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August 2017

  • For his book Is the Universe a Hologram? Scientists Answer the Most Provocative Questions, science writer Adolfo Plasencia spoke to more than thirty scientists, technologists, thinkers, and artists about how they go about their work, and where their various disciplines were heading. The breadth of his project, in turn, got us thinking about the challenges and thrills of speaking with so many great minds.

    Posted at 03:19 pm on Thu, 24 Aug 2017 in
  • Repost Wednesday is a short series of guest-posts that will be featured on our blog periodically, highlighting some of the wonderful posts MIT Press authors have written about their books on other platforms. We hope you enjoy this series.

    Carmakers can adapt to driverless vehicles by partnering with software companies—but may end up following their lead

    Posted at 10:00 am on Wed, 23 Aug 2017 in repost wednesday
  • August is Women in Translation Month. For this post we have Penny Hueston, translator of the forthcoming Being Here Is Everything: The Life of Paula Modersohn-Becker by French author Marie Darrieussecq. Penny discusses translating this book, as well as providing biographical information on Marie Darrieussecq, and the subject of the book, Paula Modersohn-Becker.

    Marie Darrieussecq reads the testament of Modersohn-Becker—the letters, the diaries, and above all the paintings—with a burning intelligence and a fierce hold on what it meant and means to be a woman and an artist.’—J. M. Coetzee

    A brief, powerful artistic life that went painfully unrewarded—until after the painter’s death.’—Julian Barnes, Guardian

    The prose of contemporary French writer Marie Darrieussecq is a joy to translate. It is elliptical, spare, supremely clever, slyly comic, and brilliantly structured. Translating it sends me into a heightened state that is both trance-like and electrically charged. In the mysterious process that is translation, I try to enter this zone in which both languages hover in my mind, until the patterns and style of each emerge, and I feel I have reached some way into the author’s mind. As Marguerite Yourcenar said, ‘translating is writing’.

    Darrieussecq is a classicist (she has translated Ovid), a translator from English (she has translated James Joyce and Virginia Woolf into English), and she has written a brilliant study of literary plagiarism. In her novels, Darrieussecq often uses words and expressions that connect with her Basque origins. She uses dialect to express obscene or sexual layers of expression and is fascinated with the ways in which language shapes us and our dreams—she is also a psychoanalyst. In her novel All the Way (2011), fault lines between language and sex are a source of comic confusion for the character of the adolescent Solange as she negotiates her sexual initiation. Translating the plays on stock phrases and stereotypes, or word plays, double-entendres and jokes, is like working out a complicated puzzle.

    Posted at 11:45 am on Tue, 22 Aug 2017 in art, gender, Semiotexte
  • Scrambling to find a spot to watch the eclipse? Fear not, below Martin Hogue details three campsites in the path of the total eclipse!

    Posted at 10:00 am on Mon, 21 Aug 2017 in photography
  • Today, four of the titles on the Essential Knowledge series are featured in Amazon’s Back-to-School promotion. Each will be discounted to $2.99 all day today. 

    Posted at 09:00 am on Thu, 17 Aug 2017 in essential knowledge series
  • If you're looking to get one more camping trip before summer's end, here are some recommendations from Martin Hogue, author of Thirtyfour Campgrounds.

    There are 6,490 individual campsites depicted in the book Thirtyfour Campgrounds, culled from a network of nearly 20,000 facilities across the United States. The rigid arrangement of these sites intro grids of small photographs across 200 pages of the book produces an overwhelming impression of sameness: while specific textures of light, color and tone do emerge from each of these 34 landscapes (the light In Naples, Florida is completely different from that in Zion National Park, for example), the reader may also find that no single campsite is really discernible from its neighbors.  

    This graphic arrangement is by design: the photographic grids evoke a rigid spatial plat of nearly universal design features. Campsites are generally defined by an open, flat patch of ground, a picnic table, and a fire pit; these sites, and the parking spurs that lead to them, are grouped around one-way driving loops, where motorists, hauling gear and supplies, arrive daily to assume their role as campers, replacing other individuals, groups, or families who themselves departed only hours ago. The engineering of this spatial layout dates back to the 1930s and has changed little over time, or indeed from one campground to another.

    The prospective camper/shopper trying reserve a campsite based on the online information provided by popular websites like or will no doubt come away with an impression similar to the one I experienced when I downloaded these thousands of photographs during the summer of 2014: is it possible to make truly sensible choices based on this information? These photos and diagrammatic maps seem both too much, and too little to make good decisions. Sometimes it’s a crapshoot, sometimes insider knowledge really helps.

    Most campers will easily recall unique camping experiences. Great camping may involve scoring a great campsite: the space of the encampment itself, the proximity of neighbors, even the larger region surrounding the campground are but some of the factors involved in this kind of decision-making. Other times, great camping may involve less tangible qualities such as the weather on a particular day, or the food prepared on a given evening. To be sure, a great campsite is often a physical place, but its recall may also connect the camper to the story of a lazy afternoon, an evening campfire, a meal shared with other companions, or a prized moment of solitude.

    Posted at 09:00 am on Sat, 12 Aug 2017 in photography
  • On August 5th, VICE reported on a controversial document that espoused sexist beliefs written by a Google employee and circulated within the company . Jennifer Lieberman, author of Power Lines weighs in on "memogate"arguing against the widely held belief that technology always leads to progress.

    This has been an exciting few weeks for those of us who think critically and historically about technology. My newsfeed has been abuzz with editorials about an event some are now calling “Memogate.” This story concerns a Google employee who wrote a sexist manifesto claiming that women were largely absent from technological fields because of biological differences. This software engineer was subsequently fired and then quickly rehired by Julian Assange.

    “Memogate” has made very public a fact that surprised many, though it was apparent to science and technology studies scholars and to minorities and women working in technical industries: advancements in science and technology have not erased America’s prevailing social biases. Rather, these advancements continue to recapitulate or reinforce existing prejudices. A number of important editorials came out in response to this series of events that address these problems. I recommend recent pieces by The MIT Press’s own Marie Hicks, of Programmed Inequality fame, and by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein on these issues, and here I add my own voice to this conversation.

    Posted at 11:20 am on Fri, 11 Aug 2017 in current affairs, gender, technology
  • Repost Wednesday is a short series of guest-posts that will be featured on our blog periodically, highlighting some of the wonderful posts MIT Press authors have written about their books on other platforms. We hope you enjoy this series.

    Posted at 09:40 am on Wed, 09 Aug 2017 in repost wednesday
  • The computerization of the economy—and everyday life—has transformed the division of labor between humans and machines, shifting many people into work that is hidden, poorly compensated, or accepted as part of being a “user” of digital technology. In Heteromation, And Other Stories Of Computing And Capitalism, Hamid Ekbia and Bonnie Nardi explore this phenomenon and its implications.

    Posted at 12:00 pm on Mon, 07 Aug 2017 in computer science, economics, information science
  • We're pleased to announce that Building Old Cambridge by Susan Maycock and Charles Sullivan was selected as a finalist in the 20th Annual Julia Ward Howe Award competition, sponsored by the Boston Authors Club (BAC).

    Posted at 09:30 am on Tue, 01 Aug 2017 in award


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The MIT PressLog is the official blog of MIT Press. Founded in 2005, the Log chronicles news about MIT Press authors and books. The MIT PressLog also serves as forum for our authors to discuss issues related to their books and scholarship. Views expressed by guest contributors to the blog do not necessarily represent those of MIT Press.