Geeks: How Two Lost Boys Rode the Internet Out of Idaho
Author: Jon Katz
Jesse and Eric were geeks: suspicious of authority figures, proud of their status as outsiders, fervent in their belief in the positive power of technology. High school had been an unbearable experience and their small-town Idaho families had been torn apart by hard times. On the fringe of society, they had almost no social lives and little to look forward to. They spent every spare cent on their computers and every spare moment on-line. Nobody ever spoke of them, much less for them.
But then they met Jon Katz, a roving journalist who suggested that, in the age of geek impresario Bill Gates, Jesse and Eric had marketable skills that could get them out of Idaho and pave the way to a better life. So they bravely set out to conquer Chicago—geek style. Told with Katz’s trademark charm and sparkle, Geeks is a humorous, moving tale of triumph over adversity and self-acceptance that delivers two irresistible heroes for the digital age and reveals the very human face of technology.
While promoting his book Virtuous Reality, journalist Katz was introduced to the world of "geeks," those smart, technically savvy misfits who are ostracized by their high school peers. Katz wrote in his column on the slashdot.org Web site about the isolation, exclusion and maltreatment--from dirty looks to brutal beatings--such kids routinely face. Tens of thousands of anguished e-mails confirmed his story. One of the e-mailers was Jesse Dailey, a working-class 19-year-old trapped in rural Idaho, where he and his friend Eric Twilegar fixed computers for a living, and hacked and surfed the Web, convinced that they were losers and outcasts. Katz, also a writer for Wired and Rolling Stone, traveled to Idaho to meet the pair, intending to chronicle their lives. He wound up encouraging and sometimes assisting Jesse and Eric as they tried to improve their lives by moving to Chicago, where they sought better jobs and even considered applying to college. Sometimes intensely earnest, Katz cuts back and forth between Jesse and Eric's story and more general discussions of the geeks' condition. Over the course of the book, Jesse and Eric come to represent geeks' collective weaknesses and strengths. While the bulk of the book has broad social and educational implications (concerning the fate of bright kids who don't come from socially and educationally privileged backgrounds), it is a highly personal tale: Katz takes us inside the lives of these two young men, shows us their sense of isolation, their complete absorption in the cyberworld, their distrust of authority and institutions, and their attempts to negotiate an often hostile society. He breaks through the stereotype and humanizes this outcast group of young people. (Feb.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Katz writes that "Geeks is... a very human, almost classically American story about two plucky, brainy, rebellious outsider kids from a little godforsaken town who headed to the big city to make their fortunes." He began to write a book about geeks (nerds) after he got an unusually enthusiastic response to his Hotwired article "The Rise of the Geeks." But, as Margot Adler of NPR says, "it is about mentoringabout the willingness of one person to enter the life of another, someone temporarily needy, and offer a hand." From hundreds of e-mails, Katz chose to follow up on one from Jesse Dailey, a young man living in Caldwell, Idaho and doing computer repairs. This highly acclaimed and popular true story is uplifting and inspirational. Every student who doesn't think he has a chance should read Jesse's application letter to the University of Chicago. Every guidance counselor should read it, too! Jon Katz took an interest, communicated, encouraged, befriended; sometimes it only takes one person to make a difference. Not to be missed. YALSA has chosen Geeks as a Best Book, as has the New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age. KLIATT Codes: SA*Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2000, Random House/Broadway Books, 210p, 21cm, 99-043150, $12.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Rita M. Fontinha; Lib. Media Spec., Norwood H.S., Norwood, MA, March 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 2)
School Library Journal
YA-Katz sets out to explain geek culture by tracing the life stories of two 19 year olds from Caldwell, ID. The young men had no money, no family support, but they did have a riveting passion for computers. A year after graduating from high school, they were desperately seeking relief from their dead-end jobs. By chance, the author received a moving e-mail message from one of them and traveled to Idaho to meet them. This meeting is the start of the boys' journey and is the book's beginning. Early on, readers realize that the biggest roadblock to their success was the educational system and the intolerance of others toward those not following the traditional direction of society. Students will identify with the situation. Many will see themselves in much of this book and realize that they can survive-and flourish-in real life. Geeks is well written, thought provoking, and attitude changing. Readers may not agree with all of Katz's sermonizing, but they will agree that America needs ideas like his to serve as a catalyst for change and progress. Above all, Geeks will bring about much needed thinking and dialogue about the experience of going to high school and the price people have paid and are paying for being different. Students will enjoy Katz's argument that even if society does not acknowledge their varying needs, geeks will ultimately ascend.-Linda A. Vretos, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
The New York Times Book Review - Leonard
Katz's new book, however, is refreshingly brief. In Geeks he displays a deft reporter's touch...Katz's obvious empathy and love for his ''lost boys,'' his ability to see shades of his own troubled youth in their tough lives, gives his narrative a rich taste that makes it unlike other Net books.
Armed with nothing more than big brains and a bit of pluck, two misfit teens flee their stifling Idaho hometown for Chicago in this nonfiction work. An oddly touching page-turner about social outcasts using technology to wriggle free of dead-end lives.
Website Optimization: Speed, Search Engine and Conversion Rate Secrets
Author: Andrew B King
Remember when an optimized website was one that merely didn't take all day to appear? Times have changed. Today, website optimization can spell the difference between enterprise success and failure, and it takes a lot more know-how to achieve success.
This book is a comprehensive guide to the tips, techniques, secrets, standards, and methods of website optimization. From increasing site traffic to maximizing leads, from revving up responsiveness to increasing navigability, from prospect retention to closing more sales, the world of 21st century website optimization is explored, exemplified and explained.
Website Optimization combines the disciplines of online marketing and site performance tuning to attain the competitive advantage necessary on today's Web. You'll learn how to improve your online marketing with effective paid and natural search engine visibility strategies, strengthened lead creation and conversion to sales methods, and gold-standard ad copywriting guidelines. Plus, your increased site speed, reduced download footprint, improved reliability, and improved navigability will work synergistically with those marketing methods to optimize your site's total effectiveness.
In this book for business and IT managers, author Andrew King, president of Website Optimization, LLC, has assembled experts in several key specialties to teach you:
Search engine optimization -- addressing best (and worst) practices to improve search engine visibility, including step-by-step keyword optimization guidelines, category and tag cloud creation, and guerilla PR techniques to boost inbound links and improve rankings Pay-per-click optimization -- including ad copywritingguidelines, setting profit-driven goals, calculating and optimizing bids, landing page optimization, and campaign management tips Optimizing conversion rates -- increasing leads with site landing page guidelines, such as benefit-oriented copy, credibility-based design, value hierarchies, and tips on creating unique selling propositions and slogans Web performance tuning -- optimizing ways to use (X)HTML, CSS, and Ajax to increase speed, reduce your download footprint, and increase reliability Advanced tuning -- including client-side techniques such as on-demand content, progressive enhancement, and inline images to save HTTP requests. Plus server-side tips include improving parallelism, using cache control, browser sniffing, HTTP compression, and URL rewriting to remap links and preserve traffic Web metrics -- illustrating the best metrics and tools to gather details about visitors and measure web conversion and success rates. Covering both search marketing metrics and web performance measures including Pathloss and waterfall graphs
"Website Optimization" not only provides you with a strategy for success, it also offers specific techniques for you and your staff to follow. A profitable website needs to be well designed, current, highly responsive, and optimally persuasive if you're to attract prospects, convert them to buyers, and get them to come back for more. This book describes precisely what you need to accomplish to achieve all of those goals.
Table of Contents:
Pt. I Search Engine Marketing Optimization
1 Natural Search Engine Optimization 5
2 SEO Case Study: PhillyDentistry.com 44
3 Pay-per-Click Optimization 55
4 PPC Case Study: BodyGlove.com 103
5 Conversion Rate Optimization 111
Pt. II Web Performance Optimization
6 Web Page Optimization 155
7 CSS Optimization 186
8 Ajax Optimization 216
9 Advanced Web Performance Optimization 257
10 Website Optimization Metrics 297