This review is a copy/paste of the book review done on my site Mobile Ministry Magazine:
One of the nice things about being on an airplane is the time that you get to sit back and engage a good book. There had been a book sitting on my iPad for sometime and the recent trip to the Uplinq Conference gave a good opportunity to not only read it, but to find some things to reflect upon with it. The (e)book is titled Digital Activism Decoded and it was just under 300 pages (PDF) of a realistic look into the tools and realities of digital activism, asking the hard question of if it is really something new, or just an enhancement on older methods with a few electronic wrinkles.
While the book is pretty lengthy and deep in respect towards how the topic of digital activism is covered, I found it refreshing that there were several authors writing throughout the project. Mary Joyce is the primary author and the person who pulled together much of the project, but very quickly after the introduction we are introduced to people such as Trebor Scholz, Brannon Cullum, Katharine Brodock, and many others who lend their specific expertise to paint the picture of the methods and behaviors of activism, and how digital tools have lent their ears and feet to a new generation of activists.
The first section (Contexts: The Digital Activism Movement) sheds light on the transformations happening within activism including the fast-evolving technological infrastructure, computer and social networks, and economic/social/political environmental factors.
The second section (Practices: Digital Actions in the Aggregate dives more into the the matters of ecology and sociology. I have to admit that here is where Digital Activism began to pick up the pace in terms of content depth and internal motivations. Reading through some of these summarized case studies and perspectives, and the analysis of how these are threaded within one another under digital activism provoked me to put down the iPad several times and simply consider my own actions and perceptions. There is a world out there of stories and each one in uniquely told and applied.
The third and final section (Effects: What is Digital Activism's Value) speaks towards the honest question of "how do we measure the success of a digital campaign or tools?" It is very easy to state that there is an effectiveness to using a digtial medium over an analog or previous media state (print, radio, TV, internet), but there has not been so long a pracice of digital living that best practices and reusable methods are easy to come by. Yes, we should not underestimate that digital platforms are effective, but trumpeting them over well-researched and proven methods (depending on the context) might not be advisiable. This section also engages the reader to understand advocacy and activism in specific behavioral contexts such as bloggers in prison, mobile/social media in politics, and communication overload.
All in all, I found Digital Activism Decoded an engaging and even re-centering reading. I probably would have done well to take more than the 12hrs total of flying to read it, but I knew going into it that it was the kind of reading that would require healthy moments of reflection, and some eventual response.
For those in your communities who are inticed by the idea of using digital tools as a part of an activism or advocacy campaign, Digital Activism Decoded should rank high on your list in respect to being great resource material, and a means of self-checking. There's a verse of Scripture which says something similar to, "knowing the times and the seasons, and how best to live within them." This is one of those texts that speaks directly to that meme, and will garner a healthy respect to understanding these digital domains, but what more that needs to be done before it can be concluded as the be-all-end-all of how advocacy and activism are conducted.