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  • We note, with sadness, the death on October 10 of Leo Beranek, at the age of 102. A pioneer in modern acoustics, Beranek’s career touched on everything from concert hall design to television broadcasting to the development of the internet. Seldom has an enthusiasm for technology left a mark on so many varied aspects of modern life.

    Beranek told the story of his life and career in Riding the Waves, an autobiography that recounted his upbringing in a small town in Iowa; his journey to Cambridge to attend Harvard; the founding of the acoustics and technology firm Bolt, Beranek & Newman; his work on numerous concert venues, including Philharmonic Hall in New York and the Koussevitzky Shed at Tanglewood; and his philanthropic work, especially for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

    Posted at 11:30 am on Wed, 19 Oct 2016 in in memoriam
  • We are pleased to announce that Boundary Objects and Beyondedited by Geoffrey C. Bowker, Stefan Timmermans, Adele E. Clarke, and Ellen Balka, is the winner of the 2016 Best Information Science Book Award! This award is sponsored by the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T). The award was officially announced and presented on October 18, 2016 at the ASIS&T annual meeting in Copenhagen. 

    Posted at 11:30 pm on Tue, 18 Oct 2016 in Awards
  • Information is power. It drives commerce, protects nations, and forms the backbone of systems that range from health care to high finance. In Missed Information, David Sarokin and Jay Schulkin argue that better information and better access to it improves the quality of our decisions and makes for a more vibrant participatory society. The authors discuss their new book in this post.

    How did an environmental scientist and a neuroscientist come together to write this book? 

    Our backgrounds and disciplines are important, but the real value of our teaming up on Missed Information stems from a long period of friendship and professional collaboration, much of it spent in conversation over the ideas in our book. We should point out, though that—as an environmental scientist—Sarokin created the Toxics Release Inventory, the first federal law to explicitly use information as an environmental policy tool. Schulkin, as a neuroscientist, focuses daily on how information is processed in biological systems. And as creatures of the Information Age, we’re just fascinated by (and optimistic about) the possibilities of putting better data to better use.

    Posted at 09:00 am on Wed, 12 Oct 2016 in current affairs, information science
  • In honor of Ada Lovelace Day, we look back at last year's essay ("Changing the Face of Computing—One Stitch at a Time") by Yasmin Kafai and Jane Margolis about the legacy of the pioneering British mathematician who became the first computer programmer.<--break-> 

    As we celebrate Ada Lovelace Day, we should be reminded that one of the first computers in the nineteenth century, the “Analytical Engine,” was based on the design of the Jacquard loom, for weaving fashionable complex textiles of the times. It was fashion that inspired British mathematician Ada Lovelace to write the code for the loom that wove the complex patterns that were in vogue. She also wrote a most beautiful sentence linking computing and fashion: “We may say most aptly that the Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.” And yet, the historical and intimate relationship between fashion and computer science has largely been forgotten and ignored, even as Lovelace’s pioneering spirit lives on today’s runways.

    Posted at 09:00 am on Tue, 11 Oct 2016 in computer science, engineering, math, science, technology
  • Politicians routinely amplify and misdirect voters’ anger and resentment to win their support. Why do these tactics work? First published in 1996 (as The Politics of Denial), Raised to Rage offers a compelling and novel explanation for political anger and the roots of authoritarian political attitudes. This timely book was recently reprinted with a new introduction that updates the empirical evidence and connects it to the current presidential campaign. In this post, authors Michael Milburn and Sheree Conrad discuss the relationship between childhood punishment and support for authoritarianism and what it means for this political moment.

    Based on your research, what have you found to be the relationship between childhood punishment and support for punitive political initiatives and authoritarianism?

    In our research, we have found that individuals who report having been physically punished frequently in childhood are significantly higher in authoritarianism and in support for punitive public policies like the death penalty and the use of military force. Our model is “affect displacement,” that emotion from one source, in this case, childhood, can be carried into adulthood and displaced onto adult political attitudes. Political attitudes are complex and have many different influences, including education, income, and the attitudes of one’s parents. In our study published in 2014 in the journal Political Psychology, we controlled for background demographic variables that have been found to influence authoritarianism, and we examined the relationship of childhood experience to authoritarianism, controlling for the political ideology of their parents. The significant impact of childhood punishment remained significant, such that individuals whose parents were liberal, but who also used physical punishment, were significantly higher in authoritarianism than those individuals whose parents were liberal and did not use physical punishment. 

    Posted at 06:00 am on Fri, 30 Sep 2016 in current affairs, psychology
  • We spoke with Dr. Jeremy Trevelyan Burman, PhD for this month’s Spotlight on Science Q&A. Dr. Burman was recently named to a tenure-track position supporting the new Reflecting on Psychology graduate program at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

    Posted at 08:00 am on Thu, 22 Sep 2016 in journals, science
  • The MIT Press and Leonardo/ISAST are pleased to announce the launch of ARTECA, a curated space for essential content linking the arts, sciences, and technologies. The platform was built and is developed by the ArtSci Lab at the University of Texas at Dallas. 

    With a growing collection of nearly 200 books and 300 journal issues, ARTECA provides scholars and practitioners the resources to bridge the once independent fields of art, science, and technology. The full text of Leonardo, Computer Music Journal, and Leonardo Music Journal are available in ARTECA. Books from MIT Press book series include Game Studies, Leonardo Book Series, Platform Studies, Software Studies, and Technologies of the Lived Abstraction. 

    Posted at 12:05 pm on Tue, 20 Sep 2016 in journals
  • Last week we posted the first part of a Q & A with Mike Smith and Rahul Teland, coauthors of Streaming, Sharing, Stealing:Big Data and the Future of Entertainment. Here's part 2:

    Why has Big Data disrupted the entertainment industry more rapidly and with greater consequence than most other industries?

    The two main reasons are access to data and culture. Think about the story Michael Lewis tells in Moneyball. Billy Beane’s decision to replace gut feel decision-making with data-driven decision-making required huge changes in the Oakland A’s organizational culture, and huge innovations in analytics. His leadership changed the game, but it only gave Oakland a year or two of competitive advantage. Everyone else in the league soon caught up.

    Posted at 09:00 am on Thu, 15 Sep 2016 in economics, technology
  • Video games are a global industry, and their history spans dozens of national industries. Edited by Mark J. P. Wolf, Video Games Around the World covers gaming in areas as disparate and far-flung as Argentina and Thailand, Hungary and Indonesia, Iran and Ireland. On National Video Games Day, Mark J. P. Wolf reflects on the ambitious project of bringing together leading experts and game designers to discuss video game history and culture across all the world's continent.

    The idea for Video Games Around the World came when I was editing my two-volume Encyclopedia of Video Games: The Culture, Technology, and Art of Gaming. Entries about the history of video games in various countries would come in from contributors, usually around a thousand words or so, and they were fascinating, but were so short that you only got a glimpse of what they were describing. I wanted to find out more, and thought there were enough entries on different countries and regions in the encyclopedia, that if I asked the same contributors to write full-length essays on their respective countries, I could have a nice collection of pieces on video game history around the world. So I started with the contributors I had, and decided to try to find more and fill in as much of the world as possible. That’s one of the things that makes an anthology like this more difficult to put together than the usual kind of anthology; besides the size of it, you have a set of topics that you must represent, and even missing one of them becomes noticeable and feels like the gap that it is. You can’t leave out Russia, or Mexico, or Japan, or the Middle East and give the feeling that you have covered the world; even missing one crucial essay would make the book feel incomplete. There had to be essays related to each continent, and each major national industry. (Completist that I am, I felt that in order to advertise that the book covered “every continent” something would have to be said about Antarctica, so I did some research and included a section on it in the Introduction.) So it was a matter of finding someone to write all the essays, and preferably people who were natives of the countries in question, and who understood the national context and culture firsthand, having grown up with it, or at least someone who had studied them in-depth.

    Posted at 07:30 am on Mon, 12 Sep 2016 in games

    Posted at 07:54 am on Thu, 08 Sep 2016 in Awards
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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.