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Friends, Followers and the Future: How Social Media are Changing Politics, Threatening Big Brands, and Killing Traditional Media Paperback – May 8, 2012

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Friends, Followers and the Future: How Social Media are Changing Politics, Threatening Big Brands, and Killing Traditional Media + Informing the News: The Need for Knowledge-Based Journalism (Vintage) + Mass Media and American Politics, 8th Edition
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Books; 1 edition (May 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872865568
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872865563
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,011,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"In his lucid examination of the effects of digital technology, the author asserts that the evolution of web-based platforms and the rise of the Occupy movement has caused a marked decrease in our culture’s dependence on 'traditional models of organization' . . . O’Connor pulls no punches and effectively tracks the gains and losses of the movement in clear, energetic language. An erudite, constructive analysis."--Kirkus Reviews

"Anyone who cares about the impact of the digital information revolution on democracy and culture can't afford to miss FRIENDS, FOLLOWERS AND THE FUTURE -- a story that moves as swiftly as the dizzying pace of change itself. Rory O'Connor combines journalistic integrity with a passionate belief in the power of ordinary people to change the world. Depending on your stake in the outcome, you will find this book inspiring, scary, or perhaps a bit of both." -- Andrew Heyward, Former President of CBS News

"This book is a comprehensive, up-to-date, and fair-minded survey of how social media are conveying -- and perhaps transforming -- what we want to know." -- Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education and author, most recently, of Truth, Beauty and Goodness Reframed

"Before Rory O’Connor writes, he researches, ask questions, and asks them again before calling the the insiders who are the targets of his inquiry. He is persistent, even relentless, as a hard-charging reporter which is why his blogs, columns and this new book 'Friends, Followers and the Future: How Social Media are Changing Politics, Threatening Big Brands, And Killing Traditional Media' (City Lights, 2012) leaves you questioning your own assumptions and often superficial take on the issue at hand. Personally, he is a refugee from old media and as a multi-media man (films, books, blogs, websites, etc) , an early adopter to the new. But he didn’t stop there: he is a practitioner who wants to know where all this is headed and how the digital innovators and entrepreneurs think about what they do. This is a book in the know with ideas that we will all need to know as we navigate our personal and collective futures." -- Danny Schechter News

"With laser-like accuracy Rory O'Connor spotlights the key challenges and opportunities in the world of news and information, where technology has upended the old rules of how media is created and consumed. O'Connor's wise, savvy 'Friends, Followers and the Future' is an essential examination of how social media is transforming the lives of individuals and society at large. Read it and share it." -- J. Max Robins, Vice President/Executive Director,
The Paley Center for Media

"...O’Connor has put together a trustworthy introduction to the current state of play."--Boston Globe

"If Glenn Beck keeps a J. Edgar Hoover-esque blacklist under his bed pillow, journalist Rory O’Connor is probably on it, appearing before Nancy Pelosi and George Soros. O’Connor turns a skeptical yet pragmatic eye to the likes of Facebook. He examines how such online networks empower citizens to create counternarratives to bullsh*t punditry, political spin, and corporate PR, while warning of the dystopian echo chamber they could realize, where every citizen becomes a bullsh*tting pundit, partisan hack, or corporate flak." --SF Weekly

About the Author

Rory O’Connor is an author, filmmaker and journalist whose work centers around media and politics. Author of Shock Jocks: Hate Speech & Talk Radio (2008), and co-author of Nukespeak (2nd ed, 2011) his broadcast, film and print career has been recognized with two Emmys, a George Orwell Award, a George Polk Award, a Writer's Guild Award, among other honors.

More About the Author


Rory O'Connor is an award-winning journalist, author and filmmaker whose work centers on the nexus of media and politics. For more than twenty years Rory has engaged the public with stories from Asia, Africa and the Americas told in print, film, television and radio broadcasts and via the Internet. Co-founder and president of the international media firm Globalvision, Inc, and Board Chair of The Global Center, an affiliated non-profit foundation, Rory's films and television programs have aired on PBS, BBC, NHK, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, and numerous other leading international broadcast networks. His broadcast, film and print work has been honored with a George Polk Award, a Writer's Guild Award, a George Orwell Award and two Emmys, among many awards. The author of three books, including "Nukespeak: The Selling of Nuclear Technology from the Manhattan Project to Fukushima" (Sierra Club Books, Second Edition, 2011), "Shock Jocks: Hate Speech and Talk Radio" (AlterNet Books, 2008), and, most recently, "Friends, Followers and the Future: How Social Media are Changing Politics, Threatening Big Brands, and Killing Traditional Media" (City Lights, 2012), he is also blogs for the Huffington Post, AlterNet, Salon and other prominent Internet news sites and posts regularly at his own "Media Is A Plural' blog, accessible at

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brian B. Kelly on August 25, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It seems apt that the print version of Friends, Followers and the Future by Rory O'Connor is shaped like a popular travel guide, for though there are no maps or scenic views within its pages, it is, among other things, a guide book. If you have teenage children or younger friends who have deserted you, their homework and even their own friends for Facebook and Twitter, or who would rather watch fails on YouTube than your favorite sports teams, or who are more dejected by an internet `friend' rejection than a failing test grade, this book is for you. It will guide you through to understanding how it all came about and what has made the new media and new technologies essential for today's young people. If you are that young person who spends all your time on the internet and is absorbed for hours by roaming the lush pastures of Facebook, Mr. O'Connor can take you to meet all the individuals who have made the communication adventure of your generation possible. If you are neither of these people, but are someone who wants solid help is assessing what you see and feel happening to politics, marketing, news breaking, and social life around you, the this is the guide for you, too.

One of the things that separates this book from so many prognostications and starry eyed speculations about the vast changes wrought by the new technologies, is the stunning depth and breadth of Mr. O'Connor's research. In the course of two or three years he has managed to interview what seems to be the majority of major CEO's and other high ranking officers at Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, et al, not to mention those at ABC, NBC, CBS and other major legacy operators, plus the major writers and commentators in the field besides, and often more than once.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mike G. on May 31, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This books starts out so strong. There are some amazing examples of how social media has actually changed the world and how it has helped to even change political climates. As you go on reading the book, the author starts to repeat all of his beliefs over and over again. As much as he tries to paint a two sided argument about the effects of social media, there is definitely a biased view.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mark Zanger on June 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
Lost in the cloud of social media options? Searching through twisty little passages for the reliable news you always hoped to pry out of the local newspaper? Deafened by the oncoming avalanche of digital information and misinformation, but not knowing which way to run out of its path? Looking at three doors and wondering which one has the facts and which two have the opinions?

Here's the map.

Rory O'Connor, savvy veteran of all media (and, disclosure: my colleague long ago) has written a simple book about finding your bearings in this time of rapid media change. Yes, there are still facts and thoughtful opinions out there. Yes there are still people searching for truth and a chance of predicting the consequences. What is in between is/are media, and this book gives you the tools to pick up the new tools.
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