Trust Me I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday
A buddy of mine gave me a heads up about the book after he heard Ryan Holiday on Q that week. I hadn't heard the interview, but based on how my friend reacted, I figured I had to pick up a copy of this book (Note: I listened to the interview after reading the book, even if you don't grab the book, the interview is worth the 24 minutes or if you prefer video, Holiday sat down with Andrew Keen for an interview).
The book makes you rethink the relationship between blogs and the mainstream media. While Holiday is talking about the tech/celebrity scene in the US when you consider his experience in the context of the public sector it gives you pause. It makes you wonder about how much of the coverage of the Hill is based on PR spin and speculation instigated by media manipulators like Holiday leveraging traffic hungry blogs, if you don't think it can happen, I'd encourage you to look into the Shirley Sherrod Scandal for a reality check (FYI Holiday goes into detail about this example in his book).
What I got out of reading it
The book confirmed my suspicions that a lot of what you read out there (online) is bullshit; and it has made me even more sceptical of the blogs covering the tech scene than I was.
The biggest takeaway for me was that fact checking (regardless of your profession) is probably one of most important (and in time pressured environments often overlooked) parts of your job; the last thing you'd want to do is provide advice to the powers that be based on some speculative blog posts spun by someone like Holiday.
While at times Trust Me I'm Lying reads like a a revenge book (Holiday basically gives the finger to a lot of the online powers that be) the underlying message is compelling: a short shadow of the future and perverse business models built on pages views creates intense competition for your attention while simultaneously delivering you sub-par and filler content; whereas a longer shadow of the future - say like the one I try to adopt with this blog - offers less immediate short term gains but (hopes) to deliver more compelling and useful content (and thus impact) over time.