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Taking on the System: Rules for Change in a Digital Era Paperback – August 4, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Celebra; Reprint edition (August 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451228065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451228062
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,459,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this primer for activists in the digital age, Zúniga, founder of the influential lefty blog DailyKos, argues that if activists harness new technology such as blogs, podcasting and YouTube, they can bypass the old-world gatekeepers to communicate to the masses in order to bring about political change. Tidily organized into pithy directives, including mobilizing, reinventing the street protest and feeding the backlash, this informative and entertaining book—inspired by Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals—moves easily among the current campaign cycle, pop culture phenomena such as Stephen Colbert and the successes and failures of the progressive movement in America. Zúniga's pragmatic, inclusive tone takes the edge off his sometimes didactic insistence that there's no reason anyone should whine or complain that they are being shut out of the system. It should be noted, however, that the book is targeted directly to other liberals and wastes no time with conciliatory measures toward the right. Anyone in his camp, however, will be rewarded by the read. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Zúniga, popular political blogger (dailykos.com) and reluctant leader of the netroots—those technocratic raiders now seen as a catalyzing political-action force fomenting populist action—gives us a set of tools and strategies for finding and exposing cracks within the social political-media system. With deft narrative ability, he insightfully dissects the hows and whys of many blog-driven political upsets over the past three years, from the unfortunate circuslike atmosphere unfolding around Cindy Sheehan outside of President Bush's ranch in Texas to the senatorial upset of George Allen in Virginia. Zúniga unfolds the nature and extent of netroots persistence, which is indicative of a seemingly new digital citizenship in which those with access to blogs as platforms can potentially expose and open gates to the democratic process. Zúniga's latest is focused more on practical tools and techniques of political action than his earlier Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics (with Jerome Armstrong). This book will be in demand in libraries serving communities with a blogosphere readership.—Jim Hahn, Univ. of Illinois Lib., Urbana
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

This book is an interesting and informative look at how activism is changing.
MLR
In working through some of the successes of the bloggers Markos develops a series of New Rules for Radicals (he cites explicitly Saul Alinsky's important book).
Robert Moore
I am really not sure how ripping off an artist is really getting at the Studios that he labels 'gatekeepers' (the studios) is really a solution at all.
Joseph J. Slevin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Camptalk on August 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
For those of us who sometimes take the internet and blogging for granted, "Taking on the System" is a comprehensive reminder of just how influential ordinary people can become as they open a forum for political debate and spur a grassroots movement for participatory democracy. The Dailykos founder outlines the history of blog sites, their successes and failures, and provides advice and tools to help common citizens exert influence and promote societal change. The book is a clearly written, entertaining glimpse into a new and powerful medium, and one every person intending to vote should read.

Sarah McKerrigan, author
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45 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Craig Newmark on August 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Like most people, I don't want to be bothered by politics, but this election is a really big deal. It's time to lift the darkness, and this book has practical ideas for grass roots change that's good for all. It helps also to have a few cautionary tales, and to appreciate the heroic role of Stephen Colbert.

Craig
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28 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Michael Callaghan VINE VOICE on September 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
... VERY overlong. Basically, this is a 5-10 page essay which has been ballooned to fill a book. The message is that using technology and a strong grassroots effort, we the people can take back the media from entrenched interests and affect change. The delivery is 288 pages of related anecdotes and self-congratulatory rhetoric.

My problem is when Zuniga used stories from the music business (I'm in the music business). He cites the last Radiohead album as having been free for download, and the average user paying from $5 - 7 for it as an example of the democratization of media, freed from oppressive corporatism... well, in fact the vast majority of people downloaded it for free, paying nothing. It's an important distinction, and if that's an example of 'power to the people', it bears noting that the people wanted something for nothing. What other stories might be likewise skewed? It made me wonder.

Still, it's a breezy, entertaining read, and there certainly is truth that we the people can bring about reform if (and when) we set our collective minds to it. I'm just not sure it takes so many pages to make that point, or that it can't be better made with better documented, more effective examples. Good blogs do not necessarily make good books, it seems.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Friedman VINE VOICE on October 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I can't help thinking that author Markos Moulitsas wouldn't mind very much if readers just skimmed the book for some inspiration and moved on quickly to do something toward "taking on the system." Someone else mentioned that the titles and subtitles are the best part of the book. "Set the Narrative." "Target Your Villain." "Exploit Their Weaknesses." "Build a Wave." "Aim for the Gut, Not the Brain." "Advance and Hold Enemy Ground."

So many Americans have felt increasingly disenfranchised and disengaged from the system. Moulitsas describes a process--sort of an evolution of character and action--in which an individual can pick a cause, start small, become engaged, identify the roadblocks, and then move on and on with persistence and determination to knock down the roadblock and get something done. And then lots of individuals can find like-minded communities and become part of a movement that collectively takes on the system to serve the needs of real people in the real America of today.

Moulitsas uses military imagery from time to time, not to suggest acts of violence but rather to move slowly and strategically to stake out a position and then hold onto it. As it turns out, this physically small man I've heard called "twerp" served a stint in the Army, then came out, went to college and then law school, and has now, without physical force, become a part of a movement that's slowly been turning from a minority to a majority representation of the desires of the American people.

I've been reading the author's blog, The Daily Kos. Markos Moulitsas is a prolific writer (using the blogger's name "Kos) posting day after day to keep his readership focused on task and focused on victory in the upcoming elections. He's been labeled "far left," "radical," and more.
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Michael Gmirkin VINE VOICE on September 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This seemed like an interesting book on how to play digital culture to the advantage of those seeking to make changes in the political, scientific or social landscape.

The book did have a few quirks the author may not have realized, such as talking about enforcing the status quo vs. being the little guy trying to make a point, then going on to say that global warming is "settled science" and that anyone who makes a legitimate point contrary to the scientific consensus is just a troublemaker. Does the author not realize how hypocritical this sounds? Arguing for the inclusion of the little guy's voice in discussions, and then acting like the authoritarian brute and trying to exclude the legitimate opinion of the "little guy" in the global warming debate.

Aside from a few foibles of that sort, the book was a pretty interesting read, drawing lots of specific examples from various newspapers, TV shows, liberal blogs, etc.

The book itself has a very liberal slant, so anyone who's a die-hard conservative may roll their eyes at some of the discussions. But, political points aside, it seems like a decent enough manual for trying to get one's point across in whatever field there are "gatekeepers" trying to suppress your point of view, etc.

While I'm not much into the political sphere, there seems to be a lot of politicking in science, and very similar tactics may be useful in effecting change in scientific circles.

The book's probably not for everyone, but it kept my attention and made some interesting points.
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Taking on the System: Rules for Change in a Digital Era
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