Monthly Archives: February 2014

Readings on Surveillance and Rebellion

As with all non-fiction writing, the ideas in my Matter piece on how rebellion and surveillance are intertwined spring from a conversation with other writers, thinkers and academics. Matter does provide links within the piece so as not to interrupt the flow so I wanted to compile some of my favorite academic and non-academic thinkers on this issue for anyone who was interested in more reading.

Clay Shirky perhaps put it best on technology and human-to-human connectivity: “Historically, we have overestimated the value of access to information, and we have always underestimated the value of access to each other.” That remains one of the key insights about social media. His book, Here Comes Everybody, remains a cornerstone of many discussions about Internet’s impacts.

Phil Howard has been prescient, to say the least. His book “Managed Citizen” spells out much of the things we worry about on how new technologies can be used in the political realm to manage us, resulting in poorer democracy. He’s also written current pieces examining how (few) privacy rights we seem to have in the political realm. (This one with Daniel Kreiss). (Phil’s also written a great book on Internet and political change in Muslim countries before the Arab Uprisings shook the world so prescient is very apt in describing his book!)

Daniel Kreiss‘ book which brilliantly chronicled the Obama campaign of 2008, which was much more insurgent compared with the more “managed” 2012 one, remains a must-read. Dan has also written on how campaigns profile us with online data in this aptly titled article: Yes we can (profile you). He’s now examining the 2012 presidential campaigns so that should be quite a comparison with his 2008 observations! I also recommend the article “Limits of Peer Production” which Dan co-wrote with Megan Finn & Fred Turner .

David Karpf‘s awesome book, the Moveon Effect, chronicles how networked politics is changing the social movement organizations. He’s also looked at how “netroots” are going global and reshaping the political game in many countries. David’s book asks really important questions about the gains and loses to social movements from shifting internet-based organizing and has fascinating analysis of what goes on behind the scenes.  Also, don’t be fooled by the title Moveon Effect as Dave’s book also looks at the other side of the aisle which is also being impacted by these changes.

To be certain, these books and articles are not the only scholarship on this topic (far from it!), but I just wanted to provide a few high-quality entry points and focus on books with empirical content (rather than speculative ones which have their place but usually aren’t the books you should read first). My own academic papers on this topic are still under review: here’s draft of one of them on Big Data and Engineering the Public.

Also, I am very much looking forward to finishing Emily Parker’s new book “Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground” which puts faces to one of the mechanisms I talk of in my post: internet’s ability to make us visible to each other, with tales from Russia, China and Cuba.

All the books I’ve mentioned above are great reads and they’ve all won awards from the academic community. Feel free to leave more suggestions in the comments!