Rough Guide to the Internet (2002 Edition)

According to the blurb on the back, this "million-selling" book will "make you an Internet guru in the shortest possible time". The aim is similar to the Dummies books, but the Rough Guide version wears a cooler guise. Whether this makes it a better purchase, however, is doubtful.

About one-third of the guide is a directory of links arranged by category (art, fashion, news and so on). Having written features covering similar content for this magazine, I can tell you this is a dicey game. Even in the course of producing a magazine, a site that was up and running when the story was written can fall over by the time the magazine is on the news-stands. Surely this problem would be compounded by the longer production cycle of a book?

In fact, there are signs that it was assembled in a rush. At least one URL was not printed in full and there are innumerable spelling mistakes and inconsistencies. Australian sites are sometimes labelled AU and at other times AUS. A small quibble, perhaps, but it can affect your ability to scan lists of links. Nearly every category, however, has a good range of Australian sites.

The rest of the book comprises chapters on using the Web. There are sections on e-mail, Web services, designing your own site, newsgroups and security, and it is all written in a lively and interesting style.

Combining tips for using the Net with lists of sites to try in an inexpensive book is an worthwhile approach, but a good deal of the content will be too simple for moderately experienced Web surfers.

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