Email from a book reviewer …

Review by John Fraim
Harold Mabern “Edward Lee” / Dedicated to Lee Morgan


Thought I’d share with you my email to Julia Hildebrand, author of the book I reviewed called Aerial Play. She is a professor of communications teaching at a Florida university. She is active in the Media Ecology Association and one of the major academics carrying McLuhan’s work forward into the new media of drones and the medium they allowed users to be in. For the first time. My note to Julia and below that my book review. I think both McCluhans (Marshal and Eric) would be proud of this follower taking the application of media ecology to technology to new levels.


Just sent off my review on Aerial Play to Bob Logan at New Explorations. I queried the review editor at New Explorations in Media Ecology a few times and event wrote the publisher but did not hear back from them. I contacted people at Wired but did not hear back. Basically, Wired is written by staff members. I thought about the New York Review of Books and the London Review as I think the article is aimed at this demographic. But decided not too.

I think I should write Bob and tell him he only gets co-publication rights as I want to get parts of this review and all of the review out there to my contacts. I don’t want to let a journal that will not publish the review until 2022 control the communication about your important book. Just some thoughts right now after sending our final copy off to Bob Logan. 

At 4,445 words, the review is more of an essay/review combined. The kind of stuff they do at the London Review of Books and – to a slightly lesser extent – at the New York Review of Books. I know because I’ve been a subscriber to both for years. The best reviews use the book or life they are reviewing as a type of “taking off” point from which they can soar in their speculations about the book or the life. Biographers review lives. Critic reviewers focus on works of current popular art

There’s always some connection between a reviewer and a book and I certainly feel this way with Aerial Play. It is exactly the type of book that MM would be proud of. (As well as an interested participant in the drone world and particularly FVP drones if he were around today) You suggest many interesting paths that a future new discipline might pull together. You mention a few disciplines today like Mobility studies. Of course a good question is how the new few years will affect the discipline your are proposing. Almost from a type of new digital alchemy. Into a new discipline that connects with others using drones. 

From DJI Mavic Air 2 drone, 400 feet over the western part of Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan (By John Fraim)

But the play aspect of drones. Not their work aspect. The unconsciousness as well as the collective unconsciousness) are within the play aspect of drones rather than the work aspect of drones. 
It is one of the most important things that provides a type of subtext to your message. You are suggesting a new discipline based on studying play rather than work. One of the greatest and most measurable play technologies today is of course drones. Looking at this play aspect of your subject is something that greatly separates what you are doing from all the others out there so focused on the conscious, daily actions of others. 

The major job of a reviewer is to lay out the ideas and emotions inherent in the work of art, literature, video or piece of music they are reviewing. And react to this in his or her particular way making it clear to the audience that this is a reaction to the book and not the book itself. It should take off from ideas in the book or work of art so that ideas postulated turn into parts of a larger context a particular book or work of art appears in. The book is McLuhan’s message content. Containing this content (like water around a fish to use a famous MM analogy) is the context or medium it appears in. Here is where your research is so pioneering. Perhaps more than anything, it seems to me it is attempting to merge various disciplines into a new discipline that studies drones through play and not work. Studies perhaps the greatest play technology today in drones. A potential for the greatest study of play in history through the data of those consumers who use drones as a hobby to play rather than tool for work. 

Anyway, been good working with you and we’ll see what can happen to the review. It will be published in New Explorations in 2022 but I want to get word out to a broader group way before 2022. 

Let me know if you come up with ideas for publications. I think that I might go ahead and publish some of this on my site Midnight Oil Studios. It has a very interesting circulation. Below attached the latest and what I want to work from. Of course keep me updated on your work.


Professor Julia Hildebrand / A brilliant new light in communications and media (and drone culture and worldview)

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