Book: Digital Activism Decoded

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Digital Activism Decoded: The New Mechanics, for which I was editor and co-author, was published in 2010.  It is available for sale on Amazon.com and as a free PDF through the Open Society Foundations, which published the book through its iDebate Press.

Other books have preceded this one in exploring the intersection of digital technology and activism. There have already been guides that instruct activists in the use of popular applications like blogs and social networks.

There have also been scholarly works that analyze the effect of the Internet or mobile phones on political dynamics, both in rich democracies where politicians “tweet” and under repressive regimes. Best sellers have tried to explain the digitally changing world, including the impact on activism.

Yet Digital Activism Decoded is the first book to attempt to map the field of digital activism in its entirety.

The book begins with a section on Contexts, addressing not only the technology of network infrastructure, devices, and applications, but also the social, economic, and political environment in which digital activism occurs.

An analysis of Practices follows, not in the usual format of case study analysis, but by presenting different ways of thinking about these practices. The section begins with a chapter on pre-digital social movement theory, while a second chapter takes the digital perspective of web ecology. Both constructive and destructive activism practices are discussed.

The final section on Effects seeks to address the range of opinions on digital activism’s value. While optimists see the great potential for citizen empowerment, pessimists believe that the empowerment of forces of repression is equally likely. Skeptics view both askance and do not believe digital activism makes much difference at all. We leave the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

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