As the first announcements about the book release were posted on facebook groups, the authors woke up to the real problems of propagating information and cutting through the chatter on social media. Having worked on manuscripts for years and having read thousands of pages in our source material for more than two decades, the authors of course are accustomed to the requirements for patient study, looking for bits of information and correlating vast amounts of facts and knowledge. The book is a product of having dealt with huge amounts of information. "Condensing" it all still produced a 1000 page book. In stark contrast to the "speech balloon" exchange, minimum attention span based form of communication that increasingly replaces in depth discussions in an ever more complex world, one might complain. Research shows that human attention span is shortening as we have increasing amounts of information to navigate. Now remember to return here if you choose to read this article:
(This is an exercise...!!!)
We have been thinking that this website could be an alternative communication channel, a place where people can stop and spend a little more time reading. But within hours after launching the website we already received reports that people still ask about the price of the book after having visited our website, even though it is mentioned in the FAQ and the first "Welcome!" posting! No wonder popularized short articles on our subject have been as much as most people can handle as far as studying horn speakers. But as has been mentioned elsewhere, we wrote the kind of book that we ourselves would like to see somebody write on the subject. The book documents a lengthy study, and the book itself will require a lengthy study by the reader to prove its full worth.
Maybe comprehensive, challenging technical books of this sort are turning into "dinosaur" items just like the venerable century old technology it aims to explore? Whatever message doesn't fit into formats easy to handle on smart phones is increasingly getting a hard time getting through to people. But we love books like the old acoustical theory books by Olson or Beranek or the tube electronics textbooks by Walley & Wallman, Frederick Terman or the Radiotron Designers' Handbook. Our book is a little more like those aging classics, though we think, still quite a bit different - with all its photos, biographical info and a little bit of attitude too.
Personally I am uncomfortable with computers that don't have a real keyboard and a good sized screen. I have spent countless hours writing e-mail messages since 1993, back when the Internet implied Unix knowledge and before the www. Nowadays I get five words of response to many of my e-mail messages. Or a thumbs up emoji. I have no idea what the person at the far end actually picked up, and there's no time for a discussion either. It's "sorry for the long post" these days, if you write more than 20 lines of text. How about a 1000 page book, then?
People insist on reading e-mail while walking down a busy street these days. No wonder the attention span is suffering. Producing lengthier texts often feels like a waste of time this way. A big heavy book on the other hand is something you either sit down with in a comfortable chair for a while and with a cup of coffee or instead leave it on the shelf altogether. In our case the book demands commitment. That's the whole spirit of the project. This digital communication business is a whole different sort of thing. The much touted "information superhighway" we talked about 20 years ago has turned into a numbing chatter that's ironically not only making it easier for people to find good information. Cutting through the noise and managing one's own attention and time expenditure seems to be the big challenges here.
For people who like to write and spend time writing, writing can be a lot about sorting out ideas and thought processes. It's not possible to produce large amounts of text without thinking a great deal and working on the language, in the hope that the reader will pick up the message. On a complex subject such as ours, these are obvious necessities. Just to be able to discuss the topic in a useful way with other people requires an extensive terminology and familiarity with a number of theoretical concepts. Even that in itself can require a great deal of study.
I increasingly found myself thinking that I'd better think about writing for a book than keeping on posting lengthy pieces on discussion forums which would be ignored by many and forgotten by most within a short period of time. Also, writing a book means you can and must relate to source materials and double checked facts. You can take your time and get things as straight and true as possible.
And at least with a book you can put a bookmark in it and pick it up later, as time permits and as motivations to learn more come along. Not like last week's e-mail.
We are excited to see that people seem to want to read our book, but can't help but wonder if they realize what they are in for. They'd better be prepared to READ. And focus, and to be patient. We wrote the book in part out of a frustration with the propagation of misconceptions and simplistic ideas about horn speakers. We wanted correct facts and for technological history as well as complex and advanced theory to be be made more accessible for study. Time will show what readers get out of it. We have done our best to make sure information is correct and the theory has been proof read by several academic acousticians to weed out errors and ambiguities. But there will possibly be readers disappointed or discouraged to find that horn speaker systems are in fact much more complex than they had imagined.
In our own experience, our study and research has been rewarding, answering a lot of questions and inspiring further work. We have to hope that this will rub off on readers of the book. The authors have always been the sort of guys to want to figure stuff out, find out how things really work...and if it can be made to work even better... That's also what the history of the science and engineering of horns and horn speakers is all about, and ultimately also what the book is about. It's for you who want to learn more, or as much as possible. To some, however, it may turn out to be "too much information".