SCIENCES

How the Internet Happened: From Netscape to the iPhone

Liveright: Norton. Oct. 2018. 400p. notes. index. ISBN 9781631493072. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9781631493089. TECH
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OrangeReviewStarThe main takeaway in McCullough's first book is to value changing consumer expectations on the participatory web. He builds a detailed and highly insightful overview of the influencers and ideas that have shaped the everyday technologies we take for granted, showing how the Internet has infiltrated our homes and lives to the degree it is today. Covering developments between 1993 and 2008, McCullough draws from his oral history podcast and lived experiences to share stories about how everyday online terms were born, and how innovations such as virtual shopping carts and recommender systems evolved from developers striving to meet changing consumer expectations. Most surprising is the elaboration of simple, obvious ideas to solve consumer problems that gave rise to giants like eBay, Yahoo, Hotmail, or Paypal. McCullough's nonlinear, weblike organization of chapters keeps the narrative flowing but also makes one wish for a dashboard to maintain context.
VERDICT Tech enthusiasts and students of business, marketing, and ecommerce will benefit from the detailed chronicling of the early Internet days. Readers will delight in being reminded of long-forgotten platforms and in understanding how Internet evangelists, Wall Street, and the moneyed elite have shaped our online lives.
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