Living Books About Life
July 29, 2014 12:57 PM   Subscribe

"... a series of curated, open access books about life — with life understood both philosophically and biologically — which provide a bridge between the humanities and the sciences." Although they offer "frozen PDFs," these books—on topics like biosemiotics, animal experience, and air—are curated collections of links to open access science articles, reviews, interviews, podcasts, sometimes with embedded sounds and videos. They have ISBN numbers and editors vetted by the Open Humanities Press, which is generally a gold mine of interesting books and journals. They feel perfectly at home on the open internet, evoking hope and nostalgia for a flourishing academic world wide web, without paywalls and login screens.

The list of Living Books so far, with editors, and for the first few only (sorry!), an arbitrary quote from the editors' introduction, to give some indication:
  • Animal Experience
  • Leon Niemoczynski and Stephanie Theodorou
    By examining the emotional lives of animals and how they are communicated, we hope to re-examine how human beings interact with, and relate to, other living creatures that are capable of experiencing emotional lives.
  • Another Technoscience is Possible — Agricultural Lessons for the Posthumanities
  • Gabriela Méndez Cota
    ...if another technoscience is possible, the humanities must continue to articulate their self-critique with the self-critique of Western science and to to be willing to 'interbreed' with local knowledges as part of the struggle for an alternative agriculture.
  • Astrobiology and the Search for Life on Mars
  • Sarah Kember
    On a note of pure speculation, I cannot help but wonder if a relatively stable era or phase of psychic realism will not be achieved until or unless we find – dead or alive – the first Martian microbe whose existence is not disputed and which is, if not strictly analogous, then at least related to our own. Our relationality with aliens, in other words, may need to be spelled out.
  • Bioethics™ — Life, Politics, Economics
  • Joanna Zylinska
    (T)he preeminence of autonomy as an ethical value within bioethics is deeply related to the increasing commoditization of medicine in developed countries. For the more that medical practices are justified by reference to patient choice, the more that patients will be viewed as ‘clients’ and health care professionals perceived as ‘service providers’.
  • Biosemiotics — Nature | Culture | Science | Semiosis
  • Wendy Wheeler
    In a culture so close to log-jam with ‘information’, but low on meaning and purpose (aside from material profit), such a wider understanding of ‘wealth’ as richness of (bio)semiotic flexibility and responsiveness, rather than as mastery in terms of biopower, biopolitics and bioprofit, might go some way towards overcoming technological modernity’s rigidifying disciplinary tendencies.
  • Cognition and Decision in Non-Human Biological Organisms
  • Steven Shaviro
    What is the relationship between life and thought? Are all living organisms capable of thinking? Or is thought restricted to animals with nervous systems and brains? Or is it restricted only to human beings, or to us and a few of the other ‘higher’ animals?
  • Cosmetic Surgery — Medicine, Culture, Beauty
  • Bernadette Wegenstein
    ...cosmetic surgery is the quintessential expression of today's makeover discourse, a discourse whose primary dictum is bodily improvement—both moral and aesthetic.
  • Creative Evolution — Natural Selection and the Urge to Remix
  • Mark Amerika
  • Digitize Me, Visualize Me, Search Me — Open Science and its Discontents
  • Gary Hall
  • Energy Connections — Living Forces in Inter/Intra-Action
  • Manuela Rossini
  • Extinction
  • Claire Colebrook
  • Human Genomics — From Hypothetical Genes to Biological Materialisations
  • Kate O'Riordan
  • Life in Code and Software — Mediated Life in a Complex Computational Ecology
  • David M. Berry
  • Medianatures — the Materiality of Information Technology and Electronic Waste
  • Jussi Parikka
  • Nerves of Perception — Motor and Sensory Experience in Neuroscience
  • Anna Munster
  • Neurofutures — Brain-Machine Interfaces and Collective Minds
  • Tim Lenoir
  • Partial Life
  • Oron Catts and Ionatt Zurr
  • Pharmacology
  • David Boothroyd
  • Symbiosis — Ecologies, Assemblages and Evolution
  • Janneke Adema and Pete Woodbridge
  • The in/visible
  • Clare Birchall
  • The Life of Air — Dwelling, Communicating, Manipulating
  • Monika Bakke
  • The Mediations of Consciousness
  • Alberto López Cuenca
  • The Unborn Human
  • Deborah Lupton
  • Ubiquitous Surveillance
  • David Parry
  • Veterinary Science — Humans, Animals and Health
  • Erica Fudge and Clare Palmer
posted by mbrock (7 comments total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:00 PM on July 29, 2014

Well look who's wearing their awesome pants today.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:11 PM on July 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

The landing page for the site is beautiful. Rows and rows of lovely book covers.

Click on a book cover and you get the list of contents and links to other things. They appear to each be pretty substantive.

I have done a little, tiny bit of looking around. I feel a little like that scene in Bedazzled where the (multiple thousands of pages) contract is dropped in the guy's lap and he is rushed to sign it without reading it.

I mean, you know, I would like to do this FPP justice and make a meatier comment than "Whoa!" but I am not sure there is, really, anything more to add. I think that about sums it up.

Oh, and: thank you! I have an interest in open source science and I hope to come back to this often.
posted by Michele in California at 1:48 PM on July 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah, this is a big post and the amount of time it would take to read all this stuff is just unthinkable! I did a lazy selection, i.e. all of it. For me personally, I enjoy how this collection leads me to read things I would never normally read, like the stuff about veterinary science.

Actually I recognized Erica Fudge's name from a good essay I once read about Francis Bacon and vegetarianism, and her own essay in the "living book," Pest Friends, turns out to be a personal and philosophical reflection on mice (and other pests) in urban homes.

Also, it's not my habit to read clinical articles about veterinary practice, but wonderfully, the book includes Rehabilitation of a Paraplegic Kitten with Acute Depression, a heartwarming story couched in medical terms. The kitten is of course "the patient."

If y'all find any particular gems, I suppose this thread could be used for sharing quotes and recommendations.
posted by mbrock at 2:00 PM on July 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh my god. This is an amazing post. Favorited for my 'list of amazing posts with tons of reading I really do intend to get through. One day. Someday."
posted by Lutoslawski at 5:36 PM on July 29, 2014

Awesome first post. Bravo....and thanks for sharing.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:45 PM on July 29, 2014

They feel perfectly at home on the open internet, evoking hope and nostalgia for a flourishing academic world wide web, without paywalls and login screens.

Alas, they are not quick reads about cat jokes or gender politics, and so very few will explore them.

I started reading the first one listed, Animal Experience, on my ride home last night. I picked it up again on my ride in this morning. I think I have new transit reading, so many thanks for sharing!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:06 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

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