Software development would seem to be a quintessential example of today's Internet-enabled “knowledge work”—a global profession not bound by the constraints of geography. In Coding Places, Yuri Takhteyev looks at the work of software developers who inhabit two contexts: a geographical area—in this case, greater Rio de Janeiro—and a “world of practice,” a global system of activities linked by shared meanings and joint practice. The work of the Brazilian developers, Takhteyev discovers, reveals a paradox of the world of software: it is both diffuse and sharply centralized. The world of software revolves around a handful of places—in particular, the San Francisco Bay area—that exercise substantial control over both the material and cultural elements of software production. Takhteyev shows how in this context Brazilian software developers work to find their place in the world of software and to bring its benefits to their city.
Takhteyev's study closely examines Lua, an open source programming language developed in Rio but used in such internationally popular products as World of Warcraft and Angry Birds. He shows that Lua had to be separated from its local origins on the periphery in order to achieve success abroad. The developers, Portuguese speakers, used English in much of their work on Lua. By bringing to light the work that peripheral practitioners must do to give software its seeming universality, Takhteyev offers a revealing perspective on the not-so-flat world of globalization.
Yuri Takhteyev is Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto in the Faculty of Information and the Institute of Communication, Culture, and Information Technology at the University of Toronto. Takhteyev, who grew up in the Soviet Union, worked in Silicon Valley before he went to Brazil to study the software industry there.
Zarkadakis explores one of humankind's oldest love-hate relationships—our ties with artificial intelligence, or AI. He traces AI's origins in ancient myth, through literary classics like Frankenstein, to today's sci-fi blockbusters, arguing that a fascination with AI is hardwired into the human psyche. He explains AI's history, technology, and potential; its manifestations in intelligent machines; its connections to neurology and consciousness, as well as—perhaps most tellingly—what AI reveals about us as human beings.
In Our Own Image argues that we are on the brink of a fourth industrial revolution—poised to enter the age of Artificial Intelligence as science fiction becomes science fact. Ultimately, Zarkadakis observes, the fate of AI has profound implications for the future of science and humanity itself.
While viewing technologies fundamentally in social rather than technical terms, Digital Formations nonetheless emphasizes the importance of recognizing the specific technical capacities of digital technologies. Importantly, it identifies digital formations as a new area of study in the social sciences and in thinking about globalization. The ten chapters, by leading scholars, examine key social, political, and economic developments associated with these new configurations of organization, space, and interaction. They address the operation of digital formations and their implications for the development of longstanding institutions and for their wider contexts and fields, and they consider the political, economic, and other forces shaping those formations and how the formations, in turn, are shaping such forces.
Following a conceptual introduction by the editors are chapters by Hayward Alker, Jonathan Bach and David Stark, Lars-Erik Cederman and Peter A. Kraus, Dieter Ernst, D. Linda Garcia, Doug Guthrie, Robert Latham, Warren Sack, Saskia Sassen, and Steven Weber.
Following the success of The Accidental Billionaires and Moneyball comes Console Wars—a mesmerizing, behind-the-scenes business thriller that chronicles how Sega, a small, scrappy gaming company led by an unlikely visionary and a team of rebels, took on the juggernaut Nintendo and revolutionized the video game industry.
In 1990, Nintendo had a virtual monopoly on the video game industry. Sega, on the other hand, was just a faltering arcade company with big aspirations and even bigger personalities. But that would all change with the arrival of Tom Kalinske, a man who knew nothing about videogames and everything about fighting uphill battles. His unconventional tactics, combined with the blood, sweat and bold ideas of his renegade employees, transformed Sega and eventually led to a ruthless David-and-Goliath showdown with rival Nintendo.
The battle was vicious, relentless, and highly profitable, eventually sparking a global corporate war that would be fought on several fronts: from living rooms and schoolyards to boardrooms and Congress. It was a once-in-a-lifetime, no-holds-barred conflict that pitted brother against brother, kid against adult, Sonic against Mario, and the US against Japan.
Based on over two hundred interviews with former Sega and Nintendo employees, Console Wars is the underdog tale of how Kalinske miraculously turned an industry punchline into a market leader. It’s the story of how a humble family man, with an extraordinary imagination and a gift for turning problems into competitive advantages, inspired a team of underdogs to slay a giant and, as a result, birth a $60 billion dollar industry.
In The Second Machine Age MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee—two thinkers at the forefront of their field—reveal the forces driving the reinvention of our lives and our economy. As the full impact of digital technologies is felt, we will realize immense bounty in the form of dazzling personal technology, advanced infrastructure, and near-boundless access to the cultural items that enrich our lives.
Amid this bounty will also be wrenching change. Professions of all kinds—from lawyers to truck drivers—will be forever upended. Companies will be forced to transform or die. Recent economic indicators reflect this shift: fewer people are working, and wages are falling even as productivity and profits soar.
Drawing on years of research and up-to-the-minute trends, Brynjolfsson and McAfee identify the best strategies for survival and offer a new path to prosperity. These include revamping education so that it prepares people for the next economy instead of the last one, designing new collaborations that pair brute processing power with human ingenuity, and embracing policies that make sense in a radically transformed landscape.
A fundamentally optimistic book, The Second Machine Age alters how we think about issues of technological, societal, and economic progress.