The Internet Handbook for Writers, Researchers, and Journalists

Article excerpt

The Internet Handbook for Writers, Researchers, and Journalists. Mary McGuire, Linda Stilborne, Melinda McAdams, and Laurel Hyatt. New York: Guilford Press, 1997. 242 pp. $39.95 hbk. $19.95 pbk.

Of the recent plethora of guide books to the Internet and all its offerings, The Internet Handbookfor Writers, Researchers, and Journalists is one of the more intelligent, useful, and visionary. It is probably the best of the recently published Internet reference books because it consistently bridges technical information and conceptual context which helps readers learn not only about electronic information sources and strategies, but how those sources and strategies connect to larger issues and concerns of professional researchers and writers.

The orientation of the text is not to train future journalists heading off to specific occupations, but to prepare the broad, "information professional" to enter and intelligently negotiate the robust and rapidly evolving electronic environment. The authors note that this environment has been dominated by technical developments that have spawned an electronic junk drawer where various actors-commercial, government, nonprofit, individual-have tossed in spare change and rare coins, costume jewelry and precious gems.

The trend in Internet development is shifting, however, away from technical skills to create electronic resources to practical ability to cull the gems from the slag and to develop content and services capable of attracting and holding users. This trend is posing challenges and opening up new opportunities for those who are most skilled and creative at negotiating and developing materials for the Net.

The authors assume that readers may know nothing about the Internet and include chapters that range from the basics of logging on to more advanced concerns of producing Web pages and coping with information overload. The heart of the book, however, is devoted to describing and explaining the principal information resources-search engines, databases, listservs, newsgroups, Web pages-on the Net, with a particular emphasis on materials of interest to journalists and researchers. …