Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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The genesis of computer science

By Subrata Dasgupta
Politically, socially, and culturally, the 1960s were tumultuous times. But tucked away amidst the folds of the Cold War, civil rights activism, anti-war demonstrations, the feminist movement, revolts of students and workers, flower power, sit-ins, Marxist and Maoist revolutions – almost unnoticed — a new science was born in university campuses across North America, Britain, Europe and even, albeit tentatively, certain non-Western parts of the world.

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Facebook turns ten: teenager or (grand)parent?

By José van Dijck
Last November, technology reporter Jenna Wortham of the New York Times observed: “Just a few years ago, most of my online social activity revolved around Facebook … But lately, my formerly hyperactive Facebook life has slowed to a crawl. … I rarely add photographs or post updates about what I’ve been doing… Is it just me, or is Facebook fading?”

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Revisiting reasons to ‘unfriend’ on Facebook’s 10th anniversary

On 4 February 2004, a website named Facebook was launched. Since then it has grown to become a global force affecting many aspects of our lives. Five years ago, Oxford Dictionaries selected ‘unfriend’ as Word of the Year. At the time, we also shared reasons why people unfriend someone on Facebook. On this occasion, we asked once again, why you would — or should — unfriend.

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Locating in a ‘Silicon Valley’ does not guarantee success for tech firms

By Harald Bathelt and Peng-Fei Li
In China and Canada, Shenzhen and Waterloo share the same nickname. Both are frequently viewed as their country’s “Silicon Valley”. Despite this shared name, there are fundamental differences between the two, which can be illustrated by the development of their leading firms. Let’s use the local weather of the two cities as a metaphor to describe the current situation.

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Rethinking European data protection law

By Dr Christopher Kuner
On the occasion of international Data Protection Day on the 28th of January, I would like to explore how European data protection law can become more efficient and effective, and better tailored to the needs of individuals.

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Protecting children from hardcore adult content online

By Julia Hӧrnle
In the offline world the distribution of pornography has been strictly controlled. Age-verification and rating stems ensure that minors cannot access hardcore pornography. The British Board of Film Classification rates cinema and DVD content; content rated as R18 can only be shown in specialised cinemas with strict age-verification standards and certain pornographic content will not be rated for cinema or DVD distribution.

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How secure are you?

The internet has come a long way since the first “electronic mail” was sent back in 1971… but with its rapid advancement come challenges to cybersecurity and the increasing threat of cyberterrorism, both on an individual level as well as on a larger global scale. In their new book, Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know, experts P.W. Singer and Allan Friedman warn us that we may not be as secure online as we think we are.

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Protecting yourself from the threat of cyberwarfare

With over 30,000 media reports and academic studies on the dangers of cyberterrorism, surely the threat today could not be greater? But as P.W. Singer, author of the bestselling Wired for War and co-author of Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know, points out — not a single person has died in a cyberterror attack.

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Cybersecurity and cyberwar playlist

After writing Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know, P.W. Singer compiled a list filled with songs to help readers get into the vibe of the book, which explores the emerging security challenges that continue to arise in the new digital age.

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Catch statistics are fishy

By Dalal Al-Abdulrazzak
Despite their wide usage, global fisheries catch data compiled by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are questionable.

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Google Books is fair use

By Maurizio Borghi and Stavroula Karapapa
After almost a decade of litigation, on 14 November the Southern District Court of New York has ruled on the class action Authors Guild v Google. Judge Chin, who had rejected in March 2011 the agreement proposing to settle the case, found that the activities carried out in the context of the Google Books project do not infringe copyright.

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From radio to YouTube

By Cynthia B. Meyers
AT&T has produced a teen reality program, @summerbreak—seen not on TV but on social media platforms, such as Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr. General Electric is sponsoring articles in the magazine The Economist. And Pepsico has a blog site, Green- Label, devoted to skateboarding, rap music, and other interests of “millennial males.”

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University libraries and the e-books revolution

By Luke Swindler
At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) Libraries, it took well over a century, from the university’s founding in 1789, to reach a collection of one million volumes. In the last five years alone, the campus has added nearly one million “volume-equivalents”, mainly due to massive e-book acquisitions.

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Requiring local storage of Internet data will not protect privacy

By Christopher Kuner
Widespread Internet surveillance by governments, whether carried out directly or by accessing private-sector databases, is a major threat to the data protection and privacy rights of individuals. It seems that in some countries (such as the United States), the national security state is out of control.

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Syria and the social netwar 2011-2013

Syria is Oxford University Press’s Place of the Year, and to call attention to the sociopolitical turmoil in the country, we present a brief excerpt from Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla by David Kilcullen. This is a powerful study of the important role technology, particularly social media, plays in the war zone in Syria.

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The Crab Nebula

By Professor Sir Francis Graham-Smith
The Crab Nebula and the pulsar at its centre are endlessly fascinating. The pulsar is a neutron star, with the same mass as our Sun but only the size of a city.

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