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Books of Interest

Reviewed by Dean Tudor


Dictionary of the Internet
Darrel Ince
Oxford University Press
2001, 340pp, 16.99 pounds sterling, ISBN 0-19-280124-4 paper covers
Contains CD-ROM

Ince, an academic teaching computer, is the author of over 28 books in the field. This dictionary has about 3600 entries, mostly jargon from networking and Internet usage, with many abbreviations and technical terms (derived from TCP/IP protocols). Areas covered include email, web, ecommerce, security, intranets. There are internal cross-references to other entries. Typical words include handshake, route tracing, asynchronous learning, and copycat page. Among the abbreviations are all the popular chat room/forum phrases. However, while there is RTM (Read the Manual)-a phrase I have NEVER EVER seen - there is no mention of what I have seen: RTFM (which inserts the appropriate word F*cking). In addition, a section on emoticons only shows ten of them. The accompanying CD-ROM of eight megabytes has the full text of the book, with hyperlinks between entries and to external websites. Its website at Oxford has all the updates since 2000 (www.askoxford.com/worldofwords/internet). While these can be downloaded, they cannot be added to the CD-ROM. Here, you can toggle between UK and US viewpoints, and you can check out links to the OED, Quotations, and History of English. Ince also produces research (on the website) which shows that the Internet leads to a brand of English that suppresses local variations.

Some interesting facts: Internet words do manage to make it into regular English dictionaries.

What I don't like about this resource: most print entries have the word LINK in them, which takes up space and means nothing in the book; it refers only to the CD-ROM, which, by the way, cannot be loaded onto the hard drive - it must remain in the bay.

What I do like about this resource: definitions are succinct, with no derivation or history.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 83.


The Book of the Year
Abrief history of our seasonal holidays
Anthony Aveni
Oxford University Press
2003, 192pp, $25US, ISBN 0-19-515024-4

Aveni, Professor of Astronomy and Anthropology at Colgate University, has crafted a readable narrative which traces the origins of our modern holidays. American modern holidays, to be precise, although some are celebrated round the world. Round the Christian world, to be precise. No harm in this, but the book needs to be more upfront about these cultural restrictions. Not even Canada is included in the "American modern holidays" listing. There are no entries for Canada in the index, and of course the gap widens when Aveni discusses Thanksgiving Day as a strictly US thing. Indeed, he characterizes Labour Day (or is that "Labor Day"?) as "exclusively American". Hel-lo!! The European equivalent is May Day, which gets a good discourse in the chapter on May. His book is chronologically arranged, by month, in narrative form. He focuses on the involvement of food (e.g., Easter eggs, turkey), games (football at Thanksgiving), rituals (New Year resolutions), characters (Santa Claus, Easter bunny), and the impact of the changing calendar through the seasons. First up is New Years Day. He traces the development of celebrating, noting that in 153 BCE the Romans declared that the New Year began when the sun came back after the winter solstice, to appear as the first crescent moon after the winter solstice. The Christians stuck to the first day of spring as a new year until 1564 in Catholic France and 1752 in Protestant England. April Fools Day developed from those "fools" who still celebrated the New Year after March 24 or so. The rest of the book goes on to deal with Groundhog's Day, St.Valentine, Easter, Halloween, Christmas, plus the two equinoxes and the two solstices and whatever else I have already mentioned. Throughout it all there are the issues of divination, calendars, astronomy, fertility, foods, rites, sex and death, all filtered through the Greco-Roman-Judaic-Christian tradition.

Some interesting facts: the Library of Congress has assigned a number of subject headings to this book, such as "Biological Rhythms", "Chronobiology", and the more apt "Archaeoastronmomy".

What I don't like about this resource: its reference value is impaired by the narrative. Still, it is a good read.

What I do like about this resource: there are bibliographic references and notes for further explorations.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: the book is useful for journalists plotting an annual daybook, looking for seasonal stories. Give it an 88.


The Oxford Guide to Family History
David Hey

Oxford University Press
1993, 2002, 246pp, $19.95US, ISBN 0-19-280313-1 paper covers

This book was first published in 1993 and revised in 1998. There is a claim in the book that this is a reissue of the 1998 edition, although the bibliography seems to be updated through 2001. Strange. Anyway, Hey has taught local and family history at the University of Sheffield, and he is the author of other Oxford reference books in this area. He clearly shows how to trace family origins through the basics of research: where to begin, where to find records, how to decipher early styles of handwriting. And, of course, it all happens in Britain. The first 150 pages is a history of British family names, mobility and stability of families, society and attitudes, immigration and emigration. The balance of the book is a guide to the records that exist in Britain (census, marriage-death-birth records, trade directories, parish registers, probate records, tax assessments, military records, apprenticeship, health tax, poll tax. The work concludes with an index to surnames.

Some interesting facts: A section presents an interesting history of the movement of Brits around the world.

What I don't like about this resource: it is only useful for poking around in Britain, although Hey does write about general search principles that can be applied elsewhere. Maybe if the title had the word "British" in it…

What I do like about this resource: there are many illustrations of typical documents, archive records, grave markers, people, houses, estates, and monuments.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: for researching your ancestors in Britain, give it a 93.


Knowledge Management: the bibliography
Paul R. Burden

Information Today
2000, 181pp, $22.50US, ISBN 1-57387-101-X paper covers

"Knowledge Management" is a holistic process that demands organizational commitment. It involves the logical structuring of information (accession, storage, retrieval, and provision) within a company, in order to do the most good (i.e., maximize delivery of profits). Such information sharing can help people save time, speed work, and lower costs. The bibliography has been based on an earlier one published in "Knowledge Management for the Information Professional" in 1999. The basic procedure has been to search under the two main terms, "Knowledge Management" and "Intellectual Capital". Thus, Burden found a total of 2101 references: 404 books in print as of 2000 (through amazon.com and Books in Print), 1505 articles from databases such as ABI Inform, ERIC, Infotrac, NTIS), 186 websites (with a slight inconsistency in listing them, and including one FTP site) viewed from January through July 2000, and 6 videos, really too slight to matter (and why not also audio tapes?). So then, this is a useful guide to the pre-2000 burgeoning literature - but with no annotations. The heart of the bibliography is the section on articles, subdivided into sixteen categories dealing with information audits, information technology, intranets, training, ecommerce, and competitive intelligence. There is no subject index, which is tough on the books section (at least the articles have been categorized). Articles are always to be preferred anyway since the titles are always most specific, e.g. "seven ways to get the skinny on a company" or "a spy in the boardroom". There is a database index to indicate where the bibliography was researched. And there is an author index, which told me that most people wrote only one article, except for some like Thomas H. Davenport and Lawrence Prusak who both appear to be the most prolific with nine references. Paul R. Burden was not even listed…

Some interesting facts: you too can update this book through 2004 by using the same steps in the process, namely, searching the same databases listed with a year parameter (2000 and after). Actually, the best website with up-to-the-minute information is the KMNetwork, www.brint.com/km .

What I don't like about this resource: I got leery right away when the contents page reported that there were 3606 citations: they had counted the articles twice! Also, since the Internet never sleeps, the websites are probably hopelessly out-of-date by now. This is not the book's fault: it was copyrighted 2000. A simple Google search under the two main terms will probably pull up a lot of recent hits.

What I do like about this resource: you can pick a handful of relevant items and get to them quickly.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 85.

The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Quotations
Second Edition
Peter Kemp

Oxford University Press
1997, 2003, 490pp, $48, ISBN 0-19-866281-5

Peter Kemp is currently Fiction Editor of the Sunday Times and a former academic. He leads a team of seven in the sourcing and culling of literary quotes. The current edition has about 4000 quotations, all arranged by subject in one alphabetical sequence blending topics and authors, with a chronological arrangement within each subject. Over 900 additions are new. There has been a general modernizing with contemporary references to Harry Potter and to Inspector Morse. More quotes have been added from the Colonies (North America and Australia). New themes since 1997 include Solitude, Interruption, Omission, Graffiti, and Epitaphs. Cross-references are included, e.g., Mystery see Crime and Mystery; Humour and Comedy see also Irony, Wit and Satire. The source materials range from classical literature through crime novels through journalism. Themes cover the literary life, individual writers, morality, death, characters, words, ballads, science fiction. It is still an eclectic work, a book to dip into when looking for the bon mot.

Some interesting facts: most people are only in once, although Ian McEwan has 11 quotes, Milton has 24, and Shakespeare and Shaw a lot more.

What I don't like about this resource: one didn't need to be a literary type to be in here. For example, there is a quote from Marilyn Monroe on men and poetry which gives her life dates and the date the quote was made but not where it was made (diary? article? said to who? where? why?). Other quotes are equally vague.

What I do like about this resource: there is an extensive keyword index and an author index referring to page and quote number.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 90.

The Original Canadian City Dweller's Almanac
facts, rants, anecdotes and unsupported assertions for urban residents
Hal Niedzviecki and Darren Wershler-Henry

Viking Canada
2002, 246pp, $25, ISBN 0-670-04338-9 paper covers

This is a fun survival guide to the Canadian city: how we live, what we do, who we are, everything that defines the Canadian urban dweller. As such, it might not be interesting to ex-urbanites or even to those who like in other cities not mentioned nor covered. Niedzviecki is a novelist and commentator, editor of Broken Pencil magazine. Wershler-Henry is a critic, editor and author of five books. Some - maybe most -of this highly eclectic book had originally appeared in The Globe and Mail, Geist, This Magazine, Masthead, and other magazines. Chapters are arranged by theme, with breakdowns for each appropriate or relevant city. They deal with the bad stuff first: alienation, mental illness, crime, racism. All of these exist in rural areas too, but they are highly magnified in an urban setting. The chapters hit the highlights of most major urban areas in Canada. Other topics include transportation (traffic, public transit, rollerblading), tools such as ATMs and cell phones, drugs, coffee, web cams surveying the cityscapes. Attractions have a section: where to party, hangouts, sports, sex, food, restaurants, recipes (macaroni and cheese), shopping at box stores and malls, bookstores, record stores (both vinyl and CD). There are major chapters on real estate (apartments, landlords, condominiums but not developers nor office towers) and politics. There is even a "Today in History" calendar, with birthdays and events for each day in the year. If I missed anything, then go ahead and pick it out of the generous index. Everything here is well written; these are well-told stories.

Some interesting facts: the section on watering holes has a nifty history of bars in Canada, don't overlook this chapter. Similarly, there are short histories of Canadian TV and magazines.

What I don't like about this resource: the endnotes are mainly changeable websites. Overall, this is a depressing book.

What I do like about this resource: there are various lists such as Ten Top School Supplies and Top Ten Fizzy Drinks.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 91, as an enjoyable read and source for story ideas.


Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs
New Edition
Jennifer Speake

Oxford University Press
1982, 1992, 1998, 2003, 375pp, $39.95, ISBN 0-19-860524-2

For a book of pithy proverbs, this reference tool sure gets "updated" a lot…Speake is the editor of the Oxford Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases and the Oxford Dictionary of Idioms. Here, a proverb is a common saying that offers advice. It has the status of a universal truth, and it could be used to prove an argument. Here are 1100 proverbs, 40 new coinages, and about 400 updated examples, as well as annotations and current citations from around the English-speaking world. So there is that limitation of language. Entries are in alphabetical order, followed by meanings, histories (all dated and sourced), and current usages. There are plenty of internal and entry cross-references.

Some interesting facts: For the proverb "there is no such thing as a free lunch", she doesn't give a history. While it might be useful to economists who coined the phrase, unless you know what a "free lunch" is, the proverb really has no meaning. It comes from saloons offering a free lunch to entice drinkers and to ward off those who opposed straight drinking.

What I don't like about this resource: I found the entry for Parkinson's Law puzzling. It is listed as "work expands so as to fill the time available". The complete phrase includes, at the end, "…for its completion" What happened here? Also, some phrases that have quasi-proverb status are not here, such as "Bob's your uncle". Certainly it fits.

What I do like about this resource: there is an extensive thematic and keyword index plus a bibliography of major proverb collections and works cited, although my favourite was not included (Taxi Driver Wisdom, Chronicle Books, with such as "New shoes always hurt" and "You're not any safer in First Class")

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 90.


Dewdroppers, Waldos and Slackers
A decade-by-decade guide to the vanishing vocabulary of the Twentieth Century
Rosemarie Ostler

Oxford University Press
2003, 239pp, $41.50, ISBN 0-19-516146-7

Ostler is a linguist, a librarian, and a freelance writer in the field of words. The book's subtitle gives its coverage, to word and phrases no longer with us (in the sense that hardly anybody ever uses them anymore and few know their original meanings). Almost 3000 such words are covered here, and they are mainly North American white slang from fads and trends that came out of technology, music, the armed forces, rhymes, and animals. There is neither jargon nor ethnic slang in this book. Quick definitions are given, so there is little etymology. For instance, she says that "groovy" (a word that is also now coming back) originated from "in the groove", but she does not say that "in the groove" is a musical reference to the grooves of a 78-RPM shellac record. "Hubba-hubba" has no reference to the Perry Como monster hit. Some explanations seem incomplete and ask more questions than they answer. For example, for "dime novel" she says that most of them cost only a nickel. So why did the term "dime" get used? Why not "nickel novel" (same beginning consonant, two syllables each, words end in "-l")? No answers…On page 213 she lists some "goodbye" equivalents. And there are some that didn't make this list, although they are in the main body by decade. She uses "toodle-pip" but ignores "toodle-doo" (from her chapter on the 1920s). She uses "see you in the funny papers!" which evolved into "see you at the movies!". She ignores "it's been a slice" (1990s) and "bye-ee" (1970s). She also fails to note when some words come back, such as 1920s' "lounge lizard".

The book is arranged in chronological order. Each chapter covers a decade, although 1900 - 1919 was done in one. The chapters begin with a linguistic, historical and sociological snapshot for the decade. All the words are in the index, in alphabetical order, so you just need to look up a word and then go to the appropriate page to view it in context. There is an extensive bibliography to references. The major source seems to be the journal "American Speech".

Some interesting facts: it is important to note that some words keep coming back to life, with newer meanings.

What I don't like about this resource: she does the 1990s, but this decade is still too close for vanishing words. Also, the word inventory is distinctly American: there are many words and phrases here from the past 50 years that I have never, ever heard of.

What I do like about this resource: Ostler does a good job with a nearly impossible task

Quality-to-Price Ratio: this is an excellent book for journalists-writers, as a source of ideas and as a verification tool. 95.


Word for Word
Stewart Clark and Graham Pointon

Oxford University Press
2003, 250pp, ISBN 0-19-432755-8 paper covers

The authors, both academics, try to explain the differences between word usages. Here are about 3000 examples that are confusing because they look alike, sound alike, or seem alike. Entries are alphabetically arranged, and words are grouped together for easy comparison. Each entry has definitions, sample sentences, spelling and pronunciation guides, and usage advice. There are indications for American English (AE) and British English (BE). About 100 sidebars cover topics such as the major overall differences between AE and BE, tips on language traps, genitive cases. There is good coverage of homographs (words that are spelled the same but mean different things).

Some examples: Asian (for people) and Asiatic (for geography), ability and capacity, cite - site - sight, choose - select - pick, interval (BE) and intermission (AE), responsible and accountable, scissors and pair of scissors, pore and pour.

Some interesting facts: the authors deal with the use of the semi-colon (now in decline) and other punctuation marks.

What I don't like about this resource: it still takes some guesswork to look things up since there is only one entry, e.g., abuse and misuse. There is neither entry nor cross-reference back from "misuse" to "abuse". You have to use the index to catch this usage.

What I do like about this resource: there is a goof-proof section on how to use the book, as well as a nice bibliography of 26 items.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 90.

Where is Here?
Canada's maps and the stories they tell
Alan Morantz

Penguin Canada
2002, 256pp, $35, ISBN 0-14-301351-3

Morantz was a former editor of Equinox and is now a freelance writer. This book is a continuation of research that he did as a project for Canadian Geographic magazine's 70th anniversary issue, a special issue on mapping. Morantz tries to show how maps and the art of map-making have shaped us as Canadians and what they reveal of who we are. Maps are the sources of comfort: where are we? here! (okay, so where is here?). Canada's most enduring heroes are not revolutionaries but explorers, such as La Verendrye, David Thompson, et al. These were the guys who made the early maps. And I remember this from school in the 1950s. But teaching these themes may have been because they were safer and easier than teaching about revolution and change. Morantz begins with aborigines who charted the lands with stories, songs and stones. He then introduces an eclectic selection of Canadian maps, commenting on how the map was produced, what and whose reality did it reflect. He includes New France, missionaries, the strive for a western passage, land surveyors, census maps, road maps, "pictorial maps" of towns in book form, comparative maps, aerial maps, and orienteering maps. Place names are also covered, but just in passing.

Some interesting facts: the appendix is an interesting timeline of significant dates in Canadian surveying, mapping and charting, adapted from a 1996 book.

What I don't like about this resource: its reference value is slight

What I do like about this resource: there are illustrations of aboriginal drawings and pictographs. The book is well written; it engaged me.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: as a regular book, 88. Reference value, 81.



The Canadian Oxford Dictionary CD-ROM
Oxford University Press
2001, CD-ROM plus booklet manual, ISBN 0-19-541800-X

Well, it took me four tries to install it. The screen froze twice and my laptop crashed once. Sources' Publisher himself tried twice before abandoning it. Nevertheless, I got it, and I didn't first have to unload other programs from memory. The problem maybe with the iFinger software: although the manual says you need Internet access, you only need it to get to the iFinger site for updates to the software program, not to the dictionary. You don't need to go to the Oxford site, for there are no updates on that site. All of the data are on the hard drive. The user interface is a small text box, which can be closed or opened easily. The text is the complete Canadian Oxford Dictionary, which can now be used in different modes and ways. Access is by holding the cursor over a word in a document or an Internet site. The word appears in the box, and a click pops up the COD entry. You can also just type the word in the box, or you can select with keystrokes and by highlighting. There is built-in access to when a definition refers to another entry, via hyperlink. The text can be copied from the COD to your document or to your printer. Only headwords in the COD are retrieved. Derivatives and inflections go to the base word. Compounds will go to the first word clicked, followed by the next word. For example, "cold fusion" will produce "chicken cold" and "cold fusion". Homographs are presented one after another. And the dictionary is not case sensitive. You can even add your own entries to the dictionary file (but not to the COD itself). You create your own lookup database or import from a plain text database.

Some interesting facts: the History function goes back beyond 50 word searches, should you need such a record.

What I don't like about this resource: will not work on Windows 95, and you'll need "power-user rights" to run on Windows NT4/2000. Also, the clicking feature does not work on non-Internet Explorer browsers; you'll have to enter the word manually.

What I do like about this resource: creating your own dictionary expands the use of the software to just one lookup. It is also easy to use.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: depends on your installation problems, average 85.

Internet Marketing Intelligence
Research tools, techniques, and resources

Edward Forrest
McGraw-Hill Irwin
2003, 224pp, ISBN 0-07-282111-6 paper covers

Forrest is a business professor at the University of Alaska. This basic text should tell one how to use the Internet for market research. He uses a lot of sophisticated data gathering and use of analysis tools. The major topics are competitive intelligence, consumer intelligence, environmental intelligence, and the use of marketing tools (survey, focus groups, product testing). He covers the basics of email, search engines, cookies, server log files, newsgroups and discussion groups, as well as data sources available (with tests for reliability and validity). He also deals with the issues of "law and ethics", with material on user privacy, consumer protection, data security, intellectual property, fair use, trademarks and copyrights.

Some interesting facts: the illustrative material includes many screen shots.

What I don't like about this resource: while it has material on how to use the Internet more effectively, it has a narrow, academic range for journalists, and even for some PR types.

What I do like about this resource: plenty of references for further reading, plus an important glossary.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 85.


Intelligent Technologies in Library and Information Service Applications
F.W. Lancaster and Amy Warner

Information Today
2001, 214pp, ISBN 1-57387-103-6

Lancaster is a major writer and award winner in the area of information technology; he is now a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois. Warner is his associate. This is a technical study, funded by the Special Libraries Association, surveying the applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to library information service environments. Much of the existing literature is speculative, but not so the applications. The object of the study was to identify what AI apps can be applied to libraries, what is available and operational now. Lancaster and Warner look at different cataloguing systems, "intelligent" indexing, referral systems in a reference context, database selection, information retrieval text processing, machine translation, intelligent interfaces, medical diagnosis, speech technology, computer vision scanning.

Some interesting facts: the idea here is to have the computer use an expert system to identify problems and propose solutions, a sort of "if…then…".

What I don't like about this resource: Google's AI computerized ranking schemes was not covered.

What I do like about this resource: appendices include "sources for keeping current with new developments in advanced technologies', which are mainly scholarly journals and websites.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 81.

Writing for the Information Age
Bruce Ross-Larson

W.W. Norton
2002, various pagings, $34.99, ISBN 0-393-04786-5

The subtitle of this book is "light, layered, and linked", and that is about it. A lot of this used to be called "chunk writing", a term that came into use during the early web days. Website creators were obsessed with retaining eyeballs, and they wanted all the important writing restricted to one webpage viewed as a screen shot with no scrolling. It was an advance on USA Today's snapshot journalism. Keep the story short and simple (KISS), or later day pyramid writing. Ross-Larson is founder of the American Writing Institute and author of other Norton books (Edit Yourself [don't you wish], Riveting Reports [as if], Effective Writing). Here are 100 or so techniques for engaging readers in the information age, to produce writing that allows them to find quickly and easily what might be of interest. He describes each technique in a nutshell (literally), and provides examples and comments. Each technique is on two pages, left and right hand sides (convenient to photocopy once under fair use), with appropriate cross-references to related material in the book and elsewhere. There are also plenty of screen shots for illustrative examples. Some techniques include attention-sustaining devices (engaging titles, light openings, revealing headlines, bulleted lists, pull quotes), structure (solve a problem, illustrate a concept, tell a story, open a pyramid), paragraphing (short leads, verb forms, asking questions), sentences, words and phrases. He concludes with bibliographic endnotes for sources and credits for the technologies, plus an index.

Some interesting facts: the basic idea is to organize content in progressive form, with easily digested details for the reader to consider and then to provide a link to other topics.

What I don't like about this resource: not for beginners. One still needs grounding in the rules of grammar and parsing.

What I do like about this resource: he practices in this book what he preaches. It is extremely useful for journalists contemplating web writing, emailed newsletters, and CD-ROMs.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 95.


The Web Library
Building a world-class personal library with free web resources
Nicholas G. Tomaiuolo

Information Today
2004, 408pp, $44.95, ISBN 0-910965-67-6 paper covers

Nick Tomaiuolo is a college librarian in Connecticut; he is also obsessed with finding free information on the Web. I really want to like this book, but currently its Web site has all of the links, and you can download the source documents. Try library.ccsu.edu/library/tomaiuolo/theweblibrary.htm. The site also keeps the book up-to-date, for of course new resources appear all the time. Pages 361 - 383 have a printed list of all the referenced websites. For that matter, you can use my own MegaSources at www.ryerson.ca/~dtudor/megasources.html It's free too...Having said that, I think that the book is extremely useful for its coverage of magazine and journal articles (FindArticle, MagPortal, reference works, online indexes and databases (Medline, ARC, CrossArchiveSearching), books in etext, newspapers and email news alerts, broadcast archives, experts and librarians (real people), images, special collections. His URLs are annotated and he uses screen shots as illustrations. He gives additional material such as a look behind the scenes of a newspaper and broadcast news website. He has sidebars of interviews with people who created websites and reference works. He even discusses plugins and toolbars, which are needed for advanced searching. The main sources of free stuff are Project Gutenberg, universities, government agencies, associations, and commercial sites with adverts. However - and I cannot emphasize this too strongly as I was a university professor in this field - you still need to interpret what you find.

Some interesting facts: he compares some pay-per-view services for their prices. Pay-per-views can be used for FREE as the article sites allow free indexing and citations. You can save this as a file and build a bibliography, without having to read - and pay for - the articles.

What I don't like about this resource: I don't see anything about RSS, XML, and news aggregators. The book is copyrighted 2004, not earlier, so time is not an element here.

What I do like about this resource: he points out the limitations of the free services, although he does have a few disclaimers and "no liability" statements.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: for the book, 90. Unrated, if you merely use the website.


Canadian Studients' Guide to Languae, Literature, and Media
Susanne Barclay, Judith Coghill, Peter Weeks, Norm Olding, Don Quinlan

Oxford University Press
2001, 410pp, ISBN 0-19-541675-9

This book is meant for secondary schools, independent use, or small group study. Its chapters cover poetry (analyzing and responding, understanding meaning, form, and style), narrative texts (novels and short stories), drama, essays (articles, reviews, speeches), personal writing (memoirs, letters, journals, diaries, reflective essays), reports for business and science, business and technical writing (including resumes), and media (styles of newspaper writing, film and video story boards, radio, TV, Internet). In other words, just about everything except children's books…Each chapter has sections within which includes definitions, explanations, samples from professional writers (some of which are annotated), charts, and strategies.

Some interesting facts: there are samples from Canadian writers too.

What I don't like about this resource: attempts too much in one book. For journalists and researchers, there may be whole sections here of little interest.

What I do like about this resource: grammar is covered in the context of the chapter's topic, although there is also a separate section for usage. The book also has material on how to do research.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 85.


Getting the Whole Story
Reporting and writing the news

Cheryl Gibbs and Tom Warhover
Guilford Press
2002, 451 pp, ISBN 1-57230-795-1 paper covers

Gibbs and Warhover are American academics. This book is an introductory text for the American newspaper stream in colleges. It covers the five Ws plus How, beats, a bibliography for further reading, and exercises for the classroom or assignments. It looks into gathering information, conducting interviews, framing stories, writing organized articles, working with editors (in a positive vein: no horror or confrontation or personnel stories), photographers, public service (=Yankee) journalism. All examples are US, with AP style, US libel laws, etc. There is the obligatory section on grammar, spelling, tips and advice.

Some interesting facts: why this book? From the opening, "Our goal was to create a textbook that puts the "whys" of journalism together with the "hows"". I have the easy answer, since students are not stupid: DISCIPLINE.

What I don't like about this resource: I checked the index, and there were NO entries for Internet, email, web, Usenet, discussion group, forum. There was one page reference to "online editor". Research has a few entries…Hello? Hello?

What I do like about this resource: "further reading" is broken into categories "in print" and "on the web"…hello? hello? why is this here if the book doesn't talk about the Internet?

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 51 for us in Canada, 79 for Americans, 82 for newspaper streamers.

Guerrilla P.R. Wired
Waging a successful publicity campaign online, offline, and everywhere in between
Michael Levine

2002, 281pp, $25.95, ISBN 0-07-138232-1 paper covers

Levine heads a monster PR firm in Hollywood (Levine Communications Office). In 1993, he published Guerilla PR for the pre-Internet world. This revision, with a new title, is practical, with street wisdom, and written in a gung-ho style, directed at small companies who cannot afford a PR firm and do all their own marketing. It is almost solely devoted to the Internet, with tips and advice on promoting oneself, what to put on a home page, how to create one's own marketing campaign, how to get people to look at one's website and keep them there, how to use a website to get coverage in publications or TV. It is all low cost: all one needs is one's own time. And it is all in the "buzz". Chapters are devoted to email, bulletin boards, chat rooms, contests, damage control, spin doctors, ezines, follow-ups, gatekeepers, graphics, information overload, working with journalists, website planning. The book appears to be extremely useful for small associations as well.

Some interesting facts: he gives the example of the movie, Blair Witch Project, which had an Internet site that garnered millions of hits before the movie was even distributed.

What I don't like about this resource: not really "guerilla" as in underground, lefties, alternative press. Just for low-rent companies.

What I do like about this resource: the appendices have lists of US media outlets, with addresses, phone numbers, websites, but no personal names. CP manages to get included here.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 90.

Media and Minorities
Representing diversity in a multicultural Canada
Augie Fleras and Jean Luck Kunz

Thompson Educational Publishing
2001, 198 pp, ISBN 1-55077-123-X paper covers

Fleras is a professor of sociology at the University of Waterloo; Kunz is a research associate with the Canadian Council on Social Development. Together, they examine the politics of media minority relations in a multicultural Canada. They say that the situation is here and now, will it change? They look at how "constructions" of race, ethnicity, and aboriginality are interpreted by the mainstream media, and then published and read. They also look at media coverage of minority women and men by way such as clichés and stereotypes, asking the question: "is this conscious manipulation by the media?" Other chapters look at both media initiatives and diversity initiatives to improve minority coverage in the media. There are case studies. Basic conclusion: authors admit to some ambiguous and contradictory data.

Some interesting facts: it covers both Canada and the US, movies and advertising as well.

What I don't like about this resource: it doesn't seem to recognize Ryerson University's School of Journalism and how it has contributed to studies on diversity. It also doesn't comment much on the diversity levels in the newsroom itself.

What I do like about his resource: glossary is valuable.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 82.

Memoirs of a Media Maverick
Boyce Richardson

Between the Lines
2003, 278 pp, ISBN 1-896357-80-6 paper covers

When I read an autobiography, I always check out the index to see what the author has to say about people or things. Here, Richardson has a lot to say about Conrad Black, Izzy Aspler, Lord Beaverbrook, et al. Read it for yourself as you plough through this engaging memoir of a radical socialist who also was a recognized journalist/writer/filmmaker. Born in New Zealand, he ended up - by 1959 - as features writer for the Montreal Star, interviewing luminaries such as Castro and Leonard Cohen. In 1960, he was posted to London, England. In the eight years he worked abroad, he received maybe two telegrams. He was with the Star until 1971, quitting to write books. He then joined the National Film Board as a researcher and a writer, later moving into direction and production. His career, beginning as a newspaperman in New Zealand in 1945, has spanned five decades. And he is still crusty. The book is loaded with pictures of his family and his work environments. His bibliography and filmography (both listed) include materials on Canadian aborigines, Chinese, the environment, and multinational companies.

Some interesting facts: From 1945 to 1971, he was a staff journalist. How did he last so long with only a handful of employers (the Winnipeg Free Press in 1954, then the Montreal Star until 1971)?

What I don't like about this resource: he says that journalists do tend to take themselves very seriously. Not the ones I know, but maybe I know the wrong ones.

What I do like about this resource: he goes out of his way to always say that journalism is not objective.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 88, an enjoyable read.


The Form of News: A History
Kevin G. Barnhurst and John Nerone

Guilford Press
2001, 326pp, ISBN 1-57230-791-9 paper covers

Barnhurst and Nerone are Chicago academics; the former wrote "Seeing the Newspaper" in 1994. This book under review was originally to be a study of the layout and typography of the newspaper's front page. It expanded to become a history of newspaper design in the USA, the ways of writing, how papers are organized, presentation values of typography, space and pictures, and the impact of changing technology such as TV and the Internet. The time frame is 1750 through 2000.

Basic topics include advertising displays, the front page, and tabloids. Examples are from typefaces, reportage, columns, headlines, and photography. The illustrations are all archival; examples include the Hartford Courant, the Chicago Daily News, Harper's Weekly, the New York Times, and the Times of London.

Some interesting facts: The book grew out of previously published (or presented) papers contributed to academic journals and conferences.

What I don't like about this resource: despite the inclusion of the Times of London (love that front-page advertising!), it is US-based, which is unavoidable for us in Canada.

What I do like about this resource: there is an extensive bibliography for further reading.

Quality-to-Price Ratio: 82.


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