Friday, October 28, 2016

Miss Me?

So, I know everyone has been asking where I've been, blogwise, why I haven't been posting, when will I be back, why the hiatus, when will our long national nightmare be over, that sort of thing. Or not. But I feel like I owe you an explanation, even if you don't feel the same way. It's sort of like why we say oops! when we trip or drop something, a bit of face-saving for our own sake, if not for others.

Anyway, here's the story. I've been working on a book, it was under deadline, I was way behind, got an extension, but still wanted even more than needed to get it done, not just for the sake of meeting the extended deadline, but for my own peace of mind. This is a book that I needed to get done. Anything else would be something I wanted to do, that would be nice to do, or good for my career, or whatever. But this is a book that, in my mind, it was necessary for me to do. It may sound morbid, but you never know when you will be called away, so to speak, and this is a book I needed to complete before going to my just desserts or wavy gravy or whatever.

And no, it's not a magnum opus, or magnum pi (π to the nth place). It's more like a manifesto maybe, or just a statement setting out some basics. Can you guess what the topic is? If you know me, you probably have, yup, it's media ecology. As you may know, I long ago said I was working on a book called Understanding Media Ecology. And I was, but other things came up, like starting up the Media Ecology Association. Later on, I was asked to write a review essay on media ecology for the Jesuit journal, Communication Research Trends, which I did, it was entitled "A Media Ecology Review," and it was quite extended, taking up the entirety of the Volume 23, Number 2 issue back in 2004. I then revised and updated that review of the literature, incorporating it into my 2006 book, Echoes and Reflections: On Media Ecology as a Field of Study.

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Echoes and Reflections represented one part of what I had wanted to do in Understanding Media Ecology, and I would have moved on to the next part, but other things came up, like becoming executive director of the Institute of General Semantics, a position I held for three years before moving on. I had always considered general semantics to be part of the field of media ecology, but I developed a deeper understanding of its significance at this time, and while Neil Postman's assertion that media ecology is general semantics writ large may not have been entirely accurate, he was definitely correct in noting the strong connection between the two. During this period, I wrote a number of essays exploring general semantics and its connection to systems theory as well as media ecology, and collected them, along with a few earlier pieces, for my book published by the IGS in 2011, On the Binding Biases of Time and Other Essays on General Semantics and Media Ecology.

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Two of the essays in On the Binding Biases of Time were about Neil Postman, which perhaps had something to do with an editor at the publisher Peter Lang asking if I would be willing to write a book following up on Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death. It was an offer I couldn't refuse, the result being Amazing Ourselves to Death: Neil Postman's Brave New World Revisited, published in 2014.

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Amazing Ourselves to Death included a relatively concise explanation of media ecology as a field and intellectual tradition. Following the publication of the book, I agreed to edit a book series for Peter Lang on media ecology. I had previously edited a book series entitled Media Ecology for Hampton Press, and since they wanted to differentiate this new series from the old one, we discussed some possibilities, and I reluctantly mentioned my book title, Understanding Media Ecology, which turned out to be the best choice for the series, hence Peter Lang's Understanding Media Ecology book series. By the way, two books have already been published in the series, including The Future of the Library by Robert K. Logan and Marshall McLuhan.

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So, with my original title taken, and my thinking on the subject evolving, the new title I decided on was simply Media Ecology, and the subtitle I came up with was, An Approach to Understanding the Human Condition. This book is a synthesis that I hope will serve as an introduction to media ecology, and as a way of moving the field forward. What I hope it does is set out some foundations for media ecological inquiry, while providing a philosophical foundation for the field.

So, anyway, that's what I've been up to, and I was determined to get the thing done, so I set aside all non-essential activities, like blogging. It's a book that I had to get done out of my sense of obligation, entirely my own sense I hasten to add, to my mentors, to Neil Postman and Christine Nystrom. The book is now out for peer review, and should be in print some time next year. Now that it's done, I'm still trying to catch up on other obligations, but I do hope to have some time for Blog Time Passing, for whatever it's worth. So, see you soon!