Join us as we welcome Marie Hicks to the MIT Press Bookstore to discuss and sign copies of Programmed Inequality. Books will be on sale at the event for 20% off, or you can purchase an event ticket that includes a discounted book.
About Programmed Inequality:
In 1944, Britain led the world in electronic computing. By 1974, the British computer industry was all but extinct. What happened in the intervening thirty years holds lessons for all postindustrial superpowers. As Britain struggled to use technology to retain its global power, the nation’s inability to manage its technical labor force hobbled its transition into the information age.
In Programmed Inequality, Marie Hicks explores the story of labor feminization and gendered technocracy that undercut British efforts to computerize. That failure sprang from the government’s systematic neglect of its largest trained technical workforce simply because they were women. Women were a hidden engine of growth in high technology from World War II to the 1960s. As computing experienced a gender flip, becoming male-identified in the 1960s and 1970s, labor problems grew into structural ones and gender discrimination caused the nation’s largest computer user—the civil service and sprawling public sector—to make decisions that were disastrous for the British computer industry and the nation as a whole.
Please join the MIT Press Bookstore in welcoming Martin Erwig to discuss and sign copies of Once Upon an Algorithm on Saturday, March 3, 4:00 p.m. Copies of the book will be on sale for a 20% discount.
About Once Upon an Algorithm:
Picture a computer scientist, staring at a screen and clicking away frantically on a keyboard, hacking into a system, or perhaps developing an app. Now delete that picture. In Once Upon an Algorithm, Martin Erwig explains computation as something that takes place beyond electronic computers, and computer science as the study of systematic problem solving. Erwig points out that many daily activities involve problem solving. Getting up in the morning, for example: You get up, take a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast. This simple daily routine solves a recurring problem through a series of well-defined steps. In computer science, such a routine is called an algorithm.
Erwig illustrates a series of concepts in computing with examples from daily life and familiar stories. Hansel and Gretel, for example, execute an algorithm to get home from the forest. The movie Groundhog Day illustrates the problem of unsolvability; Sherlock Holmes manipulates data structures when solving a crime; the magic in Harry Potter’s world is understood through types and abstraction; and Indiana Jones demonstrates the complexity of searching. Along the way, Erwig also discusses representations and different ways to organize data; “intractable” problems; language, syntax, and ambiguity; control structures, loops, and the halting problem; different forms of recursion; and rules for finding errors in algorithms.
This engaging book explains computation accessibly and shows its relevance to daily life. Something to think about next time we execute the algorithm of getting up in the morning.
Please join the MIT Press Bookstore in welcoming Daniel Jackson, photographer and Professor of Computer Science at MIT, to discuss and sign copies of Portraits of Resilience. This event is free to attend, and copies of the book will be available at a 20% discount.
About Portraits of Resilience:
More than 15 million Americans grapple with depression in a given year, and 40 million are affected by anxiety disorders. And yet these people are often invisible, hidden, unacknowledged. At once a photo essay and a compendium of life stories, Portraits of Resilience brings us face to face with twenty-two extraordinary individuals, celebrating the wisdom they have gained on the frontline of a contemporary battle.
No one is immune to depression or anxiety; all of these narrators achieved success as students, faculty, or staff in the demanding world of MIT. The pressures of a competitive and high-pressure environment will be familiar to many. And the mysterious and overwhelming grip of depression will be recognized by those who have suffered from it. But the search for purpose and meaning that pervades these stories is relevant to everyone. These wise people give us not only solace and reassurance as we face our own challenges, but also the inspiration that challenges can be overcome—and that happiness, while elusive, can eventually be found.
Please join the MIT Press Bookstore in welcoming Stephanie Burt and Lynn Melnick for a reading and discussion of their recently published poetry.
About Stephanie Burt & Advice From the Lights:
Nostalgic and inquisitive, Advice from the Lights asks an ongoing question: How do any of us achieve adulthood? And why would we want to, if we had the choice? This accomplished collection is woven from and interrupted by extraordinary sequences: poems on particular years of the poet’s early life, each with its own memories, desires, insecurities, and pop songs; versions of poems by the Greek poet Callimachus, whose present-day incarnation worries about mortality, the favor of the gods, and the career of Taylor Swift; and poems on politics, location, gender identity, and parenthood. Published widely in the New Yorker, T Magazine, London Review of Books, the Believer, and elsewhere, Burt occupies an exciting and original place in American poetry.
Stephanie Burt is Professor of English at Harvard and the author of several previous books of poetry and literary criticism, among them Belmont and Close Calls with Nonsense, as well as The Poem Is You.
About Lynn Melnick & Landscape With Sex and Violence:
The poems in Landscape with Sex and Violence explore what it means to exist within a rape culture so entrenched that it can’t be separated from the physical landscapes in which it enacts itself. Lyrically complex and startling—yet forthright and unflinching— these poems address rape, abortion, sex work, and other subjects frequently omitted from male-dominated literary traditions, without forsaking the pleasures of being embodied, or the value of personal freedom, of moonlight, and of hope. Throughout, the topography and mythology of California, as well as the uses and failures of language itself, are players in what it means to be a woman, a sexual being, and a trauma survivor in contemporary America.
Lynn Melnick is the author of the poetry collections Landscape with Sex and Violence (2017) and If I Should Say I Have Hope (2012), both with YesYes Books, and the co-editor of Please Excuse This Poem: 100 Poets for the Next Generation (Viking, 2015). Her poetry has appeared in APR, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, A Public Space, and elsewhere, and she has written essays and book reviews for Boston Review, LA Review of Books, and Poetry Daily, among others. A 2017-2018 fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, she also teaches poetry at the 92Y and serves on the Executive Board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Born in Indianapolis, she grew up in Los Angeles and currently lives in Brooklyn.
Join us as we welcome Christopher J. Preston to the MIT Press Bookstore to discuss and sign copies of The Synthetic Age. Books will be on sale at the event for 20% off, or you can purchase an event ticket that includes a discounted book.
About The Synthetic Age:
In The Synthetic Age, Christopher Preston argues that what is most startling about this coming epoch is not only how much impact humans have had but, more important, how much deliberate shaping they will start to do. Emerging technologies promise to give us the power to take over some of Nature’s most basic operations. It is not just that we are exiting the Holocene and entering the Anthropocene; it is that we are leaving behind the time in which planetary change is just the unintended consequence of unbridled industrialism. A world designed by engineers and technicians means the birth of the planet’s first Synthetic Age.
What does it mean when humans shift from being caretakers of the Earth to being shapers of it? And in whom should we trust to decide the contours of our synthetic future? These questions are too important to be left to the engineers.
Join the MIT Press Bookstore in welcoming poets Jean Day and Levi Rubeck to the store on Saturday, March 24, at 4:00 pm.
About Jean Day:
Jean Day is a poet, union activist, and editor whose Daydream is just out from Litmus Press. Recent poems can also be seen in Chicago Review, The Delineator, Across the Margin, Open House, Breather, and Jongler (French)–as well as in her Triumph of Life, soon to appear from Insurance Editions. Earlier works include Early Bird (O’Clock, 2014) and Enthusiasm (Adventures in Poetry, 2006), among other books, and her work has also appeared in many anthologies, including, most recently, Resist Much/Obey Little (Spuyten Duyvil, 2017) and Out of Everywhere 2: Linguistically Innovative Poetry by Women in North America & the UK (Reality Street, 2015). She lives in Berkeley, where she works as managing editor of Representations, an interdisciplinary humanities journal published by UC Press.
About Levi Rubeck:
Levi Rubeck is a writer from Wyoming, though his day job is at The MIT Press in Cambridge, MA. His first chapbook of poetry, Lunar Flare, is now available from Argos Books. More at levirubeck.com.