March 2000 Issue  Volume 1  Number 2

Book Review

Captured by the Net: An Internet Guide for Blind Users, by Olga Espinola, National Braille Press, 1999; available in braille, print, cassette, and computer disk for $19.99.

If you happen to read the disclaimer in the first chapter of this book that it is "not a tutorial," you will be far more satisfied with Captured by the Net than if you turn to it for how-to instructions. If you want to have a general understanding of the Internet—its history, magnitude, and the tools required to access what it has to offer—this book is for you.

Get All the Facts

Captured by the Net is thorough and detailed, providing organized information on every aspect of the Internet and the World Wide Web, from sending a simple E-mail to researching a major project. Concepts are presented simply (and sometimes repetitively) in myriad mini sections divided into seven chapters, adding up to a clear picture of how the Internet can be used and enjoyed by computer users who are visually impaired. You will learn about sending and receiving E-mail, the difference between shell accounts and PPP accounts, and the variety of software available to read E-mail or search the Web. Information is provided on news groups, search engines, general reference sources, and shopping.

Stroll Through the Internet

If you want a quick read with all the answers in one concise package, however, this book is not what you are looking for. The author rambles comfortably into her subject, sometimes describing more than once (albeit in a few different ways) the same basic piece of information.

Particularly in the earlier chapters, the book moves at a snail's pace at times, so the impatient reader might be heard to say, "So get to the point!"

The author does get to the point—and into her stride—in Chapters 5, 6, and 7. These latter chapters move along at a steady pace and are packed with useful information on the World Wide Web. Even the novice reader will understand something of the breadth and vastness of material available after studying these chapters and will find sound direction regarding the choice of browser and types of information to pursue.

Find Out More

Want to know how to join a news group or catalog your collection of musical CDs? You can find out in this book, too. Best of all, if there is something you do not understand, you can find out from this book where to go for answers.

At the back of the book is one of the best compilations of useful resources on the subject I have ever seen. The book would be well worth its price for these pages alone. Information about how to find products, Web sites, books, search engines, news groups, and more—nearly anything an Internet user who is visually impaired might want to locate—is probably listed in the resource sections at the end of Captured by the Net.

Let Yourself Be Captured

If you are the kind of reader who prefers to find "just the facts" and find them in a hurry, you will not immediately be captured by this book. Let yourself be. All the information you need is there—it just takes time to find it.

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