[ View menu ]

Archive for 'culture'

new book – ‘How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World’ by Steven Johnson

October 1, 2014

How We Got to Now

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson (Riverhead, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

From the New York Times–bestselling author of Where Good Ideas Come From and Everything Bad Is Good for You, a new look at the power and legacy of great ideas.

In this illustrated volume, Steven Johnson explores the history of innovation over centuries, tracing facets of modern life (refrigeration, clocks, and eyeglass lenses, to name a few) from their creation by hobbyists, amateurs, and entrepreneurs to their unintended historical consequences. Filled with surprising stories of accidental genius and brilliant mistakes—from the French publisher who invented the phonograph before Edison but forgot to include playback, to the Hollywood movie star who helped invent the technology behind Wi-Fi and Bluetooth—How We Got to Now investigates the secret history behind the everyday objects of contemporary life.

In his trademark style, Johnson examines unexpected connections between seemingly unrelated fields: how the invention of air-conditioning enabled the largest migration of human beings in the history of the species—to cities such as Dubai or Phoenix, which would otherwise be virtually uninhabitable; how pendulum clocks helped trigger the industrial revolution; and how clean water made it possible to manufacture computer chips. Accompanied by a major six-part television series on PBS, How We Got to Now is the story of collaborative networks building the modern world, written in the provocative, informative, and engaging style that has earned Johnson fans around the globe.

Google Books preview:

See also: Author’s website

Comments (0) - culture,new books

new book – ‘Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking)’ by Christian Rudder

September 10, 2014

Dataclysm

Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) by Christian Rudder (Crown, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

An audacious, irreverent investigation of human behavior—and a first look at a revolution in the making

Our personal data has been used to spy on us, hire and fire us, and sell us stuff we don’t need. In Dataclysm, Christian Rudder uses it to show us who we truly are.

For centuries, we’ve relied on polling or small-scale lab experiments to study human behavior. Today, a new approach is possible. As we live more of our lives online, researchers can finally observe us directly, in vast numbers, and without filters. Data scientists have become the new demographers.

In this daring and original book, Rudder explains how Facebook “likes” can predict, with surprising accuracy, a person’s sexual orientation and even intelligence; how attractive women receive exponentially more interview requests; and why you must have haters to be hot. He charts the rise and fall of America’s most reviled word through Google Search and examines the new dynamics of collaborative rage on Twitter. He shows how people express themselves, both privately and publicly. What is the least Asian thing you can say? Do people bathe more in Vermont or New Jersey? What do black women think about Simon & Garfunkel? (Hint: they don’t think about Simon & Garfunkel.) Rudder also traces human migration over time, showing how groups of people move from certain small towns to the same big cities across the globe. And he grapples with the challenge of maintaining privacy in a world where these explorations are possible.

Visually arresting and full of wit and insight, Dataclysm is a new way of seeing ourselves—a brilliant alchemy, in which math is made human and numbers become the narrative of our time.

See also: Author’s blog

Comments (1) - culture,psychology

new book – ‘Anthropology of the Brain: Consciousness, Culture, and Free Will’ by Roger Bartra

August 12, 2014

Anthropology of the Brain

Anthropology of the Brain: Consciousness, Culture, and Free Will by Roger Bartra (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

In this unique exploration of the mysteries of the human brain, Roger Bartra shows that consciousness is a phenomenon that occurs not only in the mind but also in an external network, a symbolic system. He argues that the symbolic systems created by humans in art, language, in cooking or in dress, are the key to understanding human consciousness. Placing culture at the centre of his analysis, Bartra brings together findings from anthropology and cognitive science and offers an original vision of the continuity between the brain and its symbolic environment. The book is essential reading for neurologists, cognitive scientists and anthropologists alike.

Google Books preview:

Comments (0) - consciousness,culture,new books

Kindle Daily Deal for Tues. 7/15 – $1.99 for ‘Writing on the Wall: Social Media – The First 2000 Years’ by Tom Standage

July 15, 2014

Comments (1) - culture

new book – ‘Suspicious Minds: How Culture Shapes Madness’ by Joel & Ian Gold

July 9, 2014

Suspicious Minds

Suspicious Minds: How Culture Shapes Madnessby Joel Gold and Ian Gold (Free Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

Combining extraordinary true stories with the latest research, Joel and Ian Gold take us on a wild journey through the delusional brain to explore the intersection of neuroscience, biology, and culture.

Mr. A. was admitted to Dr. Joel Gold’s inpatient unit at Bellevue Hospital in 2002. He was, he said, being filmed constantly, and his life was being broadcast around the world “like The Truman Show”—the 1998 film depicting a man who is unknowingly living out his life as the star of a popular soap opera. Over the next few years, Gold saw a number of patients suffering from what he and his brother, Dr. Ian Gold, began calling the “Truman Show Delusion,” launching them on a quest to understand the nature of this particular phenomenon, of delusions more generally, and the nature of madness itself.

The current view of delusions is that they are the result of biology gone awry, of neurons in the brain misfiring. In contrast, the Golds argue, delusions are in fact the result of the interaction between the brain and the social world. By exploring the major categories of delusion via fascinating case studies and marshaling the latest research in schizophrenia, the brothers reveal the role of culture and the social world in the development of psychosis, notably delusions. The result is a groundbreaking new direction for thinking about the interaction of the brain and the world around us.

Sure to appeal to those who admire the work of Oliver Sacks, Steven Pinker, and Antonio Damasio, Suspicious Minds presents a fascinating study about just how dramatically our surroundings can influence our brains.

Google Books preview:

Comments (0) - culture,new books,psychology