Friday, September 19, 2008

Omnitopia Back-Matter

The publishing process proceeds. I was recently asked to develop a draft of text to appear on the back of the book. Here it is. Any thoughts?

City Ubiquitous: Place, Communication, and the Rise of Omnitopia explores an emerging structure and perception of urban life that is both familiar and startlingly new: a continuum of places, technologies, and performances that stitch together disparate enclaves into a seemingly coherent whole. We may access this convergence of terminals to the same place by way of interstate highways, internet connections, and personal media devices, even as we encounter ever more unyielding barriers to meaningful human communication. City Ubiquitous represents a synecdoche of the world that floats above the world we call real.

City Ubiquitous is written for students and scholars of the built environment, but it is also meant for anyone who recognizes the odd and frightening pleasures of today's urban flow from airport to hotel to coffee shop to chain restaurant, the mobile alienation and fascination of looking, consuming, and communicating in the staccato rhythms contemporary life, alone in all-place. City Ubiquitous investigates this phenomenon, this omnitopia, by investigating its origins in Parisian arcades, world's fairs, and military-industrial superslabs, its manifestations in airports, hotels, and shopping malls, and its potential undoing through performance, placelessness, and reverence.

Andrew Wood (Ph.D, Ohio University, 1998) is an associate professor of Communication Studies at San José State University. He has authored or co-authored books on internet communication, reality television, roadside Americana, and the 1939-40 New York World's Fair. His peer-reviewed articles have appeared in Critical Studies in Media Communication, Text and Performance Quarterly, Communication Theory, Space and Culture, Communication Education, and Southern Communication Journal. Dr. Wood blogs regularly at Woodland Shoppers Paradise, a mini-mall of media, critique, and commentary. Visit to catch up with his current work and engage in conversation about City Ubiquitous.


Carol said...

I personally like the second one. It is simple and gives a clear explanation of the book.

I do really like the idea though, of pointing the reader back to you and your website to possibly interact with you over the net and to catch up with your current projects/blogs. Any way to combine the two?

highway163 said...

As it turns out, we may go with all three paragraphs...

detroit dog said...

It half-pains me to say this, because I don't want to sound like I'm saying "Dumb it down," but....

I'd suggest not using the word "synecdoche," and writing shorter sentences (in the second paragraph). Would also suggest deleting the words "peer-reviewed."

These changes might make it appeal a bit more to all those outside of academia.

Very exciting!

Unknown said...

Andrew, Your new book sounds great--interesting and important.
The last sentence in your blurb does what I think you do not want; it gives the image of two separate cities: the wraith-like uiquitous city you write about and the "real" one. How about dropping "floats above" and state that the ubiquitous city PERVADES the one we otherwise call "real." The two cities coincide. Don't they?

So, in trade for my valuable comment, please, send a copy of your book!

highway163 said...

Lee and DD, thanks so much for your kind comments!

I'm going back and forth on the whole synecdoche thing.

As you may know, Charlie Kaufman is directing a new movie called
synecdoche, New York, which should garner some public attention to the
word and catch the eye of the reader.

That said, I agree that it may not be the right choice. I'll think on it.

"Peer-reviewed"? Yep, I could toss that.

And ohhh - I like the word "pervade." Again, I've got some work to do, thanks to y'all's great advice.

Carol said...

Apparently I missed the point of your post. Sorry!

highway163 said...

Sorry? Don't be. I just appreciate that you read the blog! It's always nice to hear from you.

Jenny Wood said...

Yes, it's me and I actually read the post and the comments. I think your readers are on the right track. You're a great writer but are used to writing for the journals. The back of the book should bring anyone into it and be easy to understand, easier than the book itself. I would follow the others' advice to bring it down to a more common-reader-friendly style.

I also like the image of the two separate cities blended together - pervades is a good word.


highway163 said...

Thanks, Jenny.

Yep, I've gotten some good advice - and I've already attempted to implement that advice in the second draft...