Research Reflections: Dr. Alexander Monea

On March 29, join us in 2001 Fenwick Library from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Dr. Alexander Monea, Assistant Professor serving jointly in George Mason’s English Department and Cultural Studies Department, will present “I Know It When I See It” – An Overview of Google’s Safe Search & the Politics of Automating Judgment. In this presentation, he refers to such “I-know-it-when-I-see-it” concepts as extra-linguistic concepts because they contain an intuitive, inductive, and/or felt component in the classificatory logic that affords their generalization. This paper argues that contemporary machine learning applications have successfully operationalized this classificatory logic at mass scale, and he looks to Google’s work to filter Not Safe For Work (NSFW) images as a particularly compelling success story.

This presentation continues the Mason Libraries’ new Research Reflections series.

Playfair Book Launch: March 22

Join the University Libraries on Thursday, March 22 for the George Mason University Press book launch for Playfair: The True Story of the British Secret Agent Who Changed How We See the World. The event will take place in the Fenwick Library Main Reading room, from 2 – 3:30 p.m.

William Playfair may be the most famous person you have never heard of. Best known today as the inventor of “statistical graphics”—the line, bar, and pie charts we all use today—Playfair was also a pioneer in strategic analysis, and a secret agent who carried out espionage and subversion against France on behalf of Great Britain.

This is the first book to uncover the full, true account of this remarkable, colorful man—undeniably brilliant, hopelessly flawed, and fundamentally important. Its pages reveal the astounding inventions and adventures of this larger-than-life swashbuckler, rogue, genius, and patriot.

“In addition to being a draftsman, inventor, company promoter, land speculator, economist, patriotic pamphleteer and bank-note counterfeiter, Playfair was a secret agent and international conspirator… He was adept at ducking and weaving from the truth, covering his tracks, mystifying his motives, and protecting his sources. Mr. Berkowitz’s Playfair is above all a work of ingenious detection and reconstruction.” —The Wall Street Journal

Books will be available for purchase at the event, and refreshments will be provided. The event is co-sponsored by the University Bookstore.

About the Author: Bruce Berkowitz is the author of several books and articles about national security, history, and international relations.

About GMU Press: The George Mason University Press supports the academic mission of George Mason University by publishing peer-reviewed, scholarly works of distinction, written by authors from a wide range of intellectual perspectives, for a diverse, worldwide readership. GMU Press publishes in a variety of disciplines with special focus on the history, politics, and culture of Northern Virginia and the wider District of Columbia metropolitan area, as well as other topics such as public policy, international affairs, and higher education.

Libraries hosts German Embassy Exhibition, Opening reception March 19

On March 19, all are invited to join the Libraries in the Fenwick Main Reading Room (on the second floor of Fenwick Library) to mark the opening of a new exhibition of posters related to the integration of immigrants and refugees into German society.

From 3 to 3:45pm, Christian Heusermann, Chief of Staff to the German Ambassador, will talk about the subject matter of the posters. A reception, sponsored by Mason’s Modern and Classical Languages, will follow in Fenwick Gallery.

The exhibition, on display in Fenwick Gallery from March 19 through April 6, was arranged in conjunction with the Modern and Classical Languages department and the German Embassy.

The posters, on loan from the German Embassy, provide a nice complement to the East German poster collections housed in the Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center. The collections feature posters from 1943-2009 on topics ranging from political to performing arts to culture and science to film and art exhibitions.

About the Exhibition: Immigration has shaped Germany since World War II. In the wake of the refugee crisis, the number of migrants in Germany and Europe increased significantly. By the end of 2016, Germany was home to 10 million people with non-German citizenship. Migrants now make up a slightly bigger share of the population in Germany than in the United States. In response to the influx of refugees, the German government, local authorities, and civil society intensified their efforts to integrate the immigrants and to provide opportunities that strengthen the country’s workforce. Refugees fill the need for skilled workers but lack of language skills and training slow down the integration process. Facing this enormous integration challenge, the government is combating the root causes for flight in the refugees’ home countries, and has taken additional measures to address security concerns in Germany. This exhibition provides facts about immigration in Germany as well as stories about immigrants and refugees who came to Germany and made a positive difference.

About the Fenwick Gallery: Fenwick Gallery is part of the University Libraries and is located in Fenwick Library on Mason’s Fairfax campus. The Gallery is dedicated to exhibiting high quality works by students, faculty, staff, and other emerging and experienced artists. The gallery is open during Library business hours; see library.gmu.edu and fenwickgallery.gmu.edu for more information about hours and exhibitions.

About the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC): SCRC supports the research and teaching missions of the University by collecting, preserving and providing access to archival and rare book collections relevant to academic programs. SCRC librarians and archivists are dedicated to providing a secure and welcoming environment for researchers and encourage use of SCRC’s rare and primary source research materials. For more information about visiting SCRC and the collections housed there, see scrc.gmu.edu.