Please join the MIT Press Bookstore in welcoming author and satirist Evan Eisenberg, who will be reading from his latest book, The Trumpiad. The reading will feature live musical accompaniment by The Bad Words, an electro-acoustic carnivalesque sound experiment in the key of Debord.
Few politicians in history have deserved lampooning as richly as Donald Trump. And few have gotten their just deserts served up as deliciously as they are in The Trumpiad, a work perceptively characterized by Stuart Klawans as “a true epic about a mock President.” In their caustic, uproarious Trumpiad, poet Evan Eisenberg and artist Steve Brodner present a satire in verse for our demented times. Inspired by Swift, Byron, and Ogden Nash as much as by John Oliver and Stephen Colbert, Eisenberg sets the stage (“Muse, you’re fired”) and then traces our hero from the murk of his ancestry in the form of his grandfather Friedrich (an enterprising immigrant who ran a bordello) to the latest presidential high crimes and misadventures.
Using a rakish, endlessly flexible five-line stanza he calls the Emilick—the love child of Emily Dickinson and Edward Lear— Eisenberg follows the arc of Trump’s career as it bends toward injustice, hits it, and then sinks still lower. Brodner matches the poet punch for punch, in the spirit of such great satiric artists as Hogarth, Goya, and Daumier.
Evan Eisenberg’s essays and satire have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Nation, The New Republic, Time, Esquire, and the New York Times. He is the author of The Ecology of Eden, called by the Washington Post “a prose epic [of] dazzling wit and impressive learning,” and The Recording Angel, selected as one of the “50 greatest music books ever” by the Observer.
This performance will be accompanied by Boston-based musicians The Bad Words, in the form of an experimental piece for circuit-bent electronics and carnivalesque accordion.
Nolen Gertz in conversation with Robin James
About the book
When someone is labeled a nihilist, it’s not usually meant as a compliment. Most of us associate nihilism with destructiveness and violence. Nihilism means, literally, “an ideology of nothing.” Is nihilism, then, believing in nothing? Or is it the belief that life is nothing? Or the belief that the beliefs we have amount to nothing? If we can learn to recognize the many varieties of nihilism, Nolen Gertz writes, then we can learn to distinguish what is meaningful from what is meaningless. In this addition to the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series, Gertz traces the history of nihilism in Western philosophy from Socrates through Hannah Arendt and Jean-Paul Sartre.
Nolen Gertz is Assistant Professor of Applied Philosophy at the University of Twente in the Netherlands and the author of Nihilism and Technology (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2018). His new book, Nihilism, is part of the MIT Press Essential Knowledge Series.
Robin James is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at UNC Charlotte and co-editor of The Journal of Popular Music Studies.For the 2019-20 academic year she is Visiting Associate Professor of Music at Northeastern University. She is author of The Sonic Episteme (Duke Univ. Press, 2019) and Resilience & Melancholy (Zero, 2015) among others.
Join the MIT Press Bookstore in welcoming philosopher, technologist and local author David Weinberger, to talk about his latest book, Everyday Chaos: Technology, Complexity, and How We’re Thriving in a New World of Possibility.
“If you want to better understand the possibilities that machine learning and other forms of AI are creating—and harness the power of these breakthroughs—read this lively and illuminating book!” — Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn founder
Artificial intelligence, big data, modern science, and the internet are all revealing a fundamental truth: The world is vastly more complex and unpredictable than we’ve allowed ourselves to see.
Now that technology is enabling us to take advantage of all the chaos it’s revealing, our understanding of how things happen is changing–and with it our deepest strategies for predicting, preparing for, and managing our world. This affects everything, from how we approach our everyday lives to how we make moral decisions and how we run our businesses.
Take machine learning, which makes better predictions about weather, medical diagnoses, and product performance than we do–but often does so at the expense of our understanding of how it arrived at those predictions. While this can be dangerous, accepting it is also liberating, for it enables us to harness the complexity of an immense amount of data around us. We are also turning to strategies that avoid anticipating the future altogether, such as A/B testing, Minimum Viable Products, open platforms, and user-modifiable video games. We even take for granted that a simple hashtag can organize unplanned, leaderless movements such as #MeToo.
Through stories from history, business, and technology, David Weinberger finds the unifying truths lying below the surface of the tools we take for granted–and a future in which our best strategy often requires holding back from anticipating and instead creating as many possibilities as we can. The book’s imperative for business and beyond is simple: Make. More. Future.
From the earliest days of the web, David Weinberger has been a pioneering thought leader about the internet’s effect on our lives, on our businesses, and most of all on our ideas. He has contributed to areas ranging from marketing and libraries to politics and journalism as a strategic marketing VP and consultant, an internet adviser to presidential campaigns, an early social-networking entrepreneur, a writer-in-residence at Google, a senior researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, a fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, a Franklin Fellow at the US State Department, and a philosophy professor. His writing has appeared in publications from Wired to Harvard Business Review, and his books include the bestselling The Cluetrain Manifesto.
Please join the MIT Press Bookstore in welcoming author Jay Bolter to discuss his book, The Digital Plenitude: The Decline of Elite Culture and the Rise of New Media.
How the creative abundance of today’s media culture was made possible by the decline of elitism in the arts and the rise of digital media.
Media culture today encompasses a universe of forms—websites, video games, blogs, books, films, television and radio programs, magazines, and more—and a multitude of practices that include making, remixing, sharing, and critiquing. This multiplicity is so vast that it cannot be comprehended as a whole. In this book, Jay Bolter traces the roots of our media multiverse to two developments in the second half of the twentieth century: the decline of elite art and the rise of digital media. Bolter explains that we no longer have a collective belief in “Culture with a capital C.” The hierarchies that ranked, for example, classical music as more important than pop, literary novels as more worthy than comic books, and television and movies as unserious have broken down. The art formerly known as high takes its place in the media plenitude. The elite culture of the twentieth century has left its mark on our current media landscape in the form of what Bolter calls “popular modernism.” Meanwhile, new forms of digital media have emerged and magnified these changes, offering new platforms for communication and expression.
Bolter outlines a series of dichotomies that characterize our current media culture: catharsis and flow, the continuous rhythm of digital experience; remix (fueled by the internet’s vast resources for sampling and mixing) and originality; history (not replayable) and simulation (endlessly replayable); and social media and coherent politics.
Jay Bolter is Wesley Chair of New Media and Codirector of the Augmented Media Lab at Georgia Institute of Technology. He is the author of Remediation: Understanding New Media (with Richard Grusin), Windows and Mirrors: Interaction Design, Digital Art and the Myth of Transparency (with Diane Gromala), both published by the MIT Press, and other books.
Please join the MIT Press Bookstore in celebrating author Leah Plunkett‘s book launch for Sharenthood: Why We Should Think before We Talk about Our Kids Online.
From baby pictures in the cloud to a high school’s digital surveillance system: how adults unwittingly compromise children’s privacy online.
Our children’s first digital footprints are made before they can walk—even before they are born—as parents use fertility apps to aid conception, post ultrasound images, and share their baby’s hospital mug shot. Then, in rapid succession come terabytes of baby pictures stored in the cloud, digital baby monitors with built-in artificial intelligence, and real-time updates from daycare. When school starts, there are cafeteria cards that catalog food purchases, bus passes that track when kids are on and off the bus, electronic health records in the nurse’s office, and a school surveillance system that has eyes everywhere. Unwittingly, parents, teachers, and other trusted adults are compiling digital dossiers for children that could be available to everyone—friends, employers, law enforcement—forever. In this incisive book, Leah Plunkett examines the implications of “sharenthood”—adults’ excessive digital sharing of children’s data. She outlines the mistakes adults make with kids’ private information, the risks that result, and the legal system that enables “sharenting.”
Plunkett describes various modes of sharenting—including “commercial sharenting,” efforts by parents to use their families’ private experiences to make money—and unpacks the faulty assumptions made by our legal system about children, parents, and privacy. She proposes a “thought compass” to guide adults in their decision making about children’s digital data: play, forget, connect, and respect. Enshrining every false step and bad choice, Plunkett argues, can rob children of their chance to explore and learn lessons. The Internet needs to forget. We need to remember.
Leah Plunkett is the Associate Dean for Administration, Associate Professor of Legal Skills, and Director of Academic Success at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. She is Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.
Please join the MIT Press Bookstore in welcoming George S. Yip to discuss his book, Pioneers, Hidden Champions, Changemakers, and Underdogs: Lessons from China’s Innovators.
Chinese innovators are making their mark globally. Not only do such giants as Alibaba and Huawei continue to thrive and grow through innovation, thousands of younger Chinese entrepreneurs are poised to enter the global marketplace. In this book, Mark Greeven, George Yip, and Wei Wei offer an insider’s view of China’s under-the-radar, globally competitive innovators.
The authors, all experts on Chinese innovation, distinguish four types of innovators in China: pioneers, large companies that are globally known; hidden champions, midsize enterprises that are market leaders in their niches; underdogs, technology-driven ventures with significant intellectual property; and changemakers, newer firms characterized by digital disruption, exponential growth, and cross-industry innovations. They investigate what kinds of innovations these companies develop (product, process, or business model), their competitive strategies, and key drivers of innovation. They identify six typical ways Chinese entrepreneurs innovate, including swarm innovation (collectively pursuing opportunities) and rapid centralized decision making. Finally, they look at how Chinese innovators are going global, whether building R&D networks internationally or exporting disruptive business models. The book includes many examples of Chinese innovators and innovations, drawn from a range of companies—from pioneers to changemakers—including Alibaba, Haier, Hikvision, Malong Technology, Weihua Solar, Mobike, and Cheetah Mobile.
Greeven, Yip, and Wei offer an essential guide to what makes China a heavyweight competitor in the global marketplace.
George S. Yip is the Emeritus Professor of Marketing and Strategy at Imperial College Business School in London and coauthor of China’s Next Strategic Advantage: From Imitation to Innovation (MIT Press). He divides his time among Boston, London, and Maine.