March 13, 2014
Imagine the astonishment felt by neuroscientist Rodrigo Quian Quiroga when he found a fantastically precise interpretation of his research findings in a story written by the great Argentinian fabulist Jorge Luis Borges fifty years earlier. In this BIT, Quian Quiroga explores real-life cases that recall Borges’s fictional “Funes the Memorious,” investigating a man who couldn’t forget, and another who could not form new memories.
March 12, 2014
What began as an assertion of consumer rights to digital content has become something broader: a movement concerned not just with consumers and gadgets but with cultural ownership. In this excerpt from Origins of the Digital Rights Movement: The White Paper and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act: A BIT of The Digital Rights Movement, Hector Postigo examines the evolution of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, showing that citizens’ concerns were largely ignored in the policy process.
March 9, 2014
On March 6th several news outlets broke the news that the House of Representatives approved one billion dollars in loan guarantees to the embattled country of Ukraine, drawing grumbles from the general population.
March 7, 2014
In this excerpt from Memory in Art: A BIT of the Memory Process edited by Suzanne Nalbantian, Paul M. Matthews and James L. McClelland, David Freedberg, an art historian investigating the neural bases of empathy, draws on recent neuroscientific research to explore one of the great masterpieces of fifteenth-century Flemish painting, Rogier van der Weyden’s Descent from the Cross. Freedberg connects memory to the direct and indirect bodily responses to a work of art.
March 6, 2014
Before Xbox, Playstation, Wii, and even Nintendo, there was the Atari Video Computer System, known simply as Atari. Gamers of the 1970s and 80s will recall countless hours spent entranced before dots bouncing across their monitors while playing early video games like Breakout and Combat on this pioneering console. In their book, Racing the Beam, the inaugural volume in the MIT Press’s Platform Studies series, Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost investigate game systems’ underlying computing, developing a critical approach that examines the relationship between platforms and creative expression.
March 5, 2014
Sweeping history. Grand history. Neatly packaged narratives of greatness and genius inventors. All of these are the stuff of what Walter Benjamin labeled the “epic element in history”, historiography premised upon continuity and stability, and most firmly what Game After is not about. Instead, I map the “slips”, “slides”, “leaps” and “springing” of game objects across their life histories as they pass through different situations that inform their meaning and their value.
March 4, 2014
In the wake of Sunday’s Academy Awards where movies using CGI like Gravity and Frozen were big winners, our lunch bit is “The Illusions” from Lev Manovich’s influential The Language of New Media. In “The Illusions”, Manovich critiqued the shift from traditional cinematography to usage of computers to generate images used in films. According to Manovich, this is important in New Media studies because before the wide spread usage of computers in films, one looked at an image and judged it on its appearance—how real it looked, but with new media the paradigms for judgment of illusions have changed. Here’s what he has to say about the expansion of analysis of this new technology:
The year was 1968 and Marshall Nirenberg, an unassuming governement scientist working at the National Institutes of Health, had just won the Nobel Prize for cracking the genetic code. Franklin Portugal’s The Least Likely Man tells the story of how Nirenberg beat other world-famous scientists in the race to this important discovery. Franklin Portugal discusses his new book and Nirenberg’s enduring legacy.
February 28, 2014
Christof Koch has devoted much of his career to bridging the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the physics of the brain and phenomenal experience. His 2012 book Consciousness represented a new and unusually personal attempt to get at these questions—part scientific overview, part memoir, part futurist speculation. Part of the story he tells about his own progress was feeling caught between two intellectual frameworks—one spiritual, the other scientific:
February 27, 2014
Our latest “Five Minutes” series features Mitchell Glickstein, author of Neuroscience: A Historical Introduction.