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A Round-Up of 'Net Guides for Women

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What is it about the World Wide Web that drives otherwise perfectly professional adult women to lapse into full-scale alternababble?

”Girls,” ”grrls,” ”chicks,” ”babes,” and the rest—oh, grow up! Cyberspace lit is so dense with this juvenile jargon, I might be forgiven for accidentally buying Tech Girl’s Internet Adventures (IDG, $19.99), believing it intended for your average twentysomething, instead of (as I learned upon closer inspection) actual children.

Not that, given my general Web cluelessness, the book proved so unhelpful, with its neato listings of women’s-history sites and fourth-grade-level pointers for getting online. But on the whole, I felt far less foolish consulting Cybergrrl! A Woman’s Guide to the World Wide Web, by Aliza Sherman (Ballantine, $12). The fierce-sounding title belies a sensible primer that—stuffed as it is with tips on personal networking and E-mail safety—emphasizes the medium’s boundless communication capabilities. You know how we gals love to yak.

And shop. Carla Sinclair’s Net Chick: A Smart-Girl Guide to the Wired World (Henry Holt, $19.95) sees the Web as a mall full of ”lavish parlors”—and her own funky, graphics-laden book is like a cutting-edge food court. Most of these ”hot sites,” newsgroups, and interviews share the undergrounder je ne sais quoi of Sinclair’s hip ‘zine bOING bOING. (And her enthusiastic endorsement of erotica sites shows this is definitely grrl, not girl, material.)

Far less trippy is Wired Women: Gender and New Realities in Cyberspace (Seal, $16), a rather stiff collection of footnote-studded essays edited by Lynn Cherny and Elizabeth Reba Weise. If you have the time for a detailed deconstruction of Emily Post’s etiquette versus ”Netiquette,” or the odd woolgathering about male versus female ”loneliness,” then this is your tome.

But I much preferred Stacy Horn’s Cyberville: Clicks, Culture, and the Creation of an Online Town (Warner, $23), which I picked up only because I mistook the subtitle for Chicks, Culture, and the Creation of an Online Town. Myopia was my friend this time, landing me square in the lap of Horn’s quirky online salon Echo, whose users give themselves names like Jane Doe, Poststructuralist Ho.

Right on, Syster.

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