Book Publishing – rather like playing Real Tennis at Wimbledon?

Just the other day, a bulky envellope arrived on the desk. It was my complimentary copy of the book to which I’ve contributed a chapter, on the topic of talking with children and young people about the processing of their personal information.

Handling Personal Information in Social and Health Services

Well! So here it was at last!

Warm feelings and thanks to Chris Clark and Janice McGhee (the editors) for all their shepherding of the collective enterprise in general, and their support for me individually, especially as I tended to write ‘bulletins from the Front’ (their words) rather than in the calm more academic style that is generally deployed in this context. Ever so many thanks too to Marina, for passing me the original opportunity, and Tamsyn, for giving me such a good flying start with the actual writing and for a friendly eye on the draft later – a review from a peerless peer at a critical moment.

I’d already launched an earlier draft version of my text down the slipway, to fend for itself once I’d cut the restraining chains, having been aware of the general debate about what constitutes a sensible process for academic publishing in the web 2.0 era.

But what gave a certain piquancy to the pleasure of seeing the finished physical artefact was the background feeling that it’s been a bit like a sort of courtly mediaeval dance, really. Something to be wierded about rather than critical of, of course, but…

 What brought this home was the publication of the Byron Review ‘Safer Children in a Digital World’ that was commissioned, researched, written and published within the span of time it took our various chapters to coalesce from draft into ‘galley proofs’ for final checking. With any writing that ends up ‘fixed’ (aye, there’s the rub) of course other sources are bound to arrive afterwards, that you wished you could have catered for.

But it was the contrast between the overall speed of the two production processes that drove the point home.


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