Twitter and Tear Gas - The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest

Review :

This book is a must read for whomever even slightly interested in the idea of changing public sphere with collective action.

Author starts with an in-depth analysis of networked movements (social movements using internet and social media as organizing tools and a medium to express dissent) and explores their differences with pre-internet era movements. The evident advantage of networked movements is fast and easy organization on a large scale. But with this power also comes the movements' weakness. Because of bypassing pain staking process of organization, there are almost no widely accepted leadership and even no effective decision making system which results in tactical freeze after the initial stage of protests and makes any fruitful negotiations very hard to achieve. Author also mentions that this weakness is not just a by product of using internet but has deep cultural roots in protesters' worldview and their lack of confidence in representative politics.

Second part of the book is devoted to the analysis of different social media outlets. Tufekci explores how different features, algorithms, terms of use, popularity of outlets and even market forces works for or against the activists.

At last author gives a more detailed analysis of the reaction of the powerful to the networked movements challenging their power. Her main thesis is that in attention is the main resource for a movement, not the information and governments gradually have learned to limit the attention and distract or confuse the public instead of naively blocking the information which is almost impossible and could backfire since it attracts more attention to the issue.

What I mentioned is just a small part of Tufekci's deep insights in this book. I have a feeling that I will come back to this book so many times.


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