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.
Brian W. Kernighan is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at Princeton University. He is the coauthor of ten other books, including the computing classic The C Programming Language (Prentice Hall). He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
"[Kernighan’s] credentials as a computer scientist are stellar but what comes through in this book is a humanitarian concern about the place of technology in the modern world. . . . The grounding [the book] provides in the fundamentals of computing and how the technology interacts with our lives will remain relevant for a very long time."--Steve Mansfield-Devine, Network Security
"This is the clearest and simplest explanation of the world we now all depend on—how it works and why it does what it does—from one of our best-known inventors. Everyone on Earth needs to read it."—Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet Inc. and Google
"This book takes the mystery out of computers and the Internet, and everyone can learn from it. With a friendly and accessible style, Kernighan connects what is happening inside machines to the news of the day and developments about the digital world."—Harry Lewis, coauthor of Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness after the Digital Explosion
"Kernighan tells us exactly what we need to know about computers and computer science, focusing on ideas that are useful and interesting for everyday computer users. He covers a fascinating range of topics, including fundamentals such as computer hardware, programming, algorithms, and networks, as well as politically charged issues related to government surveillance, privacy, and Internet neutrality."—John MacCormick, Dickinson College
"Understanding the Digital World provides a broad overview of computers and electronic communications for a general audience. The book flows smoothly from topic to topic, and readers from diverse backgrounds will find it accessible."—Bryan Respass, Bergen County Academies
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