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Moving Money Cover

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Moving Money

The Future of Consumer Payment

edited by Robert E. Litan and Martin Neil Baily

Once we paid for things with bills, coins, or checks. Today we pay with zeroes and ones —digital entries on credit and debit cards, or electronic messages sent over the Internet. In Moving Money, distinguished analysts explore this trend, its development and likely future, and the ramifications of this transformation.

This is a book about money as a medium of exchange —in the past, in the present, but particularly in the future. What forms has money taken over the years? Moreover, how have those means of payment changed in recent years, and how will they develop in the future? And what (if anything) should policymakers do to facilitate those changes, or at least allow them to develop and mature? Brookings economists Robert E. Litan and Martin Neil Baily and a distinguished group of experts dissect these issues and peer into the future of consumer payments.

The landscape of the consumer payments industry will be shaped at least in part by public policies. Historically, governments have had monopolies on the manufacture of money. Any form of payment clearly requires trust on the part of both the seller and the buyer, and the government must establish and enforce laws to secure this relationship. More controversial is the issue of whether, and to what extent, government is also needed to protect the market in private sector payments systems.

Why do these issues matter? The payments industry is a large and important sector of developed economies. In the United States, private-sector payments providers generate approximately $280 billion a year in revenue, while the government invests substantial resources into making money (minting coins and printing bills) or moving it (via checks and various electronic transfers). And the way we pay for things influences our purchases —what we spend money on, how much we spend, and where we spend it. Thus the future of consumer payments is intertwined with the health of national economies.

Contributors: Martin Neil Baily (Brookings), Thomas P. Brown (O'Melveny & Myers), Kenneth Chenault (American Express Company), Vijay D'Silva (McKinsey and Company), Nicholas Economides (New York University), David S. Evans (Market Platform Dynamics), Robert E. Litan (Brookings and Kaufmann Foundation), Drazen Prelec (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Richard Schmalensee (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Net Loss Cover

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Net Loss

Internet Prophets, Private Profits, and the Costs to Community

Nathan Newman

How has the Internet been changing our lives, and how did these changes come about? Nathan Newman seeks the answers to these questions by studying the emergence of the Internet economy in Silicon Valley and the transformation of power relations it has brought about in our new information age. Net Loss is his effort to understand why technological innovation and growth have been accompanied by increasing economic inequality and a sense of political powerlessness among large sectors of the population. Newman first tells the story of the federal government’s crucial role in the early development of the Internet, with the promotion of open computer standards and collaborative business practices that became the driving force of the Silicon Valley model. He then examines the complex dynamic of the process whereby regional economies have been changing as business alliances built around industries like the Internet replace the broader public investments that fueled regional growth in the past. A radical restructuring of once regionally focused industries like banking, electric utilities, and telephone companies is under way, with changes in federal regulation helping to undermine regional planning and the power of local community actors. The rise of global Internet commerce itself contributes to weakening the tax base of local governments, even as these governments increasingly use networked technology to market themselves and their citizens to global business, usually at the expense of all but their most elite residents. More optimistically, Newman sees an emerging countertrend of global use of the Internet by grassroots organizations, such as those in the antiglobalization movements, that may help to transcend this local powerlessness.

The New Political Sociology of Science Cover

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The New Political Sociology of Science

Institutions, Networks, and Power

Edited by Scott Frickel and Kelly Moore

In the twenty-first century, the production and use of scientific knowledge is more regulated, commercialized, and participatory than at any other time in history. The stakes in understanding these changes are high for scientist and nonscientist alike: they challenge traditional ideas of intellectual work and property and have the potential to remake legal and professional boundaries and transform the practice of research. A critical examination of the structures of power and inequality these changes hinge upon, this book explores the implications for human health, democratic society, and the environment.

Off the Network Cover

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Off the Network

Disrupting the Digital World

Ulises Ali Mejias


The digital world profoundly shapes how we work and consume and also how we play, socialize, create identities, and engage in politics and civic life. Indeed, we are so enmeshed in digital networks—from social media to cell phones—that it is hard to conceive of them from the outside or to imagine an alternative, let alone defy their seemingly inescapable power and logic. Yes, it is (sort of) possible to quit Facebook. But is it possible to disconnect from the digital network—and why might we want to?


Off the Network is a fresh and authoritative examination of how the hidden logic of the Internet, social media, and the digital network is changing users’ understanding of the world—and why that should worry us. Ulises Ali Mejias also suggests how we might begin to rethink the logic of the network and question its ascendancy. Touted as consensual, inclusive, and pleasurable, the digital network is also, Mejias says, monopolizing and threatening in its capacity to determine, commodify, and commercialize so many aspects of our lives. He shows how the network broadens participation yet also exacerbates disparity—and how it excludes more of society than it includes.


Uniquely, Mejias makes the case that it is not only necessary to challenge the privatized and commercialized modes of social and civic life offered by corporate-controlled spaces such as Facebook and Twitter, but that such confrontations can be mounted from both within and outside the network. The result is an uncompromising, sophisticated, and accessible critique of the digital world that increasingly dominates our lives.


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Our Biometric Future

Facial Recognition Technology and the Culture of Surveillance

Kelly Gates, 0, 0

“A groundbreaking study. Our Biometric Future considers facial recognition technology through its wide range of political entanglements, such as post-9/11 security measures, the management of urban populations in commercial districts, and self-representation in online social networking sites. Across these contexts, Gates shows how facial recognition's political effects have developed in spite of the fact that the technology does not actually work very well. Written with style and wit, Our Biometric Future will resonate with readers in cultural studies, new media, science and technology studies, and anyone interested in surveillance, privacy and security in contemporary life.”

Participatory Politics Cover

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Participatory Politics

Next-Generation Tactics to Remake Public Spheres

Elisabeth Soep

Although they may disavow politics as such, civic-minded young people use every means and media at their disposal to carry out the basic tasks of citizenship. Through a mix of face-to-face and digital methods, they deliberate on important issues and debate with peers and powerbrokers, redefining some key dynamics that govern civic life in the process. In <I>Participatory Politics</I>, Elisabeth Soep examines the specific tactics used by young people as they experiment with civic engagement. Drawing on her scholarly research and on her work as a media producer and educator, Soep identifies five tactics that are part of effective, equitable participatory politics among young people: Pivot Your Public (mobilizing civic capacity within popular culture engagements); Create Content Worlds (using inventive and interactive storytelling that sparks sharing); Forage for Information in public data archives; Code Up (using computational thinking to design tools, platforms, and spaces for public good); and Hide and Seek (protecting privacy and information sources). After describing these tactics as they manifest themselves in a range of youth-driven activities -- from the runaway spread of the video <I>Kony 2012 </I>to community hackathons -- Soep discusses concrete ideas for cultivating the new literacies that will enable young people to participate in public life. She goes on to consider some risks associated with these participatory tactics, including simplification and sensationalism, and ways to avoid them, and concludes with implications for future research and practice.

 Cover
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Perspectives in Biology and Medicine

Vol. 43, no. 2 (2000) through current issue

Perspectives in Biology and Medicine publishes articles of the highest scientific and literary merit on a wide range of biomedical topics such as neurobiology, biomedical ethics and history, genetics and evolution, and ecology. Founded in 1957, this interdisciplinary journal places subjects of current interest in medicine and biology in a context with humanistic, social, and scientific concerns. The editors encourage an informal, humanistic style that preserves the warmth, excitement, and color of the biological and medical sciences.

Reading Writing Interfaces Cover

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Reading Writing Interfaces

From the Digital to the Bookbound

Lori Emerson


Lori Emerson examines how interfaces—from today’s multitouch devices to yesterday’s desktops, from typewriters to Emily Dickinson’s self-bound fascicle volumes—mediate between writer and text as well as between writer and reader. Following the threads of experimental writing from the present into the past, she shows how writers have long tested and transgressed technological boundaries.

Reading the means of production as well as the creative works they produce, Emerson demonstrates that technologies are more than mere tools and that the interface is not a neutral border between writer and machine but is in fact a collaborative creative space. Reading Writing Interfaces begins with digital literature’s defiance of the alleged invisibility of ubiquitous computing and multitouch in the early twenty-first century and then looks back at the ideology of the user-friendly graphical user interface that emerged along with the Apple Macintosh computer of the 1980s. She considers poetic experiments with and against the strictures of the typewriter in the 1960s and 1970s and takes a fresh look at Emily Dickinson’s self-printing projects as a challenge to the coherence of the book.

Through archival research, Emerson offers examples of how literary engagements with screen-based and print-based technologies have transformed reading and writing. She reveals the ways in which writers—from Emily Dickinson to Jason Nelson and Judd Morrissey—work with and against media interfaces to undermine the assumed transparency of conventional literary practice.

The Ringtone Dialectic Cover

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The Ringtone Dialectic

Economy and Cultural Form

Sumanth Gopinath

A decade ago, the customizable ringtone was ubiquitous. Almost any crowd of cell phone owners could produce a carillon of tinkly, beeping, synthy, musicalized ringer signals. Ringtones quickly became a multi-billion-dollar global industry and almost as quickly faded away. In <I>The Ringtone Dialectic</I>, Sumanth Gopinath charts the rise and fall of the ringtone economy and assesses its effect on cultural production.Gopinath describes the technical and economic structure of the ringtone industry, considering the transformation of ringtones from monophonic, single-line synthesizer files to polyphonic MIDI files to digital sound files and the concomitant change in the nature of capital and rent accumulation within the industry. He discusses sociocultural practices that seemed to wane as a result of these shifts, including ringtone labor, certain forms of musical notation and representation, and the creation of musical and artistic works quoting ringtones. Gopinath examines "declines," "reversals," and "revivals" of cultural forms associated with the ringtone and its changes, including the Crazy Frog fad, the use of ringtones in political movements (as in the Philippine "Gloriagate" scandal), the ringtone's narrative function in film and television (including its striking use in the films of the Chinese director Jia Zhangke), and the ringtone's relation to pop music (including possible race and class aspects of ringtone consumption). Finally, Gopinath considers the attempt to rebrand ringtones as "mobile music" and the emergence of cloud computing.

Shaping Science and Technology Policy Cover

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Shaping Science and Technology Policy

The Next Generation of Research

Edited by David H. Guston and Daniel Sarewitz

With scientific progress occurring at a breathtaking pace, science and technology policy has never been more important than it is today. Yet there is a very real lack of public discourse about policy-making, and government involvement in science remains shrouded in both mystery and misunderstanding.  Who is making choices about technology policy, and who stands to win or lose from these choices?  What criteria are being used to make decisions and why?  Does government involvement help or hinder scientific research?  

Shaping Science and Technology Policy brings together an exciting and diverse group of emerging scholars, both practitioners and academic experts, to investigate current issues in science and technology policy.  Essays explore such topics as globalization, the shifting boundary between public and private, informed consent in human participation in scientific research, intellectual property and university science, and the distribution of the costs and benefits of research. 

Contributors: Charlotte Augst, Grant Black, Mark Brown, Kevin Elliott, Patrick Feng, Pamela M. Franklin, Carolyn Gideon, Tené N. Hamilton, Brian A. Jackson, Shobita Parthasarathy, Jason W. Patton, A. Abigail Payne, Bhaven Sampat, Christian Sandvig, Sheryl Winston Smith, Michael Whong-Barr

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