You are probably wondering why a book like this would be reviewed on a website like Feral Jundi? Well for one, FJ is a blog and blogs are a crucial element to media marketers and their schemes. So after hearing about this book over at Global Guerrillas and at Shlok Vaidya, I wanted to check it out.
In the book you will hear about simple but effective methods that Ryan Holiday uses to get a story of his choosing, be it fake or whatever, up to the national levels of media. One of them is called ‘trading up the chain’, and it basically a how-to on how to hack the media machine. Very useful information to marketers, and very dangerous information for those with malicious intentions in mind.
Specifically, Ryan discusses the Terry Jones Koran Burning incident as one example of a lethal ‘trading up the chain’ scheme. To quote Ryan from the book, he says this about the incident.
One kook, one overeager young journalist, unintentionally show why trading up the chain–feeding the monster–can be so dangerous (though for Jones, very effective). They weren’t just turning nothing into something. The beast these blogs built up was set off needless bloodshed.
You can trade up the chain for charity or you can trade up it to create funny fake news–or you can do it to create violence, hatred, and even incidentally, death. I’ve done the first two, while others, out of negligence or malice, have done the latter. At the end of the day, intentions are not a justification I’m going to hide behind. There is enough blame to go around. -Page 29
The ‘one’ journalist he was talking about was a college student named Andrew Ford, a freelancer working for Agence France-Presse. This was the guy that broke the media blackout directed at Terry Jones and his scheme, and once Andrew decided to post a story about Terry actually burning the Koran, the rest of the media could not resist. Especially the second tier blogs that highly depend upon pageviews and advertising. Then once those sites grabbed the story, the national media could not resist either, and then the thing just blew up all over–causing a stir throughout the world of Islam–and causing riots/deaths in places like Afghanistan.
So the question is, could a person or group ‘trade up the chain’ in order to kill or cause harm to an enemy? Imagine hiring Ryan to conduct a campaign against Al Qaeda or the Taliban, and tasking him to use his dark arts of media manipulation to cause some serious headaches for these folks?
Also imagine the enemy reading such a book, and further adding to their ability to hack the media and create buzz for their cause?
This trading up the chain method was also comically evident in the military and technology blogging industry recently. The Duffle Blog posted a funny but fake story about a new bayonet system the DoD was about to purchase, and the popular upper tier Gizmodo blog picked it up as a ‘real’ story. Of course they finally figured out that it was not true, and they had to make the edit. But I wonder how close this was to being picked up by the national media? Or if this story got legs in some corner of the world where they actually thought it was real? Interesting stuff.
The other reason why I was interested in this book is I wanted to understand how I can protect the integrity of this site, but also if I could gain any insight as to why stories go viral–or what gives a post legs. Stuff like how to format a title, or what really grabs a reader. For that, there are ideas in the book that are extremely valuable. Check it out and let me know what you think? –Matt
Buy the book here.
Buy the Kindle version here.
By Ryan Holiday
You’ve seen it all before. A malicious online rumor costs a company millions. A political sideshow derails the national news cycle and destroys a candidate. Some product or celebrity zooms from total obscurity to viral sensation. What you don’t know is that someone is responsible for all this. Usually, someone like me.
I’m a media manipulator. In a world where blogs control and distort the news, my job is to control blogs—as much as any one person can.
In today’s culture…
1) Blogs like Gawker, Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post drive the media agenda.
2) Bloggers are slaves to money, technology, and deadlines.
3) Manipulators wield these levers to shape everything you read, see and watch—online and off.
Why am I giving away these secrets? Because I’m tired of a world where blogs take indirect bribes, marketers help write the news, reckless journalists spread lies, and no one is accountable for any of it. I’m pulling back the curtain because I don’t want anyone else to get blindsided.