My book, Twitter and Tear Gas, is out! News and Details!

Dear Friends,

My book, Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest, is officially out today, as of May 16th! It is published by Yale University Press, and it weaves stories with conceptual work. It is both a quasi-historical account of some 21st century mass protests, but also engages theories social movements, public sphere and technology. I tried to write it with as much narrative structure as possible to make it readable to broadest audiences.  

Some news: there will be a free creative commons copy of my book. It will be available as a free PDF download in addition to being sold as a bound book. This is with the hopes that anyone who wants to read it can do so without worrying about the cost. However, this also means that I need to ask that a few people who can afford to do so to please consider purchasing a copy. This is not just so that Yale University Press can do this for more authors, but also because if it is not sold (at least a little bit!) in the initial few weeks, bookstores will not stock it and online algorithms will show it to fewer people. No sales will mean less visibility, and less incentive for publishers to allow other authors creative commons copies. 

Another request I have is that, if you do read it  (and especially if you liked it, heh!), please consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads. This is not an attempt to inflate its reviews but a request to help me fight back the inevitable attempts to suppress books like mine that talk about about repressive governments and censorship and other hot-button topics. (If you follow me on Twitter, you can see that I constantly do engage with negative criticisms and welcome feedback, good or bad). Given my topics, my book is likely to be targeted by a deliberate campaign to suppress its visibility because the trolls who game algorithms know that books that are negatively rated are shown to fewer people, and also that even when people know that some reviews are just shills, the initial impression means something. If you search for a book on Google, all you see is the number of stars with no context whether a good deal of those are one-star reviews that are purposefully malicious, and are not by readers of the book. This has happened to other books like this, and I’ve already started seeing a few signs targeting my book. A flood of actual reviews not only fights that off and averages out the “one star ratings” of trolls, it signals that it’s not worth the effort to try to torpedo it this way. (On a side note! What a world!)

I negotiated the creative commons copy with my (wonderful!) publisher Yale University Press because I really wanted to do what I could to share my insights as broadly as I could about social movements and the networked public sphere. If I make a penny more from this book because it sells well by some miracle, I will donate every extra penny to groups supporting refugees, and if I ever meet you in person and you purchased a copy of the book in support, please let me know and I’ll buy the coffee or beer. 😀 This isn’t at all about money for me.

Encouraging more free creative commons copies is especially important people in developing countries for whom book delivery and cost is an issue, and I was such a person until I came over to the United States. I was never able to afford or find all the books I wanted to read. This also helps undergraduate and graduate students help pay less for books that they need.  If some of you buy this book, publishers can feel more empowered to let other authors also provide free copies online. It is not as easy as “just blog your material.” I do a lot of that, but writing a book that is coherent and more readable takes a lot of effort and editing from the publisher, and they can’t just do that for free.

So if you can afford it: please consider purchasing my book. Amazon link is here, and Yale University Press link with other options for purchase is here. The book’s own website, where the creative commons copy lives, can be found here. You can also keep up with what’s next, what else I’m doing and more on my newsletter.

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me and interacted with me through the years. If you do end up reading the book, please do know that I would love to hear from you. I may need to fight back trolls online, but I truly appreciate feedback and consider it a gift. My deep gratitude also  goes to everyone striving for positive social change who welcomed me into their lives over the years.

The book is, rightfully, dedicated to my wonderful grandmother whose love and devotion, as I say in the dedication, “made everything else possible.”


Some Reviews of Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest

Inside Higher Ed:

If you’re interested in what’s happening in the world today, this book is a fascinating read. Even if you’re not, it’s an unusually informative book about digital platforms usually examined apart from political life. Social interactions in the digital world in the context of political activity is insightfully explored through this wonderfully readable academic study.

Publishers Weekly:

This insightful and analytical account of mass protest in the 21st century focuses on the “intertwined” power and weaknesses of new technologies that can be used to galvanize large numbers of people. … This comprehensive, thought-provoking work makes a valuable contribution to understanding recent political developments and provides a clear path by which grassroots organizers can improve future efforts.

Financial Times:

The author is also insightful on how governments and politicians are moving from censorship, no easy task on social media, to attention-grabbing and misinformation. “Just as attention is under-appreciated as a resource for social movements, distractions and ignorance are under-appreciated as methods of repression through denial of attention,” she writes. Sowing cynicism is a powerful tool against protest: “If everything is in doubt, while the world is run by secret cabals that successfully manipulate everything behind the scenes, why bother?”  …  Twitter and Tear Gas is packed with evidence on how social media has changed social movements, based on rigorous research and placed in historical context.

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