What We Are Reading Today: Breaking the Social Media Prism by Chris Bail

What We Are Reading Today: Breaking the Social Media Prism by Chris Bail
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Updated 15 December 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Breaking the Social Media Prism by Chris Bail

What We Are Reading Today: Breaking the Social Media Prism by Chris Bail

In an era of increasing social isolation, platforms like Facebook and Twitter are among the most important tools we have to understand each other.

We use social media as a mirror to decipher our place in society but, as Chris Bail explains, it functions more like a prism that distorts our identities, empowers status-seeking extremists, and renders moderates all but invisible. 

Breaking the Social Media Prism challenges common myths about echo chambers, foreign misinformation campaigns, and radicalizing algorithms, revealing that the solution to political tribalism lies deep inside ourselves.


What We Are Reading Today: Flying Snakes and Griffin Claws

What We Are Reading Today: Flying Snakes and Griffin Claws
Updated 28 June 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Flying Snakes and Griffin Claws

What We Are Reading Today: Flying Snakes and Griffin Claws

Author: Adrienne Mayor 

Adrienne Mayor is renowned for exploring the borders of history, science, archaeology, anthropology, and popular knowledge to find historical realities and scientific insights —glimmering, long-buried nuggets of truth — embedded in myth, legends, and folklore.

Combing through ancient texts and obscure sources, she has spent decades prospecting for intriguing wonders and marvels, historical mysteries, diverting anecdotes, and hidden gems from ancient, medieval, and modern times.

Flying Snakes and Griffin Claws is a treasury of fifty of her most amazing and amusing discoveries.


What We Are Reading Today: A General Theory of Visual Culture

What We Are Reading Today: A General Theory of Visual Culture
Updated 27 June 2022

What We Are Reading Today: A General Theory of Visual Culture

What We Are Reading Today: A General Theory of Visual Culture

Author: Whitney Davis 

What is cultural about vision —  or visual about culture? In this ambitious book, Whitney Davis provides new answers to these difficult and important questions by presenting an original framework for understanding visual culture.

Grounded in the theoretical traditions of art history, A General Theory of Visual Culture argues that, in a fully consolidated visual culture, artifacts and pictures have been made to be seen in a certain way; what Davis calls “visuality” is the visual perspective from which certain culturally constituted aspects of artifacts and pictures are visible to informed viewers.


What We Are Reading Today: Stochastic Thermodynamics

What We Are Reading Today: Stochastic Thermodynamics
Updated 27 June 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Stochastic Thermodynamics

What We Are Reading Today: Stochastic Thermodynamics

Authors: Luca Peliti and Simone Pigolotti

Stochastic thermodynamics is a well-defined subfield of statistical physics that aims to interpret thermodynamic concepts for systems ranging in size from a few to hundreds of nanometers, the behavior of which is inherently random due to thermal fluctuations.

This growing field therefore describes the non equilibrium dynamics of small systems, such as artificial nano devices and biological molecular machines, which are of increasing scientific and technological relevance.

This textbook provides an up-to-date pedagogical introduction to stochastic thermodynamics, guiding readers from basic concepts in statistical physics, probability theory, and thermodynamics to the most recent developments in the field.

 


What We Are Reading Today: The Dragon Daughter and Other Lin Lan Fairy Tales

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Updated 26 June 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Dragon Daughter and Other Lin Lan Fairy Tales

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Author: June Zhang

The Dragon Daughter and Other Lin Lan Fairy Tales brings together 42 magical Chinese tales, most appearing for the first time in English.
These stories have been carefully selected from
more than a thousand originally published in the early 20th century under the pseudonyms Lin Lan and Lady Lin Lan—previously unknown in the West, and now acclaimed as the Brothers Grimm of China.
The birth of the tales began in 1924, when one author, Li Xiaofeng, published a set of literary stories under the Lin Lan pen name, an alias that would eventually be shared by an editorial team. Together, this group gathered fairy tales from rural regions across China.


What We Are Reading Today: Cults

What We Are Reading Today: Cults
Updated 25 June 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Cults

What We Are Reading Today: Cults

Author: Max Cutler

Max Cutler’s Cults looks closely at the lives of some of the most disreputable cult figures and tell the stories of their rise to power and fall from grace, sanity, and decency.
It is a study of humanity, an unflinching look at what happens when the most vulnerable recesses of the mind are manipulated and how the things we hold most sacred can be twisted into the lowest form of malevolence.
Cults prey on the very attributes that make us human: Our desire to belong; to find a deeper meaning in life; to live everyday with divine purpose.
Perhaps it’s this mindset that keeps us so utterly obsessed to learn more of the mechanics that make these infamous groups tick.