Tag: Shadow Mobilization, Astroturfing and Manipulation

How has social media contributed to the growing success of Corbynism? In asking this question, we risk falling into the trap of determinism by constructing ‘social media’ as an independent force bringing about effects in an otherwise unchanged world. This often goes hand-in-hand with what Nick Couldry calls ‘the myth of us’, framing social media in […]

How do we explain the election of Donald Trump? Far too much of the media’s response to this question has been to take Trump’s account of his own powers at face value. This scion of the elite, who never felt at home amongst the elite into which he was born, imagines himself as able to […]

What we are seeing with the growth of ‘fake news’ is perhaps the weaponisation of epistemology. In other words, ‘fake news’ as a construct is becoming a discursive component of our repertoire of contention. Far from entering a post-truth era, we are seeing truth becoming a mobilising device in a new way, encouraging ‘us’ to defend […]

From Uberworked and Underpaid, by Trebor Scholz, loc 685-704: “Users happily do for free what companies would otherwise have to pay employees to do,” says former Wired editor turned drone manufacturer, Chris Anderson. It’s a capitalist’s dream come true. “It’s not outsourcing, it’s crowdsourcing. Collectively, customers have virtually unlimited time and energy; only peer production […]

This excellent essay by Jan-Werner Müller in the London Review of Books raises an important issue about the forms of political mobilisation facilitated by social media: Trump has called himself the Hemingway of the 140 characters. He has ‘the best words’. He loves Twitter, he says, because it’s like having one’s own newspaper, but without […]

One of the most interesting things about so-called sharing economy companies is their mobilisation of users in defence of their political objectives. This is something which can prove uniquely urgent because of the sheer number of municipalities in which they operate, leaving them exposed to regulatory backlash particularly given their tendency to self-righteously disregard laws […]

From The Upstarts, by Brad Stone, loc 3490: In January 2013, Chesky hired a new head of community who shared his devotion to the cause —Douglas Atkin, a former advertising agency executive who had written a 2005 book, The Culting of Brands: Turn Your Customers into True Believers, that drew business lessons from devotional sects […]

This was back in 2012. There have been many more since and will be many more in future. From The Upstarts, by Brad Stone, loc 2871-2887: But Uber was going to need more than Tweets to sway the DC city council. First, colleagues remember, Kalanick sought the backing of the DC tech community and tried […]

This is disturbing, though unsurprising. How widespread could it get? Normative pressure is enough to lead to a removal at present but that seems unlikely to be a viable long-term counter-strategy: Someone out there really wants President Donald Trump’s polarizing nominee for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, to get the job — so much so […]

Reading the excellent Selected Exaggerations, a book of interviews with Peter Sloterdijk, I was struck by his remarks about taxation and the state in an interview from 2001. He bemoans the punitive taxation he claims exists in Germany, arguing that it reflects a broader domination of society by the state. German citizens are “punished for success” and the […]

From Paul Theroux’s Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads, pg 48: I was to hear this story all over the rural South, in the ruined towns that had been manufacturing centers, sustained by the making of furniture, or appliances, or roofing materials, or plastic products, the labor-intensive jobs that kept a town ticking over. […]

This documentary is worth watching for many reasons but there’s a particularly fascinating section in which the presenter goes undercover at a digital activism training course. The facilitator describes how he spends half an hour a day finding liberal books on Amazon and giving one star reviews, before explaining how this practice needs to be […]

A really disturbing extract from Arlie Hochschild’s new book, Strangers In Their Own Land. On loc 1445 she shares the profile of the “least resistant personality” offered by a consultancy firm in 1984, hired to advise on locating waste-to-energy plants in areas likely to provoke little resistance from the local community: – Longtime residents of small […]

Are journalists personally afraid of a Trump presidency? That’s the suggestion of this Vox article: In my experience, it goes yet deeper than this. Quietly, privately, political reporters wonder if Trump is a threat to them personally — if he were president, would he use the powers of the office to retaliate against them personally […]

An absolutely fascinating article from Arlie Hochschild, whose new book on the American right sounds like a must read: Traditional Tea Party supporters wanted to cut both the practice of cutting in line, and government rewards for doing so. Followers of Donald Trump, on the other hand, wanted to keep government benefits and remove shame […]

From Joshua Clover’s Riot. Strike. Riot pg 2. He argues that the return of the riot reverses a long term trend observed by Charles Tilley, in which the riot had given way to the strike as the foremost tactic in socially available repertoires of contention: As the overdeveloped nations have entered into sustained, if uneven, […]

An interesting analysis from Pity the Billionaire, by Thomas Frank, loc 1746-1759: And so, over the years, the movement came to affect a revolutionary posture toward the state that it might have borrowed from Karl Marx or Jean-Paul Sartre. It imitated the protest culture of the sixties, right down to a feigned reverence for anticommunist […]

There’s an interesting summary in Mediated Memories, by Jose van Dijck, pg 100-101 detailing research into the power of doctored media to shape false narratives: In the early 1990s, researchers from America and New Zealand persuaded experimental subjects into believing false narratives about their childhoods, written or told by family members and substantiated by “true” […]