Book Review: Digital DNA
At some point in time we all have Googled our own names to find what results would the search yield. Of course, it depends on who you really are — a celebrity or a nobody, but for an average internet user the most common type of results would be their countless other social networking profile/account links. Other less probable outcomes would be news articles, Wikipedia information, videos and so on. However, some of us often spot results that should not have showed up at all. Something you had done on the internet without being entirely aware of it pops up and embarrasses you in the process. A bachelors party picture, a not-so-polite comment, an entire conversation in a group you had assumed to be a closed one or even all of your personal details which you had submitted on a random website you no longer even remember about. All of this can happen very easily.
So how do you manage this kind of a mess or rather avoid it completely?
Anand Mitra, an international scholar of New Media technologies, has the answers. In his latest offing, Digital DNA, he duly explores the mounting relationship between social networking platforms and us—the internet users, as it turns out, this is a fairly engrossing read that projects the intricacies of social networking and teaches us the art of negating the risks involved in its process.
The book starts off with a personal incident of the author wherein he tracks down the details of a party his son had attended. Using mere an address and the internet, Mitra draws elementary conclusions in a Sherlock-like style. This bit of small story sets the book up nicely in our course of unraveling the various aspects of secure social networking.
To begin with, the author briefs us on the history of storytelling and how it led to social networks being formed on the internet. Someone who had a story to tell would have basically put it up there in the air to share it with the world. Soon, others took a keen interest and these people together laid down the foundations of social networking that has gone on to evolve massively since those early days of the internet. Another interesting thing that the author has introduced us to via this book is the term Narb. Standing for Narrative Bits, Narb, in its very basic form, refers to narrating things or rather bits about oneself. Every little detail that we reveal of ourselves on the internet can be accounted as a Narb. As the author himself says, a Narb is a digital footprint of sorts — a DNA of the virtual world which can reveal some unwanted things/ history about us. It surely is an interesting concept and the author further explores it throughout the book.
Moving on, Mitra goes into detail about the various aspects of social networking and how each and every one of them is to be managed. Using references from day to day life and incidents, the author explains the complex digital world and how it is to be negotiated with. Mitra expertly analyzes the situations and discusses in detail the tools and techniques of completing a secure social networking process. He underlines the importance of managing our profiles responsibly and efficiently.
Written in a simple, understandable language, the narrative is smooth and jargon-free. Suffice to say, this is a book written for novices who know the world of internet but do not how to manage it without running a risk. At times you’d think that some of the things told and suggested by the author in this short book require only common sense and in spite of having those things in your subconscious, you never really were aware of them. Mitra also does a great job at keeping this non-fiction book interesting by coming up with relatable stories every now and again. Also, some of the facts and figures revealed in the book are out right interesting and make for a worthy read. The tips in the book might be in fact too simple and most of the internet geeks would find these suggestions drab and insignificant. But then not everybody is an internet geek in this country and judging by the number of cyber crimes that are happening due to social networking platforms, it would be wise to read something so simple that it barely needs to be read once.
All in all, readers interested in tapping into the world of social networking would find this book very interesting. But, more than anything else, it is to be read by people for proper management of their various social networking accounts; for an error here or a slip-up there could easily cost us immensely in today’s world that is just a click away from revelation.
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