Dr. Kevin Williams, chair of the communications department at Shepherd University, has produced a digital book, "The Depths of Perception," and it has won a Communicator Awards silver medal for electronic publishing and musical score.
The computer-mediated book explores the professional, pop cultural, and personal experience of scuba and divers based on essays Williams wrote and on his own dive log over the last 18 years. The book demonstrates how scuba diving can change the way you experience everyday life.
"The book is about prejudice," he said. "The book is about people. It's for people who judge others quickly, who evaluate before meditating, and it's designed to show how you can spend some time thinking, assessing and understanding before you make a judgment."
He said his favorite parts of the book are the dive stories followed by philosophical reflection. One story is about nearly drowning during a training dive doing a buddy-breathing ascent when his dive buddy accidentally knocked off Williams's mask.
"When you go under and come out of the water you suddenly look at the way you are living on land your whole life and go, 'Oh my God, I was taking all of this for granted,'" he said.
Williams incorporated numerous images, videos, links and animation, either his own or from around the world, and used social media for interviews and discussions.
He created the musical scoring for the book, which he said reflects the intensity of each chapter.
"If the chapter is about a real scary story it might be upbeat and tense. If it's kind of an introduction, it is a little mellow and spacey and laid back," he said.
He said he will tend to the book for a year adding comment and updates and following readers' conversations.
"I want to know what happens with an online book," he said. "I decided to go into something that I really felt I needed to know, I needed to teach, and I wasn't as up-to-date as I wanted to be," he said.
Williams took sabbatical to write the book. Dow Benedict, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, agreed with Williams's pitch that electronic publication is the way of the future and he needed to understand it.
"Dr. Kevin Williams continues to do amazing, beyond-the-edge work and, in this case, is able to combine his multiple areas of interest in communication, electronic media, and music," he said. "The award is simply another recognition of the quality of his work as well as his innovative spirit and accomplishments."
It is available only for iPads through iTunes.
The Communicator Awards is an annual competition honoring the best in advertising, corporate communications, public relations, and identity work for print, video, interactive and audio. They are sanctioned and judged by the International Academy of Visual Arts.