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by Mary Joyce

I just received some advance copies of Digital Activism Decoded and the books look great! The text will be available for free download here next Tuesday, June 1st, and the paper copies will go on sale on Amazon.com on June 30th. Click here to pre-order.

There are over one million books on Amazon.com, but if you search for “digital activism” the title at the top of the list is Digital Activism Decoded.

Though this is the first book explicitly devoted to the topic, it is not the first to explore 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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