Note: We would love to know about Arabic-language books about media and technology. If you can recommend some, please leave a comment.
Since we started SMEX, creating a library of media- and Internet-related books has been a part of the plan. Books are expensive in Lebanon, and that’s assuming you can find what you want. We have digital readers (the Kindle, an iPad), but alas, they make it really difficult to share. So when it comes to technology and learning, we really think it’s hard to beat a book. You can read it offline, take it anywhere, pass it on, and you don’t need a username and password to log in.
Give us a heads-up and you can drop by to check out what we have, borrow a book, or read here. Below are our most recent acquisitions, many of them design-related and purchased in anticipation of the Visual Thinking workshops we’ve hosted this week with John Emerson. Others are older or just ones we’ve picked up along the way and have a hard time putting down:
By Edward R. Tufte. 1983. Graphics Press: Cheshire, Connecticut: Fifteenth printing, 1997. A classic from the modern father of the field of information visualization.
By Casey Reas and Ben Fry. O’Reilly. Sebastopol, California: 2010. Processing is a free software that you can use to program visualizations for the web. It’s also an entry point for people who’d like to begin programming. This book, intended for people like me with minimal web development or programming experience, takes you step-by-step through the process of learning Processing. Another, longer book on the same subject that was recommended to me was Learning Processing by Daniel Shiffman. We don’t have that one, though. Yet.
By Maya Zankoul. Beirut: 2010. For a year and a half now, graphic designer Maya Zankoul has kept us laughing at ourselves with her comic blog, Maya Zankoul’s Amalgam, which has been published as Volume 1 and now Volume 2. We’ve got the second one (and will get the 1st one soon). The book is an example of licensing under Creative Commons.
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank. Washington, D.C.: 2010 We picked up this book at a September preview session about the World Bank’s Apps for Development competition, which launches today and encourages web developers to create useful applications using the World Bank’s recently opened data trove. Inside are ICT numbers for all the world’s countries in 10 different categories, like usage, access, economic and social context, etc. The Little Data Books series also comes in other flavors, including development, debt, environment, trade, and private sector and, if you have an iPhone or an iPad, you can download the free DataFinder 2.0 app to read them. If you don’t have one of those devices, then you have to complete an online order for the physical book for $15 a copy—or stop by SMEX. Inexplicably, I can’t find downloadable PDFs.
By Nik Gowing. Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Challenges Series, University of Oxford: 2009. The BBC World presenter writes about the shift that is taking place in journalism as a result of the explosion of digital tools and means of expression using case studies from China, Burma, Iran, Israel, and the US to make his point. We received this book at “Emerging Technologies, Emerging Demoracies,” an IREX-IWPR sponsored conference in Erbil, Iraq, where Gowing spoke in late September.
Paola Antonelli. The Museum of Modern Art, New York: 2008. This catalog from the 2008 exhibition gives us a glimpse of what the intersection of design and digital technologies may bring. It includes visualizations of the Internet, fantasies about creating new bodyparts, and objects like the Solar Bottle, a water container that disinfects water by exposing it to the UV-A radiation in sunlight.
At the Edge of the City: Reinhabiting Public Space Toward the Recovery of Beirut’s Horsh al-Sanawbar
Edited by Fadi Shayya. Discursive Formations. Beirut, Lebanon: 2010. This beautiful, contemplative collection of essays, photographs, information graphics, and even a poster and a DVD movie related to Beirut’s largest (almost 330,000 square meters) but mostly inaccessible green space, Horsh Al-Sanawbar. Not just a longing for what a Beirut park could be, the book is a call to action. You can buy a copy at local bookstores (we like Papercup) for $30 or visit attheedgeofthecity.wordpress.com to learn more and download free stuff.
2nd (Collaborative) Edition, 2010. This book was a gift from @noneck, Noel Hidalgo, a open-source evangelist whose day job revolves around making New York State senators more accountable to their constituents. The book, produced in a book sprint, presents ideas about the nature of collaboration and where it’s taking us in the context of digital and network technologies. We were especially gratified to learn that the event we organized with Arab Techies earlier this year was included as an example (page 139). http://collaborative-futures.org/
Arab Media: Power and Weakness
Edited by Kai Hafez. Continuum International Publishing Group Inc., New York: 2008. This is a collection of academic papers by the likes of Naomi Sakr, Marc Lynch, and other scholars of Arab media. The chapters include Media Effects, Media Audiences, Media Content, Media Ethics, Media Economy, Media Law and Policy, and Media Cultures. Rather than explaining or defining or describing what is Arab media, many of the articles (and the collection as a whole) focus on identifying areas needing more scholarship. With that in mind, this might be a good starting point for a graduate student preparing to do research. Two of the papers deal specifically with the Lebanese media environment, one on television, the other on ethics.