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Melancholy Wedgwood (MIT Press, 2024) is an experimental biography of the ceramics entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood that reveals the tenuous relationship of eighteenth-century England to late-capitalist modernity. It traces the multiple strands in the life of the ceramic entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795) to propose an alternative view of eightee…
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What isn't counted doesn't count. And mainstream institutions systematically fail to account for feminicide, the gender-related killing of women and girls, including cisgender and transgender women. Against this failure, Counting Feminicide: Data Feminism in Action (MIT Press, 2024) brings to the fore the work of data activists across the Americas …
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Educational analytics tend toward aggregation, asking what a “normative” learner does. In The Left Hand of Data: Designing Education Data for Justice (MIT Press, 2024, open access at this link), educational researchers Matthew Berland and Antero Garcia start from a different assumption—that outliers are, and must be treated as, valued individuals. …
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What are the tactics needed for a world of platforms and algorithms? In Algorithms of Resistance: The Everyday Fight against Platform Power (MIT Press, 2024), Tiziano Bonini, Associate Professor in Sociology of Culture and Communication at the University of Siena, and Emiliano Treré, a Reader in Data Agency and Media Ecologies at Cardiff University…
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Listen to this interview of Lee McIntyre, Research Fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science (Boston University) and Senior Advisor for Public Trust in Science (Aspen Institute). We talk about his book The Scientific Attitude: Defending Science from Denial, Fraud, and Pseudoscience (MIT Press, 2019). Lee McIntyre : "Scientists have…
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How games are built on the foundations of rules, and how rules—of which there are only five kinds—really work. Board games to sports, digital games to party games, gambling to role-playing games. They all share one thing in common: rules. Indeed, rules are the one and only thing game scholars agree is central to games. But what, in fact, are rules?…
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The engaging memoir of a legendary president of Wellesley College known for authentic and open-hearted leadership, who drove innovation with power and love. The Claims of Life: A Memoir (The MIT Press, 2023) traces the emergence of a young woman who set out believing she wasn’t particularly smart but went on to meet multiple tests of leadership in …
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In Dark Star: A New History of the Space Shuttle (MIT Press, 2023), Dr. Matthew Hersch challenges the existing narrative of the most significant human space program of the last 50 years, NASA's space shuttle. He begins with the origins of the space shuttle: a century-long effort to develop a low-cost, reusable, rocket-powered airplane to militarize…
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The fascinating, untold story of how the Chinese language overcame unparalleled challenges and revolutionized the world of computing. A standard QWERTY keyboard has a few dozen keys. How can Chinese—a language with tens of thousands of characters and no alphabet—be input on such a device? In The Chinese Computer: A Global History of the Information…
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Listen to this interview of Brandon Brown, Professor of Physics at the University of San Francisco. We talk about factoring in both message-sender and -receiver to your writing for STEM. Brown is the author of Sharing Our Science: How to Write and Speak STEM (MIT Press, 2023). Brandon Brown : "I've seen so many different scientists and communicator…
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How abstract design decisions in 2D platform games create rich worlds of meaning for players. Since the 1980s, 2D platform games have captivated their audiences. Whether the player scrambles up the ladders in Donkey Kong or leaps atop an impossibly tall pipe in Super Mario Bros., this deceptively simple visual language has persisted in our cultural…
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Kalpavigyan—science fiction written to excite Bengali speakers about science, as well as to persuade them to evolve beyond the limitations of religion, caste, and class—became popular in the early years of the twentieth century. Translated into English for the first time, in The Inhumans and Other Stories (MIT Press, 2024) you'll discover The Inhum…
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Originally published in 2019, Benjamin Pauli’s book, Flint Fights Back offers lasting insights into one of the most important drinking water-caused public health crises of American history. In this 2024 interview Pauli shares some explanations from the book but also offers his insights, in this year of the 10th anniversary of the Flint Water Crisis…
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Infographics and data visualization are ubiquitous in our everyday media diet, particularly in news—in print newspapers, on television news, and online. It has been argued that infographics are changing what it means to be literate in the twenty-first century—and even that they harmonize uniquely with human cognition. In this first serious explorat…
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What if our goal had not been to land on Mars, but in pure consciousness? The experience of pure consciousness—what does it look like? What is the essence of human consciousness? In The Elephant and the Blind. The Experience of Pure Consciousness: Philosophy, Science, and 500+ Experiential Reports (MIT Press, 2024)," influential philosopher Thomas …
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In Visions of a Digital Nation: Market and Monopoly in British Telecommunications (MIT Press, 2024), Jacob Ward explains why the privatization of British Telecom signaled a pivotal moment in the rise of neoliberalism, and how it was shaped by the longer development and digitalization of Britain’s telecommunications infrastructure. When Margaret Tha…
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C. S. Sherrington said “All the brain can do is to move things". The Brain in Motion: From Microcircuits to Global Brain Function (MIT Press, 2023) shows how much the brain can do "just" by moving things. It gives an amazing overview of the large variety of motor behaviors and the cellular basis of them. It reveals how motor circuits provide the un…
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We speak with Richard Detweiler about his new book The Evidence Liberal Arts Needs: Lives of Consequence, Inquiry and Accomplishment (MIT Press, 2021). This multi-year project, which entailed interviews with a national sample of over 1,000 college graduates aged 25-64, provides convincing evidence of the benefits the liberal arts in enabling indivi…
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In this first environmental history of Italian fascism, Marco Armiero, Roberta Biasillo, and Wilko Graf von Hardenberg reveal that nature and fascist rhetoric are inextricable. Mussolini's Nature explores fascist political ecologies, or rather the practices and narratives through which the regime constructed imaginary and material ecologies functio…
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The effort to destroy facts and make America ungovernable didn't come out of nowhere. It is the culmination of seventy years of strategic denialism. In On Disinformation: How to Fight for Truth and Protect Democracy (MIT Press, 2023), Lee McIntyre shows how the war on facts began, and how ordinary citizens can fight back against the scourge of disi…
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Why games are still niche and not mainstream, and how journalism can help them gain cultural credibility. Mainstreaming and Game Journalism (MIT Press, 2023) addresses both the history and current practice of game journalism, along with the roles writers and industry play in conveying that the medium is a “mainstream” form of entertainment. Through…
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A provocative investigation of the future of photography and human perception in the age of AI. We are constantly photographing and being photographed while feeding machine learning databases with our data, which in turn is used to generate new images. Analyzing the transformation of photography by computation—and the transformation of human percep…
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Based on twelve years of anthropological exploration, Vincent Ialenti'sDeep Time Reckoning: How Future Thinking Can Help Earth Now (MIT Press, 2020) is an engaging guide on deep time learning to reorient our understanding of time and space. As each chapter begins with creative vignettes to capture the reader's imagination and empathy and concludes …
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Today I talked to Nettrice R. Gaskins about Techno-Vernacular Creativity and Innovation: Culturally Relevant Making Inside and Outside of the Classroom (MIT Press, 2021). The growing maker movement in education has become an integral part of both STEM and STEAM learning, tapping into the natural DIY inclinations of creative people as well as the ed…
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Predictive algorithms are changing the world – that is the claim of Christopher E. Mason who has co-authored (with Igor Tulchinsky) the book The Age of Prediction: Algorithms, AI, and the Shifting Shadows of Risk (MIT Press, 2023). Listen to him in conversation with Owen Bennett Jones. Owen Bennett-Jones is a freelance journalist and writer. A form…
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From entry-level to the boardroom, what works to create large-scale change in organizations looking to accelerate their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and reap financial benefits. Every leader endeavors to invest in and manage their key asset--talent--to be as high-performing as possible. Like a winning stock, successful diversity, equity…
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Infrastructure is essential to defining how the public functions, yet there is little public knowledge regarding why and how it became today's strongest global force over government and individual lives. Who should build and maintain infrastructures? How are they to be protected? And why are they all in such bad shape? In Lifelines of our Society: …
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Shortlisted for the 2023 Lumen Prize, Kat Mustatea's Voidopolis (MIT Press, 2023) is a hybrid digital artistic and literary project in the form of an augmented reality book, which retells Dante's Inferno as if it were set in pandemic-ravaged New York City. Voidopolis is a digital performance about loss and memory presented as an augmented reality (…
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In Archive Everything: Mapping the Everyday (MIT Press, 2016; paperback edition, 2023), Gabriella Giannachi traces the evolution of the archive into the apparatus through which we map the everyday. The archive, traditionally a body of documents or a site for the preservation of documents, changed over the centuries to encompass, often concurrently,…
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Under the direction of founding editor Joshua Glenn, the MIT Press’s Radium Age series is reissuing notable proto–science fiction stories from the underappreciated era between 1900 and 1935. In these forgotten classics, science fiction readers will discover the origins of enduring tropes like robots (berserk or benevolent), tyrannical supermen, dys…
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Constructing Student Mobility: How Universities Recruit Students and Shape Pathways between Berkeley and Seoul (MIT Press, 2023) challenges the popular image of the international student in the American imagination, an image of affluence, access, and privilege. In this provocative book, higher education scholar Stephanie Kim argues that universitie…
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An essay collection exploring the board game's relationship to the built environment, revealing the unexpected ways that play reflects perceptions of space. Board games harness the creation of entirely new worlds. From the medieval warlord to the modern urban planner, players are permitted to inhabit a staggering variety of roles and are prompted t…
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Our data-intensive world is here to stay, but does that come at the cost of our humanity in terms of autonomy, community, dignity, and equality? In We, the Data: Human Rights in the Digital Age (MIT Press, 2023), Wendy H. Wong argues that we cannot allow that to happen. Exploring the pervasiveness of data collection and tracking, Wong reminds us th…
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How the image collection, organized and made available for public consumption, came to define a key feature of contemporary visual culture. The origins of today’s kaleidoscopic digital visual culture are many. In Picture-Work: How Libraries, Museums, and Stock Agencies Launched a New Image Economy (MIT Press, 2023), Diana Kamin traces the sharing o…
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The first book-length scholarly treatment of Germany's largest conservation project, the Green Belt, Mnemonic Ecologies: Memory and Nature Conservation along the Former Iron Curtain (MIT Press, 2023) by Dr. Sonja Pieck presents a new interdisciplinary approach: that effective restoration and conservation of wounded land must merge ecology with memo…
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Beloved dogs and cats. Magnificent horses and mountain gorillas. Curious chickens. What do we actually do to protect animals from harm—and is it enough? This engaging book provides a unique and eye-opening exploration of the world of animal protection as people defend diverse animals from injustice and cruelty. From the streets of major US cities t…
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For too long, our system of higher education has been defined by scarcity: scarcity in enrollment, scarcity in instruction, and scarcity in credentials. In addition to failing students professionally, this system has exacerbated social injustice and socioeconomic stratification across the globe. In The Abundant University, Michael D. Smith argues t…
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How marketers learned to dream of optimization and speak in the idiom of management science well before the widespread use of the Internet. Algorithms, data extraction, digital marketers monetizing "eyeballs": these all seem like such recent features of our lives. And yet, Lee McGuigan tells us in this eye-opening book, digital advertising was well…
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Today, conspiracy theories run rampant, attacks on facts have become commonplace, and systemic inequities are on the rise as individual and collective agency unravels. The Alienation of Fact: Digital Educational Privatization, AI, and the False Promise of Bodies and Numbers (MIT Press, 2022) explains the educational, technological, and ideological …
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An intimate collection of portraits of internationally renowned scientists and Nobel Prize winners, paired with interviews and personal stories. What makes a brilliant scientist? Who are the people behind the greatest discoveries of our time? Connecting art and science, photographer Herlinde Koelbl seeks the answers in this English translation of t…
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Ownership of Knowledge: Beyond Intellectual Property (MIT Press, 2023) provides a framework for knowledge ownership that challenges the mechanisms of inequality in modern society. Scholars of science, technology, medicine, and law have all tended to emphasize knowledge as the sum of human understanding, and its ownership as possession by law. Break…
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A concise overview of fertility technology—its history, practical applications, and ethical and social implications around the world. In the late 1850s, a physician in New York City used a syringe and glass tube to inject half a drop of sperm into a woman’s uterus, marking the first recorded instance of artificial insemination. From that day forwar…
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For almost two decades, the citizens of Western Mexico have called for a cleanup of the Santiago River, a water source so polluted it emanates an overwhelming acidic stench. Toxic clouds of foam lift off the river in a strong wind. In Sewer of Progress: Corporations, Institutionalized Corruption, and the Struggle for the Santiago River (MIT Press, …
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An intimate account of rural New England families living on the edge of homelessness, as well as the practices and policies of care that fail them. Families on the Edge: Experiences of Homelessness and Care in Rural New England (MIT Press, 2023) is an ethnographic portrait of families in rural and small-town New England who are often undercut by th…
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What do computers, cells, and brains have in common? Computers are electronic devices designed by humans; cells are biological entities crafted by evolution; brains are the containers and creators of our minds. But all are, in one way or another, information-processing devices. The power of the human brain is, so far, unequaled by any existing mach…
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The Nintendo Wii, introduced in 2006, helped usher in a moment of retro-reinvention in video game play. This hugely popular console system, codenamed Revolution during development, signaled a turn away from fully immersive, time-consuming MMORPGs or forty-hour FPS games and back toward family fun in the living room. Players using the wireless motio…
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Picture Research: The Work of Intermediation from Pre-Photography to Post-Digitization (MIT Press, 2023) focuses on how pictures were saved, stored, and searched for in a time before scanners, servers, and search engines, and describes the dramatic difference it made when images became scannable, searchable, and distributable via the internet. Whil…
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Why does reason matter, if (as many people seem to think) in the end everything comes down to blind faith or gut instinct? Why not just go with what you believe even if it contradicts the evidence? Why bother with rational explanation when name-calling, manipulation, and force are so much more effective in our current cultural and political landsca…
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What links conscious experience of pain, joy, color, and smell to bioelectrical activity in the brain? How can anything physical give rise to nonphysical, subjective, conscious states? Christof Koch has devoted much of his career to bridging the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the physics of the brain and phenomenal experience. Consciousness: Co…
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Like it or not, knowing how to make use of online tools without being overloaded with too much information is an essential ingredient to personal success in the twenty-first century. But how can we use digital media so that they make us empowered participants rather than passive receivers, grounded, well-rounded people rather than multitasking bask…
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