June 2024 books: The Character of Consent, Data Rules, Living Surfaces, and more

Explore some of our most anticipated new releases for June 2024

This month: the rich, untold origin story of the ubiquitous web cookie; a new social science framework for studying the restructuring driven by digital data; an investigation of aesthetics and visualizations of planetary surfaces; and more. Explore these books and a selection of our other new and soon-to-be-released titles below.

Building SimCity: How to Put the World in a Machine by Chaim Gingold

Building SimCity explores the history of computer simulation by chronicling one of the most influential simulation games ever made: SimCity. As author Chaim Gingold explains, Will Wright, the visionary designer behind the urban planning game, created SimCity in part to learn about cities, thinking about the world as a complex system and appropriating ideas from traditions in which computers are used for modeling. As such, SimCity is a microcosm of the histories and cultures of computer simulation that engages with questions, themes, and representational techniques that reach back to the earliest computer simulations.

You might also like Seeing Red: Nintendo’s Virtual Boy by José P. Zagal and Benj Edwards

The Character of Consent: The History of Cookies and the Future of Technology Policy by Meg Leta Jones

Consent pop-ups continually ask us to download cookies to our computers, but is this all-too-familiar form of privacy protection effective? No, Meg Leta Jones explains in The Character of Consent, rather than promote functionality, privacy, and decentralization, cookie technology has instead made the internet invasive, limited, and clunky. Good thing, then, that the cookie is set for retirement in 2024. In this eye-opening book, Jones tells the little-known story of this broken consent arrangement, tracing it back to the major transnational conflicts around digital consent over the last twenty-five years. What she finds is that the policy controversy is not, in fact, an information crisis—it’s an identity crisis.

You might also likeData Action: Using Data for Public Good by Sarah Williams

Data Rules: Reinventing the Market Economy by Cristina Alaimo and Jannis Kallinikos

Digital data have become the critical frontier where emerging economic practices and organizational forms confront the traditional economic order and its institutions. In Data Rules, Cristina Alaimo and Jannis Kallinikos establish a social science framework for analyzing the unprecedented social and economic restructuring brought about by data. Working at the intersection of information systems and organizational studies, they draw extensively on intellectual currents in sociology, semiotics, cognitive science and technology, and social theory. Making the case for turning “data-making” into an area of inquiry of its own, the authors uncover how data are deeply implicated in rewiring the institutions of the market economy.

You might also like Critical Data Literacies: Rethinking Data and Everyday Life by Luci Pangrazio and Neil Selwyn

The Future Is Present: Art, Technology, and the Work of Mobile Image by Philip Glahn and Cary Levine

In The Future Is Present, Philip Glahn and Cary Levine tell the fascinating history of the visionary art group Mobile Image—founded by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz in 1977—which appropriated emerging technologies, from satellites to electronic message platforms. Based in Los Angeles, this under-studied collective worked amid urban crisis, a techno-boom, consolidating media power, and ascendant neoliberal politics. Mobile Image challenged fundamental conventions of the public sphere, democracy, communication, and political participation, as well as notions of power, representation, and identity.

You might also like Ecstatic Worlds: Media, Utopias, Ecologies by Janine Marchessault

Living Surfaces: Images, Plants, and Environments of Media by Abelardo Gil-Fournier and Jussi Parikka

What if every vista, every island—indeed, every geographical feature on Earth—could be viewed as an art object? In Living Surfaces, Abelardo Gil-Fournier and Jussi Parikka explore how the surface of the Earth has, over the last two centuries, become known and perceived as an environment of images. Living Surfaces features a range of case studies from eighteenth-century experiments with and observations of vegetal matter, photosynthesis, and plant physiology to twenty-first-century machine vision and AI techniques of calculating agricultural and other landscape surfaces. Mapping these different scales of vegetal images, Gil-Fournier and Parikka help us understand core questions that pertain to the artistic and architectural reference points for the Anthropocene.

You might also like The Cognitive Life of Maps by Roberto Casati

The Open Dynamics of Braitenberg Vehicles by Scott Hotton and Jeff Yoshimi

Powering the concept of a Braitenberg vehicle, developed in 1984 by the Italian-Austrian cyberneticist Valentino Braitenberg, is the idea that simple systems can produce complex behaviors. A pair of interacting Braitenberg vehicles is simple, but they can meander, wind around, and follow each another in a number of ways. In this book, Scott Hotton and Jeff Yoshimi show how dynamical systems theory—in particular the theory of open dynamic systems—can be used to analyze pairs of these vehicles in great detail. The result of the authors’ long-standing collaboration at the intersection of mathematics, philosophy, cognitive science, and biology, The Open Dynamics of Braitenberg Vehicles offers a rigorous mathematical foundation for embodied cognition, especially when it comes to two-way interactions between an agent and its environment.

You might also like Bots and Beasts: What Makes Machines, Animals, and People Smart? by Paul Thagard

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