Brooke Gladstone, co-host of the excellent NPR-syndicated "On the Media," has teamed up with illustrator Josh Neufeld to produce a fantastic nonfiction comic book called The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media. This is one of those books that feels like the author has been working up to it for her whole life, distilling all her varied experience and insight into one mind-opening, thought-provoking, and incredibly timely volume.
Influencing Machine begins with a history of the news, starting with Mayan scribes, Herodotus, and Julius Caesar's Acta Diurna (the original syndicated newsheet and the first widely distributed sensationalist tabloid), and then to the Anglo-American history of news, propaganda, bias, lies, censorship, bravery, principle, and truth. This fascinating history serves to introduce the major thesis of Influencing Machine: that the "media machine" that cynically distorts in order to serve the rich and powerful is a delusion. The reality is that the "media agenda" is an emergent phenomenon that arises spontaneously from commercial constraints, human frailty, state interference, and cognitive blindspots.
Gladstone's history of the best and worst of journalism is a prelude to an analysis of the present day, and the peculiar moment we inhabit, as partisan news -- once the dominant form of publishing, but long discredited and dormant -- begins to arise, just as the Internet is changing the way that news is gathered, reported, and analyzed and paid for. Gladstone makes a good case for the idea that total upheaval is actually pretty normal in the world of news, and even if this total upheaval is a bit more total than all the other ones, the apocalyptic story of the death of journalism is overstated, as is the evil nature of the Internet as a sapper of critical thought and sustained attention.
Touching on everything from the impossibility of impartiality to the practical way to address bias, from copyright law to business models, from sensationalism to complicit silence, Gladstone and Neufeld's Influencing Machine is an absolutely spectacular read: serious without being weighty, accessible without being thin. It's one of those graphic nonfiction volumes, like Understanding Comics, that shows just how well suited comics are to explaining and exploring serious subjects.
The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media
Since 2015, our family has been in love with Dana Simpson’s Phoebe and Her Unicorn books, a kind of modern take on Calvin and Hobbes, only Calvin is an awesome little girl, Hobbes is a unicorn, and the parental figures can see and interact with the unicorn, but are not freaked out because she generates a SHIELD OF BORINGNESS. Now, the insanely prolific Simpson has released the fourth collection in the series: Razzle Dazzle Unicorn: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure.
It’s been more than 20 years since the publication of Making Book, Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s collection of essays, mostly drawn from the pre-online days of fanzines and letters columns; this year, in honor of Teresa’s stint as Fan Guest of Honor at Midamericon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, NESFA Press has published a second volume: Making Conversation, a collection of essays drawn from the online world on subjects as varied as moderation and trolling, cooking, hamster-rearing, fanfic, narcolepsy, the engineering marvels of the IBM Selectric, and more.
Review Meta has published an in-depth analysis of 7 million Amazon reviews and found that “incentivized reviews,” those with a disclaimer that the reviewer got the product free or discounted, skew substantially higher than non-incentivized reviews.
When you’ve had a long day and it’s time to unwind, there’s a lot you can do to relax: drink some tea, take a shower or even read a book. But there’s one thing that’s essential to a comfortable night’s rest—and that’s investing in some really good sheets. Enter Bamboo Bed Sheets. These quality sheets retail for $120, but […]
The Avantree Powerhouse 4 Port Fast USB Charging Station brings high quality, high power, and still keeps your work space or home looking neat and organized. The best part about this charger is its capacity. It comes packing 4 USB charging sockets and a powerful 4.5A/22.5W output.. Its smartport technology means you don’t have to worry about frying your battery, either—it […]
With this comprehensive course in App & Game Development for iOS and Android, you’ll be able to take full advantage of this career opportunity without committing to going back to school full time. You’ll learn how to build immersive, interactive games and apps from start to finish using Python, C#, Unity, and HTML—some of the most in-demand programming […]