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The Revolution will be Digitised: Dispatches from the Information War Paperback – 18 Aug 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Frequently bought together

  • The Revolution will be Digitised: Dispatches from the Information War
  • +
  • The Silent State: Secrets, Surveillance and the Myth of British Democracy
  • +
  • Your Right to Know - Second Edition: A Citizen's Guide to the Freedom of Information Act
Total price: £39.96
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann (18 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434020907
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434020904
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 687,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"Brooke hasn't set out to write just another inside account of the Wikileaks saga: this is a mélange of anecdote, imagination and experience designed to open our eyes to the possibility of digital change...feisty and vivid and honest..." (Guardian)

"a lively journey around some of the characters and debates that regularly make headlines. [Brooke] is especially well placed to pierce the veil - as a fearlessly independent investigative journalist who won't take no for an answer, she has an ability to gain access to nooks and crannies that many do not even imagine to exist...Brooke has a burning commitment and an agenda but starry-eyed she is not...[the book's] contribution is significant, and readably so...We have been warned." (Financial Times)

Book Description

Timely and gripping Investigation of how the internet is transforming politics by award-winning journalist Heather Brooke.

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3.8 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
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Heather Brooke's latest book takes a long, hard, look at the battle for open information in the digital era, and offers a difficult critique of how governments might still just about be winning. The fascinating narrative of the Wikileaks Afghan war logs, Iraq war logs, and Cablegate data leaks, and the effect on all those involved, is threaded through the book.

The vital point is this: the open nature of the internet, that you probably appreciate if you are reading this blog, can be used for good or evil. Governments can use technology to be more transparent, or they can use it to spy on, and suppress, their citizens. It might seem obvious, but it needs someone like Brooke to eloquently drive the point home.

I found "The Revolution will be Digitised" utterly inspiring. It is an excellent expose of one of the key issues of the day, and essential 21st century reading.
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Heather Brooke was the investigative American journalist who forced Members of Parliament and those sitting in The House of Lords in the UK to divulge their expenses. She did this country a favour, forcing our law-makers to be honest or to leave Parliament, which many did at the last General Election. Several of them went to jail, and some of them languish there still. In this book about the use and abuse of the internet, Heather Brooke uses the topic of Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and Wikileaks to explore digital ethics, freedom of speech, abuse of power, differences in law between the USA and the UK, and journalistic ideals, in clear, understandable concepts. It is also an entertaining book since it is based on her personal experiences, one of which included a sexually ambiguous advance on her one night by Assange. I thoroughly enjoyed the book which I read in an evening. At 239 pages, it's a compact volume of learning and experience.
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Investigative journalist Heather Brooke is best known for her dogged campaign to obtain information on British MPs expenses. Her efforts were crowned with success in May 2009 after one of the staff tasked with redacting the original invoices for publication supplied the entire database to the Daily Telegraph on a disc. The result, as you will undoubtedly know if you live in Britain, was the early retirement of a significant portion of our elected representatives from public life. In a rational world, Brooke would have a damehood for this alone.

Since then, she has written an excellent book on freedom of information, The Silent State (2010), detailing how data which has been collected using public money is regularly withheld from the public. For anyone who has tried to use the Freedom of Information act, that book rang horribly true.

Her latest, The Revolution Will be Digitised, is an account of the Wikileaks saga, interspersed with reflections on the consequences of electronic communication networks for law, journalism, surveillance, national security, privacy and anonymity.

For me, it was less convincing than The Silent State. Part of the problem is one of technique. Some of the chapters are written in 'creative nonfiction' style, 'reconstructing' scenes using the procedures of fiction. This is always a rather dubious approach.

Another part of the problem is her weakness for windy philosophising about free speech. The questions she raises about the political and social consequences of an online world are hugely important, but the benefits and costs of the rise of the internet are examined in a very cursory way.
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I enjoyed reading this book. It's pleasing to read an account of someone's personal experience. I remember once being asked to 'depersonalise' my own work in the name of scientific objectivity (though the meaning of which was not adequately defined). I think the case of Julian Assange which Heather Brooke draws attention to is very important to understanding the current human condition - especially with regards to the emerging global financial oligarchy; the pernicious effects of which seem to be enveloping all of us. Freedom of information is, of course, a central issue within such a context, as is the restitution of democratic ideals - defined in terms of social justice and equality, not merely 'one-person-one-vote' (which is hopelessly inadequate).
I don't particularly like the title of the book as I don't think it serves Heather's real intentions well. And I prefer receptive reasoning as opposed to rejective reasoning because it is much more effective at influencing people in the long term. In this sense, for me, the words 'Revolution' and 'War' are too strong. I would prefer to couch the so-called 'digital revolution' / 'information war' in evolutionary terms, for I believe it to be reflective of the natural human desire towards positive, liberative, collaborative endeavour. It is more appropriate in this sense to recognise that we are not just dealing with information per se, but more truly the rise of the Age of Communication in which a new Interactive Democracy 'I-Democracy' (no, I don't mean E-Democracy) can reassert the primacy of the human and its environment. This is the real transition which is taking place in our era.
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