The seismic power of 240 characters on politics, communication, and social life.

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Hillstrom, Laurie Collier. The #MeToo movement. ABC-CLIO, 2018 (c2019). 149p bibl index ISBN 9781440867491, $39.00; ISBN 9781440867507 ebook, contact publisher for price.
Reviewed in CHOICE July 2019

The #MeToo Movement, a new volume in the “21st-Century Turning Points” series, offers readers easily digestible snapshots of a fast-breaking event or movement that is currently transforming or influencing American life, culture, and politics. Chapter 1 offers an overview and a brief history of how the Me Too movement began, with dates, critical events, names of key players, and references. Chapter 2 highlights landmark events and milestones in the evolution of the movement, such as the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and details of various cases and court hearings. Hillstrom (independent scholar) then moves on to consider the impacts of the movement, providing insight into what’s happening in the present (or recent past) in different industries, in politics and government, and outside the US. She discusses challenges and changes in attitudes and behaviors. Another chapter offers 13 profiles of relevant individuals involved in the movement (e.g., Tarana Burke, Rose McGowan, Alyssa Milano). Certain sections within each chapter include newsworthy lists of further readings. This slim volume concludes with further resources and an index and ultimately provides a quick, basic overview of a timely topic and a jumping off point for further research. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers and lower-division undergraduates. —S. Markgren, Manhattan College

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Hui, Andrew. A theory of the aphorism: from Confucius to Twitter. Princeton, 2019. 261p bibl index ISBN 9780691188959, $29.95; ISBN 9780691190556 ebook, contact publisher for price.
Reviewed in CHOICE August 2019

This book offers an engaging look at the aphorism, the shortest and perhaps most dismissed of literary forms. In six erudite, densely packed, but clearly written chapters, Hui (Yale-National Univ. of Singapore) explores the philosophical sayings of Confucius, Buddha, Heraclitus, Jesus, Hippocrates, Erasmus, Bacon, Pascal, and finally Nietzsche. Hui distinguishes the aphorism from other shorts forms like proverbs, maxims, and epigrams, and he focuses his efforts on unpacking the aphorism across time, languages, and cultures. His central question is how larger ideas arise from such short sayings, and why thought leaders have so often resorted to such enigmatic fragments. Hui’s answer is that the aphoristic literary fragment fashions a dialogue between novel ideas on the intellectual horizon (literally, given the etymology “apo + horizein”) and existing and emergent systems of thought. The subtitle aside, Twitter is only touched on briefly in the epilogue, where Hui notes that tweets fit his framework with the proviso of “system” being replaced by “network.” Worthy of note are the extensive bibliography and the nine-page bibliographic essay on the literature of the aphorism. A splendid, thought-provoking book. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers. —E. L. Battistella, Southern Oregon University

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Jackson, Sarah J. #Hashtagactivism: networks of race and gender justice, by Sarah J. Jackson, Moya Bailey, and Brooke Foucault Welles. MIT, 2020. 296p index ISBN 9780262043373 pbk, $19.95; ISBN 9780262356503 ebook, contact publisher for price.
Reviewed in CHOICE October 2020

A timely look at how Twitter is used as a network by social justice activists,#HashtagActivism is the result of the authors’ effective and innovative research tracking not only the trends of shared ideas across social networks but also the changes in those networks themselves. Covering topics such as sexual assault, racism, and intersectionality, communication scholars Sarah Jackson (Univ. of Pennsylvania), Moya Bailey (Northeastern Univ.), andBrooke Foucault Welles (Northeastern Univ.) look at recent social justice movements and the growth and evolution of the ideas behind the activism that inspired those movements. The authors are rigorously transparent about their research methodology; provide careful, accessible explanations of data analysis (for example, how they track retweets); and share their ethical considerations when collecting and presenting their research. They also reflect on changes in social media use and on institutional and corporate power dynamics. This book will be an excellent resource for, or entry point or expansion into, social justice activism, intersectionality studies, feminist studies, gender and technology studies, race and social justice, communications technology and social justice, and digital methodologies. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. —S. M. Weiss, independent scholar

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Murthy, Dhiraj. Twitter: social communication in the Twitter age. Polity, 2013. 193p ISBN 9780745652382, $64.95; ISBN 9780745652399 pbk, $22.95.
Reviewed in CHOICE June 2013

Murthy (Bowdoin College) explores the social, political, historic, and economic aspects of TwitterTwitter fills a unique space in social media, but the concept of sending short messages is neither unique nor without critics. The early telegraph sent short messages to individuals and in the 1930s notificator message boards, where anybody could post a message for all to read, were common. The 140-character Twitter messages are similar but have a global impact. Citizen journalism has blossomed due to the ease of communicating disaster information. Twitter has been used by social activists to unite people for Occupy Wall Street (crowdsourcing) and the “Arab Spring.” This unity may not democratize the world, but it can make despots uncomfortable. Mainstream news outlets have depended on Twitter to get access to developing stories from local posters where it was too dangerous or impossible to send a reporter for breaking news. Murthy discusses all this, and also reflects on the ethical issues of medical collaboration among health researchers via TwitterTwitter has become the ego platform for celebrities to communicate with fans. This is a fascinating stroll through the history of Twitter and its societal impact. Gr8 book 4 U. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; graduate students. —R. Davis, Kent State University

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Swasy, Alecia. How journalists use Twitter: the changing landscape of U.S. newsrooms. Lexington Books, 2016. 95p bibl index afp ISBN 9781498532181, $70.00; ISBN 9781498532198 ebook, $69.99.
Reviewed in CHOICE March 2017

Swasy applies her professional insights as a career journalist as well as her academic insights from a recently completed PhD. at prestigious Missouri School of Journalism to give readers an accessible and detailed look at how four major metropolitan newspapers encountered, erred, and eventually adopted Twitter into their news operations. Although graduate students and advanced readers might find the book to be an oversimplification (and might be critical of the narrow sampling of newspapers for analysis), Swasy expertly translates the core theoretical and empirical concepts from her research into an easy-to-read format and style. At times, one wonders if the monograph would have been better suited as a journal article, but Swasy balances this concern by sacrificing the rigidity of academic writing for a more casual and relatable tone. The volume serves as an excellent introductory read to understanding the modern social media newsroom, useful both prospectively and retrospectively for rising media and journalism students as well as those “in the trenches” looking for a discussion of communication technology grounded in scholarship. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers through professionals. —N. D. Bowman, West Virginia University

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Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta. From #BlackLivesMatter to black liberation. Haymarket Books, 2016. 270p index ISBN 9781608465620 pbk, $17.95; ISBN 9781608465637 ebook, contact publisher for price.
Reviewed in CHOICE September 2016

The African American experience in the 21st century is riddled with paradox. It seems to simultaneously be the best of times and the worst of times. The college-educated, white-collar, black middle class is larger than ever in history, and in 2008, the nation elected a black (biracial) president. Since the 1960s, segregation and disenfranchisement have been overcome, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 opened access to the suburbs—between 1970 and 2000, some seven million black people moved to the suburbs. Yet today, racial hostility toward blacks seems as pronounced as ever, and the vaunted progress did nothing to save Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Sam DuBose, and others from a seeming epidemic of police terror and murder. The celebrated progress does not seem to have made enough of a difference to “make any difference.” Hence, the significance of the Black Lives Matter movement. Taylor (African American studies, Princeton) argues that the discourse of a color-blind, post-racial society is used to dismantle the state’s capacity to challenge discrimination, and the argument that black deprivation is rooted in black culture deflects attention away from the systemic roots of racism. A good companion to Clarence Lang’s Black America in the Shadow of the Sixties (CH, Oct’15, 53-0950). Outstanding. Summing Up: Essential. All public and academic levels/libraries. —W. Glasker, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

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Tufekci, Zeynep. Twitter and tear gas: the power and fragility of networked protest. Yale, 2017. 326p index ISBN 9780300215120, $26.00; ISBN 9780300228175 ebook, contact publisher for price.
Reviewed in CHOICE December 2017

Tufekci (Univ. of North Carolina) presents her readers with a first-hand account of various social movements such as the Zapatista movement, Arab Spring, Taksim Gezi Park, and Occupy Wall Street, with the intent of demonstrating how technology is an advantage and a shortcoming for networked protests. A strength of this book is the level of detail offered through her analysis and personal experience with these various movements. A key struggle confronting many social movements is their fragile nature. While social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook are resources for social movements to mobilize, Tufekci illustrates that this “quick” mobilization is hindered by the failure to frame their struggles in a clear manner. Comparing older social movements, such as the Civil Rights Movement, with contemporary movements such as Occupy Wall Street or Arab Spring, Tufekci demonstrates how the absence of long, planned out activities can create challenges for social movements, particularly when it is clear that leadership is not developed. The author does not try to assess success or failure, but rather to understand how technology influences movement mobilization. While the author acknowledges resource mobilization scholars like McCarthy and Zald, she fails to contextualize the analysis within the broader social movement literature. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. —E. Acevedo, California State University, Los Angeles

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Twitter and society, ed. by Katrin Weller et al. Peter Lang, 2013. 447p bibl afp (Digital formations, 89) ISBN 9781433121708, $179.95; ISBN 9781433121692 pbk, $42.95; ISBN 9781453911709 ebook, $42.95.
Reviewed in CHOICE October 2014

Taken together, these 31 essays offer the most comprehensive scholarly evaluation of Twitter to date. Weller (GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Germany) and her fellow editors eschew protracted discussion of any one facet of Twitter in favor of broad coverage of the social medium. Thus, readers can skim a variety of topics to find material that reflects their own interests in using and studying Twitter as a communication technology. The first of the book’s two sections (about one-fourth of the volume) addresses the conceptual roots of Twitter as a unique communication platform “at once intensely personal and highly public” (as the editors write in the introduction). The book then delves into a variety of methodological tools, explained by leading scholars, which represent a range of epistemological and ontological perspectives. The balance of the volume covers Twitter through several lenses and disciplines, including popular culture, advertising, public relations, marketing, journalism, and activism. Of special note is the introductory chapter, which historicizes Twitter as it evolved from friend-following service to real-time event monitor to storage house for personal data. This book is accessible enough for novice readers and detailed enough to encourage future research by active scholars. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals. —N. D. Bowman, West Virginia University