Writing in the Wall: Social Media - The First 2,000 Years
Papyrus rolls and Twitter have much in common, as each was their generation’s signature means of “instant” communication. Indeed, as Tom Standage reveals in his scintillating new book, social media is anything but a new phenomenon. A fresh, provocative exploration of social media over two millennia, Writing on the Wall reminds us how modern behavior echoes that of prior centuries—the Catholic Church, for example, faced similar dilemmas in deciding whether or how to respond to Martin Luther’s attacks in the early sixteenth century to those that large institutions confront today in responding to public criticism on the Internet. Invoking the likes of Thomas Paine and Vinton Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet, Standage explores themes that have long been debated: the tension between freedom of expression and censorship; whether social media trivializes, coarsens or enhances public discourse; and its role in spurring innovation, enabling self-promotion, and fomenting revolution. As engaging as it is visionary, Writing on the Wall draws on history to cast new light on today’s social media and encourages debate and discussion about how we’ll communicate in the future.
A Window on Eternity: A Biologist's Walk Through Gorongosa National Park
A Window on Eternity is a stunning book of splendid prose and gorgeous photography about one of the biologically richest places in Africa and perhaps in the world. Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique was nearly destroyed in a brutal civil war, then was reborn and is now evolving back to its original state. Edward O. Wilson’s personal, luminous description of the wonders of Gorongosa is beautifully complemented by Piotr Naskrecki’s extraordinary photographs of the park’s exquisite natural beauty. As he examines the near destruction and rebirth of Gorongosa, Wilson analyzes the balance of nature, which, he observes, teeters on a razor’s edge. Loss of even a single species can have serious ramifications throughout an ecosystem, and yet we are carelessly destroying complex biodiverse ecosystems with unknown consequences. The wildlands in which these ecosystems flourish gave birth to humanity, and it is this natural world, still evolving, that may outlast us and become our legacy, our window on eternity.
The Undivided Past: Humanity Beyond Our Differences
Investigating the six most salient categories of human identity, difference, and confrontation—religion, nation, class, gender, race, and civilization—David Cannadine questions just how determinative each of them has really been. For while each has motivated people dramatically at particular moments, they have rarely been as pervasive, as divisive, or as important as is suggested by such simplified polarities as “us versus them,” “black versus white,” or “the clash of civilizations.” For most of recorded time, these identities have been more fluid and these differences less unbridgeable than political leaders, media commentators—and some historians—would have us believe. Throughout history, in fact, fruitful conversations have continually taken place across these allegedly impermeable boundaries of identity: the world, as Cannadine shows, has never been simply and starkly divided between any two adversarial solidarities but always an interplay of overlapping constituencies.
Comets! Visitors from Deep Space
David J. Eicher gives us a fast-paced and entertaining journey through the history, present, and future of these important yet mysterious cosmic bodies. From ancient times, humans have been fascinated by "broom stars" and "blazing scimitars" lighting up the sky and moving against the fixed background of stars. In this guide Eicher reveals the cutting-edge science of what comets are, how they behave, where they reside, how groups of comets are related, and much more. He also explores the ideas relating comets and life on Earth - and the danger posed by impacts. He finishes with practical, how-to techniques, tips, and tricks of how to successfully observe comets and even to capture your own images of them.
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