If you've digested this chapter, you'll doubtless have concluded that, like most analogies, the one that equates digital raw with film negative isn't perfectfor one thing, raw capture doesn't offer the kind of exposure latitude we expect from negative film. But in a great many other respects, it holds true.
Both offer a means for capturing an unrendered image, providing a great deal of freedom in how you render that image post-capture. Both allow you to experiment and produce many different renderings of the same image, while leaving the actual capture unchanged.
In the next chapter, How Camera Raw Works, we'll look at some of the technological underpinnings of Camera Raw. If you're the impatient type who just wants to jump in with both feet, feel free to skip ahead to Chapter 4, Camera Raw Controls, where you'll learn what the various buttons and sliders do, and Chapter 5, Hands-On Camera Raw, where you'll learn to use them to interpret your images. But if you want to understand why these buttons and sliders work the way they do, and why you should use them rather than try to fix everything in Photoshop, it's worth setting aside part of a rainy afternoon to understanding just what Camera Raw actually does.