Book Review -The Social Organism, David Luckett & Michael Casey

“We are all, in effect, algorithmically tied to each other by Google”

Oliver Luckett and Michael J, Casey bring us The Social Organism. The book is build upon the foundations of an insightful metaphor, visualising the digital world as if it was a living breathing creature. Luckett and Casey take us on a journey disassembling the online sphere but to what magnitude is this world taking over our lives’?

 

“Facebook, which manages 1.5 billion identities… Google (500million) and Twitter (320 million)”

As the book unfolds, troubling questions begin to emerge. How much trust and responsibility do we actually confide in these corporations? The authors impose Facebook and Google could continue to infiltrate our lives by an array of algorithms that continuously scrutinize our everyday news feeds. So much so that Facebook introduced ‘picture memories’ which are extremely insensitive to those users who have tragically lost a family member in the past.

The book claims to be a ‘A Radical Understanding of Social Media to Transform Your Business and Life’. It also proves that social media can benefit the way in which public relations functions. During a Super Bowl XL match a stadium black out occurred, whereby biscuit brand Oreo ingeniously tweeted “You can still dunk in the dark” resulting in 10,000 retweets and over 18,000 likes in just over an hour. A quick yet witty PR manoeuvre.

“The open petri dish of our noisy, uncensored world of social media”

Social media is a huge part of this book, reiterating the massive role it plays in our society. Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, the list goes on. Since the release of this book, we’ve all kissed goodbye to the innovative social media platform Vine –  which was reluctantly closed by Twitter.

The social media phenomenon Vine, brought fame to stars like Andrew Bachelor, who were more popularly know as ‘King Bach’. He received a ground-breaking 15 million followers and weighed in with 5.6 billion Vine loops. The app increased his success to such an extent that he secured profitable acting roles in Black Jesus and The Mindy project. This just proves how people can make a living from the online world.

Before you choose to read on, there’s an essential lesson to take from this book. Social media and the internet have the ability to dismantle your life. One wrong move and that post could live to haunt you for the rest of your life.

We’ve all heard about Justine Sacco and her controversial tweet that ruined her life. Similarly, there was a man by the name of Tim Hunt – a molecular physiologist. He was notoriously sacked for declaring women “fall in love with you and when you criticise them they cry” A harmless ‘joke’ during a female talk in South Korea. Sadly, the damage was done, the journalist had already released the story to the media and his career was never the same again.

An all round sophisticated and inspiring read – with a fantastic wealth of knowledge to navigate you around the dense and fast pace environment of cyberspace.

 

 

Word count: 509

 

 

 

 

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Book Review – David Randall – Great Reporters

An inspiring and thought provoking read from one of Britain’s most iconic journalists

Following from the must read The Universal Journalist, Randall brings us the insightful Great Reporters. A timeless echo of history, remembering the legends of reporting throughout the years. While The Universal Journalist was a very much how-to guide, in Great Reporters, Randall reinforces the dedication of the reporters and the hostile environments of war reporting.

 

The book puts emphasis on the struggle of war reporting and the attributes and skills needed to be a successful journalist – how to stand out from the crowd. Determination and perseverance are clearly highlighted by Randall. From Floyd Gibbons surviving nine wars with his eye blown out in the field, to Meyer Berger revising the ‘Eye graphs’ to secure his entrance into the battle field. The author’s passion and dedication to the industry adds inspiration and a great incentive to gain a career of similar stature.

Randall takes us back in time through historical events that have helped shape the journalistic industry of today. The heroic William Russell is described as being ‘the first journalist to cover a conflict’ Throughout the Crimean war until sadly passing away in 1907. Great Reporters helps explore how much journalism has changed and how it will continue to change in the future. One chapter briefly discusses Russell’s salary of being an appalling £600.00. When in fact the average journalist nowadays earns forty times more than Russell at £24.000 per year.

As the historical themes continue to roll out throughout the book, David Randall brings significant reference to the events leading up to the terrible and tragic events which unfolded throughout Germany from 1941 to 1945. What could have happened to prevent one of the world’s most horrific genocides. Enter George Seldes, “A reporter who got up the noses of the high and mighty” The chapter speaks of world war one and president Hindenberg serving as the second president of Germany. Seldes and three other correspondents ignored the travel ban in Germany and decided to track down Hindenberg to interview him. The US army heard of this and threatened them with breaching military law if the ground breaking interview with Hindenberg was published.

Seldes claimed in his autobiography “I believe it would have destroyed the main planks on which Hitler rose to power” This is a iconic and remarkable moment in history. This could have prevented the damaging and destructive nature that came with the rise of Hitler. Leaving a chilling hindsight that such events may not have happened if the interview was published. Those six million innocent men, women and children may have had their lives spared from the effects of the mind numbing holocaust.