Social Sciences

MIT professor and librarian collaborate on “10 PRINT”: Open access book explores computation, creativity and culture

Posted January 9th, 2013 by Ellen Duranceau

Using a home computer in the early 1980s meant knowing at least some programming to get it off and running. When you turned on your Commodore 64—which you may well have done; it was the best-selling single model of computer ever produced—a nearly-blank blue screen emerged. “READY,” it told you. A blinking cursor awaited your commands.

Many of us used prefab programs to play games or do word processing, but the tinkerers among us wrote their own code, long and short, to explore what computers could do. Take this one-liner in BASIC language that Associate Professor of Digital Media Nick Montfort found in a magazine from the era: 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10. Run it on a Commodore 64 (or an emulator on your laptop today), and diagonal slashes fill the screen in a random way, building a pleasing maze that continues until interrupted.

Montfort posted 10 PRINT to an online Critical Code Studies conference in winter 2010. A lively discussion ensued among a dozen participants including MIT librarian Patsy Baudoin, who is liaison to the Media Lab and the Foreign Languages and Literatures department. Though the code is short and there’s not much known about its history, “it was obvious that there was plenty to say about it,” says Montfort. “However concise it was, it clearly connected computation to creativity, and to culture, in really intriguing ways.”

A few months after the conference, Montfort asked the 10 PRINT thread contributors to collaborate on a book exploring different aspects of culture—mazes in literature and religion, randomness and chance in games and art, the programming language BASIC, the Commodore 64 computer—through the lens of that one line of code.

The book, whose title is the code, was published in December by MIT Press. Besides Montfort and Baudoin, the authors include John Bell, Ian Bogost, Jeremy Douglass, Mark C. Marino, Michael Mateas, Casey Reas, Mark Sample and Noah Vawter. Though 10 PRINT is freely downloadable under a Creative Commons license, its first print run nearly sold out within a month. (This is another example of increased sales accompanying open access.) Royalties go to the Electronic Literature Organization, a nonprofit that promotes writing, reading, and teaching digital fiction and poetry.

Baudoin, the lone librarian of the group, has a PhD in comparative literature, which she says proved useful during the year-and-a-half collaboration. “I understood implicitly that exploring a concise line of computer code was like reading a short poem,” she says. “[As a graduate student] I wrote a 50-page paper on Catullus’s Odi et amo, a two-line Latin poem. In one sense, this line of code doesn’t appear to do a lot, but analyzed carefully, it speaks loudly.”

10 PRINT has a lot to say about a specific time. Though we can easily edit video, chat online, and play music on our laptops today, “when it comes to allowing people to directly access computation and to use that computing power for creative, expressive, and conceptual purposes, today’s computers, out of the box, are much worse” than those of 30 years ago, says Montfort. “I can type in and run the 10 PRINT program within 15 seconds of turning my Commodore 64 on. I can modify it and explore the program quite extensively within a minute. How long would it take you to produce any program like that after you started up your Windows 8 system?”

Montfort is quick to note that his interest in code like 10 PRINT is not nostalgia for a lost era; this, he says, trivializes important ideas in computer history. 10 PRINT itself is far from trivial, which is why Montfort, Baudoin and their coauthors found it a worthy book topic. “This type of program was written and run by millions in the 1980s on their way to a deeper understanding of computation,” he says.

Find 10 PRINT events under “Upcoming” at http://nickm.com.

See also: MIT News coverage of the book

Newspapers from around the world with Library PressDisplay

Posted January 4th, 2013 by Heather McCann

Newspapers from the U.S. and around the world are at your fingertips with our new subscription to Library PressDisplay!

Search complete issues of over 2000 newspapers from 97 countries in 54 languages, including the current issue and a three-month archive. The papers are viewable in full color in the original layout of the print edition, with complete content, including photos, graphics, advertisements, and classifieds.

Titles include the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, China Daily, Dong-A Ilbo, Le Figaro, the Globe & Mail, the Guardian, and Times of India.

 

Get the most out of Google Scholar

Posted January 2nd, 2013 by Katherine McNeill

Google Scholar icon

If you use Google Scholar, you already know it’s a great tool for finding citations to literature in your research area. It’s a massive index of articles, books and other publications of a scholarly nature. (It doesn’t cover ALL the scholarly literature in any discipline, however, so be sure to include the Libraries’ databases in Vera in your literature search.)

Many of the articles in Google Scholar are licensed by the MIT Libraries through our subscriptions, so – in many cases – the full text is available to you. If you are on campus, you’ll see this link in your results list:

Image of full text link

Are you working off campus?   To take advantage of this feature, click on Settings and then Library Links.

Image of library links list

Type MIT in the search window; select it; click Save.  You should now see the full text link in your results list for articles in any of MIT’s paid subscriptions.

OA research in the news: The life of cheese

Posted December 20th, 2012 by Katharine Dunn

San Andreas cheese, a raw sheep's milk cheese made by Bellwether Farms in Sonoma County, California. Image courtesy of Heather Paxson

What makes a good cheese? It’s a complicated question, and one that cultural anthropologist Heather Paxson explores in her new book, The Life of Cheese. Paxson has written about (and eaten a lot of) cheese over the last decade, and in her research she’s met some of the new wave of American artisan cheesemakers, whose force has doubled since 2000. Paxson argues that handcraft cheese production is valuable in many ways: it creates “decent livelihoods, healthy ecologies, beautiful vistas, and, most immediately, good food.”

Explore Professor Paxson’s research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.

Since the MIT faculty established their Open Access Policy in March 2009 they have made thousands of research papers freely available to the world via DSpace@MIT. To highlight that research, we’re offering a series of blog posts that link news stories about scholars’ work to their open access papers in DSpace.

Scopus isn’t just for the Sciences

Posted December 19th, 2012 by Heather McCann

Have you tried Scopus, one of our citation databases in Vera?  Scopus’ main focus is in the sciences but it also includes strong coverage of the social sciences.  Use Scopus to look for journal articles, conference papers and other materials.  Once you find relevant articles Scopus can link you to other related articles in the database and show you other articles (published since 1996) that have cited the article you are looking at.

To focus your Scopus search in the social sciences literature click the Social Science and Humanities button on the search screen:

Start searching Scopus now.

 

Down to the wire with Energywire!

Posted December 5th, 2012 by Chris Sherratt

Where do you turn for a reliable snapshot or update of what’s happening on Capitol Hill or elsewhere in the world of energy? The MIT Libraries are pleased to announce the addition of Energywire to the family of products purchased from E & E Publishing: Greenwire, Climatewire, E & E Daily, Land Letter and more. Energywire now joins this group to summarize Congressional and other energy sector news.

The stories and headlines in Energywire can be searched by keyword or delivered to you through its alerting service. The top story in one recent alert highlighted MIT’s research on methane emissions and natural gas. Updates on oil shale, energy in the Arctic, geopolitics, water and energy, and business developments are all popular topics, along with many others.

As it says at the bottom of each daily alert, “Get all of the stories in today’s Energywire!”

Find it here: http://libraries.mit.edu/get/ew

Collier, A.J. 167. Williams coal mine 90 miles below Nulato, on Yukon River.

OA research in the news: SHASS faculty win awards

Posted November 21st, 2012 by Katharine Dunn

Two MIT School of Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences faculty members have won awards for their work. Economist Anna Mikusheva received the 2012 Elaine Bennett Research Prize from the American Economic Association. The prize honors outstanding women researchers at the beginning of their careers. Mikusheva, who has PhDs in both economics and mathematics, studies econometrics theory.

Anthropologist Stefan Helmreich has won the 2012 Rachel Carson Prize for his book Alien Ocean. The prize recognizes works of social or political relevance in science and technology. Helmreich’s book, which has won several awards, explores marine biologists’ study of microbes.

Explore Professor Mikusheva’s research and Professor Helmreich’s research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.

Since the MIT faculty established their Open Access Policy in March 2009 they have made thousands of research papers freely available to the world via DSpace@MIT. To highlight that research, we’re offering a series of blog posts that link news stories about scholars’ work to their open access papers in DSpace.

Get the most out of the World Bank eLibrary: webinar November 29

Posted November 20th, 2012 by Katherine McNeill

eLibrary logo

This session will provide a quick overview of the World Bank eLibrary and show you how to take advantage of its many time-saving tools for researchers.  It also will provide an update on the development of the new eLibrary website coming in 2013!

Webinar: November 29, 2012 from 10–11 AM EST

Presenters:
Devika Levy, Sales Manager, World Bank
Shana Wagger, Lead, World Bank eLibrary and eProduct Development

Registration is required to attend this event.

The World Bank eLibrary is the World Bank’s full-text collection of 8,000+ ebooks, flagship reports, journals, and other publications on social and economic development.

For more information about World Bank and other economics resources, check out our guide to economics resources and contact Katherine McNeill, Economics Librarian, at mcneillh@mit.edu.

Undergraduates and master’s students: gain experience in data analysis with ICPSR and win a prize!

Posted November 20th, 2012 by Katherine McNeill

ICPSR logo

ICPSR Summer Internship Program

The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) now is accepting applications for its 2013 summer internship program for undergraduates, an NSF-funded program.

  • Explore a research question from start to finish — including literature searches, data analyses, and creation of a conference-ready poster on your research findings
  • Work in small groups and with faculty mentors
  • Gain experience using statistical programs such as Stata, SAS, and SPSS
  • Stipend given

For an example, see a video of a past ICPSR intern presenting on his research project.

Applications are now being taken through an on-line application portal. Two letters of recommendation are required, and can also be sent over the Web.

Deadline for application is January 31, 2013.

For more information, see ICPSR’s page on the program or contact Katherine McNeill, Social Science Data Services Librarian, at mcneillh@mit.edu

ICPSR Research Paper Competition for Undergraduate and Master’s Students

Using data from ICPSR for one of your classes?  Submit your paper to the ICPSR Research Paper Competition and get a chance to win a $1,000 cash prize.

ICPSR sponsors the competition to highlight the best undergraduate and master’s student research papers using quantitative data from ICPSR.  The objective is to encourage students to explore the social sciences by means of critical analysis of a topic supported by quantitative analysis of a dataset(s) held within the ICPSR archive and presented in written form.

Deadline for submission is January 31, 2013.

For details on the competition and for help finding data in the ICPSR archive, see ICPSR’s page on the competition or contact Katherine McNeill, Social Science Data Services Librarian, at mcneillh@mit.edu.

MIT Libraries’ research contributes to award-winning redistricting software, DistrictBuilder

Posted November 2nd, 2012 by Heather Denny

A map in DistrictBuilder

As Americans head to the polls, few will give much thought to how their voting district was created, and almost none will have had any direct input in defining its boundaries. Voting districts are often created and adjusted in a highly politicized process with little voter involvement. A software program known as DistrictBuilder hopes to change that by making the redistricting process more open and collaborative.

The open source software developed by the Public Mapping Project, with software engineering by Azavea, a geospatial analysis company, won the “Data for Social Impact” Award at last week’s 2012 Strata Data Innovation Awards.

“The drawing of electoral districts has been among the most easily manipulated and least transparent systems in democratic governance,” said Dr. Micah Altman, MIT Libraries’ Director of Research and a principal investigator with the project. “DistrictBuilder has demonstrated that the thoughtful application of information technology and open data can promote public commentary and discussion about redistricting; inform legislators, redistricting authorities, and courts as to the range of possible plans; can signal public preferences over redistricting plans; and can educate the public about the electoral process.”

DistrictBuilder has already been used to support redistricting efforts in the states of Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Virginia and others. And in Philadelphia it was used for the first citywide redistricting contest, “Fix Philly Districts.” The public’s participation in these efforts reveals that average citizens are invested in the redistricting process and are willing to spend time drawing high quality plans using the online resource.

The software allows users to create and edit district plans, display demographics and election data, and show additional reference map layers, like school districts and administrative boundaries, among other features.

Altman and co-principal investigator, Dr. Michael McDonald from George Mason University, set out to encourage civic engagement in redistricting efforts, and demonstrate that a non-partisan and open, public process based upon objective criteria can produce fair, legal legislative districts.

“We are optimistic that the continuing effort to make redistricting more transparent and participative will create, over time, a ‘market’ for plans that support political fairness and community representational goals,” Altman said.

 

New Proquest Congressional Interface and Upcoming Webinars

Posted October 22nd, 2012 by Katherine McNeill

Proquest Congressional logo

With so much discussion in the media about elections, how can you get primary source material on the activities of Congress? Try ProQuest Congressional, which has a new look!

Now integrated into a new interface, ProQuest Congressional’s new features include:

  • Basic Search, Advanced Search or Search By Number options
  • Faceted search results, which may be arranged by document type, committee, and agency
  • Unlimited result set, with the ability to limit search results by date, document type, and more
  • Type-ahead in search forms based on subject index, popular names list, and House and Senate committee names
  • Enhanced Bill Tracking Composite View and Member Profile Composite

But it still covers the same vital congressional publications as it did formerly as LexisNexis Congressional:

  • Full text of reports, bills, public laws, and legislative histories
  • Links to selected fulltext documents, committee prints, and congressional hearings testimony
  • Also contains information on members of Congress, campaign financial data, congressional voting records, and other information about the legislative process
  • 1789-present for indexing, mid-1980s-present for full text.

Access Proquest Congressional at: http://libraries.mit.edu/get/congress-u.

For more details, see the Proquest Congressional Information Site or attend one of the upcoming Proquest Congressional Webinars:

1. Using Legislative History to find legislative intent, Monday, November 5, 2012 3:00 pm, EST
Learn how to use ProQuest Congressional Digital Suite and Legislative Insight to:

  • Develop an understanding of the legislative process both:
  • Become familiar with the documents available pertinent to your issue;
  • Identify where in the process the changes you care about occurred – this provides a mechanism to narrow the scope of your search for explanations for why the language was changed

2. Congressional for Current Events, Tuesday, November 20, 2012 2:00 pm EST
From elections to the economy, the Arab Spring and global warming, sports concussions and fracking, Congress is the news and makes news. Join us to learn how to use the most comprehensive collection of historic and current congressional information available anywhere online. Since Congress is interested in all public policy, social, and economic issues, the database is an effective source for general research in many academic disciplines, in addition to research related to specific legislative proposals and laws.

For more sources on Congress, see the Libraries’ Guide to Congressional Publications or Ask Us!

Election Data Resources from ICPSR: Webinars Tuesday and Wednesday

Posted October 1st, 2012 by Katherine McNeill

ICPSR Logo

As the momentum of the 2012 Presidential Election builds, join the ICPSR social science data archive for webinars this week to learn more about their election data resources.

Tuesday, October 2
11-11:50 a.m.: The American National Election Studies: An Introduction
12-12:50 p.m.: The American National Election Study: Finding Hidden Treasure
1-1:50 p.m.: Minority Voting Behavior
2-2:50 p.m.: Latino Voting Behavior and the National Latino Survey

Wednesday, October 3
11-11:50 a.m.: Elections, Polling, and Politics …. Oh, My!
12-12:50 p.m.: SETUPS: The American National Election Studies in the Classroom
1-1:50 p.m.: Election Data in the Classroom

These webcasts are part of ICPSR’s 2012 Data Fair featuring election data.  For still more sessions to be held October 1 – 3, 2012, view the schedule.

 

OECD Coming to MIT

Posted September 27th, 2012 by Katherine McNeill

OECD logo

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is coming to MIT!

Attend a presentation on OECD Information resources by Kathleen DeBoer, Deputy Head of the OECD Washington Center

When: Friday, October 5, 2012, 10-11AM
Where: 14N-132
Register at: http://libcal.mit.edu/event.php?id=163387

Learn about the OECD iLibrary (http://libraries.mit.edu/get/oecd) and:

  • Information the OECD provides on countries around the world, in areas such as:
    • Development
    • Employment
    • Energy
    • Environment
    • Trade
    • and more…
  •  How to efficiently extract data from their vast array of statistics

Note: For those interested in working for the OECD (http://www.oecd.org/careers), Ms. DeBoer will be available to meet in the afternoon to discuss the application process; if interested, contact her at Kathleen.DEBOER@oecd.org.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) provides a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems. Today, 34 OECD member countries worldwide regularly turn to one another to identify problems, discuss and analyse them, and promote policies to solve them. It is one of the largest economics publishers in the world.

FRED App—Take the economy with you wherever you go

Posted September 6th, 2012 by Katherine McNeill

FRED Logo

FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data), the St. Louis Fed’s economic database, has now developed the FRED App – available free for iOS and Android Devices. The FRED app lets you access their full range of economic data – anytime, anywhere.

In addition, FRED just surpassed a new milestone–with over 50,000 economic time series in its database–and is expanding every month. Recently added data include: Eurostat’s harmonized indices, gold prices, more consumer credit data, and vehicle miles traveled data.  FRED data can be searched in many ways and the system contains several tools for mapping, graphing, and exporting data.

Want to explore our full range of economic data sources?  See our Economics Research Guide.

New events-driven analysis from EIU

Posted July 17th, 2012 by Katherine McNeill

eiu logo

Do you rely on the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Country Intelligence (libraries.mit.edu/get/eiu) for frequent forecasts of economic and political conditions?  Have you used their monthly Country Reports or their annual Country Commerce reports?  Now you can get even more frequent updates using EIU’s new events-driven analysis articles.

EIU provides two new kinds of articles commenting on issues and events arising since their last written Country Report:

  1. Featured analysis: ~1000 words providing detailed analysis of an issue
  2. Forecast updates: ~300 words providing:
    • Brief description of the notable event
    • Analysis of the event
    • Expected impact on the next forecast

These both can be accessed from the home page for a particular country.

In addition, one can create a Country Report on the fly to include these latest updates.  On the home page for a country, see: Reports > Generate Country Report.  To access reports from previous months or years, see: Reports > All Reports (takes you to the old EIU platform).  Note: EIU will be consolidating all of its reports onto the new platform towards the end of this year.

For more sources of country information, see the Libraries’ guide to Country Data & Analysis.

Open access research in the news

Posted June 18th, 2012 by Katharine Dunn

MIT researchers tackle big data

MIT will host an Intel-sponsored research center to look at ways of handling “big data,” collections of data so immense and complex they cannot be processed by tools that currently exist. The center will be led by Electrical Engineering and Computer Science professor Samuel Madden and adjunct professor Michael Stonebraker. In addition to the Intel center, the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab launched a new industry-sponsored initiative called bigdata@CSAIL. As a part of the center and initiative, faculty and scientists at CSAIL will collaborate with corporate and university researchers beyond MIT to work on projects like analyzing biological data in search of more accurate diagnostic techniques or increasing the security and privacy of financial information.

Explore Professor Madden’s research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.

Since the MIT faculty established their Open Access Policy in March 2009 they have made thousands of research papers freely available to the world via DSpace@MIT. To highlight that research, we’re offering a series of blog posts that link news stories about scholars’ work to their open access papers in DSpace.

Open access research in the news

Posted May 21st, 2012 by Katharine Dunn

Economist Finkelstein wins John Bates Clark Medal

The American Economic Association has named Amy Finkelstein winner of the 2012 John Bates Clark Medal, a prestigious annual award given to an economist under 40. Professor Finkelstein researches health insurance markets and has, among other work, analyzed the effects of Medicare and Medicaid on healthcare spending. In its announcement the AEA notes that Finkelstein’s research is “centered on some of the most important and policy-relevant issues facing developed economies today,” and calls her “one of the most accomplished applied micro-economists of her generation.”

Explore Professor Finkelstein’s research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.

Since the MIT faculty established their Open Access Policy in March 2009 they have made thousands of research papers freely available to the world via DSpace@MIT. To highlight that research, we’re offering a series of blog posts that link news stories about scholars’ work to their open access papers in DSpace.

Changes to World Bank Resources

Posted May 9th, 2012 by Katherine McNeill

Researching development economics?  Note many changes on the our resources from the World Bank:

World Bank e-Library: http://libraries.mit.edu/get/elib – updated search engine and new open access repository

Provides electronic access to over 7,000 books, reports, journals, and working papers published by the bank, many going back as far as the 1970s.

Note: the e-Library has new terms of use, including Creative Commons licenses that allow for broader usage.   This change was made in conjunction with the recent launch of the Open Knowledge Repository —the World Bank’s new site for providing open access to many of its research outputs and knowledge products.  In addition, a new Open Access Policy will go into effect on July 1st.

World Development Indicators and Global Development Finance: http://libraries.mit.edu/get/wdi – new interface

These two databases are now combined in a new interface with more functions for selecting and displaying data, performing customized queries, downloading data, and creating charts and maps.  Provides statistical time-series data on development and the global economy for countries worldwide. Includes a wide range of basic statistics, including social, economic, financial, natural resources, and environmental indicators. 1960 to present.

Also in the new World dataBank Suite: – new interface

Time series data for over 50 countries. Includes social, economic, financial, infrastructure, governance, partnership, and environmental indicators. 1960 to present.

World Bank Open Data Web Site: http://data.worldbank.org/

In a recent initiative, the Bank has created a new infrastructure for improving public access to its data.  Their Open Data site provides many new tools for accessing and visualizing their data, including:

Library Catalog: Lastly, keep in mind that you can search for materials by the World Bank in the Libraries’ Barton Catalog by specifying it as the publisher in the Advanced Search.

Learn Quantitative Methods at ICPSR

Posted April 25th, 2012 by Katherine McNeill

ICPSR logo

Need to expand your skills in statistical methods and quantitative analysis? Attend the ICPSR Summer Program! Each year, ICPSR provides a comprehensive, integrated program of studies in research design, statistics, data analysis, and social science methodology. Registration is now open for the 2012 session.

For a listing of course offerings and application information, see the ICPSR Summer Program web site

Note that while most courses are held at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, the following two will be held in Amherst, MA:

For further information, contact Katherine McNeill, Social Science Data Services Librarian, at mcneillh@mit.edu.

A Professor’s Personal Open Access Policy

Posted January 24th, 2012 by Ellen Duranceau

Kai von Fintel, Professor of Linguistics and Associate Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences has announced a personal open access policy. He sets requirements for openness for his journal articles, book chapters, and books.

For journals, he “will only publish in, review for, and serve on editorial boards for journals that allow authors to deposit at least the final manuscript version (“postprint”) in an open access repository (such as MIT’s Dspace or the Semantics Archive), without any embargo (such as having to wait for 24 months before making the OA version available).”

His publishing policy for book chapters is the same as for journals, but he “will consider reviewing books or book chapters that are not OA-friendly, because books are a different business from research journals,” though he “wish[es] that there was more movement towards OA books.”

As for books, Professor von Fintel will limit his publishing to books that “have a significant open access component, such as making at least the final manuscript freely available…”

Professor von Fintel has been taking action for more open access to research and scholarship for many years. In 2007, he launched an open access journal in his field, Semantics & Pragmatics, with a colleague, David Beaver. In 2009, he participated in the faculty committee that crafted the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy. He decided to post his personal open access policy publicly now because, as he tells it, “I had noticed that some of my publication and reviewing decisions were made in a rather unprincipled way that I later regretted. Having a clear personal policy will guide me towards making deliberate decisions in these matters.”

The passage of the MIT Faculty Open Access Policy makes it possible for faculty research to be shared openly on the web, von Fintel says, but a personal manifesto is still important because “faculty still have to make principled decisions such as choosing a journal that does not impose an embargo or exerts pressure to opt out of the OA Policy.”