Understanding the Digital World: What You Need to Know about Computers, the Internet, Privacy and Security

Author: Brian Kernighan, professor of computer science

Publisher: Princeton University Press, January 2017

Computers are everywhere. Some of them are highly visible, in laptops, tablets, cellphones 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.

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. 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.

Text and book cover courtesy of the publisher

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