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September Selected New Titles (PDF)

Librarian's Picks for October 2018:

The death and life of the Great Lakes
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The death and life
of the Great Lakes
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The death and life of the Great Lakes / Dan Egan.
New York : W.W. Norton & Company, 2018. xix, 364 pages.

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Review from Booklist Reviews:

For 10 years, Egan, an award-winning reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, covered the Great Lakes. He now channels his findings about these five inland seas holding 20 percent of the earth's fresh water into a vivid, fascinating, and alarming chronicle of an epic clash between natural order and human chaos. Egan maps the unique geography that for millennia kept the Great Lakes in pristine and thriving isolation, a resplendent abundance that didn't inspire stewardship in the new, colonizing North Americans, but rather dreams of wealth from international shipping. Egan charts the engineering feats and failures of the Erie and Welland Canals and the Saint Lawrence Seaway, which were too small to handle the envisioned shipping boom, yet capacious enough to allow seafaring ships to traverse the Great Lakes, carelessly dumping ballast water, which Egan describes as "mini-oceans" teeming with voracious invasive species. He precisely and dramatically elucidates the rampages of the sea lamprey, alewife, and zebra and quagga mussels, as well as the debacle of stocking the Great Lakes with coho salmon, and the ravages of water pollution. The devastation of the Great Lakes ecosystem delivered severe economic hardships, and new threats are pending, including the dreaded Asian carp. Egan's in-depth investigation is crucial testimony to the dire consequences of our profligate abuse of precious earthly resources.

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Cover of Whiplash: how to survive our faster future
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Whiplash
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Whiplash : how to survive our faster future / Joi Ito and Jeff Howe.
First edition. New York : Grand Central Publishing, 2016. 318 pages.

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From Library Journal Reviews:

What comes next, and are we ready for it? Two bright minds from MIT's Media Lab, Ito, its director, and Howe, a visiting scholar, attempt to put our fast-approaching future into a framework that readers can understand. With "everything digital getting faster, cheaper, and smaller at an exponential rate," Ito and Howe propose nine organizing principles to help "bring our brains into the modern era." Each chapter is devoted to one principle and concludes with "The DIY": how to translate the principle into an "actionable strategy." This helps the reader apply the concept to a variety of industries and situations and encourages unconventional and interdisciplinary thinking. Throughout, the authors explore wide-ranging topics including artificial intelligence, the flu virus, and social engineering in an effort to illustrate their nine principles in practice. Stressing the importance of flexibility, diversity, risk-taking, and relationship-building, the book can be used as inspiration for both individuals and institutions to weather the changes ahead successfully. VERDICT A deeply researched think piece recommended for readers curious about the relationship between culture and technology as well as those who plan never to stop learning.

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Keetsahnak : our missing and murdered Indigenous sisters
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The tyranny
of metrics
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The tyranny of metrics / Jerry Z. Muller.
Princeton : Princeton University Press, 2018. ix, 220 pages.

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Review from Kirkus Reviews:

For every quantification, there's a way of gaming it. So argues this timely manifesto against measured accountability and other "knowledge that seems solid but that is actually deceptive." "Man is the measure of all things," said Greek philosopher Protagoras. These days, it seems that humans are the most measured of all things, endlessly tested and quantified. As Muller observes, "a key premise of metric fixation concerns the relationship between measurement and improvement." In other words, we are measured so that we provide more productivity, better test scores, and more money. In fact, as the author notes, when we are measured so fixedly and fixatedly, we tend to figure out ingenious workarounds: surgeons whose success rates are so quantified, with hospital ratings and pay scales set accordingly, tend to avoid difficult cases that can skew the score. The quality of information gathered tends to be degraded with increasing standardization—witness the phenomenon of teaching to the test, which in the end teaches almost nothing but improves the numbers by lowering the expectations and the standards. In a spirited, nicely wrought diatribe that is of a piece with Edward Tufte's much-studied excoriation of our addiction to PowerPoint presentations, Muller delivers some sharp arguments against received wisdom. He is the rare college professor who allows that not everyone should be in college, that "the metric goal of ever more college students is dubious even by the economistic criteria by which higher education is often measured." So what is to be done? Deprecate metric fixation, the author argues, in favor of "the key functions of management: thinking ahead, judging, and deciding." Ask the old cui bono question: who benefits from more metrics? And other such revolutionary stuff. A monkey wrench in the works of HR, bean-counting, and other such enterprises and a pleasure for contrarians in a hypernumerate world.

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Can the Internet Strengthen Democracy?
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Can the Internet
Strengthen Democracy?
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Can the internet strengthen democracy? / Stephen Coleman.
Cambridge : Polity Press, 2017. viii, 142 pages.

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From the publisher:

From its inception as a public communication network, the Internet was regarded by many people as a potential means of escaping from the stranglehold of top-down, stage-managed politics. If hundreds of millions of people could be the producers as well as receivers of political messages, could that invigorate democracy? If political elites fail to respond to such energy, where will it leave them?

In this short book, internationally renowned scholar of political communication, Stephen Coleman, argues that the best way to strengthen democracy is to re-invent it for the twenty-first century. Governments and global institutions have failed to seize the opportunity to democratise their ways of operating, but online citizens are ahead of them, developing practices that could revolutionise the exercise of political power.

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Cover of Prediction machines : the simple economics of artificial intelligence
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Prediction Machines
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Prediction machines : the simple economics of artificial intelligence / Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, and Avi Goldfarb.
Boston : Harvard Business Review Press, 2018. x, 250 pages.

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From the publisher:

The idea of artificial intelligence--job-killing robots, self-driving cars, and self-managing organizations--captures the imagination, evoking a combination of wonder and dread for those of us who will have to deal with the consequences. But what if it's not quite so complicated? The real job of artificial intelligence, argue these three eminent economists, is to lower the cost of prediction. And once you start talking about costs, you can use some well-established economics to cut through the hype. The constant challenge for all managers is to make decisions under uncertainty. And AI contributes by making knowing what's coming in the future cheaper and more certain. But decision making has another component: judgment, which is firmly in the realm of humans, not machines. Making prediction cheaper means that we can make more predictions more accurately and assess them with our better (human) judgment. Once managers can separate tasks into components of prediction and judgment, we can begin to understand how to optimize the interface between humans and machines. More than just an account of AI's powerful capabilities, Prediction Machines shows managers how they can most effectively leverage AI, disrupting business as usual only where required, and provides businesses with a toolkit to navigate the coming wave of challenges and opportunities.

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The Selected New Titles list includes new items in the library collection and is published monthly. These items are available for circulation to Manitoba government personnel through our library catalogue, by email at legislative_library@gov.mb.ca, or by phone at 204-945-4330. They are available to the public through interlibrary loan services at their library.

For more information on the Selected New Titles lists, call 204-945-6384 or email leglibraryservices@gov.mb.ca