Canadian Journal of Law and Technology


book review, information technology


In the early 1990s, I purchased my first stereo with a CD player. I found myself trapped in a conversation with someone who tried to convince me that it was utter folly not to buy a turntable, because CD technology simply couldn’t replicate the ‘‘warmth’’ of vinyl. Had I only Handa’s book to hand, I could have provided a straight- forward and understandable explanation for why my records were well enough left in my parents’ basement; although ‘‘digitization . . . fails to record all characteristics of analog data, even at the highest finite sampling rate . . . Complete pinpoint accuracy is not necessary, [because] we ‘hear’ over the gaps’’. This explanation was not likely to win the argument with that particular person, but nonetheless, it is completely apt.

Handa’s 152-page book does exactly what it sets out to do, provide ‘‘a discussion of technology beginning with the most basic concepts’’. It includes sections (and this summary is not comprehensive) on the fundamen- tals underlying modern technology (analog world, digital world), computers (hardware, software), communications networks (transmission modes, speed, technologies, the nature of content, its production and distribution), the Internet (ISPs, e-mail, WWW, file sharing, domains, e- commerce, and geographical screening), standards (development, benefits and pitfalls of) and cryptography and security.