|Dear Amazon Reader: |
Why might you want to read a Jeffersonian natural history of the internet? Perhaps because you know that Thomas Jefferson was a very interesting, and a very smart, guy but you'd like to know more about what he was up to. (Why did he have a moose skeleton and carcass--an acquisition, he wrote, "more precious than you can imagine"--shipped to him in Paris for display in his residence?) Or perhaps because you believe that the internet represents something important, some kind of transformative milestone in the history of human communication, but you don't really know much about where it came from, or how it actually works, or who's in charge.
At bottom, this book is a "natural history" of the internet: what it is, how it works, what shape it has, what kinds of things can be found there, how and why it has grown so prodigiously in size. Thomas Jefferson is the guide; the book is (or aspires to be) the natural history of the internet that Jefferson would write, were he around to write it. One thing I can promise you, if you read my book: you'll learn some things about Jefferson, and some things about the internet, that you never knew before, and you'll see some connections between the two that you never saw before. And I can also promise you that you'll encounter some magnificent prose--not mine, Jefferson's. I use Jefferson's own words as much as possible to describe what's going on out there in the "new world," and nobody could craft an English sentence better than Jefferson could.
To be honest, I don't know whether the book will change your mind about, or give you any simple solutions for, any of the great issues of the day. I was struck, though, several months ago, at the start of the meltdown in the global financial markets, by something Thomas Friedman wrote in his NY Times column: What we have to understand about the global financial markets, Friedman wrote, and what makes them so hard to understand and so hard to control, is this: everything is inter-connected, and nobody's in charge. Hmm, I thought--sounds like the internet. There are lessons to be learned from a deeper understanding of the net; I won't pretend to know what all of them are, but I know they're there, and my book is a way to help you think about what they might be and what they might mean.
David G. Post