The Arab Spring

  • A first-rate comics manifesto. The Influencing Machine has influenced me to think much more deeply about the media landscape live in. Gladstone and Neufeld can show and tell with the best of ‘em.
    Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics
  • Brooke Gladstone’s The Influencing Machine is so remarkable that it is hard to describe. The best I can do is: it’s a book about the history and current controversies of the media, all done as a Spiegelman-style comic-strip narrative. Brooke herself (or at least an avatar) leads you through it all, and her ‘voice’—well known after her years as host of NPR’s On the Media—comes through loud and clear, thanks to Josh Neufeld's witty drawings. I learned a lot, including a lot that I should have known already, and enjoyed every minute.
    Michael Kinsley, author of Please Don't Remain Calm
  • The Influencing Machine is an indispensable guidebook for anyone who hopes to navigate the mirages and constantly shifting sands of our media landscape. Brooke Gladstone’s text and Josh Neufeld’s images illuminate one another with crackling wit and intelligence.
    Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home
  • Like Malcolm Gladwell or Michael Lewis or Michael Pollan, Brooke somehow takes a subject most of us don’t give a damn about and makes it completely entertaining.
    Ira Glass, host of This American Life
  • Think Art Spiegelman meets Marshall McLuhan.
    Leon Neyfakh, New York Observer
  • Though the graphic format employed here is often playful and always reader friendly, this analysis of contemporary journalism is as incisive as it is entertaining, while offering a lesson on good citizenship through savvy media consumption….While some may see a sign of bias in the author’s own media affiliation, this historical analysis of how and why media and society shape each other should prove illuminating for general readers and media practitioners alike.
    Kirkus Reviews
  • ...The Influencing Machine is an original work, a highly researched yet highly accessible survey of all things media—from the history of media/journalism beginning in ancient Rome through the Mayan scribes to the First Amendment press freedoms of the U.S. Constitution and beyond—and how the media's mission and its means have advanced through history.
    Calvin Reid, Publishers Weekly
  • When we care really intensely . . .we can assemble in networks of peers and then draw attention to unreported information. As when, in 2003, documents posted by concerned "netizens" ultimately forced the makers of Diebold voting machines to change some of their practices. Or in 2009, when protestors in post-election Tehran captured the world's attention by posting cell phone images and video of a young woman's death in the street.
    P.150, The Influencing Machine
  • When technology changes, so do the media, regardless of policies set in the newsroom.
    P.116, The Influencing Machine
  • Do polls show declining trust in news outlets because the public thinks they’re bad? Absolutely. But fluctuations in those polls suggest that appraising news coverage in not a cold calculation. It’s emotional. Take one of journalism’s finest hours: Watergate. Some people are still angry about it. They say it eroded respect for our basic institutions. What it really eroded was respect for people in those institutions.
    P.39, The Influencing Machine
  • “This is a comic book with zest and brains---and it just might help a reader understand the brave new world.”
    New Yorker

Introduction

T

 he demonstrations and protests around the Arab world that began in late 2010 have come to be known as the Arab Spring. The protests ousted rulers in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.
The protesters used techniques such as civil resistance as well as the use of social media to organize, while state governments tried to suppress and censor organizing via the Internet.

The demonstrations were often met with violence from authorities.

The role of technology has played a unique role in the Arab Spring. Some have argued that social media help to spur the revolutions, while other have argued that social media was simply a tool used by protestors.

In 2011, the Dubai School of Government issued a report that social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter played a key role in the Arab Spring uprisings.

During the protests in Egypt and Tunisia, the majority of those polled as part of a survey the researchers conducted said that they were getting news and information from social media sites. As sites were blocked by state governments, protesters had to find more active and creative ways to organize, the report said.

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