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Understanding the Digital World: What You Need to Know about Computers, the Internet, Privacy, and Security

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The basics of how computer hardware, software, and systems work, and the risks they create for our privacy and security Computers are everywhere. Some of them are highly visible, in laptops, tablets, cell phones, and smart watches. But most are invisible, like those in appliances, cars, medical equipment, transportation systems, power grids, and weapons. We never see the my The basics of how computer hardware, software, and systems work, and the risks they create for our privacy and security Computers are everywhere. Some of them are highly visible, in laptops, tablets, cell phones, and smart watches. But most are invisible, like those in appliances, cars, medical equipment, transportation systems, power grids, and weapons. We never see the myriad computers that quietly collect, share, and sometimes leak vast amounts of personal data about us. Through computers, governments and companies increasingly monitor what we do. Social networks and advertisers know far more about us than we should be comfortable with, using information we freely give them. Criminals have all-too-easy access to our data. Do we truly understand the power of computers in our world? Understanding the Digital World explains how computer hardware, software, networks, and systems work. Topics include how computers are built and how they compute; what programming is and why it is difficult; how the Internet and the web operate; and how all of these affect our security, privacy, property, and other important social, political, and economic issues. This book also touches on fundamental ideas from computer science and some of the inherent limitations of computers. It includes numerous color illustrations, notes on sources for further exploration, and a glossary to explain technical terms and buzzwords. Understanding the Digital World is a must-read for all who want to know more about computers and communications. It explains, precisely and carefully, not only how they operate but also how they influence our daily lives, in terms anyone can understand, no matter what their experience and knowledge of technology.


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The basics of how computer hardware, software, and systems work, and the risks they create for our privacy and security Computers are everywhere. Some of them are highly visible, in laptops, tablets, cell phones, and smart watches. But most are invisible, like those in appliances, cars, medical equipment, transportation systems, power grids, and weapons. We never see the my The basics of how computer hardware, software, and systems work, and the risks they create for our privacy and security Computers are everywhere. Some of them are highly visible, in laptops, tablets, cell phones, and smart watches. But most are invisible, like those in appliances, cars, medical equipment, transportation systems, power grids, and weapons. We never see the myriad computers that quietly collect, share, and sometimes leak vast amounts of personal data about us. Through computers, governments and companies increasingly monitor what we do. Social networks and advertisers know far more about us than we should be comfortable with, using information we freely give them. Criminals have all-too-easy access to our data. Do we truly understand the power of computers in our world? Understanding the Digital World explains how computer hardware, software, networks, and systems work. Topics include how computers are built and how they compute; what programming is and why it is difficult; how the Internet and the web operate; and how all of these affect our security, privacy, property, and other important social, political, and economic issues. This book also touches on fundamental ideas from computer science and some of the inherent limitations of computers. It includes numerous color illustrations, notes on sources for further exploration, and a glossary to explain technical terms and buzzwords. Understanding the Digital World is a must-read for all who want to know more about computers and communications. It explains, precisely and carefully, not only how they operate but also how they influence our daily lives, in terms anyone can understand, no matter what their experience and knowledge of technology.

30 review for Understanding the Digital World: What You Need to Know about Computers, the Internet, Privacy, and Security

  1. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielam13

    Dacă ideea conform căreia stăpânești cu adevărat un subiect atunci când îl poți explica în termeni atât de simpli încât și un copil poate înțelege, e adevărată, atunci negreșit Brian W. Keninghan are o profundă înțelegere a lumii digitale. Probabil și anii în care a predat cursul introductiv de teoria informaticii unor studenți din științele sociale, l-au ajutat în a crea această carte, scrisă într-un stil atât de clar și ușor de înțeles. Mi-a făcut plăcere să citesc prezentarea sa a lumii digit Dacă ideea conform căreia stăpânești cu adevărat un subiect atunci când îl poți explica în termeni atât de simpli încât și un copil poate înțelege, e adevărată, atunci negreșit Brian W. Keninghan are o profundă înțelegere a lumii digitale. Probabil și anii în care a predat cursul introductiv de teoria informaticii unor studenți din științele sociale, l-au ajutat în a crea această carte, scrisă într-un stil atât de clar și ușor de înțeles. Mi-a făcut plăcere să citesc prezentarea sa a lumii digitale, a modului cum funcționează computerele, internetul și a problemelor pe care acestea le pun. Cu toate că spre sfârșitul cărții, când începe să explice vulnerabilitățile pe care le avem în domeniul privacy-ului și al securității și toate riscurile la care suntem supuși atunci când folosim internetul fără a ne proteja în fața nenumăratelor metode de a fi urmăriți, am resimțit atitudinea sa puțin paranoică, așa cum și singur o descrie. La final am înțeles că partea explicativă a cărții, care reprezintă 85%, nu a fost decât un preludiu pe care autorul l-a oferit pentru a ajuta cititorul să înțeleagă mai bine provocările pe care lumea modernă a internetului le oferă. Acest aspect mi s-a părut cu atât mai evident în momentul în care a menționat mândru că o fostă studentă de a sa a învățat ceva din cursul său astfel că a renunțat la Facebook și a descoperit că poate avea prieteni în continuare. O carte care se adresează tuturor și care ne pune în gardă în fața unor aspecte atât de actuale ale lumii digitale, oferind în același timp o frumoasă introducere a modului cum aceasta funcționează.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Vojtěch

    Pro člověka dosud nepolíbeného digitálními technologiemi je to solidní přehledová kniha, která jej velmi erudovaně uvede do světa hardwaru, softwaru a komunikace. Naštěstí je komunikaci věnována největší část publikace, ale přesto se jedná o (alespoň mně) z velké části známé věci. Ano, několik částí je velmi zajímavých (ať už po faktické či úvahové stránce), ale jinak jsem od knihy čekal trochu něco jiného. Takto je to erudovanější příručka pro ty, kteří se chtějí více dozvědět, jak funguje např Pro člověka dosud nepolíbeného digitálními technologiemi je to solidní přehledová kniha, která jej velmi erudovaně uvede do světa hardwaru, softwaru a komunikace. Naštěstí je komunikaci věnována největší část publikace, ale přesto se jedná o (alespoň mně) z velké části známé věci. Ano, několik částí je velmi zajímavých (ať už po faktické či úvahové stránce), ale jinak jsem od knihy čekal trochu něco jiného. Takto je to erudovanější příručka pro ty, kteří se chtějí více dozvědět, jak funguje např. RAM, cloud computing, aplikace apod.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ervin Susanto

    Needless for me to say that technology constitutes a large part of our daily lives today. But how many of us really understand how it works? e.g. how can we send messages or make calls from our phones to someone who are thousands of miles away within seconds? or why is our data so easily stolen by hackers from all over the world? If you want the answers to these questions without going too deep into the technicals (in laymen terms), this book will solve it for you. Not all of us aspire to be com Needless for me to say that technology constitutes a large part of our daily lives today. But how many of us really understand how it works? e.g. how can we send messages or make calls from our phones to someone who are thousands of miles away within seconds? or why is our data so easily stolen by hackers from all over the world? If you want the answers to these questions without going too deep into the technicals (in laymen terms), this book will solve it for you. Not all of us aspire to be computer engineers but we should at least have a basic understanding on how the gadgets we use 24 hours a day or 365 days a year work!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    I read an article that commented that if our kids were to ask us questions like "why is the sky blue?" or "why do the leaves of trees change colour?", we'd probably be able to give them a semi-decent answer. Or at least have a good sense of how we might go about figuring out the answer. But if they were to ask us "how does a smartphone work?" or "what is the cloud?" (vs "what are clouds?") most of us would probably be stumped. We blithely refer to "surfing the web" or "Photoshopping an image" bu I read an article that commented that if our kids were to ask us questions like "why is the sky blue?" or "why do the leaves of trees change colour?", we'd probably be able to give them a semi-decent answer. Or at least have a good sense of how we might go about figuring out the answer. But if they were to ask us "how does a smartphone work?" or "what is the cloud?" (vs "what are clouds?") most of us would probably be stumped. We blithely refer to "surfing the web" or "Photoshopping an image" but how do these things work exactly? Hence Understanding the Digital World by Brian Kernighan. I'm not a techie. At all. I'm not a Luddite but I stayed away from engineering and computer science courses (more fool me) when I was in college and now wish I'd at least audited a class or two in those fields, if only to understand a bit more about how the physical and digital infrastructure that shape so much of our lives today work. Kernighan's book helped plug that gap a little, by taking a big, hairy technical subject and breaking it down into bite-sized, accessible chunks. Computers for non-techies, so to speak. Understanding the Digital World starts off by getting the tech stuff out of the way. #1: The universal digital representation of information - how computers represent information in bits (binary digits) and everything from text to sound to images can be reduced to combinations of 1s and 0s. #2: The universal digital processor, i.e the digital computer that fundamentally comprises (a) a CPU that performs calculations/operations; (b) RAM to store information that is in active use by the CPU and other parts of the computer; (c) disk storage that stores information on a longer term basis (compared to RAM); and (d) other devices like the keyboard, screen that are all connected inside the computer via wires knowns as the "bus". Computers work by running programmes, i.e. series of instructions telling the computer what to do. #2a: Software refers to the sequences of instructions that make a computer do stuff. An algorithm is "a precise and complete specification of a computational process, but abstract and not directly executable by a computer, in contrast to a program". By contrast, a program is "the concrete expression of all the steps necessary to make a real computer do a complete real task" and has to deal with real life constraints like limited memory and time, for instance. #2b: There are two major kinds of software: operating systems that manage the hardware of the computer and make it possible to run other programmes, and applications, which are these other programmes that perform myriad functions like sending email, surfing the web, playing music and videos, etc. #3: The universal digital network, i.e. the Internet, that connects digital computers and allows for the exchange of information (through mail, social networks, etc). Section 3 on the universal digital network was the most interesting for me (as a non techie who's interested in policy issues). Having dispensed with the technical foundations, Kernighan discusses how computers connect us and enable rapid communication across distances, and the resulting policy issues such as net neutrality, security and privacy. Overall, Understanding the Digital World is as accessible an introduction one can get on the topic of computers, how they work, what they can do and their impact on their lives. The language is simple and free from (unnecessary) jargon, the book is structured such that there is a short summary at the end of each chapter and at the end of each major section of the book. This helps to reinforce the concepts covered before Kernighan goes on to build on these concepts in the next section/chapter.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ben Rothke

    Anyone who has taken a computer science or programming class will likely know of Brian Kernighan. He had significant contributions to the development of Unix, and also wrote the AWK and AMPL programming languages. For the last 20 years, he’s been a professor of computer at Princeton University. He is the author of many technical books. When I got his latest book Understanding the Digital World: What You Need to Know about Computers, the Internet, Privacy, and Security (Princeton University Press Anyone who has taken a computer science or programming class will likely know of Brian Kernighan. He had significant contributions to the development of Unix, and also wrote the AWK and AMPL programming languages. For the last 20 years, he’s been a professor of computer at Princeton University. He is the author of many technical books. When I got his latest book Understanding the Digital World: What You Need to Know about Computers, the Internet, Privacy, and Security (Princeton University Press 978-0691176543), I did a double-take at first, as this is more of an introductory text. Notwithstanding, the book personifies what Albert Einstein noted: if you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well. The book is a basic introduction on how hardware, software and network systems work. There is a huge amount going on under the hood of desktops, laptops and mobile device; to which Kernighan explains this in a matter that would make Einstein proud. Besides giving an overview of how these technologies operate, Kernighan shows how they often introduce security and privacy risks. He then shoes how those risks can be mitigated. Kernighan looks not just at the computing systems, he also details how they affect our security, privacy, and other sociological elements. While Understanding the Digital World is meant as an introductory text, there is significant value for those they want to know how these myriad systems operate, and how these technologies influence our daily lives.

  6. 4 out of 5

    JKikkawa

    This book covers wide area of today's digital things. That means, iPod, wireless COMM, storage, program and security. Not just a pile of information, but Brian explained in his fixed view. This book good for entry level engineer or someone want to understand relation between the digital things. This book covers wide area of today's digital things. That means, iPod, wireless COMM, storage, program and security. Not just a pile of information, but Brian explained in his fixed view. This book good for entry level engineer or someone want to understand relation between the digital things.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Timo Carlier

    Essential information for anyone using a computer, smartphone and the Internet.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    Great overview for the uneducated (like me).

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ka Pil

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bas

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vishrut Arya

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tristan

  13. 5 out of 5

    Filip

  14. 4 out of 5

    Richard Bruner

  15. 5 out of 5

    Asafe Maia

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kamal

  17. 4 out of 5

    Manzoor Elahi

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anil Gajiev

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jagadeesh

  20. 4 out of 5

    Hervizinve

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen King

  22. 5 out of 5

    Beirem Ben Barrah

  23. 4 out of 5

    Master

  24. 5 out of 5

    Vaidas

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sigbjørn

  26. 4 out of 5

    Eric

  27. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Weber

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tom

  29. 4 out of 5

    Zada Day

  30. 4 out of 5

    Omar Mohamad

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