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Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest Hardcover – May 16, 2017
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Salient material presented in an understandable way, the contents of this book will remain relevant long after the next platform/paradigm for outreach arrives. "Twitter and Tear Gas" should be required reading for anyone hoping to claim or achieve social awareness.
Some example passages:
"Thanks to a Facebook page, perhaps for the first time in history, an internet user could click yes on an electronic invitation to a revolution."
"However, these perspectives assume that people who connect online are doing things only online, and that the online world is somehow less real than, and disconnected from, the offline one."
"Digital tools have changed the ecology of the public sphere and have profoundly reshaped the architecture of connectivity. Social movements were quick to adopt these tools and to use them to challenge power. There is no reason, however, to believe that affordances of digital technology are like Thor’s hammer, which only the pure of heart can pick up, and only for a single purpose."
Three areas of the book really stand out to me: her observations and anecdotes about how today's platforms enable very small groups of people to drive large movements very quickly; the advantages and disadvantages these movements have because they are generally consensually led rather than hierarchical, and the close relationship between users, the corporations of the social platforms they use, and their interaction with the nation-states in which they operate.
Tufecki also advances the capacities and signals model for how these networks operate. There I think she might have done somewhat better --- or perhaps I lost the thread of her argument, as my background is more technical than sociological. The model seems sound (although I am not qualified to dispute it), but could have been called out more clearly in some ways from her relating of specific observations and trends. To her credit, she does a good job of summarizing the model in both the introduction and conclusion. This may be a weak point to the academic reader, although I imagine her model is --- or will be --- better-covered in her writing targeted specifically at that audience.
The material she presents is accessible to anyone, but I think has special value for three groups of people: those attempting to implement change using today's networked mediums, those studying trends and developments in Internet culture, and those working on Internet technologies that should be aware that their work has real social consequences that are difficult to foresee in advance.