As 2014 begins, we turn our minds to the future. Technology, our January theme, is developing at a rapid pace, and we are excited to see what the year has in store for us. Our books this month will keep you on the cutting edge of technology development in several fields: In the world of digital media, The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World by Howard Gardner and Katie Davis researches how the direction of technology development affects today’s youth; The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World by William Nordhaus warns of the major environmental risks caused by our technology-dependent society; Fatal Flaws: How a Misfolded Protein Baffled Scientists and Changed the Way We Look at the Brain by Jay Ingram shows how our understanding of the natural world continues to evolve to save the human race.
Feeling behind on how teens use social media? danah boyd’s It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens provides a nuanced and thoroughly researched window into the world of today’s teen, dispelling some of the myths and fearmongering around these “digital natives”. From a more global perspective on the online culture formed through social media Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age by Alice Marwick analyzes how stratification by race, class, and gender are reinforced in online communities.
Online gaming provides another opportunity to construct and reconstruct identity. Nick Yee sheds surprising light on who plays fantasy games and how offline social norms are manifested online in The Proteus Paradox: How Online Games and Virtual Worlds Change Us—And How They Don’t.
With the constantly increasing amount of time spent in networked digital realms come questions about how those virtual spaces are governed. Cyberlaw expert Anupaum Chander explores the ambiguous trade regulations involved in e-commerce transactions which take place everywhere in the world, but also, simultaneously, in the nowhere-space of the internet in The Electronic Silk Road: How the Web Binds the World Together in Commerce. Laura DeNardis takes on the issues of free-speech and cybersecurity in the absence of a global governing body in The Global War for Internet Governance.
Our technological developments have effects reaching beyond the digital world and into our physical environment. In Water 4.0, David Sedlak details the changes in humans water management systems throughout history, warning that without improvement to the current system, reliable, clean water may be a thing of the past. Can further technological development fix the changes wrought on the planet by a technology-dependent life-style? Earthmasters: The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering by Clive Hamilton interrogates the idea of geoengineering and the reflexive uneasiness that strikes most people with the notion of controlling the planet’s atmosphere.
Here’s to a thoughtful and informed start to a new year that promises science-fiction like advances in technology!