What Would You Like Policy-Makers to Know About Computing? Brian Kernighan's Solution

Andy Oram | O'Reilly Radar | December 29, 2011

Computer programmers roll their eyes when they hear about anti-circumvention bans, SOPA, Pakistani disruption of the DNS to carry out censorship, and similar incursions of government officials into the domain that computer nerds claim as their own. One often hears technologists say, "If those policy-makers knew a thing or two about the Internet..." Well, renowned Unix researcher Brian W. Kernighan has been working for years to see that they do, and now he has written a book called D is for Digital: What a well-informed person ought to know about computers and communications to offer his take on the basics everyone should know.

I got to know Brian when he contributed a chapter to O'Reilly's book Beautiful Code, and he recently sent me a copy of D is for Digital. In Kernighan's signature crystalline style, it lays out an array of topics from what bits are to how digital signatures work and the risks of Infrastructure as a Service cloud computing...