Digital Activism Decoded (Free Download!)

It is the first book explicitly dedicated to digital activism, its editor Mary Joyce proudly says. In Digital Activism Decoded, 15 authors explore the intersection of activism and digital technology, in an attempt to map the field of digital activism in its entirety. I am happy to be one of them. From Mary’s summary:

The book begins with a section on Contexts, addressing not only the technology of network infrastructure, devices, and applications, but also the social, economic, and political environment in which digital activism occurs.

An analysis of Practices follows, not in the usual format of case study analysis, but by presenting different ways of thinking about these practices. The section begins with a chapter on pre-digital social movement theory, while a second chapter takes the digital perspective of web ecology. Both constructive and destructive activism practices are discussed.

The final section on Effects seeks to address the range of opinions on digital activism’s value. While optimists see the great potential for citizen empowerment, pessimists believe that the empowerment of forces of repression is equally likely. Skeptics view both askance and do not believe digital activism makes much difference at all. We leave the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

My own contribution, entitled “The New Casualties: Prisons and Persecution”, deals with the downside of digital activism. It is based on research into the circumstances of bloggers’ arrests around the world. I have published the data I used for my chapter on this blog, so you can fact-check my claims.

I am looking forward to your reviews of the book and to any feedback to my own contribution. It’s only the second time that any of my writing is published in print (the first was an article for a local student’s magazine), and I am a bit anxious about it. But for now, the book as a whole has already received positive attention, among others from Esra’a Al Shafei, the founder of Mideast Youth who is probably the one who has brought me to digital activism, and Dan McQuillan:

I hope and expect that this book will inspire the next generation of activist researchers to test the boundaries of their knowledge in a digitally engaged practice that has fairness and justice as its ethical core.

Digital Activism Decoded is published under a Creative Commons license which allows everybody with no commercial interest to copy and disperse it, as long as the content stays unaltered. The book is available as a free download from the Meta Activism Project’s website. You can also preorder Digital Activism Decoded from Amazon (de | us), where the print version will go on sale on June 30, 2010.