Skip navigation

All

A BIT of The Virtual Community

The “virtual community” of online networking is as real as any physical community. In this BIT, “First Citizen of the Internet” Howard Rheingold offers an account of the people who made this networked world possible—“stubborn visionaries who insisted that computers could be used by people other than specialists”—describing pioneers of citizen tool-making that range from a former radar operator who had an epiphany on the way to work in 1950 to crusading programmers, clever MIT hackers, and the creators of Usenet, MUD, and the WELL.

Purchasers of this MIT Press BIT will also receive a discount code (good on the MIT Press website only) for 40% off the price of the book The Virtual Community, from which this BIT is excerpted. Please email mitbits@mit.edu with your order number to receive your discount code.

A BIT of Virtual Economies

In the twenty-first-century digital world, virtual goods are sold for real money. Digital game players happily pay for avatars, power-ups, and other game items. But behind every virtual sale there is a virtual economy, simple or complex. This BIT explains that the objectives of virtual economies—providing content, attracting and retaining users, and earning revenues—are often best pursued in unfree (that is, regulated) rather than free markets.

Purchasers of this MIT Press BIT will also receive a discount code (good on the MIT Press website only) for 40% off the price of the book Virtual Economies, from which this BIT is excerpted. Please email mitbits@mit.edu with your order number to receive your discount code.

A BIT of Hello Avatar

A crucial aspect of our cultural shift from analog to digital is the continuum between online and off-, the “x-reality” that crosses between the virtual and the real. Our avatars are not just the animated figures that populate our screens but the gestalt of images, text, and multimedia that make up our online identities. In this BIT, B. Coleman looks at the research history in HCI of putting a face on things, the consequences of virtual embodiment, and our perception of simulation.

Purchasers of this MIT Press BIT will also receive a discount code (good on the MIT Press website only) for 40% off the price of the book Hello Avatar, from which this BIT is excerpted. Please email mitbits@mit.edu with your order number to receive your discount code.

A BIT of The Second Life Herald

This BIT chronicles the migration of virtual journalist Urizenus Sklar (the avatar of author Peter Ludlow) from The Sims Online to Second Life. Banned from TSO for journalistic truth-telling, Urizenus finds a new home in Second Life, where he and other TSO refugees learn to live in a labor-intensive, richly creative virtual world of resident-created content.

Purchasers of this MIT Press BIT will also receive a discount code (good on the MIT Press website only) for 40% off the price of the book The Second Life Herald, from which this BIT is excerpted. Please email mitbits@mit.edu with your order number to receive your discount code.

A BIT of Networked

Social networks, the personalized Internet, and always-on mobile connectivity are transforming—and expanding—social life. In the new social operating system of “networked individualism,” anyone with an Internet connection and a bit of digital literacy can create online content that has the potential to reach a wide audience. This BIT explores how the boundaries between producers and consumers are becoming blurred, with noncredentialed amateurs participating in many of the arenas that were once limited to recognized and sanctioned experts.

Purchasers of this MIT Press BIT will also receive a discount code (good on the MIT Press website only) for 40% off the price of the book Networked, from which this BIT is excerpted. Please email mitbits@mit.edu with your order number to receive your discount code.

A BIT of Consciousness

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. In this BIT, Koch argues that consciousness is a fundamental property of networked entities, and rhapsodizes about integrated information theory—how it explains many puzzling facts about consciousness and provides a blueprint for building sentient machines.

A BIT of Advice for a Young Investigator

Santiago Ramón y Cajal is a towering figure in the history of science. Hailed today as the father of modern anatomy and neurobiology, he was largely responsible for the modern conception of the brain. Advice for a Young Investigator, first published in 1897, offers a witty and anecdotal guide for scientists that can be enjoyed by both novice and veteran researchers. In this BIT, Ramón y Cajal considers what it takes to be a successful scientific investigator.

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 The Reputation Society
Edited by Hassan Masum and Mark Tovey

Online reputation systems—including Amazon recommendations, eBay vendors’ histories, and TripAdvisor ratings—serve as filters for information overload. In academia, reputation is the value that scholars have to offer, whether on the faculty job market or a journal’s editorial board, as an expert witness, or as a reference for a colleague. In this BIT, John Willinsky discusses the effect that open access is having on reputation in academia and research publishing.

A BIT of Solar Revolution

Fund manager and former corporate buyout specialist Travis Bradford argues—on the basis of standard business and economic forecasting models—that over the next two decades solar energy will increasingly become the best and cheapest choice for most electricity and energy applications. In this BIT, Bradford provides the basic facts about solar energy and describes a variety of economic and political incentives that would encourage its use.

  •  
  • Page 1 of 6