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A BIT of Thought and Language, revised and expanded

This BIT offers an excerpt from a foundational work of cognitive science—considered one of the most important and influential books ever published by the MIT Press—that outlines a theory of the development of specifically human higher mental functions.

A BIT of Raising the Stakes

Competitive video and computer game play is nothing new; what is new in the world of digital gaming is the emergence of professional computer game play. This BIT explores how a form of play becomes a sport, with professional players, agents, referees, leagues, tournaments, sponsorships, and spectators.

A BIT of Tomorrow's Energy

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. An invisible, tasteless, colorless gas, it can be converted to nonpolluting, zero-emission, renewable energy. In this BIT, Peter Hoffmann makes the case for hydrogen as the cornerstone of a new energy economy, offering a history of the technology from the nineteenth century to the present and introducing the concept of “hydricity.”

A BIT of Selfless Insight

During the past three decades, neurology researcher James Austin (author of Zen and the Brain) has been at the cutting edge of both Zen and neuroscience, constantly discovering new examples of how these two large fields each illuminate the other. In this BIT, Austin discusses how meditation trains our attention, reprogramming it toward subtle forms of awareness that are more openly mindful. He reveals many subtleties in our networks of attention.

A BIT of Architecture Depends

The architect and critic Jeremy Till offers a proposal for rescuing architects from themselves: a way to bridge the gap between what architecture actually is and what architects want it to be. In this BIT, Till discusses how to allow time into architecture, transcending false notions of eternity and the eternal now.

A BIT of Free Will as an Open Scientific Problem

Mark Balaguer argues that the question of libertarian free will reduces to a question about indeterminacy—in particular, to a straightforward empirical question about whether certain neural events in our heads are causally undetermined in a certain specific way. In this BIT, refuting arguments both for and against determinism, Balaguer shows that the question of whether human beings possess libertarian free will is a wide-open empirical question.

A BIT of Perplexities of Consciousness

What do we know about our inner life, our stream of conscious experience? In this BIT, Eric Schwitzgebel investigates some of our singularly inaccurate judgments about conscious experience. He considers unattended stimuli (does unremembered mean unexperienced?) and our visual experience when our eyes are closed.

A BIT of Democracy Despite Itself

Voters often make irrational decisions based on inaccurate and irrelevant information. Politicians are often inept, corrupt, or out of touch with the will of the people. This BIT examines how democracy can lead to successful outcomes even when the defining characteristic of democracy, elections, is flawed.

A BIT of The Language of New Media

This BIT offers an excerpt from a book that has shaped the study of new media. In The Language of New Media, Lev Manovich offered the field’s first systematic and rigorous theory. Here, Manovich considers the computer as illusion generator, addressing such questions as the “reality effect” of new media images and the comparative illusionism of new media, photography, film, and video.

A BIT of Patently Contestable

Late nineteenth-century Britain saw an extraordinary surge in patent disputes over the new technologies of electrical power, lighting, telephony, and radio, which played out in the twin tribunals of the courtroom and the press. In this BIT, Stathis Arapostathis and Graeme Gooday examine the persistent conflicts over inventorship in electrical invention in this period, analyzing disputes over who should be considered the “first and true inventor” of early electrical technologies.

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