About the book

Often the details of new media get lost in an alphabet soup that usually begins with an "i" - the iPod, the iPad, the iTouch. Yet the essence of new media is not in these devices, but in their use. This short primer shows engineers how to think about new media by focusing on the deeper issues of communicating in this new user- generated era. Readers will grasp the mindset of new media; an under- standing that will long outlast the latest social networking tools. It will empower practicing engineers to develop new, powerful ways to help the public understand what engineers do and why engineering is important; but perhaps most importantly this primer gives engineers the foundation for reaching the next generation of innovative engineers.

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What's inside the book

This very short book - a pamphlet really - began as a series of lectures given over a ten-year period. It's based on talks given at the National Press Club, to the Council for Chemical Research, to various universities and national labs, and in informal speeches in the corners of dining rooms when I spoke to small groups. I thought of expanding it to be a “big” book but instead chose to distill and concentrate the ideas to the essence of what an engineer needs to know. My hope is that practicing engineers, who are often busy, will use it as a quick start guide. It boils down my own observations and practice as a person who truly works in the trenches of public outreach: every day I'm in a studio or an editing suite preparing some media piece to share with the public - a piece that defines what an engineer is, what he or she does, and why their work is important. The complete book can be downloaded for free at google books, or read on screen at this web site.

  • Introduction This chapter emphasizes “think” because this book isn't about technique. You won't learn best practices for Facebook or Twitter. Surely by the time the ink even dries on this page a new generation of devices and web applets will be available. So, it focuses on the deeper issues of communicating in a user-generated era.
  • The New Media Landscape & Its Effect on Science Journalism This chapter gives a survey of the current state of journalism - especially science journalism - and a definition of new media.
  • New Media Isn't Just Old Media Delivered in a Different Way This chapter explores new media, highlighting how the significant ways it differs from old media.
  • How Engineers Should Talk to the Public This chapter explores the question "So, what should we tell the public?" Are we experts that proclaim the correct answer to a scientific question? Are we primarily teachers whose goal is to create scientific literacy? Or, is there another role for us? For that matter, is our real battle for literacy, or is it against apathy?
  • New Media in Action: Two Hypothetical Case Studies To round out the more abstract ideas presented so far, this chapter describes two concrete examples of how the engineering profession might use new media to achieve timeless goals. The first focuses on creating interest among teenagers about engineering, the second on educating the broader public about crucial issues with the power grid using “Citizen Science” methods.
  • Conclusion: Creating Zing! This chapter summarizes the essential action items for the engineering profession: 1. Focus on some kind of "how" question. 2. Create the right kind of engineer and foster in the public the proper notion of engineering. 3. Use the low cost of failure to succeed. And 4) embedding the notion of outreach in the "dna" of every new engineer.
  • Further Reading A few books to get the reader up to speed quickly on new media.
Available ebook or paperbound Look Inside

Available ebook or paperbound

The essays can be purchased in either paperbound or ebook versions. We've take care to make it available on all major platforms. You can purchase it from Amazon in a paperbound edition, or for their Kindle, Barnes & Nobles Nook reader, as a Google Books, and soon for the iPad and iPhone from Apple's iBookstore.