A Message from Bob Hughes :
++ THIS IS A MESSAGE TO PEOPLE who said kind things
about my book, Dust or Magic, which first appeared at
the end of 1999, or whose MA I supervised at Oxford
Brookes University, or who came to one of our Dust or
Magic conferences in Oxford in 2003 and 2004. If I'm
mistaken, please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org ++
DUST OR MAGIC REISSUED BY BOSKO BOOKS
• New, student and pauper-friendly price: £15.95/€16.95/$19.95
• Punchy new preface
• Totally re-engineered subtitle: "creative work in the digital age"*
DUST OR MAGIC, the creative worker's guide to new media, is available again at last, from Bosko Books, Bristol. It's the same text, with the same Alex Mayhew cover as the original Addison-Wesley edition of 2000, but it has the subtitle I originally wanted, some overdue acknowledgements, a new preface, and a MUCH better price: £15.95 (or €16.95 or $19.95). The original price was quite a stretch for the students and young designers for whom I mainly wrote it. Amazon has the new edition now:
Dust or Magic's main purpose was to point out that the computer-medium has a history. One which, moreover, wasn't made by corporations, but by people, who work in ways that utterly belie corporate wisdom.
It takes that history up to the end of the "seedy-rom" slump of the late 1990s. It doesn't cover the much bigger bloodletting of 2001 (the "dot bomb" slump) or subsequent events - but these are to some extent history repeating itself, and there are now some great sources on this later period, for example Andrew Ross's "No Collar: the humane workplace and its hidden costs" (Temple University Press, 2004):
... and the articles (including one by me) in "The Spark in the Engine: creative workers in a global economy" (ed. Ursula Huws; Merlin Press 2006):
THE BIG ISSUE that follows on from Dust or Magic, is the global pandemic of insecure work that's accompanied the rise of the "new economy". It's not just new-media workers who are insecure. Precarious work is the name of the game all the way down the food-chain from the head-offices in Silicon Valley, to the millions of young, non-white, non-unionised, predominantly female people in southern China, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico ... who make the machines that make the medium possible, for wages so low that one wonders how long computerdom would last in its present form without world poverty. What would happen to technology if poverty were abolished? Going further: what if inequality were abolished? I made a first pass at outlining the issues in a fairly outspoken conference paper (Aarhus, 2005) called "From useful idiocy to activism":
WILL THERE BE ANOTHER Dust or Magic conference? I hope so. I'd like to run one bringing together educationists and global-justice activists: two groups who are solidly focused on needs rather than profits. Does that appeal? Let me know.
With best wishes,
Oxford, 1 May 2007
From the dustjacket of Dust or Magic:
DUST OR MAGIC WAS primarily written for the young, talented people whose creative instincts are kindled by computers and live to create 'good stuff', but who are systematically betrayed by the managerial types in suits who hire them, set them absurd tasks, and sack them when their half-baked schemes go belly-up. It is also for people who simply want to know how human creativity fares in the digital age.
Originally published by Addison-Wesley (under the title 'Dust or Magic, Secrets of successful multimedia design') this book is, in part, a 'secret history' of computers: a history told from the vantage point of the people who did the work. We have insiders' accounts of a range of influential products and projects, many of which were in danger of being forgotten. The scene is illuminated by recent insights into creativity and well-being from the fields of psychology and neuroscience, as well as tried-and-tested, practical strategies for workplace survival from other industries.
The author, Bob Hughes, has been a 'creative' for most of his working life: first a calligrapher, then an advertising artist and copywriter before discovering computers in the mid-1980s. He now teaches at Oxford Brookes University on the MA in Interactive Media Publishing, and researches and writes about the wider impact of electronics and computers in workplaces world-wide. He also campaigns on behalf of migrants, refugees and all precarious workers.
"I am really enjoying Dust or Magic for the second
time - having finally sold the children to buy my own
- Catharine Arakelian, Oxford
"What you are doing is stripping away the corporate
bullshit from this 'revolution' - its ours not theirs.
Reclaim the pixels!"
- Chris McEvoy (Creator of 'Usability Must Die'
"There are many books explaining why software
projects go sour; this one breaks the mold by showing
how they come good."
- Malcolm Cook (Senior Lecturer in Human Factors,
University of Abertay)
"It's bloody brilliant!"
- Brendan Dawes (Author of Drag, Slide, Fade:
"It was incredibly engrossing. I expected to skim
through it, and found myself reading it avidly, putting
aside all the other work I should have been doing...It
rang so true about so many things about the process of
creating the virtual world we spend so much time in
that I'm dying to share it with others who also create
for it, or want to."
- Aleen Stein (co-founder of the Voyager Company
and CEO of Organa inc. http://www.organa.com)