Announcing/About this book
What is a Wikibook?
At the risk of stating the utterly obvious, let's begin with a simple definition: A wikibook is a book made with a wiki. Like most simple definitions, this one would benefit from some clarification, so let's break it down into three parts. A wikibook is:
- ...a book... You are probably reading this on a computer screen right now, or perhaps a portable device like a tablet or "smart phone." So it may not feel like you are reading a book, at least not a traditional one with paper pages that you turn as you read it. But really, isn't a book much more than just paper and printer's ink? Isn't the important part of a book—the reason why you read a book—contained in the book's message, and the meaning you derive from that message? So broadly defined, a book doesn't have to be a physical object you buy in a bookstore or borrow from a library. Indeed, many books today are available in alternative formats, such as audiobooks and e-books. Granted, the book you are reading now is presented differently than a traditional book. But give it a chance. You might find you like reading wikibooks. You might even want to help write a wikibook someday. Which brings us to the second part of the definition...
- ...made... When we make something, we take things that already exist and combine them to fashion a new thing. When we make a book, we take things that already exist in our heads—ideas, thoughts and concepts—and combine them in an organized, systematic way to create a new thing—a coherent, sustained message expressed in language. That's pretty much what happens when we make a wikibook as well, but with at least two important differences. First, a wikibook is an open collaborative effort. That means that authorship is not fully embedded in one author, or even a group of identified authors. Rather, a wikibook reflects the entire community of people who write, edit, discuss or otherwise contribute to the development of it. Second, a wikibook is never really finished in the sense of a tradition book. A wikibook remains continually available for anyone to add to, update and correct. It is, by design, a "work in progress." Both of these distinctive qualities of wikibooks are enabled by the technology used to create them, which brings us to the last part of the definition...
- ...with a wiki. A wiki is a kind of collaborative website. That is, it is a website where multiple people can easily add to or change the content on the site. Most wikis, including this one, are open, in the sense that anyone that visits the web site can participate in its development. And most wikis, including this one, have content that can be freely used and redistributed, released to the public under the terms of some kind of "open source" licence such as the GNU Free Documentation License and the various Creative Commons Licenses. In a sense, a wiki is a kind of social networking website, like Facebook and Twitter, but with more of a focus on the shared structuring and organizing of information. Perhaps the most famous wiki is Wikipedia, which bills itself as "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit." Wikipedia, as well as Wikibooks, the wiki you are now using, are projects of the Wikimedia Foundation.
The wikibook you are now reading could also be called a Wikibook, with a capital "W," because it is hosted on the Wikibooks wiki. Some might prefer to call it a "WikiBook," using the CamelCase style common to earlier wikis, or even a Wiki Book. But whatever you call it, it's still a book made with a wiki. And hopefully, it's a book you'll want to read...and perhaps help write.
How do I use this Wikibook?
This may seem like a silly question, since if you're reading this, you're already using this wikibook. But to get the most out of this wikibook, you should be aware of a few things:
- Navigation. To help you "turn the pages" of this wikibook, some navigational aids are provided. Near the top right corner of every page is a set of two links, one that links to the previous page and one that links to the next page. Near the bottom of every page is another set of links, which includes the previous and next links, as well as a third link that takes you directly to the table of contents page. There is also a link to the table of contents page near the top left corner of every page (just below the phrase "From Wikibooks, the open-content textbook collection."
- Links. Many of the words in this wikibook are clickable links. Some links take you to other pages in this book, and some links take you to other pages on this wiki that are not part of this book (like this link: Wikibooks). Some links take you to pages on Wikipedia: for example, announcer takes you to the Wikipedia entry about announcers. Some links take you to pages on other web sites; these have a small arrow symbol after the link. And there are a few special purpose links, like the ISBN number links below, which take you to a page where you can search for that book online. You don't have to follow every link, of course, but you might want to follow some to learn more about a topic. Just remember that if a link takes you outside of this wikibook, you may need to use your browser's back button to return back to this wikibook. Many browsers allow you to open links in a new window or tab, which can be a useful feature when reading a wikibook.
- Discussion. Each page in this wikibook has a discussion page (also called a talk page). If you want to make a comment about something on a page, here's where you can do it. If you would like to make a suggestion, argue a point, offer a criticism or give a compliment, the talk page is the place to do so. The talk page can also serve as a kind of "guestbook," where readers can "sign" their names (using three or four tilde characters). And the talk pages can be a tool for courses that use this wikibook as a textbook. For example, instructors could post activities related to the wikibook on the talk pages. They could also include quiz or discussion questions that can help students review the material.
- Editing. If you find a typo in this book, please feel free to fix it! You can edit every page in this book, simply by clicking the "edit this page" tab near the top of the book. This will open the entire page in an editing window where you can make changes. At the bottom of that window are buttons to "save page" (to save your changes), "show preview" (to show you what your changes will look like without saving) and "show changes" (to show you a comparison of the original version with your edited one). The editing window also has a tool bar above it to help you do things like add bold or italic text, as well as add links to other pages or other web sites. You can even add pictures and sound files, although if you do so, please make sure they don't violate the terms of the Wikibooks license. Tip: because it's often easier to edit just a section of a page, each section of each page has its own "edit" link near the right edge of the top of each section. In most cases, it's a lot easier to correct a typo or make a quick edit by clicking on a section's edit link than to open the entire page in the editing window.
Why a Wikibook on Announcing?
That's a good question. After all, as of August 2011, there are at least three well-established textbooks on announcing published by the major textbook publishers:
- Television and Radio Announcing (11th edition), by Stuart W. Hyde ISBN 020556304X. The 11th edition of this text was published by Allyn & Bacon in 2008. Hyde's book is a classic, and has been used in broadcast performance courses for decades; his first edition was published in 1959.
- Announcing : Broadcast Communication Today (5th edition), by Carl Hausman, Philip Benoit, Frank Messere and Lewis B. O'Donnell ISBN 0534563104. The 5th edition of this text was published by Wadsworth in 2004. This book has also been around a long time; the first edition was published in 1987.
- Broadcast Announcing Worktext: Performing for Radio, Television, and Cable (3rd edition) by Alan R. Stephenson, David E. Reese and Mary Beadle ISBN 0240810589. The 3rd edition of this text was published by Focal Press in 2009. It is a relatively recent addition to the literature on announcing; its first edition was published in 2000.
There are also books related to specific announcing skills and specializations. For example, Broadcast Voice Handbook (4th edition) by Ann S. Utterback and Michael G. Freedman ISBN 1566252725 provides an in-depth examination of voice development for broadcasters. Another notable book, and a fun read, is How to Make a Million Dollars With Your Voice (or Lose Your Tonsils Trying) by Gary Owens and Jeff Lenburg ISBN 0071424105.
All of these are fine books, and each has its unique strengths. But none of them have four qualities that this wikibook has:
- This book is free.
- This book can include hyperlinks.
- This book can be updated continuously.
- This book can include contributions by anyone.
Now the first point is hard to quibble with. It's hard to beat free. The second point is also a big advantage of a wikibook, since you can embed in the text itself links to other web pages, including other wikibooks and entries in other wikis (like Wikipedia entries). The third advantage can be a bit iffy, as a wikibook is only as good as the community of contributors who help keep it current. There's no guarantee that this wikibook will stay current, of course, but the more people that get involved, the more likely it is that at least some of them will stick with it and keep the text fresh and current...at least until the "next generation" of contributors take over.
But this last point may seem like a disadvantage to some people. After all, shouldn't textbooks be written by experts? If you let anyone contribute to a book, doesn't that make it less credible? Maybe, but maybe not. You see, while it is true that wikibooks (and wikis in general) can and do suffer from occasional "vandalism," it's not something that can't be fixed. Any edit can be reversed. Any contribution can be removed. And every version of every page can be seen by anyone. Just click on the "View History" tab at the top of each page, and you'll see a list of every version of that page. This list also shows when each version was submitted, and by whom—either identified by their registered username, or by their IP address if they prefer to edit anonymously (or just forget to log in). If you like, you can even compare different versions to see what was changed.
So while the fact that anyone can contribute to this wikibook may seem like a disadvantage, it's actually one of its greatest strengths. (Maybe not as great as the fact that it's free, but close). Because when you let anyone help write a book, the people who are most likely to contribute, and the people who are most likely to prevail in an "edit war" are the people who care the most about the book and its content. The community of writers and readers serve as a built-in review system. It isn't a perfect system, but it's a pretty good one. And if you don't agree, you are free to edit this page right now and change it. And if you do, anyone is free to change it back.
What is the purpose of this Wikibook?
The fundamental purpose of this wikibook is to provide a free, open-content textbook on announcing. In particular, it is hoped that this wikibook will be a valuable resource for those who seek to become announcers, or who seek to improve their announcing skills.
Another purpose is to serve as a textbook for a course taught by Philip A. Thompsen, Ph.D. at West Chester University. I'm going to revert to writing in first person just to make this clearer, and to keep from writing about "Dr. Thompsen" when...well, that's me. (In general, writing in first person is not good Wiki etiquette, but perhaps the reader will grant me some grace to make a point in this section.) I've been teaching broadcast performance courses for many years, and at many different universities. I've used all three of the textbooks I mentioned above in past semesters. They are all fine books. And they are all expensive books (although the Focal book is the most reasonably priced). None of them are perfect. None cover everything I want in a textbook for my course. So back in 2006, when I was faced with the decision as to what book to adopt for my course that fall, I couldn't decide. I didn't really want to use any of them. I wanted to write my own textbook.
And then in July 2006, I taught a graduate course on communication technology where the students and I worked together on building a wiki about communication. We called it ComWiki: The Communication Studies Wiki. It was a small class, but in just a few weeks of work, we built a pretty decent little wiki, with over a hundred articles. Not amazing, perhaps, but certainly a good start to what could potentially become a more active wiki in the future.
This experience peaked my interest in attending a conference on wikis called Wikimania 2006. It was a great conference, and I got to see firsthand what others were doing with wiki technology. And after spending three days listening to the people behind much of Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects, I was hooked. I had already contributed quite a bit to Wikipedia, and I had started my own wiki, but now I wanted to do more. I wanted to write a wikibook. So that's what I'm doing.
I don't know what the "finished product" will look like, or even if it will ever be considered finished enough to warrant a printable version (like some of the other wikibooks on this wiki). This is a wikibook, after all, so it will always be a work in progress. But if my effort to get this wikibook started helps just a few people learn about a profession I once called my own (and still do to some extent), then I think the effort will be worth it.
How can I contribute to this Wikibook?
That's easy. Click on the "edit this page" tab at the top of any page and add, change, correct, delete or update as much (or as little) as you like. You don't even have to be a registered user to do so. But if you are going to be making some major contributions, it would be nice to know at least a little bit about you. Please consider registering for an account if you don't already have one, and log in as that user when you edit so that everyone can see what you did. No need to be bashful.
Comments and suggestions are also welcome. If you have something you would like to say about something in this wikibook, consider posting a comment. Every page has its own "talk page," a place to discuss what's on the module page. Just click on the discussion tab at the top of any page to see what, if anything, has been added to the talk page. To add something to the discussion, just click the "+" tab that appears near the top of the talk page. If you are logged in, and would like to sign your comment, you can do so easily by putting three tilde characters (~) after what you've written (or four tilde characters if you also want to include a time stamp).
By the way, this use of tilde characters to add your signature is an example of using w:wikitext. It's easy to learn, but you don't need to know it to contribute. Still, if you want to learn just a little wikitext, a good place to start is with the w:Wikipedia:Quick Guide.
Also consider adding your name to the contributors section below.
Who is contributing to this Wikibook?
This Wikibook was started on August 13, 2006, by Philip A. Thompsen, Ph.D. Dr. Thompsen has taught broadcast performance classes at the university level for over two decades. Prior to his academic career, he worked as a professional broadcast announcer. You can read more about him at his user profile page.
If you contribute to this wikibook, please consider adding a brief biographic sketch on the contributors page.
It is hoped that over time, a growing number of professional announcers will contribute to the development of this wikibook. If you are reading this, and would like to help but don't know where to start, please look at this list of wanted modules.