Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary
At over 700 pages, this introductory reader is not wanting for more material. If anything, the text is too detailed and runs the risk of cataloguing too many micro-changes in media and culture while missing the way these trends work at a more theoretical level. But then again, it is an introductory text. Arguably students will come to a course like this with a good deal of sophistication about media use--so the text could do a better job of leveraging the preexisting knowledge base and technology use to raise more compelling arguments.
There is, in the PDF version, no effective glossary, index, or table of contents. This emerges throughout one's use of the book as the text's greatest weakness, one that is easily rectified with simple edits. Given the amount of vocabulary dished up, a glossary would be an asset to the text, which is thorough and detailed, but not easily navigable for quick study or for drawing upon anecdotes for a lecture. Similarly, bolding the technical vocabulary and keywords would help make the text more readable, easier to follow, and a better resource for students across a variety of academic levels.
I am particularly pleased to see a section dedicated to media literacy, an all too important part of critical media studies. While I think more page space could be given to the topic--which would probably have benefited from more actual media (images, charts, etc.) -- it is still a most welcome addition to this text.
Comprehensiveness Rating: 3 out of 5
Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased
The content is mostly accurate, though issues around a heavy reliance web links and technology mean that references may quickly fall out of date. I did note a few dead web links throughout.
Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement
The content is very current, drawing heavily upon web resources as recently as 2013. While today's students may find the introductory reference to the T-Mobile Sidekick humorous, the author does a good job of not hanging arguments on particular technologies. It would be tempting to write at length about the iPhone for instance, but instead the author speaks about media as increasingly mobile and the role smartphones like the iPhone play in that process.
Still, there are many web links here--a few that lead no where, and plenty more that are still active. Given the rapid rate of change online, this all seems incredibly lucky, and instructors may have to buttress the examples in the book with modern examples when links do not lead to their intended destinations.
Relevance Rating: 3 out of 5
Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used
The text could be clearer. The prose at time meanders. Case studies are picked up and dropped somewhat erratically. While the author seems truly enamoured with the field, the writing is at times very long-winded and dispassionate. Real opportunities to engage students in a topic they are already invested in are lost as the book bogs through films, music, technology, and a broad mix of social science theory.
One look at a page of the text and you will feel an opportunity lost: how is it we're talking about media and culture and our pages, are long, text-heavy narratives? Images are scant and could be more strategically applied, and long sections of text dominate. In those chunks of material, it can be hard to find the real gem and key facts. I'm skeptical of a student wading through 750 pages sequentially like a novel.
Clarity Rating: 3 out of 5
Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework
I don't find a clear sense of how terminology will be used or defined and certainly no framework. While there are objectives at the outset of a chapter, the lack of a table of contents, glossary, and index makes these framework less obvious.
Consistency Rating: 3 out of 5
Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.
This is the biggest weakness of the text. With no table of contents, no index, and no glossary, it is very hard to find and parse out smaller chunks of material. As well, since the text is not-well formatted, instructors will need to sift through large text blocks to find the material they need
Modularity Rating: 2 out of 5
Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion
If you stay with the book and read it linearly, the organization does make sense--but as some parts of the book run the risk of becoming outdated before others, that linear logic of the text will undoubtedly be challenged.
Organization Rating: 4 out of 5
Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader
There is no interface to comment on, specifically, as the text is only available in PDF/DOC. I would like to see a web version as it has great potential to draw upon web technology to both keep the data up-to-date, reinforce a clear organizational structure, and develop an interface that supports modularity.
Interface Rating: 1 out of 5
Q: The text contains no grammatical errors
I did spot a few grammar issues throughout the text, but none are major and are easily fixed. Still, a bit surprising to see any grammatical errors, but given the enormity of the text, a few issues with spacing, commas, and spelling are understandable.
Grammar Rating: 3 out of 5
Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds
The text is not insensitive or offensive.
Cultural Relevance Rating: 5 out of 5
Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?