Friday, April 25, 2008

RSA Library Update - April 2008

What follows is a complete list of RSA library acquisitions for the month of April 2008. Fellows are welcome to e-mail the Library if they wish to borrow any of these items, or search the library catalogue for thousands of other titles....

000s – Generalities

Adam Greenfield
Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing
New Riders, 2006, 004 GRE
Ubiquitous computing is the integration of computers embedded in everyday objects with an ever-present network-moving computing off the desktop and into every aspect of our lives, creating an environment where nearly every object is enabled with surprising new properties, from camera phones to Oyster cards. These ingenious systems offer convenience, innovative product opportunities, and sometimes security; but to function effectively, Everyware comes at a cost of privacy and autonomy. As consumers, we owe it to ourselves to become aware of this trend so that we can have a voice in its development. Through a series of brief, thought-provoking meditations, Adam Greenfield reveals the technologies, practices, innovations, and policies that combine to make Everyware possible. He provides clear explanations of enabling technologies such as RFID (radio-frequency ID) chips, Ipv6, ultra-wideband networking, heads-up displays, and shows how they fit into the everyware puzzle, allowing people to interact with the global network naturally, easily, and even without knowing it.

Ronald Deibert (ed.)
Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering
MIT, 2008, 005.8 DEI
Many countries around the world block or filter Internet content, denying access to information that they deem too sensitive for ordinary citizens - most often about politics, but sometimes relating to sexuality, culture, or religion. Access Denied documents and analyzes Internet filtering practices in more than three dozen countries, offering the first rigorously conducted study of an accelerating trend. Drawing on a just-completed survey of global Internet filtering undertaken by the OpenNet Initiative and relying on work by regional experts and an extensive network of researchers, Access Denied examines the political, legal, social, and cultural contexts of Internet filtering in these states from a variety of perspectives.

Nicolas Philibert
Back to Normandy
Tartan Video, 2008, 070.18 PHI
Thirty years after his film I, Pierre Rivière, Nicolas Philibert returns to Normandy to catch up on that film’s non-professional actors and the last 30 years of their lives.

100s – Philosophy & Psychology

Raymond Tallis
The Kingdom of Infinite Space: A Fantastical Journey Around your Head
Atlantic, 2008, 128.2 TAL
The Kingdom of Infinite Space is a journey around the part of our anatomy to which we feel most attached: our heads. In this unique combination of biological science and philosophical interrogation, Raymond Tallis takes the head apart, piece by piece, in search of the place where our souls, and consciousness, reside. From the act of blushing and the amount of manganese in our tears (tears of pain contain more than tears of distress) to the curiousness of a kiss, The Kingdom of Infinite Space explores the astonishing range of activities that go on inside our heads, most of which are entirely beyond our control. After escorting his readers on a fantastic voyage through every chamber of the head and brain, Raymond Tallis demonstrates that not only does consciousness not reside between our ears, but that our heads are infinitely cleverer than we are.

Rita Carter
Multiplicity: The New Science of You
Little, Brown, 2008, 155.2 CAR
In Multiplicity, Rita Carter offers a new and vital understanding of personality. Rita explains that nearly every one of us is a team of personalities, working together, for the most part, to give the impression of a unified self. We are used to thinking of ourselves as one thing or the other - either introvert or extrovert, say - but things are rarely that simple for most of us. That's why we sometimes feel like a different person depending on mood, company and surroundings, why we sometimes suffer unaccountable memory lapses, why we buy something we then decide we didn't want in the first place, or why 'somebody else' turns off the alarm clock in the morning. Importantly, Multiplicity is also a practical guide to building a happy 'household' of personalities, explaining how to identify these different versions of ourselves and how to enable them to co-operate so that we can function successfully in life.

James Garvey
The Ethics of Climate Change; right and wrong in a warming world
Continuum, 2008, 179.1 GAR
James Garvey argues that climate change is largely a moral problem. This book is an introduction to the ethics of climate change; it considers climate science and moral philosophy, ultimately finding a way into the many possible positions associated with climate change. It is also a call for action, for doing something about the moral demands placed on both governments and individuals by the fact of climate change.

Bertrand Russell
History of Western Philosophy
Routledge, 2004, 190.9 RUS
First published in 1946, History of Western Philosophy went on to become the best-selling philosophy book of the twentieth century. A dazzlingly ambitious project, it remains unchallenged to this day as the ultimate introduction to Western philosophy. Providing a sophisticated overview of the ideas that have perplexed people from time immemorial, Russell's History of Western Philosophy is one of the most important philosophical works of all time.

200s – Religion

300s – Social Sciences

Thomas De Zengotita
Mediated: How the Media Shape your World
Bloomsbury, 2007, 302.23 ZEN
Here is the world we think we know presented to us as if for the very first time. From oral sex in the Oval Office to cowboy politics, from Homer Simpson to O. J. Simpson, from Princess Diana's funeral to the aftermath of September 11, from reality TV to hip-hop nation, Mediated takes us on a provocative tour of our media-drunk society. It is a brilliantly satirical treatise on our culture - the real and unreal times in which we live, the cult of celebrity and our own narcissistic response to it. Read this book and nothing that you see or hear can any longer be taken for granted.

George Monbiot
Bring on the Apocalypse: Six Arguments for Global Justice
Guardian Books, 2008, 303.45 MON
In this series of essays on money, religion, war, power, culture and nature, Monbiot explains why we are heading into an uncertain future in which peace and sound politics are paramount to our survival. From his attack on the countries that deny the existence of global warming to his rally against the injustices of the Iraq war, Monbiot turns his gaze on the aspects of modernity that most endanger the prevailing world order.

Jonathan Zittrain
The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It
Allen Lane, 2008, 303.4834 ZIT
In The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It, Jonathan Zittrain explores the dangers the internet faces if it fails to balance ever more tightly controlled technologies with the flow of innovation that has generated so much progress in the field of technology. Zittrain argues that today's technological market is dominated by two contrasting business models: the generative and the non-generative. The generative models - the PCs, Windows and Macs of this world - allow third parties to build upon and share through them. The non-generative model is more restricted; appliances such as the XBox, iPod and tomtom might work well, but the only entity that can change the way they operate is the vendor. If we want the internet to survive we need to change. People must wake up to the risk or we could lose everything.

Trenna Cormack
Be the Change: Action and Reflection from People Transforming our World
Love, 2007, 303.4840922 COR
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” So Ghandh advised. Today, there’s a growing movement of people who are standing up and taking action to create positive change. Be uplifted by the stories of 28 pioneers, social entrepreneurs, activists and campaigners working in many fields - including the media, education, health, peace, finance, business and the environment.

Imtiaz H. Habib
Black Lives in the English Archives, 1500-1677: Imprints of the Invisible
Ashgate, 2007, 305.89604209031 HAB
Containing an urgently needed archival database of historical evidence, this volume includes both a consolidated presentation of the documentary records of black people in Tudor and Stuart England, and an interpretive narrative that confirms and significantly extends the insights of current theoretical excursus on race in early modern England. Here, for the first time, Imtiaz Habib collects the scattered references to black people - whether from Africa, India or America - in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, and arranges them into a systematic, chronological descriptive index. He offers an extended historical and theoretical interpretation of the records in six chapters, which serve as an introductory guide to the index even as they articulate a specific argument about the meaning of the records. Both the archival information and interpretive scholarship provide a strong framework from which future historical debates on race in early modern England can proceed.

Elizabeth Farrelly
Blubberland: The Dangers of Happiness
The MIT Press, 2008, 306 FAR
A leading critic examines the connections between obesity and architecture, unchecked sprawl and unchecked appetites, and other forms of insatiability that are hurting our planet and bodies. Blubberland looks at our superfluous superfluity, our huge eco-footprint, and asks why we find it so hard to abandon habits we know to be destructive. As big becomes more and more pervasive, and success is seen in increasingly measurable and material terms, the goal of happiness jeopardizes our survival.

Neil Boorman
Bonfire of the Brands; How I learnt to Live Without Labels
Canongate Books Ltd, 2007, 306.3 BOO
As a product of a generation that has been sold to since birth, Neil examines the social, historical, economic and psychological ways in which brands have gripped our society; as well as documenting his personal trials and tribulations as he tries to live a life without brands. How will he cope without a hit of his Crackberry? Will he feel naked without his Nike, Gucci, and, of course, Marlboro? How do you make your own toothpaste?

Félix Guattari and Suely Rolnik
Molecular Revolution in Brazil
Semiotext(e), 2008, 320.981 GUA
Following Brazil's first democratic election after two decades of military dictatorship, French philosopher Felix Guattari travelled through Brazil in 1982 with Brazilian psychoanalyst Suely Rolnik and discovered an exciting, new political vitality. In the infancy of its new republic, Brazil was moving against traditional hierarchies of control and totalitarian regimes and founding a revolution of ideas and politics. Molecular Revolution in Brazil documents the conversations, discussions, and debates that arose during the trip, including a dialogue between Guattari and Brazil's future President Luis Ignacia Lula da Silva, then a young gubernatorial candidate. Through these exchanges, Guattari cuts through to the shadowy practices of globalization gone awry and boldly charts a revolution in practice. Assembled and edited by Rolnik, Molecular Revolution in Brazil is organized thematically; aphoristic at times, it presents a lesser-known, more overtly political aspect of Guattari's work.

Bill Emmott
Rivals: How the Power Struggle between China, India and Japan will Shape our Next Decade
Allen Lane, 2008, 327.500905 EMM
Bill Emmott is one of the world's most authoritative international commentators. Rivals will be the book which defines the geo-politics of the world's most rapidly evolving economies and nation states, and assesses the challenge to America's global economic and military leadership posed by the emerging Asian superpowers. It is not just, as many seem to argue, a question of the rise of China. For the first time in history, Asia will not be dominated by just one country or by outside powers. It will contain three large, economically powerful countries, all with interests and ambitions that range across the whole region, and the world. The future of the world economy will be determined by the competition between these three countries, as will world politics. Rivals looks at: How the power struggle between China, India and Japan will shape our next decade, will explore the legacies of history, the likely future trajectories of China, Japan and India, and the potential collisions and intersections between them which will shape the 21st century.

Benazir Bhutto
Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy and the West
Simon & Schuster, 2008, 327.549101713 BHU
Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the chairperson of the Pakistan People's Party, was seen as vital to that country's future. In exile for years, in late 2007 she felt the time had come to actively re-engage and to return to the country she loved. Reconciliation, completed just days before her assassination, was her compelling and convincing prescription for the country at the heart of the so-called 'clash of civilizations'. It argues that democracy, economic development, moderation and modernity are the greatest threats to international terrorism. She pledged to work with the United States and the West to ensure that Pakistan ceased to be the petri dish of international radicals, and to re-establish its bona fides as a realistic and effective moderate alternative for one billion Muslims around the world.

Brooke Harrington
Pop Finance: Investment Clubs and the New Investor Populism
Princeton University Press, 2008, 332.6322068 HAR
During the 1990's, the United States underwent a dramatic transformation: investing in stocks, once the province of a privileged elite, became a mass activity involving more than half of Americans. Pop Finance follows the trajectory of this new market populism via the rise of investment clubs, through which millions of people across the socioeconomic spectrum became investors for the first time. As sociologist Brooke Harrington shows, these new investors pour billions of dollars annually into the U.S. stock market and hold significant positions in some of the nation's largest firms. Drawing upon Harrington's long-term observation of investment clubs, along with in-depth interviews and extensive survey data, Pop Finance is the first book to examine the origins and impact of this mass engagement in investing.

Rob Hopkins
The Transition Handbook: From oil dependency to local resilience
Green, 2008, 333.7913 HOP
We live in an oil-dependent world and most people don't want to think about what happens when the oil runs out but The Transition Handbook shows how the inevitable and profound changes ahead can have a positive effect. They can lead to the rebirth of local communities, encourage the development of local currencies and can unleash a local 'skilling-up', so that people have more control over their lives. The Transition Handbook is the manual which will guide communities to begin this 'energy descent' journey.

Jeffrey Sachs
Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet
Allen Lane, 2008, 338.9 SAC
This is a book about how we should address the great, and interconnected, global challenges of the twenty-first century. Our task, Sachs argues, is to achieve truly sustainable development, by which he means finding a global course which enables the world to benefit from the spread of prosperity while ensuring that we don't destroy the eco-systems which keep us alive and our place in nature which helps sustain our values. How do we move forward together, benefiting from our increasing technological mastery, avoiding the terrible dangers of climate change, mass famines, violent conflicts, population explosions in some parts of the world and collapses in others, and world-wide pandemic diseases? How do we steer global politics when there are now so many who believe they are entitled to a hand on the steering wheel? In answering these questions, Common Wealth examines, digests and judges vast quantities of information from many different fields of study which bear on each of the interconnected areas of politics, economics and ecology. It is a book which appeals equally to both head and heart, and one which no globally thinking person can ignore.

Joseph H. Hulse
Sustainable Development at Risk: Ignoring the Past
Cambridge University Press, 2007, 338.927 HUL
Over the past half-century, the idea of sustainable development has evolved and rooted itself in the lexicon of international development. But what is it? Are development agencies truly committed to long-term sustainable solutions to development issues? Are we learning from our past successes and failures? Sustainable Development at Risk seeks to help us do just that.

Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack
A Crude Awakening
Artificial Eye, 2008, 363.73874 GEL
A wake-up call for energy like An Inconvenient Truth was for the environment, A Crude Awakening is an urgent warning that the age of abundant oil is over. Featuring testimonies from the world’s top experts, this startling documentary reaches an ominous yet logical conclusion - the Earth’s oil supplies are peaking, threatening our ill-prepared, fossil-fuel addicted civilisation with a crisis of global proportions.

400s – Language

500s – Natural Sciences & Mathematics

600s – Technology (Applied Sciences)

Bruce Sterling
Shaping Things
MIT, 2005, 620.82 STE
Shaping Things is about created objects and the environment, which is to say, it's about everything. Bruce Sterling offers a brilliant, often hilarious history of shaped things. We have moved from an age of artefacts, made by hand, through complex machines, to the current era of gizmos. New forms of design and manufacture are appearing that lack historical precedent, he writes; but the production methods, using archaic forms of energy and materials that are finite and toxic, are not sustainable. And the future will see a new kind of object - we have the primitive forms of them now in our pockets and briefcases: user-alterable, baroquely multi-featured, and programmable - that will be sustainable, enhanceable, and uniquely identifiable. Shaping Things is for designers and thinkers, engineers and scientists, entrepreneurs and financiers - and anyone who wants to understand and be part of the process of technosocial transformation.

700s – The Arts

Documentary Essentials: Music
Tartan Video, 2007, 780 DVD
This box-set collects three new music documentaries:
Mayor of the Sunset Strip, the compelling story of music, celebrity and the pursuit of fame through the eyes of pop impresario Rodney Bingenheimer. The Devil and Daniel Johnson Considered by many to be one of the world s finest musicians and once described by Kurt Cobain as 'the greatest songwriter on earth', Daniel Johnston is a man whose life has been defined not only by his musical talent but by his struggle with mental illness. Exploring the sometimes chaotic mix of genius and madness, this insightful and sensitive documentary looks at the music and the man behind it.
The End of the Century Starting with the band's origins in Forest Hills, gives a fascinating background portrait of the eccentric group of individuals who came together to be one of the most influential punk bands in history: The Ramones.

Andrew Bailey
Cinema Now
Taschen, 2007, 791.4302330922 BAI
Cinema Now examines the work and key themes of 60 filmmakers working around the world today, from the cream of the crop of young Hollywood to the new wave of Asian mavericks to burgeoning auteurs from Europe and Latin America. Cinema Now is packed with stunning full-colour photos and exclusive on-set photography supplied by the filmmakers and comes with a supplementary DVD.

800s – Literature

John Kerrigan
Archipelagic English: Literature, History, and Politics 1603-1707
Oxford University Press, 2008, 820.90040941 KER
Seventeenth-century 'English Literature' has long been thought about in narrowly English terms. Archipelagic English corrects this by devolving Anglophone writing, showing how much remarkable work was produced in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. This book also shows the significance of a whole series of authors who were prominent during their lifetimes but who have since become neglected because they do not fit the Anglocentric paradigm.

Norma Clarke
Queen of the Wits: A Life of Laetitia Pilkington
Faber, 2008, 821.5 CLA
Prostitute and poetess, fallen woman and society wit, Laetitia Pilkington spent her life as close to fame as she was near to ruin. Favoured by, among others, the celebrated Jonathan Swift, she was divorced by her husband after being exposed as an adulteress. In London, she survived through her humour and her intelligence - and her skilful use of scandal - on the very fringes of respectability. Norma Clarke's hugely rich and enjoyable biography is the story of celebrity, sex and literature in the early eighteenth century. Above all, it brings to life a woman who embodied the scandal, energy and sadness of a time when literature, gossip and the lives they described were inseparable.

Simon Armitage
Gig: The Life and Times of a Rock-Star Fantasist
Viking, 2008, 821.914 ARM
From punk to mod to New Romantic, and eventually to acclaimed poet, Simon Armitage writes about a life where music and poetry have been core. And about a place, the village of Marsden in west Yorkshire, where he can stand and look out across a huge circumference of inspiration and influence: Joy Division, the Smiths and The Fall to the west, the Comsat Angels and Pulp to the south, Andrew Marvell and Larkin way out east, Ted Hughes and Plath just to the north. Gig is a warm, vivid, wonderful book about music, poetry, family and, always, the North.

J.G. Ballard
Miracles of Life
Fourth Estate, 2008, 823.914 BAL
'Miracles of Life' opens and closes in Shanghai, the city where J.G. Ballard was born, and where he spent the most of the Second World War interned with his family in a Japanese concentration camp. Beginning with his early childhood spent exploring the vibrant surroundings of pre-war Shanghai; Ballard charts the course of his remarkable life from the deprivations and unexpected freedoms of the Lunghua Camp to his return to a Britain physically and psychologically crippled by war.

Robert Fisk
The Age of the Warrior: Selected Essays
Author(s): Fisk, Robert.
Fourth Estate, 2008, 824.914 FIS
A selection of Robert Fisk's finest 'Comment' pieces from the Saturday Independent Robert Fisk has amassed a devoted readership over the years, with his insightful, witty and always outspoken articles on international politics and mankind's war-torn recent history. He is best known for his writing about the Middle East, its wars, dictators and international relations, but these 'Comment' articles cover an array of topics, from his soldier grandfather to handwriting to the titanic - and of course President Bush, terrorism and Iraq.

900s – Geography & History

Owen David
In Sickness and in Power: Illness in Heads of Government during the Last 100 Years
Methuen, 2008, 909.8290922 DAV
In Sickness and in Power is a unique study of illness in heads of government between 1901 and 2007. It considers how illness and therapy - both physical and mental - affect the process of government and decision-making, leading to acts of folly, in the sense of stupidity or rashness. The author is particularly interested in leaders who were not ll in the conventional sense, and whose cognitive faculties functioned well, but who developed what he calls a ‘hubris syndrome,’ which powerfully affected their performance and their actions. Such leaders suffer a loss of capacity and come excessively self-confident and contemptuous of advice that runs counter to what they believe, or even of any advice at all.

Tony Benn
More Time for Politics: Diaries, 2001-2007
Hutchinson, 2007, 941.086092 BEN
When Tony Benn left Parliament after 51 years he quoted his wife Caroline's remark that now he would have 'more time for politics'. And so this has proved: in the first seven years of this century he has helped reinvigorate national debate through public meetings, mass campaigns and appearances in the media, passionately bringing moral and political issues to wide audiences. And throughout, as ever, he has been keeping his diaries. Commenting on the demise of the New Labour project from the re-election of Tony Blair in 2001 to the ultimate foreign policy disasters of Afghanistan and Iraq, he gives other prescient accounts of the government's by-passing of Cabinet, parliament and the party, of the 'war on terror', the debate about Islam, globalisation and the changes in British society.

Jonathan Powell
Great Hatred, Little Room: Making Peace in Northern Ireland
Bodley Head, 2008, 941.60824 POW
As Tony Blair’s Chief of Staff and chief negotiator, Jonathan Powell was in the front line of the talks at each crucial stage. He came to know the key players on all sides, as he strove to win their trust and move the process forward. His account combines unparalleled access with an acute historical understanding, shrewd working assessments of the participants with an unerring eye for the telling human detail.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Featured Book - "Access Denied"

The OpenNet Initiative
Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering
MIT Press, 2007, 005.8 ORG

As the RSA looks forward to hosting two talks next week about the future of the internet; one, between Charles Leadbeater and our own Matthew Taylor, on the former's We-Think, a book about the power of groups of individuals coming together to solve problems, and the ways that the internet can be used to organise and transform these processes.

The other, with Jonathan Zittrain and Becky Hogge, will look at The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It, discussing the physical infrastructure of the internet itself, and questions whether the current structure's provision of openness, which facilitates the positive effects Leadbeater talks about, can be sustained in the face of criminal exploits, on the one hand, and corporate interests on the other.

Zittrain and Hogge have both contributed to the OpenNet Initiative’s Access Denied, a recent study of methods and programmes designed to filter content and restrict access to certain parts of the internet for certain users through a number of different methods, from censorware programs that prevent access to collusion between governments, internet service providers and web-based companies to punish political crimes. The book provides valuable information both on how such actions are taken, and international case studies of what is happening and where.

Far from just being a problem for thsoe behind the Great Firewall of China, the OpenNet Initiative has shown that the structure of the internet is a precarious thing, and that discussions about its positive and negative cultural impact can only take place because these impacts have been allowed to happen, and that that's not something we can continue to take for granted.

To borrow any of the books discussed in this post, please contact the RSA Library.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Featured book - “Great Hatred, Little Room”

Jonathan Powell
Great Hatred, Little Room: Making Peace in Northern Ireland
Bodley Head, 2008, 941.60824 POW

Former diplomat and Blair government insider Jonathan Powell achieved his greatest success when he bought those two positions together. As detailed in his new book, Great Hatred, Little Room, Powell was Blair’s chief representative in the Northern Ireland peace process, where he worked to ensure the success of the Good Friday (Republicans)/Belfast (Unionists) Agreement that eventually led to power-sharing and peace within the province.

Powell will be talking about his time in Northern Ireland, and no doubt Number 10 as well, in a discussion chaired by fellow Blairite and RSA Chief Executive Matthew Taylor at the RSA on Thursday 17 April at 6pm. Book your place for the lecture here, and email the RSA Library to borrow a copy of Great Hatred, Little Room.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Featured Book - "The Logic of Life"

Tim Harford
The Logic of Life: Uncovering the New Economics of Everything
Little, Brown & Co., 2008, 339 HAR

Tim Harford is a leading economics pundit who uses his power for good; instead of devising dark liquidity pools, Harford uses the lessons of economic science to explain the big issues in his Financial Times column The Undercover Economist comments on the news, while his Dear Economist… blog offers advise on interpersonal relationships and snack buying.

Like Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt’s Freakonomics (330 LEV) and Sudhir Venkatesh’s Gang Leader for a Day (364.1066092 VEN), Harford’s The Logic of Life is an economics book that tackles issues both great and small, explaining prostitution, professional poker and your over-paid boss in terms you’ll come to understand.

Tim Harford will be speaking at John Adam Street on Tuesday 8 April at 6pm, and you can book you place now, or contact the RSA Library about borrowing a copy of The Logic of Life.