Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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An appreciation of air conditioning

This week—August 15, to be exact—celebrates the climax of Air Conditioning Appreciation Days, a month-long tribute to the wonderful technology that has made summer heat a little more bearable for millions of people.

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Paul Otlet, Google, Wikipedia, and cataloging the world

As soon as humanity began its quest for knowledge, people have also attempted to organize that knowledge. From the invention of writing to the abacus, from medieval manuscripts to modern paperbacks, from microfiche to the Internet, our attempt to understand the world — and catalog it in an orderly fashion with dictionaries, encyclopedias, libraries, and databases — has evolved with new technologies.

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Rebooting Philosophy

By Luciano Floridi
Philosophy is a bit like a computer with a memory leak. It starts well, dealing with significant and serious issues that matter to anyone. Yet, in time, its very success slows it down. Philosophy begins to care more about philosophers’ questions than philosophical ones, consuming increasing amount of intellectual attention.

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Practical wisdom and why we need to value it

By David Blockley
Aristotle saw five ways of arriving at the truth – he called them art (ars, techne), science (episteme), intuition (nous), wisdom (sophia) and practical wisdom – sometimes translated as prudence (phronesis). Ars or techne (from which we get the words art and technical, technique and technology) was concerned with production but not action. Art had a productive state, truly reasoned, with an end (i.e. a product) other than itself (e.g. a building).

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Oral history through Google Glass

By Juliana Nykolaiszyn
It was late in the day when a nondescript package arrived at my office. After carefully opening the box and lifting off the lid, there it was: Google Glass. And yes, it was awesome. Initially, the technology geek in me was overjoyed, but the oral historian soon took over as I raced through potential uses for this wearable technology in my daily work.

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Cybersecurity and the cyber-awareness gap

“‘There’s probably no issue that’s become more crucial, more rapidly, but is less understood, than cybersecurity,’ warns cyber expert P.W. Singer, co-author of Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know. Cybersecurity has quickly become one of the most defining challenges of our generation, and yet, as the threat of cyber-terrorism looms, there remains an alarming “cyber-awareness gap” that renders the many of us vulnerable.

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The viability of Transcendence: the science behind the film

In the trailer of Transcendence, an authoritative professor embodied by Johnny Depp says that “the path to building superintelligence requires us to unlock the most fundamental secrets of the universe.” It’s difficult to wrap our minds around the possibility of artificial intelligence and how it will affect society. 

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An interview with Brian Hughes, digital strategist

This week is National Library Week in the United States. Oxford University Press is celebrating the contributions of these institutions to communities around the world in a variety of ways, including granting free access to online products in the United States and Canada.

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A conversation with Alberto Gallace

From Facebook’s purchase of Oculus VR Inc. to the latest medical developments, technology is driving new explorations of the perception, reality, and neuroscience. How do we perceive reality through the sense of touch? Alberto Gallace is a researcher in touch and multisensory integration at the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy, and co-author of In touch with the future: The sense of touch from cognitive neuroscience to virtual reality. We spoke to him about touch, personal boundaries and being human.

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Is there a “cyber war” between Ukraine and Russia?

By Marco Roscini
Alarming headlines have recently started to appear in the media (see, for example, the CNN’s “Cyberwar hits Ukraine”). This, however, is sensationalism. What has actually happened so far is limited disruption of mobile communications through Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

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Dopamine, Twitter, and the bilingual brain

By Arturo Hernandez
Before I wrote my last blog entry, I got a Twitter account to start tracking reactions to that entry. I was surprised to see that people that I had never met favorited my post. Some even retweeted it.

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An interview with I. Glenn Cohen on law and bioscience

There are huge changes taking place in the world of biosciences, and whether it’s new discoveries in stem cell research, new reproductive technologies, or genetics being used to make predictions about health and behavior, there are legal ramifications for everything. Journal of Law and the Biosciences is a new journal published by Oxford University Press in association Duke University, Harvard University Law School, and Stanford University, focused on the legal implications of the scientific revolutions in the biosciences.

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Something to like about bitcoin

By Richard S. Grossman
Within months of being introduced in 2009, enthusiasts were hailing bitcoin, the digital currency and peer-to-peer payment system, as the successor to the dollar, euro, and yen as the world’s most important currency. The collapse of the Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange last month has dulled some of the enthusiasm for the online currency.

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Peak shopping and the decline of traditional retail

By David M. Levinson
Shopping trips now comprise fewer than 9% of all trips, down from 12.5% in 2000, according to our analysis of the Twin Cities Travel Behavior Inventories. This is consistent with other results from the American Time Use Survey. They are down by about one-third in a decade.

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How electronic publishing is changing academia for the better

By Hannah Skoda
When I started in my current post, one of my students, off to a nightclub, very cheekily asked me whether when I was young, they were still called discos. The same sorts of feelings are coming to characterize attitudes towards books – our students find it hard to imagine a time when nothing was available electronically.

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