Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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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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Why read radiology history?

By Arpan K Banerjee
Does history matter? Professional historians will not hesitate to answer in the affirmative for a multitude of reasons. I am sure many professionals in technical and scientific fields, however, may have asked themselves the first question in a reflective moment without necessarily the same positive responses attributed to professional historians.

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What has psychology got to do with the Internet?

By Yair Amichai-Hamburger
I believe that the Internet has special characteristics which together create an exceptional environment for the user. To start with, many websites allow you to maintain your anonymity. You may do this by assuming a pseudonym, using your initials or just “leaving the space blank”. This characteristic frees people from many of the issues that constrict them in their day to day offline lives.

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When are bridges public art?

By David Blockley
The costly controversy over the abandonment of the ambitious Wear Bridge scheme and current plans by Sunderland City Council to ‘reduce down to a simpler design’ is a manifestation of what can happen when thinking about various forms of art is confounded.

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Social video – not the same, but not that different

By Karen Nelson-Field
Why is it when a new media platform comes along that everything we know about how advertising works and how consumers behave seems to go out the window? Because the race to discovery means that rigorous research with duplicated results are elusive.

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Smoke and mirrors

By Ian Lloyd
Recent weeks have seen a plethora of media postings concerning revelations about the US government’s systems for obtaining access to communications data. The passage quoted above would seem to fit well into these but actually comes from 1999 and relates to the disclosure of a massive surveillance operation, known as project ECHELON which allegedly allowed the US security agencies (and also those from the UK and a number of other countries) to monitor the content of all email traffic over the Internet.

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Government data surveillance through a European PRISM

By Christopher Kuner
The recent revelations concerning widespread US government access to electronic communications data (including the PRISM system apparently run by the National Security Agency) leave many questions unanswered, and new facts are constantly emerging. Thoughtful commentators should be hesitant to make detailed pronouncements before it is clear what is actually going on.

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Quantum parallelism and scientific realism

By Paul Cockshott
The philosopher Althusser said that philosophy represents ideology, in particular religious ideology to science, and science to ideology. As science extended its field of explanation, a series of ‘reprise’ operations were carried out by philosophers to either make the findings of science acceptable to religion or to cast doubt on the relative trustworthiness of science compared to the teachings of the church.

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People of computing

According to Oxford Reference the Internet is “[a] global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols.” Today the Internet industry is booming, with billions of people logging on read the news, find a recipe, talk with friends, read a blog article (!), and much more.

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They’re watching, but are they seeing?

By Gautam Shroff
Notwithstanding the many privacy concerns it raises, the role of video surveillance footage in cracking the Boston terror attack case in a matter of days is well known. Such footage played an equally critical role in tracking down the bombers of the 2005 London attacks. However, in 2005 investigators took weeks to manually sift through about two thousand hours of video footage.

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More than virtual: real community, many ways of connecting

By Karen Dill-Shackleford
Mike was a doctoral student profoundly appreciated and esteemed by faculty, peers, staff, and all who came in contact with him. As is typical in our community, Mike was already a successful mid-career professional. He worked in the tech world and brought his expertise to us. He didn’t have a background in research psychology, but in the last year of his doctoral program, his work was published on nine occasions.

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The father of the modern computer

Who was Alan Turing and why is he regarded as one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century? How did he become the father of the computer science? How did the development of the Automatic Computing Engine lead to the development of the first modern computer? We spoke with B. Jack Copeland, author of Turing: Pioneer of the Information Age, about Turing’s work. 

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On the 100th anniversary of the assembly line

By Vincent Curcio
On 1 April 1913, Henry Ford symbolically pressed a lever that catapulted factory workers into the modern era. That lever was the assembly line, which was started at his Highland Park factory on that date. From then on the organized chaos and time-wasting labor of the typical factory floor were transformed into a process that was much quicker and economical, and far less strenuous.

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Medical apocalypse

By Richard Gunderman, MD PhD
When many people hear the word apocalypse, they picture four remorseless horsemen bringing death and destruction during the world’s final days. In fact, the Greeks who introduced the word over 2,000 years ago had no intention of invoking the end times. Instead the word apocalypse, which is composed of the roots for “away” and “cover,” means to pull the cover away, to reveal, and to see hidden things.

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