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If Mark’s going to provide us with an article on CE’s environmentally-responsible practices, the least I can do is talk about a new book written by Don Rittner and published by Peachpit Press. Many of you may know Don as the coordinator of the MUG News Service, the free service that provides gobs of information (including TidBITS) to Macintosh user groups around the world. He’s also an author and has brought his interests in the electronic world and the environment together in his book, "EcoLinking: Everyone’s guide to online environmental information."

EcoLinking has two basic parts. First, a treasure trove of valuable reference information on the electronic world, and second comes the specific environmental information. I order the parts of the book in this way because I am not currently looking for environmental information, although I may start if the water shortage in the Pacific Northwest gets worse. Poor fish… 🙁

I am interested in and knowledgeable about the electronic world, though, and was curious to see what Don wrote about the various networks, especially since I’d sent him a bunch of the standard postings about Usenet when he began this book. I’m pleased to say that his book that will be of immense use to anyone looking for concise, clearly presented information and references to electronic services. Part I of the book quickly covers the hardware and software aspects of getting online, and Part II, III, and IV discuss the global networks (Internet, BITNET, Usenet, Fidonet), bulletin board systems, and commercial services. The final section talks more generally about huge databases of useful information, some of it online, some it accessible via CD-ROM.

Of course, the main thrust of the book is to provide pointers to environmentally-oriented information. Not being an environmental expert, I can’t say how complete Don’s information is, but he’s assembled an impressive list. My feeling from looking through the numerous listings is that if you can’t find something you need directly from a source mentioned in the book, one of the people mentioned will be able to guide you to the correct data. Interspersed among the information listings of environmental sources and network references are a number of fascinating case studies on how people use online environmental information, from teaching geology to thwarting international recycling fraud.

Anyone interested in figuring out how to use the Internet or wondering what the WELL is will find many of their questions answered. As Don says early on in EcoLinking, "Throughout the book, the focus is on how to get online and on what types of information and people you can find online." Of course, much of this information is in a state of constant flux, so contact numbers and addresses may change, although Peachpit has been good about updating their books when the information is no longer applicable. EcoLinking retails for $18.95, but I feel that it’s a must read for those trying to learn about the networks. Highly recommended.

Peachpit Press — 800/283-9444 — 510/548-4393

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