The public’s faith in science and technology has never been higher. Computer “apps” that explore things such as the frequency of, and point of origin of, COVID-related Google search terms, and Twitter posts, are being used to trace the progress of the virus and to predict the sites of further outbreaks. The United States has been roiled by the death, at the hands of the police, of George Floyd. Floyd’s killing was captured by an app that has been circulating throughout the globe that has acquired the near iconic power of the crucifixion. With the majority of the American people equipped to make audio–visual recording of police brutality and post them on social media, we expect that crimes such as this will certainly diminish.
Open technology communities are loosely organized, volunteer, online groups, focused on development and distribution of open or free software and hardware. “Hacking Diversity:The Politics of Inclusion in Open Technology Cultures” is a study of the efforts of open technology communities to “hack” the issues around the lack of diversity that pervades not only their volunteer communities, but also their related disciplines at large.
Damon Krukowski’s Ways of Hearing does for digital sound what Berger’s Ways of Seeing did for the reproduced image. He wants us to question what we hear, as well as what we’re no longer hearing, in the era of digital audio.
Albright’s book focuses on a group of Americans who live a life of digital hyper-connectivity. Mostly under age 50, this would include what are called Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979), Millennials (born between 1980 and 1999), and their offspring — some, as we have seen, still infants.
It is “seeing” that is most compelling when analyzing the relationship between architecture and race, especially, for example, when reexamined in literary works such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Adrienne Brown, a professor who specializes in American and African American cultural production at the University of Chicago, takes her readers on a journey that recounts seeing racial characteristics in the early period of American skyscraper construction.
RFID, even though it underlies electronic toll collection and other systems we interact with every day and is poised to become practically ubiquitous, is far less conspicuous. Jordan Firth’s A Billion Little Pieces aims to bring RFID into the foreground, giving readers a sense of what the technology is, how it is being and could be used, and how concerned we should be about its implications, especially those regarding privacy.
What was the place of acoustics within the discipline of physics in the period, and how should the transformations of the field of acoustics be located within the transformations of the field of physics more generally?
Julie Wosk’s My Fair Ladies is an engaging historical account of female automata, with sidelights on dolls, disembodied electronic female voices, masks, make-up, and the sexual and gender implications of efforts to create artificial humans.
Somehow at the heart of sci-fi is returning power to the people who almost always regain control before things get completely out of hand. But we learn that our freedom comes at a cost. The reassuring aspect of Maynard’s work is that justice prevails, despite the ominous lurking of some technological beast that is waiting to be unleashed.
Mann and Toles crystallize for us climate change denialism, principally in the United States, over the last generation. The core of this denial results from the confluence of several trends deeply embedded in the American culture.
Holmes’s idea of inventing a cheap, small, fast, reliable blood-testing system to creatively destroy most of the world’s existing infrastructure for blood tests ran into big problems early on. But with her chutzpah, persuasiveness, and eventually with the help of outright obfuscations and lies, Holmes kept Theranos going until a Wall Street Journal investigative reporter named John Carreyrou responded to a lead by a health-care blogger that something fishy was going on.
“From today, painting is dead!” is said to have been proclaimed by the French painter Paul Delaroche in 1839 after seeing his first daguerreotype. His was an early name on the list of people who have made fools of themselves when prognosticating a future resulting from a new medium or invention. Motivated by either techno-euphoria or pessimism they have become famously wrong.
Discrimination is “embedded in computer code and, increasingly, in artificial intelligence technologies that we are reliant on, by choice or not.”
Oliver Heaviside (1850-1925) is now considered a maverick of electrical science, but he could also be considered the founder of that subject.
It’s interesting that the first major science fiction novel was written by a woman and perhaps significant that it presents a dark vision of scientific experimentation.
Peter Buse, in his The Camera Does the Rest, stakes out different territory. His focus is on the social meaning of the Polaroid camera: how did it change photography? How were the cameras used? And how did Land intend them to be used — a concept that often differed from their actual use.
When thanks to drone use soldiers rarely come home in body bags, members of the public are not often prompted to care about or even notice military activity half a world away.
Orman poses “information overload” as a paradox and gives us three mechanisms through which such paradox arises. The paradox is that technologies help us know more, but in the process, we know less.
Jonathan Rees’s Refrigeration Nation has a great deal to say about the way refrigeration technology brought about profound changes in eating habits, agricultural practices, and even entire national economies over the last two centuries.
Petrick provides historic perspectives of how computer technology was developed in the United States allowing persons with disabilities full participation in their own lives and in the society.