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The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet

Between 1959 and 1989, Soviet scientists and officials made numerous attempts to network their nation—to construct a nationwide computer network. None of these attempts succeeded, and the enterprise had been abandoned by the time the Soviet Union fell apart. Meanwhile, ARPANET, the American precursor to the Internet, went online in 1969. Why did the Soviet network, with top-level scientists and patriotic incentives, fail while the American network succeeded?

This book introduces programming to readers with a background in the arts and humanities; there are no prerequisites, and no knowledge of computation is assumed. In it, Nick Montfort reveals programming to be not merely a technical exercise within given constraints but a tool for sketching, brainstorming, and inquiring about important topics. He emphasizes programming’s exploratory potential—its facility to create new kinds of artworks and to probe data for new ideas.

The Challenges to Micromobilization in Central Appalachia

In the coal-mining region of Central Appalachia, mountaintop-removal mining and coal-industry-related flooding, water contamination, and illness have led to the emergence of a grassroots, women-driven environmental justice movement. But the number of local activists is small relative to the affected population, and recruiting movement participants from within the region is an ongoing challenge.

Edited by Erika Balsom and Hila Peleg

Contemporary engagements with documentary are multifaceted and complex, reaching across disciplines to explore the intersections of politics and aesthetics, representation and reality, truth and illusion. Discarding the old notions of “fly on the wall” immediacy or quasi-scientific aspirations to objectivity, critics now understand documentary not as the neutral picturing of reality but as a way of coming to terms with reality through images and narrative.

Machinic Capitalism and Molecular Revolution

The animal of the molecular revolution will be neither mole nor snake, but a drone-animal-thing that is solid, liquid, and a gas.
—from Dividuum

Working with Leigh Star

Susan Leigh Star (1954–2010) was one of the most influential science studies scholars of the last several decades. In her work, Star highlighted the messy practices of discovering science, asking hard questions about the marginalizing as well as the liberating powers of science and technology. In the landmark work Sorting Things Out, Star and Geoffrey Bowker revealed the social and ethical histories that are deeply embedded in classification systems.

Collected Essays

I read and wrote to invoke what seemed impossible—relation itself—in order to take part in a world that ceaselessly makes itself up, to “wake up” to the world, to recognize the world, to be convinced that the world exists, to take revenge on the world for not existing.—from Uncertain Reading

Colleges and universities offer our best hope for raising awareness about the climate crisis and the other environmental threats. But most college and university administrations need guidance on the path to sustainability. In The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus, Mitchell Thomashow, a former college president, provides just that.

A Theory of Material Engagement

An increasingly influential school of thought in cognitive science views the mind as embodied, extended, and distributed rather than brain-bound or “all in the head.” This shift in perspective raises important questions about the relationship between cognition and material culture, posing major challenges for philosophy, cognitive science, archaeology, and anthropology. In How Things Shape the Mind, Lambros Malafouris proposes a cross-disciplinary analytical framework for investigating the ways in which things have become cognitive extensions of the human body.

Xerography, Art, and Activism in the Late Twentieth Century

This is the story of how the xerographic copier, or “Xerox machine,” became a creative medium for artists and activists during the last few decades of the twentieth century. Paper jams, mangled pages, and even fires made early versions of this clunky office machine a source of fear, rage, dread, and disappointment. But eventually, xerography democratized print culture by making it convenient and affordable for renegade publishers, zinesters, artists, punks, anarchists, queers, feminists, street activists, and others to publish their work and to get their messages out on the street.

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