Social Physics: How Social Networks Can Make Us Smarter

book_Social Physics

Alex Pentland
Scribe, 2014

Available to be reviewed, please contact tapuya.lasts@udlap.mx

How can we create organizations and governments that are cooperative, productive, and creative? These are the questions of social physics, and they are especially important right now, because of global competition, environmental challenges, and government failure. The engine that drives social physics is big data: the newly ubiquitous digital data that is becoming available about all aspects of human life. By using these data to build a predictive, computational theory of human behavior we can hope to engineer better social systems. Continue reading

Protest Inc. The corporatization of activism

book_protest inc

Peter Dauvergne and Genevieve LeBaron
Polity Press, 2014

Available to be reviewed, please contact tapuya.lasts@udlap.mx

Mass protests have raged since the global financial crisis of 2008. Across the world students and workers and environmentalists are taking to the streets. Discontent is seething even in the wealthiest countries, as the world saw with Occupy Wall Street in 2011.

Protest Inc. tells a disturbingly different story of global activism. As millions of grassroots activists rally against capitalism, activism more broadly is increasingly mirroring business management and echoing calls for market-based solutions. The past decade has seen nongovernmental organizations partner with oil companies like ExxonMobil, discount retailers like Walmart, fast-food chains like McDonald’s, and brand manufacturers like Nike and Coca-Cola. NGOs are courting billionaire philanthropists, branding causes, and turning to consumers as wellsprings of reform. Continue reading

Beyond Imported Magic: Essays on Science, Technology, and Society in Latin America

book_beyondimportedmagic

Edited by Eden Medina, Ivan da Costa Marques, Christina Holmes, Marcos Cueto
MIT Press, 2014

The essays in this volume study the creation, adaptation, and use of science and technology in Latin America. They challenge the view that scientific ideas and technology travel unchanged from the global North to the global South — the view of technology as “imported magic.” They describe not only alternate pathways for innovation, invention, and discovery but also how ideas and technologies circulate in Latin American contexts and transnationally. The contributors’ explorations of these issues, and their examination of specific Latin American experiences with science and technology, offer a broader, more nuanced understanding of how science, technology, politics, and power interact in the past and present. Continue reading