I was contacted three weeks ago by architect, author (and more) Steve Mouzon who asked if I would like an advance copy of his forthcoming book, New Media for Designers + Builders in exchange for publishing a review on the launch date September 27th. As I work with designers and builders, the title appealed to me and I said yes.
I’ll share part of the promo information, specifically, who his target audience is:
…anyone who designs: Planners, architects, engineers, landscape architects, interior designers, and other creatives. It’s also for anyone who builds: developers, contractors, homebuilders, and tradespeople of all stripes, plus allied disciplines like real estate. In short, it’s for those who work more often in the world of bricks-and-mortar than clicks-and-orders.
I think that narrows the target, as there are some pretty good things in this book. First, I’ll start with observations about the book format…
What’s to like
I got the epub version to read in the iBooks app on my iPad mini. I have to say that it is the best looking epub book I’ve seen. I don’t know how the PDF version looks or responds, but I was impressed with the one I read. Chock full of internal and external links, Steve practices what he’s preaching here.
A couple of hesitant thoughts…
Steve is obviously a fan of Macs and that is peppered throughout the text. I think that’s a little myopic, given Macs only have 10% of the market share, and while understandable, perhaps less focus on Apple and more on the real world. Skewing to Macs leaves out the vast majority of other users. I was interested in a couple of the apps he recommended … until I discovered they were Mac only. Also, Mouzon is a huge Photoshop/InDesign/etc fan. There are good GNU/open source Windows and Linux platform versions that don’t hit the wallet like Adobe. Those should be highlighted to reach a wider audience.
For what ever reason, the usual “go back to page…” feature of iBooks was missing in this book. Clicking on the internal links takes you to another section and then you are on your own finding your way back. As the book is full of hyperlinks, this is disappointing, but not a huge obstacle.
The last quibbling point is a personal one. There’s a big push for Twitter as a key “node” of the New Media. I don’t twit (yes, I know the term is “tweet”, but from my perspective, I like my word better) and until I followed some of the links he recommended, I hadn’t seen more than a single tweet at any one time. After checking out some of the streams, I’ve gone even more negative. I can’t take 140 characters seriously. Maybe it works for others, but I don’t find substance in “micro-blogging.” Still, his points should be considered.
The book is a quick read when run through without following any of the links (as Steve recommend is divided into four sections: Why?, How?, Who?, and What?, meaning…
Why? Why the need for the book, the New Media, why people should make the paradigm shift. Mouzon makes good points as to what’s old-school and what is New Media. He spends a bit of time talking about time spent on aspects of the New Media and I’m not sure how he gets anything else done. I see a version of “analysis paralysis” if one is locked into Twittering, blogging, reading other blogs and tweets (one of the recommended people who are “doing New Media unusually well” has 14,000 followers on Twitter, “follows” more than 6,000, and has posted 33,000+ tweets!…how? and manage to do anything else?) All things must be moderated and it will take time for anyone totally outside this New Media paradigm to balance the output and inputs of all these streams.
How? is the meat of the book, and Mouzon describes and promotes twelve “nodes” of New Media: a blog, micro-blogging, website, speaking, idea cards (cool idea, those cards), discussions – online and others, normal email, mail and email lists, images – pictures in the design world…important, publishing (good points on self-publishing), communities, and video. Good overviews with lots of external links.
Who? is a collection of of who he thinks are doing the “Hows” well. More links, and worth the visits.
Finally, What? makes up the sources, more links and definitions used.
This is a compact ebook packed with information and jumping off points. I’ll come back to it as time permits – I barely have time to write a few blog posts or read others, but I keep stuff I like on my iPad for future reference. I think a little time spent looking for non-Adobe, non-Apple versions of his favorite apps would help. And after reading a couple of the recommended Twitter feeds, it’s still not for me, but you might find something to occupy (too much of) your time.
Recommended. You can buy it for now on his page, and soon in Apple’s and Amazon’s stores.