MIT Press

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The MIT Press is the only university press in the United States whose list is based in science and technology. This does not mean that science and engineering are all we publish, but it does mean that we are committed to the edges and frontiers of the world—to exploring new fields and new modes of inquiry. (For a time we described our publishing program as chasing "The Moving Frontier," but we've moved beyond even that.) We publish about 200 new books a year and over 30 journals. We are a major publishing presence in fields as diverse as architecture, social theory, economics, cognitive science, and computational science, and we have a long-term commitment to both design excellence and the efficient and creative use of new technologies. Our goal is to create books and journals that are challenging, creative, attractive, and yet affordable to individual readers.

Our history starts in 1926 when the physicist Max Born visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to deliver a set of lectures on Problems of Atomic Dynamics. The Institute published the lectures under its own imprint, and that book is numbered 1 in the archives of The MIT Press. In 1932, James R. Killian, Jr.—editor of the Institute's alumni magazine and future scientific adviser to President Kennedy and tenth president of MIT—engineered the creation of an Institute-sponsored imprint called Technology Press, which published eight titles over the next five years. In 1937, John Wiley & Sons took on editorial and marketing functions for the young imprint, which during the next 25 years published 125 titles. In 1962, MIT amicably severed the Wiley connection and upgraded its imprint to an independent publishing house, naming it The MIT Press. One of the independent Press's first new employees was graphic innovator Muriel Cooper, who designed our distinctive logo and set the course for the design innovations that have been a hallmark of the Press's work to the present day. A Journals division was added in 1968, and a European marketing office was opened in 1969. (Today we sell a higher proportion of our products outside the United States than any other U.S. university press.)

The creative burst and explosive growth of the 1960s slackened with the library cutbacks of the early 1970s, and by the end of that decade the Press knew that it had to rethink what it was doing. We developed a strategy of focusing the list on a few key areas and publishing in depth in those areas. The initial core consisted of architecture, computer science and artificial intelligence, economics, and the emerging interdiscipline of cognitive science. The plan worked wonderfully, and by the mid-1980s the Press was again thriving. As the list developed, occasional offshoots sprouted (neuroscience, for example, was spun off from cognitive science in 1987), while a few smaller areas in which we continued to publish—technology studies, aesthetic theory, design, and social theory—have remained viable and interesting components of what has become a unique mix. Our latest addition was an environmental science list, started in the early 1990s.

Today the Press continues to thrive. In fact, our archive received book 9000 in January 2010.

The Press's enthusiasm for innovation is reflected in our continuing exploration of the electronic frontier. Since the late 1960s, we have experimented with generation after generation of electronic publishing tools. From those messy paper-tape systems through IBM Composers to our present-day use of direct-to-press production technologies, our intensive use of the Internet, and our commitment to new electronic products—whether digital journals or entirely new forms of communication—we have continued to look for the most efficient and effective means to serve our readership. These readers have come to expect excellence from our products, and they can count on us to maintain a commitment to producing rigorous and innovative information products in whatever forms the future of publishing may bring.

Joseph Kahne, Ellen Middaugh, and Chris Evans - The Civic Potential of Video Games

Year of Publication: 
2009
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This report focuses on the civic aspects of video game play among youth. According to a 2006 survey, 58 percent of young people aged 15 to 25 were civically "disengaged," meaning that they participated in fewer than two types of either electoral activities (defined as voting, campaigning, etc.) or civic activities (for example, volunteering). Kahne and his coauthors are interested in what role video games may or may not play in this disengagement.

Henry Jenkins - Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture

Year of Publication: 
2009
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Many teens today who use the Internet are actively involved in participatory cultures—joining online communities (Facebook, message boards, game clans), producing creative work in new forms (digital sampling, modding, fan videomaking, fan fiction), working in teams to complete tasks and develop new knowledge (as in Wikipedia), and shaping the flow of media (as in blogging or podcasting).

Carrie James - Young People, Ethics, and the New Digital Media

Year of Publication: 
2009
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Social networking, blogging, vlogging, gaming, instant messaging, downloading music and other content, uploading and sharing their own creative work: these activities made possible by the new digital media are rich with opportunities and risks for young people. This report, part of the GoodPlay Project, undertaken by researchers at Harvard Graduate School of Education's Project Zero, investigates the ethical fault lines of such digital pursuits.

Mizuko Ito - Living and Learning with New Media Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project

Year of Publication: 
2009
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This report summarizes the results of an ambitious three-year ethnographic study, funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, into how young people are living and learning with new media in varied settings -- at home, in after school programs, and in online spaces. It offers a condensed version of a longer treatment provided in the book Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out (MIT Press, 2009).

Mizuko Ito - Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out

Year of Publication: 
2010
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Conventional wisdom about young people's use of digital technology often equates generational identity with technology identity: today's teens seem constantly plugged in to video games, social networks sites, and text messaging. Yet there is little actual research that investigates the intricate dynamics of youth's social and recreational use of digital media.

Bengt Holmström and Jean Tirole - Inside and Outside Liquidity

Year of Publication: 
2011
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"This is a very insightful book on a difficult and poorly understood topic at the center of the current financial crisis.

Barri J. Gold - ThermoPoetics: Energy in Victorian Literature and Science

Year of Publication: 
2010
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In ThermoPoetics, Barri Gold sets out to show us how analogous, intertwined, and mutually productive poetry and physics may be. Charting the simultaneous emergence of the laws of thermodynamics in literature and in physics that began in the 1830s, Gold finds that not only can science influence literature, but literature can influence science, especially in the early stages of intellectual development. Nineteenth-century physics was often conducted in words.

Itzhak Gilboa - Rational Choice

Year of Publication: 
2010
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This book offers a rigorous, concise, and nontechnical introduction to some of the fundamental insights of rational choice theory. It draws on formal theories of microeconomics, decision making, games, and social choice, and on ideas developed in philosophy, psychology, and sociology. Itzhak Gilboa argues that economic theory has provided a set of powerful models and broad insights that have changed the way we think about everyday life.

George Gessert - Green light : toward an art of evolution

Year of Publication: 
2010
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Humans have bred plants and animals with an eye to aesthetics for centuries: flowers are selected for colorful blossoms or luxuriant foliage; racehorses are bred for the elegance of their frames. Hybridized plants were first exhibited as fine art in 1936, when the Museum of Modern Art in New York showed Edward Steichen's hybrid delphiniums. Since then, bio art has become a genre; artists work with a variety of living things, including plants, animals, bacteria, slime molds, and fungi.

James Paul Gee - New Digital Media and Learning as an Emerging Area and "Worked Examples" as One Way Forward

Year of Publication: 
2009
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In this report, noted scholar James Paul Gee discusses the evolution of digital media and learning (DMAL) from its infancy as an "academic area" into a more organized field or coherent discipline. Distinguishing among academic areas, fields, disciplinary specializations, and thematic disciplines, Gee describes other academic areas that have fallen into these categories or developed into established disciplines. He argues that DMAL will not evolve until a real coherence develops through collaboration and the accumulation of shared knowledge.