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Read #4: Misinfo, Castells, Twitter

Posted on Jun 1, 2020 by Chung-hong Chan

The World is sick and on fire, so I keep reading and here are my 3-sentence reviews.

The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread

Callin O’Conner & James Owen Weatherfall, Yale University Press, 2019

Using agent-based modeling, this book tests how can scientists and the policy makers reach wrong consensuses by information manipulation (e.g. selective promotion of certain type of information). Although it has great face validity, this book is still dealing with scientific consensuses even the authors would like to extrapolate their findings to oridinary people. Still, I think it is a better idea to study how ordinary individuals form political consensuses through the “infodemie”.

Castells and the Media: Theory and Media

Philip N. Howard, Polity, 2011

Quite an old book about Castells and his theory but his theories do get old. There are two key takeaways from this book: 1) Castells considers his theories a tool for analysis, rather than products of analyses, and thus 2) He never put his theories into test through formal social network analysis.

Twitter: A Biography

Jean Burgess & Nancy K. Baym, New York University Press, 2020

The two authors introduce an innovative way to study internet platform (writing biography) qualitatively and they use the everyone’s favourite social media platform as an example. Using their approach, they generalize a pattern of how Twitter (the company) assimilates community-initiated innovations such as @, # and RT. Maybe I am stupid, but I am not so fond of the users’ interviews and I don’t understand how those interviews add to their already wonderful narrative.

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