3 reasons non-fiction books get ignored

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2011/04/28 · 6 comments 10,037 views

in a dos and don'ts,social media diary

… and fiction like Harry Potter does not.

Annemarie Wildeisen, the doyenne of Swiss home-cooking recently stated that people increasingly do not take the time to read recipe instructions carefully.

We debated the question “Are people too lazy to read?” in our Xing group on Social Media Monitoring recently as well. Entries suggest that social media is in crisis because

    a) people are being inundated with data, and
    b) keeping up with their social network memberships is nearly impossible.

While this is not news, it could indicate a trend in our willingness to read non-fiction books, such as:

    1. Have a clear message

If I’m going to read 432 pages on a subject, the work must have a clear message.

This book addresses that tweets and Facebook pages alone, no matter how many, do not make a revolution in Libya (see also Iran: Much ado about nothing and  Cairo: 3 ways social networks like Facebook and Twitter failed protesters).

The New York Times’ Lee Siegel starts his review of Morozov’s book with

Among other things, Ben Hammersley stated in the Financial Times

The book apparently has an overarching message that political change in governance requires the support of the local folks.

    2. State your facts to make your case

Many examples are used to illustrate the author’s points; on p. 176, how a UK firm boasts being able to track users of various SIM cards is mentioned. Unfortunately, details are a bit sketchy and Scandinavian mobile operators’ tests of a similar approach in the late 1990s is not mentioned.

    3. Give more depth to add real value – where is the beef

Using examples to illustrate what you are trying to convey is always smart, but examples should go beyond the obvious as well as add additional insight to the argument or viewpoint put forward.

Mr Morozov’s important work nicely illustrates the challenge facing authors to balance brevity, accuracy, breadth and depth while trying to make their point with an example:

    “The real disparities between the two groups become painfully obvious once members of the cyber lumpen proletariat head to the polls and push for issues of an extremely dubious, if not outright unethical, nature. (The referendum on minarets in Switzerland is a case in point; …” (p. 230).
    Morozov, Evgeny (2011). What do we think about? Who gets to do the thinking. In John Brockman (ed.), Is the Internet changing the way you think? The net’s impact on our minds and future (pp. 228-231). New York: Harper Perennial

This refers to an initiative against minarets that garnered 100,000 signatures. As a result, it had to be put to national referendum in November 2009; the ban passed with 53 percent. Without going into more detail, the ‘lumpen proletariat’ surely does not make up so much of the voting public in that referendum, so we can probably agree that some of the elite voted for the ban, too.

The author states that the referendum was unethical, but I cannot understand why. We can agree that it may be unjust or not meet Switzerland’s moral standards regarding religious freedom, but the ban does not stop construction of more mosques, just minarets.

Okay, here is the question I have for you:

    What is your favorite non-fiction book?

TipClick here to find more book reviews on ComMetrics about social media trends, watch our latest webinar about benchmarking and view our slideshare content.

    Bottom line

The book’s central thrust makes the important case that political change does not happen via Twitter. Rather, the demonstrators in Syria’s streets risking their lives to go against the Assad regime are those who might topple the dictator and his cronies.

And even if change happens, the book clearly states that this does not mean a democratic system rises from the ashes, as we might expect living in Denmark or Canada. The Ukraine’s Orange Revolution proves how things can turn out wrong.

Click here for more books I am reading (see bottom) and sign up below to get our next blog post first:

If we want people to continue reading (and purchasing) non-fiction titles in printed or electronic form, we must write things that

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I recommend my readers check out Mr Morozov’s article, Internet alone cannot free the Middle East, for its great synopsis of things the author spells out in his book.

As always, the comments are yours!

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