(This generous write-up from my home department website is about the Best Book Award given to Venture Labor won.)
Professor Gina Neff’s book titled “Venture Labor: Work and the Burden of Risk in Innovative Industries” was selected as the 2013 Best Book Award by the American Sociological Association Section on Communication and Information Technologies (CITASA). The book award “recognizes an outstanding book related to the sociology of communications or the sociology of information technology.”
“It’s so gratifying to receive this award and in part because this community has been so important in building intellectual conversation around questions of technology and society that I couldn’t imagine joining a better group of distinguished books,” Neff said. “So many of the books that have been so important to my own work have been honored with this award and it feels quite surreal to join them.”
Neff is a co-winner with Yuri Takhteyev from the University of Toronto. The two winners, plus the honorable mention, are all from the MIT Press series, which Professor Kirsten Foot co-edits. Neff has been involved with CITASA since she was a graduate student, making the award even more meaningful.
“It’s a community that I really respect and consider one of my intellectual homes,” Neff said.
“Venture Labor” is “an intricate case study of a key member in the birth of the contemporary media landscape: the ‘Silicon Alley’ community in New York City, which in the 1995 to 2001 period sought to create a kind of Eastern version of Silicon Valley, with an emphasis on the production of platforms and content instead of hardware,” according to Thomas Streeter, a Sociology Professor at the University of Vermont.
“Book writing is really a lonely endeavor; you never know how your ideas are being received,” Neff said. “So it’s really gratifying to have the recognition. This is work I started in 1996, so there’s no way I could have known when I started the project what the end result would be and, in that sense, the award is a really nice conclusion to what has been the first of hopefully many projects in my career.”
Streeter writes in a review forthcoming in the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media that “Neff situates her study in the years before and immediately after the dotcom crash. This enables her to chart both the self-understanding that drove the rise of Silicon Alley and the connections of those visions to dramatically changing economic circumstances.”
“I’m just really excited that people are finding the ideas that I write about powerful and useful, and that I was able to advocate for these ideas,” Neff said. “That was one of the things that motivated me when I was writing the book. The book is about the lives of the people that I interviewed in the study, the choices they were making, and the economic situations that media makers were finding themselves in.”