Sara Baase's A Gift of Fire

Reviewed by Danny Yee

title: A Gift of Fire
: Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues in Computing
by: Sara Baase
publisher: Prentice Hall 1997
other: 382 pages, references, index

In A Gift of Fire Sara Baase attempts to cover the full range of social, legal, and ethical issues raised by computing: chapters cover privacy, wiretapping and encryption, reliability and risks, intellectual property, censorship, crime, work, broader social issues, and professional ethics. With lists of exercises, assignments, class activities, and reading lists (as well as extensive references) at the end of each chapter, A Gift of Fire is clearly intended for use as a textbook, but it would be just as usable outside the classroom.

Much is omitted, understandably, but the breadth of coverage is still impressive and there is a good selection of examples. Baase doesn't shy from controversial topics, but manages to provide a balance between different views, often suggesting them as subjects for classroom activities. Key points are well brought out and explained, and the layout is clear and effective. A Gift of Fire is, all up, a most impressive book.

Danny Yee maintains the Book Review server. Copyright (c) 1997 Danny Yee.