BOB KALSEY resources:books

Here's what I've enjoyed reading lately -- and some classic works you may find interesting. Click on a book cover to buy the book at my favorite online bookstore!

cover The Rise of the Image, the Fall of the Word
Mitchell Stephens is a professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at New York University. He's written widely about media and in this book, published in 1998 by Oxford University Press, he offers some interesting--and refreshingly optimistic--views about electronic media and its potential to transform the way we perceive, understand and think. The frenetic energy of MTV and thousands of television commercials may seem pointless and at times tiresome, but it may also represent the beginning of a new visual literacy through which moving images can make our thoughts and messages more robust. Well, it's possible...

cover The Media and Modernity: A Social Theory of the Media
Once upon a time people could only speak or gesture in real time to others who were nearby. Writing changed both the spatial and temporal relationships between people; Roman emperors could control their distant subjects, and can even now speak to us. Each new medium has brought new forms of interaction, new ways of exercising power, new perceptions about the world and ourselves. Despite the breathless rhetoric of many theorists--and telecom advertisers--the so-called "communication revolution" is just another phase of an on-going process. We've never had a good handle on how decoupling communication from space and time impacts our social lives. Thompson has some thoughts on the subject that could be helpful to those of us who communicate for a living.

cover Speaking Into The Air, A History of the Idea of Communication
Peters explores many of the major themes in the history of communication theory. More philosophy than history, this book will have you thinking about what really is essential about human expression. Peters calls much of modern communications "Unmitigated bleat mixed with the rare voice of truth crying in the wilderness." We may chastise the media for perpetuating social inequalities and spotlighting vulgarity but, per Peters, "such criticism ought not to overlook the inequalities that exist outside media or the tawdriness that fills our hearts unbidden." Media may more reflect than shape the contents of the human heart: a scary conclusion, perhaps, but one worth thinking about.

cover The Marketing Imagination
Theodore Levitt's book, which first appeared in 1983, is a valuable classic that offers marketers some productive ways to look at and think about the things they sell and the people who buy them. To buyers, says Levitt, a product is more than the thing-in-the-box. It includes a lot of stuff you can't stamp with a serial number: intangibles that differentiate your offering from others, the total package of benefits that customers receive and their expectations of more to come. To be effective, marketing communications must go beyond features and functions--even beyond provable benefits--to convey a sense of the possible future.

cover Crossing the Chasm
Geoffrey Moore's 1991 book, revised and re-released in 1999, is an essential read for high-tech marketers who want to know how to use their success with early adopters to flourish in the broader market. One of the things I've done for companies since the early 70s is to help them use "success stories" to overcome mainstream resistance to new ideas. Moore's book explains why that's such a valuable strategy and tells you how to go about it. "The point of greatest peril in the development of a high-tech market," Moore writes, "lies in making the transition from an early market dominated by a few visionary customers to a mainstream market dominated by a large block of customers who are predominantly pragmatists."

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