Taking on the System


I had hoped to be much more excited about Markos Zuniga’s Taking on the System, but it only reminded me of Kalle Lasn’s culture-jamming manifesto.

Like the authors of Born Digital, Zuniga is also a lawyer, though he has distinguished himself by his political blogging at Daily Kos. The gist of Zuniga’s book is how savvy users of social technologies can bypass cultural and political gatekeepers by becoming involved cybercitizens who perform a smart revolt or act of civil disobedience thru the reclamation of media, which function today as little more than conservative ideological apparatuses of conventional wisdom. The book is not a how-to manual and draws the majority of its examples from political campaigns and events. The events that most engaged my own reading were an analysis of Cindy Sheehan’s rise and fall to fame as the face of the anti-war movement, a brief discussion of the Jena 6 racial incidents in the South, and some coverage of Bill O’Reilly and the Fox news channel.

Some useful terms from the book are the idea of “manufacture outrage” (Bill O’Reilly) and “riding the backlash” (transparency, PR, and riding the groundswell). Zuniga himself comes under fire for a statement that he makes on the Daily Kos blog that is manipulated and attacked by the conservative right, though he is able to withstand the attack through transparency, accountability, and trust in his readers. His epilogue is the clarion call of all educators – personal responsibility and organic leadership.