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on 21 July 2014
This is an outstanding work in the field of media, examining Internet empowerment of public protest. It carries an optimistic vision of how collectives such as Occupy can not only exemplify people power in the short-term but organise their protests over time. A must-read for students of media and communication.
James Watson, author of 'Media Communication: An Introduction to Theory and Process' (Palgrave/Macmillan) and co-author with Anne Hill of 'The Dictionary of Media and Communication Studies' (Bloomsbury).
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on 16 February 2017
The book itself is a fantastic informative and inspirational work, but unfortunately some pages are missing and some other are present twice. I should have used this text to prepare a university exam but I had to re-buy it somewhere else.
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on 20 April 2015
Excellent book, it's being used for my Masters course in International Trade Union and Labour Sudies.
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VINE VOICEon 9 December 2013
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I have read a number of books who talk about the theory of networks and having distributed organisations, and they always give an example of the Arab Spring. There certainly are advantages of networks without centralised control. The NSA/CIA need to learn this lesson so they can compartmentalise data and so that people like Edward Snowden cannot have too much access. There are also demonstrations from Al Qaeda that these amorphous hydra like organisations can be very difficult to eliminate. But the reality of the networks of outrage is that they have been out-manoeuvered by the establishment. It has simply flexed away and waited until the outrage has dissipated and hope is not enough to keep the movement active. So Los Indignados, Occupy, and the Arab Spring are nice examples at their start but they do not show where to go from there and so the book is of a story half-told.
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on 8 March 2013
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MC is the leading authority on this subject and the author of 26 books. He chronicles the protests of the Arab spring, the indignadas in Spain and the Occupy Wall Street movements, and includes valuable Appendices with chronologies of each. Arguably these movements were preceeded several years ago by the Tanker Drivers' Strike in which mobile phones were used to coordinate the drivers' movements, and in which the country was rapidly brought to its knees, but which did not involve the internet.

The results of the recent protests have not lived up to the hopes they aroused with civil war ensuing or the army taking control. Recent authors such as Gladwell or Morisov (The Net Delusion) have challanged the importance of the Net as they have been infiltrated and mirrored by Governments. But this is a timely and important book by the leading scholar in the field and deserves to be read by everyone.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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VINE VOICEon 28 December 2013
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I was a bit disappointed by this book, as I was expecting from the title to find out more about the specific role of technology. (If there's anyone out there who doubts how important IT is, have a quick look at the Korea DPR webpage!) However, it is more of a sociological work, and I suppose it achieves most of its objectives with this limitation.

The book starts off brightly by using two very different examples of how the phenomenon started. One is the Tunisian revolution of 2011, which was ignited by distribution via social networking of images of police violence. The second was one I confess I missed completely at the time, Iceland's "kitchenware revolution"; this makes early the point that the Internet is a key feature not only in fighting oppressive regimes, but also in achieving change in democracies. (I learnt from this chapter the expression "crowdsourcing", and that this was how the Icelanders re-wrote their constitution - a modern version of Periclean democracy! However, since this book was published conventional poilitics seems to have overturned the "crowdsourced" constitution.) This lays the ground for an account of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement and the "Indignadas" in Spain. More predictably, there is an analysis of the uprisings in Egypt and subsequently other Arab nations.

Castelis' conclusion expresses a hope that networked social movements will help to achieve a more democratic future. As someone whose roots, on his own admission, go back to Paris 1968, he could do well to go beyond analysis and indulge in speculation. For example, the Achilles heel of all past freedom movements has been Establishment infiltrators; this doesn't seem to have happened much so far, but considering how easy it is to fabricate identities on-line it must be only a matter of time.
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on 8 November 2013
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This is quite an optimistic book, written at the point when the Muslim Brotherhood had been elected as moderates in Egypt and it looked as though people's networked revolutions could achieve successful change, even in large, complex societies such as Egypt. It has plenty of case studies - starting with relatively homegenous Tunisia and Iceland where mass action had clear positive actions at the time of writing.It goes on to cover Egypt, the Arab uprisings, the Indignadas in Spain and Occupy Wall Street. It has lots of references and weblinks - a real democratic feel - as though it wants to be part of live debate and web searching at an occupation or long group discussion. The author's stated aim is that he deliver what his friends asked for - `a simple book that organises the debate and contributes to the reflection of the movement and to broader understanding of these new movements by people at large.'

The writer is very excited by the momentum of the protesters - he has been on the edge of several protest movements himself and clearly has drawn on a range of sources within his personal networks. But in the end I lost patience with this book. Castells is too taken up with the drama of the early stage protests and how they are organised. Like many of the protesters themselves, he is less clear about long term aims. He maps out their common form - how fear turns to outrage turns to hope and action. He talks about viral networks,horizontal multimodal networks without leaders.He acknowledges that they are not programmed movements. They want to change values. They seem disengaged from mainstream political processes.But what have we learned in the historical perspective of the civil rights movement in the US and the velvet revolutions of eastern Europe? And what happens the morning after the revolution? Castells lacks a wider perspective, even if he provides a strong immediate descriptive narrative.
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on 14 May 2013
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The 21st century is shaping up to be an entirely different kettle of fish than the previous one and the dynamism of current times is leaving the establishment in all corners of the world- but particularly the western one- looking decidedly jaded, beaten and on the wrong side of history.

Castell's book approaches this period of dynamic, global change through the paradigm of human-technological networks and does it with an academic vigour that is also accessible and infectious. There is a sense that The People are waking up, and sensing that through solidarity, true democracy is achievable. Throw into the mix a developing libertarian ethos on both the left and the right, and we are entering very interesting- if potentially unpredictable- times indeed. How the elite will react to this is anybody's guess- the indications so far are time-worn in their combination of head-in-the-sand short termism and both passive and aggressive violence, but as this book shows the anarchic Age of the Network is upon us, and if we use it correctly and imaginatively, we can all be very much more empowered.
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VINE VOICEon 28 November 2013
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Social movements are a product of the internet age and many of the current national/international "situations" have a social movement mirroring it to some extent. It was impressive to see the author outline the issues, agendas and techniques of some of the more well known cases and highlight the disregard for conventional established hierachies.

I have to admit I was unaware of a fair number of examples and it was very illuminating to see how various social media was being used. The author reaches out charismatically and is very emphatic.
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on 17 January 2013
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This book is quite academic in places. Don't let the first chapter put you off. What shines through is both Castells' academic rigour and his thirst for justice for the people of all the world. But most of all his faith that people can still pull off change towards ideals. Especially but not entirely young people. He fully appreciates the rising influence of women even in countries where Islam is prominent. And he delineates what is different about this new crowd action brought about by and for individuals through the new media of mobile phones and internet, compared to the collective action taken in the 20th century inspired by and for ideologies.
As those old ideologies have corrupted and died to the point where socialism is a dirty word and former members of trotskyite factions are now busy flogging off the nhs to merry international bankers, Castells sees what is coming forward to take its place. Some things stay the same - once people realise they can only ever be governed by consent because there are more of us than them then Mubarak is finished in a similar way to how ceaucescu or marie antoinette was finished, albeit he escaped with his life.
But the level of education and technical savvy of the member of the new social movements is new as is their disinterest in hierarchies and ideologies. Social media is their model of the world - individuals coming together and moving apart as suits them and not central control and crude unquestioning dependence upon a wise leader.
Perhaps Castell risks being set up as an old fashioned wise leader but he is clear that he is only freely contributing like everyone else.we cannot afford to give up on hope for all its failings no matter who where or how old we are. We can make a better world.
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