net, and helped build cyberweapons that advanced US security without injuring anyone. With its origins in the earliest days of the Internet, the cDc is full of oddball characters — activists, artists, even future politicians. Many of these hackers have become top executives and advisors walking the corridors of power in Washington and Silicon Valley. The most famous is former Texas Congressman and current presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, whose time in the cDc set him up to found a tech business, launch an alternative publication in El Paso, and make long-shot bets on unconventional campaigns.
Today, the group and its followers are battling electoral misinformation, making personal data safer, and battling to keep technology a force for good instead of for surveillance and oppression. Cult of the Dead Cow shows how governments, corporations, and criminals came to hold immense power over individuals and how we can fight back against them.

A revealing and gripping investigation into how social media platforms police what we post online—and the large societal impact of these decisions

Most users want their Twitter feed, Facebook page, and YouTube comments to be free of harassment and porn. Whether faced with “fake news” or livestreamed violence, “content moderators”—who censor or promote user‑posted content—have never been more important. This is especially true when the tools that social media platforms use to curb trolling, ban hate speech, and censor pornography can also silence the speech you need to hear.
 
In this revealing and nuanced exploration, award‑winning sociologist and cultural observer Tarleton Gillespie provides an overview of current social media practices and explains the underlying rationales for how, when, and why these policies are enforced. In doing so, Gillespie highlights that content moderation receives too little public scrutiny even as it is shapes social norms and creates consequences for public discourse, cultural production, and the fabric of society. Based on interviews with content moderators, creators, and consumers, this accessible, timely book is a must‑read for anyone who’s ever clicked “like” or “retweet.”