Virtual Unreality

Charles Seife. Viking, $26.95 (246p) ISBN 978-0-670-02608-1
Digital information, according to Seife in this informative book, influences our actions and alters public dialogue in very subtle and devious ways. Seife, a professor of journalism at New York University, defines virtual unreality as the state of “living in a world where the real and virtual are no longer completely disentangled,” as data from the Web affect every one of us in a constant, persistent, and unfiltered manner. He discusses Web schemes that can damage reputations, such as the infamous “sockpuppetry” strategy, using a false identity for deception and gathering information. Seife notes China’s masterful use of sockpuppetry to gather information on rivals, and the New York City police force’s efforts to create false identities on laptops to snare pedophiles and terrorists. Other issues covered are scam emails with bogus names asking for funds, photoshopped images of celebrities, and sinister Wall Street “pump-and-dump” schemes. Intense and incisive, Seife’s exposé of potent tricks on the mesmerizing, overpowering Internet makes us very wary about anything that cannot be verified with our own eyes. Agent, Katinka Matson and John Brockman, Brockman Inc. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/05/2014
Release date: 06/26/2014
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