Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Cover of Marconi: The Man Who Networked the World by Marc Raboy

15 surprising facts about Guglielmo Marconi, the man behind radio communication

Guglielmo Marconi is popularly known as “the inventor of radio,” a mischaracterization that critics and supporters of his many rivals are quick to seize upon. Marconi was actually the first person to use radio waves to communicate. His first patent was for “Improvements in Transmitting Electrical Impulses and Signals and in Apparatus Therefor,” and he considered what he was doing to be a form of wireless telegraphy.

Read More

Experiments in Art and Technology – Episode 37 – The Oxford Comment

Founded in 1966 by Billy Klüver, Fred Waldhauer, Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman, Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) was a non-profit group that fostered collaboration between artists and engineers. Active between the 1960s and 1980s, E.A.T. recruited scientists and engineers to work with artists looking to incorporate new technologies into artworks, performances, and installations.

Read More

How workers can get a better deal out of Uber

Platform businesses are the current darlings of digital disruption. Uber, Airbnb, Taskrabbit, and their ilk dodge the overheads of traditional businesses. Their services are provided by private contractors and not by employees with all of their expensive entitlements.

Read More

Are Americans information junkies?

It would seem so obvious that they are information junkies. With 70 plus percent of the population over the age of 10 walking around with their smart phones—more computer than telephone—they often hold them in their hands so they can instantly keep up. E-books are popular, while the sale of hardcopy books continues to rise. The New York Times boasted in 2016 that it now had over a million online subscribers. A number close to that reads the Harvard Business Review.

Read More

Robert Whitman – Episode 36 – The Oxford Comment

Robert Whitman is a pioneering American artist who, in the company of other groundbreaking figures including Claes Oldenberg, Jim Dine, and Allan Kaprow, performed experimental performance art pieces in New York in the 1960s. In 1966, Whitman would become a founding member of the collective Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), along with Bell Labs engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhaur and artist Robert Rauschenberg.

Read More

Astronomy’s next big thing: the Square Kilometre Array

When I started research in radio astronomy in 1947, the only known sources of cosmic radio waves were the Sun and the Milky Way. Observing techniques were simple: receivers were insensitive, there was no expectation that other radio sources could be located or even existed. A few years later, a whole vast radio sky was revealed, populated with supernova remnants, galaxies, and quasars.

Read More

Uber in Europe: back to the future

Where will Uber stop? After the news that the Saudi’s have decided to invest $3.5bn in the company, came details of a further $2bn Uber wants to raise from financial markets using tecniques never deployed before by a start-up.

Read More

Mapping the moral high ground on fossil fuels

The so-called Suess effect in radiocarbon (14C) has been known for decades. Geological sources of carbon like coal and oil, that formed many millions of years ago, long since lost their radiocarbon through radioactive decay – they contain 14C-free “dead” carbon. From the mid-19th century the radiocarbon activity of the atmosphere declined as dead carbon from fossil fuels was dug out of the ground and burnt producing carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

Read More
9780198777984 Boden - AI

On the Singularity, emotions, and computer consciousness

The term ‘artificial intelligence’ was coined as long ago as 1956 to describe ‘the science and engineering of making intelligent machines’. The work that has happened in the subject since then has had enormous impact. Margaret Boden is Research Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Sussex, and one of the best known figures in the field of Artificial Intelligence. We put four common questions to her about this exciting area of research.

Read More

Artificial Intelligence – Episode 35 – The Oxford Comment

Imagine a world where the majority of our workforce was composed of robots as capable and as psychologically similar to human beings. The robots are constantly working and are faster and more efficient than humans—leaving humans to be pushed towards early retirement to enjoy a life of leisure and wealth due to a large growth in investments on this artificial intelligence (AI).

Read More

The future of libraries and the cultural history of Prague

Inforum, one of the largest librarian conferences in Eastern Europe, rolls into the Czech capital next week. Once again taking place at the University of Economics in Prague, Inforum 2016 promises to be a lively and thought-provoking look at some of the issues facing librarians in the Czech Republic and beyond.

Read More

The invention of the information revolution

The idea that the United States economy runs on information is so self-evident and commonly accepted today that it barely merits comment. There was an information revolution. America “stopped making stuff.” Computers changed everything. Everyone knows these things, because of an incessant stream of reinforcement from liberal intellectuals, corporate advertisers, and policymakers who take for granted that the US economy shifted toward an “knowledge-based” economy in the late twentieth century.

Read More

The trick of the lock: Dorothy L. Sayers and the invention of the voice print

Pre-eminent among writers of mystery stories is, in my opinion, Dorothy L. Sayers. She is ingenious, witty, original – and scientific too, including themes like the fourth dimension, electroplating, and the acoustics of bells in some of her best stories. She is also the inventor of the voice-activated lock, which her hero Lord Wimsey deploys in the 1928 short story ‘The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba’.

Read More
words on screen cover

Concentrate! The challenges of reading onscreen

Our lives are full of distractions: overheard conversations, the neighbor’s lawnmower, a baby crying in the row behind us, pop-up ads on our computers. Much of the time we can mentally dismiss their presence. But what about when we are reading? I have been studying how people read with printed text versus on digital devices.

Read More
Pollock and Williams-how industry analysts shape the digital future

Who’s really shaping the digital future?

The words digital economy conjure images of young, tech-savvy entrepreneurs breaking moulds in a world where technology is disruptive. But could the reality be much more mundane and mercantile? When Facebook released “Facebook at work” earlier this year, the social networking goliath laid a huge challenge at the feat of LinkedIn, a powerful incumbent that had until then dominated its corner of the market.

Read More