Saturday, March 08, 2008

The labor of closed captioning

At long last, my second book, Closed Captioning: Subtitling, Stenography, and the Digital Convergence of Text with Television, is officially out. (I received my box of ten complementary copies from the publisher in the mail yesterday. This time I won't be reckless enough to donate five copies to various UW-Madison libraries.) Here's the blurb from Johns Hopkins University Press:
This engaging study traces the development of closed captioning -- a field that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s from decades-long developments in cinematic subtitling, courtroom stenography, and education for the deaf. Gregory J. Downey discusses how digital computers, coupled with human mental and physical skills, made live television captioning possible. Downey's survey includess the hidden information workers who mediate between live audiovisual action and the production of visual track and written records. His work examines communication technology, human geography, and the place of labor in a technologically complex and spatially fragmented world. Illustrating the ways in which technological development grows out of government regulation, education innovation, professional profit-seeking, and social activism, this interdisciplinary study combines insights from several fields, among them the history of technology, human geography, mass communication, and information studies.

My "book tour" consisted of a talk in my own UW-Madison Department of Geography Yi-Fu Tuan lecture series. My "Introduction to mass communication" class and I were just discussing book publishing recently, and since I showed them in lecture that my previous book, Telegraph Messenger Boys, sits comfortably around the 1 million mark in terms of sales rank at (that means "millionth best selling," not "sold a million copies"), here's hoping this one breaks the 900,000 mark.

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