The Internet Upheaval: Raising Questions, Seeking Answers in Communications Policy
Editor: Ingo Vogelsang, Benjamin M. Compaine
Publisher: Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000
Review Published: February 2002
First, I most appreciate the heads-up on the forthcoming reviews. Typically it is months after they appear that we first learn of reviews in venues other than the relatively few journals that I routinely see.
More substantively, I found both reviewers did an excellent job. It certainly helps having the added space that the online format holds over the strict limits of print journals.
I was most pleased that Chrys Egan thoroughly understood what the volume wanted to accomplish -- and what its acknowledged and implicit limits were. She did your readers a great service in alerting them accurately to what they will find in the book and how it can best be used, as well as what it is not.
Having the perspective of a non-US reviewer is also useful, especially given the readily global audience of an online review. Pat Gannon-Leary is certainly dead on about the US-centric focus of the volume, as well as usefully pointing readers to the several chapter that have more EU or otherwise generalizable content. Although the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference (TPRC) attracts substantial non-US attendance and contributions, it has focused on US issues and approaches. We have left to other conferences, such as the International Telecommunications Society or the East-West Center, the terrain for other regions.
I have found that reviewers for most academic journals, not surprisingly, look at the books they review through the filter of their disciple. Too often, therefore, sociologists criticize a volume such as this for being too economic. Or economists might be critical because its raises "soft" (for some of them) cultural issues. In this instance, I think both reviewers were very sensitive to the notion that every book cannot be all things to all people -- that's why we need -- and have -- tens of thousands of books published annually. Even on the specific subject of the Internet there are hundreds of books on everything from Java coding to speculation on social impact and beyond. The reviewers came with different perspectives and focused on some different elements, but neither was critical because it was not the book "they" would have created.
Both reviewers commented on the number of typos. There is no excuse, but there is an explanation. As Chrys Egan commented, the nature of traditional book publishing does not lend itself to timeliness when the subject is all that surrounds the Internet. Very aware of this, the editors were driven to get the book out before it could get any staler than it was. Moreover, as a selection of research from the annual Telecommunications Policy Research Conference it was our goal to have the volume available at the subsequent conference in 2001. That timetable and goal forced us to cut corners in production. With the cooperation the MIT Press, we went from concept to bound volumes in under 12 months -- unusual in academic publishing. Embarrassing typos was one unappreciated consequence.
So thank you for selecting the book for review, for finding two informed and competent reviewers and for the service in creating the Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies, which I had not been aware of.
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