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Digital Expectations

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 16:39:03 +0000

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A Generation at Risk and Why We’re Worrying about the Wrong Things

It’s a familiar narrative in both real life and fiction, from news reports to television storylines: a young person is bullied online, or targeted by an online predator, or exposed to sexually explicit content. The consequences are bleak; the young person is shunned, suicidal, psychologically ruined. In this book, Jacqueline Ryan Vickery argues that there are other urgent concerns about young people’s online experiences besides porn, predators, and peers. We need to turn our attention to inequitable opportunities for participation in a digital culture. Technical and material obstacles prevent low-income and other marginalized young people from the positive, community-building, and creative experiences that are possible online.

Vickery explains that cautionary tales about online risk have shaped the way we think about technology and youth. She analyzes the discourses of risk in popular culture, journalism, and policy, and finds that harm-driven expectations, based a privileged perception of risk, enact control over technology. Opportunity-driven expectations, on the other hand, based on evidence and lived experience, produce discourses that acknowledge the practices and agency of young people rather than seeing them as passive victims who need to be protected.

Vickery first addresses how the discourses of risk regulate and control technology, then turns to the online practices of youth at a low-income, minority-majority Texas high school. She considers the participation gap and the need for schools to teach digital literacies, privacy, and different online learning ecologies. Finally, she shows that opportunity-driven expectations can guide young people’s online experiences in ways that balance protection and agency.

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Tap

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 15:29:02 +0000

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Forces Shaping the Mobile Economy

Let’s say you’re out of something, or you need something, or you want something. Then, seemingly out of the blue, an ad or an offer pops up on your phone to say that very thing is now available at the next store on your right. Did the store read your mind? No. Rather, it drew on data you had tapped into your phone. In Tap, Anindya Ghose welcomes us to the mobile marketing revolution of smartphones, smarter companies, value-seeking consumers, and personalized, curated offers. Drawing on his extensive research in the United States, Europe and Asia, and a variety of real-world examples from different industries around the globe, Ghose investigates what consumers do with their smartphones and how businesses can use knowledge of this data trail to improve their products and services.

Two-way street interaction between consumers and firms, Ghose says, creates a feeling of intimacy and connection that benefits both customers and businesses. Research shows that people are willing to exchange their information for relevant value. But companies should strike a balance; the smartphone should play the role of a personal concierge, not a stalker.

Ghose explains the best way to harness the power of mobile data and deliver value to consumers. He identifies nine forces that drive purchasing decisions—among them saliency, crowdedness, trajectory, and weather—and examines these forces separately and in combination, drawing on consumers’ responses in the real world. Tap offers a vivid illustration of the future of mobile.

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Frankenstein

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 16:57:00 +0000

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Annotated for Scientists, Engineers, and Creators of All Kinds

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has endured in the popular imagination for two hundred years. Begun as a ghost story by an intellectually and socially precocious eighteen-year-old author during a cold and rainy summer on the shores of Lake Geneva, the dramatic tale of Victor Frankenstein and his stitched-together creature can been read as the ultimate parable of scientific hubris. Victor, “the modern Prometheus,” tried to do what he perhaps should have left to Nature: create life. Although the novel is most often discussed in literary-historical terms—as a seminal example of romanticism or as a groundbreaking early work of science fiction—Mary Shelley was keenly aware of contemporary scientific developments and incorporated them into her story. In our era of synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, robotics, and climate engineering, this edition of Frankenstein will resonate forcefully for readers with a background or interest in science and engineering, and anyone intrigued by the fundamental questions of creativity and responsibility.

This edition of Frankenstein pairs the original 1818 version of the manuscript—meticulously line-edited and amended by Charles E. Robinson, one of the world’s preeminent authorities on the text—with annotations and essays by leading scholars exploring the social and ethical aspects of scientific creativity raised by this remarkable story. The result is a unique and accessible edition of one of the most thought-provoking and influential novels ever written.

Essays by
Elizabeth Bear, Cory Doctorow, Heather E. Douglas, Josephine Johnson, Kate MacCord, Jane Maienschein, Anne K. Mellor, Alfred Nordman

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Heteromation, and Other Stories of Computing and Capitalism

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 16:39:04 +0000

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The computerization of the economy—and everyday life—has transformed the division of labor between humans and machines, shifting many people to work that is hidden, poorly compensated, or accepted as part of being a “user” of digital technology. Through our clicks and swipes, logins and profiles, emails and posts, we are, more or less willingly, participating in digital activities that yield economic value to others but little or no return to us. Hamid Ekbia and Bonnie Nardi call this kind of participation—the extraction of economic value from low-cost or free labor in computer-mediated networks—“heteromation.” In this book, they explore the social and technological processes through which economic value is etracted from digitally mediated work, the nature of the value created, and what prompts people to participate in the process.

Arguing that heteromation is a new logic of capital accumulation, Ekbia and Nardi consider different kinds of heteromated labor: communicative labor, seen in user-generated content on social media; cognitive labor, including microwork and self-service; creative labor, from gaming environments to literary productions; emotional labor, often hidden within paid jobs; and organizing labor, effective collaborative groups such as citizen scientists. Ekbia and Nardi then offer a utopian vision: heteromation refigured to bring end users more fully into the prosperity of capitalism.

Contributors



Big Hunger

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 16:29:11 +0000

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Why the Richest Nation on Earth Still Struggles with Food Insecurity

Food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens were created in response to an economic emergency: the closing of plants and the loss of manufacturing jobs in the 1980s. They were meant to be a stopgap measure to help newly unemployed union workers—but the jobs never came back, recession caused further economic damage, government cutbacks in human services increased the number of people in need, and the “emergency food system” became an industry. In Big Hunger, Andrew Fisher takes a critical look at the business of hunger and offers a new vision for the anti-hunger movement.

From one perspective, anti-hunger leaders have been extraordinarily effective. Food charity is embedded in American civil society, and federal food programs have remained intact while other anti-poverty programs have been eliminated or slashed. But by focusing on food charity in isolation, and by institutionalizing the voluntary efforts of the private sector, Fisher argues, they have neglected to address the root causes of hunger—income inequality, public health, and economic decline. Reliant on corporate donations, anti-hunger advocates have failed to hold business accountable for off-shoring jobs, cutting benefits, and resisting minimum wage increases. They have become part of a “hunger industrial complex” that seems as self-perpetuating as the more famous military industrial complex.

Fisher describes the ways that some of the anti-hunger community has adopted a broader approach to food insecurity, emphasizing income inequality, sustainable food systems, and nutrition. He showcases the work of several innovative organizations that are experimenting with such initiatives as policy advocacy, community development, and alliances with workers. It is only through approaches like these that we can hope to end hunger, not just manage it.

Contributors



Is the Universe a Hologram?

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 16:29:00 +0000

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And Other Conversations with Leading Scientists

Science today is more a process of collaboration than moments of individual “eurekas.” This book recreates that kind of synergy by offering a series of interconnected dialogues with leading scientists who are asked to reflect on key questions and concepts about the physical world, technology, and the mind. These thinkers offer both specific observations and broader comments about the intellectual traditions that inform these questions; doing so, they reveal a rich seam of interacting ideas.

The persistent paradox of our era is that in a world of unprecedented access to information, many of the most important questions remain unsolved. These conversations (conducted by a veteran science writer, Adolfo Plasencia) reflect this, with scientists addressing such issues as intelligence, consciousness, global warming, energy, technology, matter, the possibility of another earth, changing the past, and even the philosophical curveball, “is the universe a hologram?”

The dialogues discuss such fascinating aspects of the physical world as the function of the quantum bit, the primordial cosmology of the universe, and the wisdom of hewn stones. They offer optimistic but reasoned views of technology, considering convergence culture, algorithms, “Beauty ≠ Truth,” the hacker ethic, AI, and other topics. And they offer perspectives from a range of disciplines on intelligence, discussing subjects that include the neurophysiology of the brain, affective computing, collaborative innovation, and the wisdom of crowds.

Conversations with
Hal Abelson, Ricardo Baeza-Yates, John Perry Barlow, Javier Benedicto, José Bernabeu, Michail Bletsas, Jose M. Carmena, David Casacuberta, Yung Ho Chang, Ignacio Cirac, Gianluigi Colalucci, Avelino Corma, Bernardo Cuenca Grau, Javier Echeverria Ezponda, Jose Hernandez-Orallo, Hiroshi Ishii, Pablo Jarillo-Herrero, Yung Ho Chang, Henry Jenkins, Anne Margulies, Mario J. Molina, Tim O’Reilly, John Ochsendorf, Paul Osterman, AlvaroPascual-Leone, Rosalind W. Picard, Howard Rheingold, Alejandro W. Rodriguez-Wong, Israel Ruiz, Sara Seager, Richard Stallman, Antonio Torralba, Bebo White, José Marîa Yturralde

Contributors
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Another Morocco

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 16:29:00 +0000

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Selected Stories

 

Tangier is a possessed city, haunted by spirits of different faiths. When we have literature in our blood, in our souls, it’s impossible not to be visited by them. To stay in Tangier is to succumb to the charm of these spirits. They’re everywhere. And if every once in a while we are surprised to find ourselves eating more than we need to, it’s because they are in us. We see the city with their eyes. We love it for them. They live because of us.—from Another Morocco


In 2006, Abdellah Taïa returned to his native Morocco to promote the Moroccan release of his second book, Le rouge du tarbouche (The red of the fez). During this book tour, he was interviewed by a reporter for the French-Arab journal Tel Quel, who was intrigued by the themes of homosexuality she saw in his writing. Taïa, who had not publically come out and feared the repercussions doing so would have on his family and himself in a country where homosexuality continues to be outlawed, nevertheless consented to the interview and subsequent profile, “Homosexuel envers et contre tous” (Homosexual against all odds). This interview made him the first openly gay writer to be published in Morocco.

Another Morocco collects short stories from Taïa’s first two books, Mon Maroc (My Morocco) and Le rouge du tarbouche, both published prior to this pivotal moment. In these stories, we see a young author testing the porousness of boundaries, pressuring the terms of private and public identity, and flirting with strategies of revelation and concealment. The narratives draw both from the author’s own experience and from a literary imagination nourished by the fiction of Paul Bowles and Mohammed Choukri; the theory of Jean Starobinski; films from India, Egypt, and Hollywood; and stories told to him by the resilient women in his family in moments of intimacy and calm. Caught between cultures, Taïa smuggles images like treasured contraband between these influences, eliciting excitement and discomfort in equal measure. These are tales of life in a working-class Moroccan family, of a maturing writer’s often fraught relationship with language and community, and of the many cities and works that have inspired him.

 

Contributors
Pre-pub available: 
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Voicetracks

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 16:39:02 +0000

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Voice, Media, and Media Arts

In Voicetracks, Norie Neumark tracks voice across its various registers—across the affective and the symbolic, the literal and the metaphorical. Neumark considers both traditional scholarly concerns and the resonances of voice for the listener who responds to the calls of creative works. She engages with the affects, aesthetics, and ethics of voice in the new materialist (or post-humanist) turn while also engaging with the thinking that happens in the making of art. She does this through the lens of her encounters with creative works in media and the arts, bringing into conversation “situated knowledge” and “carnal knowledge” (in this sense, the recognition of the body in knowledge) with theoretical and critical discourses around voice, sound, media, and the arts.

Developing the figure “voicetrack,” Neumark evokes both the literal—the actual voices within the works she examines—and the metaphorical—a new materialist exploration of voice encompassing human, animal, thing, and assemblages. She examines artists working with animal sounds and voices; voices of place, placed voices in installation works; voices of technology; and “unvoicing,” disturbances in the image/voice relationship and in the idea of what voice is. Finally, she considers ethics and politics, and describes how her own work has shaped her understandings and apprehensions of voice.

Contributors



Elastic Architecture

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 16:09:02 +0000

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Frederick Kiesler and Design Research in the First Age of Robotic Culture

In 1960, the renowned architect Philip Johnson championed Frederick Kiesler, calling him “the greatest non-building architect of our time.” Kiesler’s ideas were difficult to construct, but as Johnson believed, “enormous” and “profound.” Kiesler (1890–1965) went against the grain of the accepted modern style, rejecting rectilinear glass and steel in favor of more organic forms and flexible structures that could respond to the ever-changing needs of the body in motion.

In Elastic Architecture, Stephen Phillips offers the first in-depth exploration of Kiesler’s innovative and multidisciplinary research and design practice. Phillips argues that Kiesler established a new career trajectory for architects not as master builders, but as research practitioners whose innovative means and methods could advance alternative and speculative architecture. Indeed, Kiesler’s own career was the ultimate uncompromising model of a research-based practice.

Exploring Kiesler’s formative relationships with the European avant-garde, Phillips shows how Kiesler found inspiration in the plastic arts, experimental theater, early animation, and automatons to develop and refine his spatial concept of the Endless. Moving from Europe to New York in the 1920s, Kiesler applied these radical Dadaist, constructivist, and surrealist practices to his urban display projects, which included shop windows for Saks Fifth Avenue. After launching his innovative Design Correlation Laboratory at Columbia and Yale, Kiesler went on to invent new houses, theaters, and galleries that were meant to move, shift, and adapt to evolutionary changes occurring within the natural and built environment.

As Phillips demonstrates vividly, although many of Kiesler’s designs remained unbuilt, his ideas proved influential to later generations of architects and speculative artists internationally, including Archigram, Greg Lynn, UNStudio, and Olafur Eliasson.

Contributors



The Stuff of Bits

Fri, 02 Sep 2016 16:39:05 +0000

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An Essay on the Materialities of Information

The central topic of The Stuff of Bits is the materialities of information. This term often brings to mind the materiality of information infrastructures— server farms, air conditioning, fiber optic cable routes, and distributed storage. By contrast, “The Stuff of Bits” focuses on digital information itself as something with which we—as designers, as users, as citizens, as customers, and as human beings—have a material engagement.

The book is anchored by four case studies—one on computer emulation, one on spreadsheets, one on databases, and one on network architectures—organized in terms of the scopes of engagement. Through these cases, a common analytic strategy is to identify not just their materiality but their materialities, that is, not just the brute fact of their material forms but the specific material properties that they display and the consequences of those properties —properties like granularity, transparency, directness, weight, and malleability. The idea is that, in the realm of the digital, everything may be reduced to “bits” but those bits are not all of equal significance; particular encodings reflect particular needs and expectations of change, adaptation, and evolution.

Contributors