I was recently given a copy of The Influencing Machine for speaking at a NATO Multi-National Information Operations Experiment workshop and, boy, did I consume this one quickly. This book, written by Brooke Gladstone and illustrated by Josh Neufeld, is a visual and mental delight and should be mandatory reading for everyone. Full stop.
The Influencing Machine is a short, easy-to-read introduction to not just media, but the information environment. The book deftly provides a history of information sharing through technological advances, while tackling some of the prevailing narratives about journalism. Digging deeper, though, Gladstone delves into some of the individual cognitive challenges we face in consuming news and how these ultimately help shape and distort our perspectives. Far from the usual simplified argument blaming journalism or online platforms for our current information problems, Gladstone argues, we are all part of the “influencing machine” and our choices in consumption of information deliver us the media we deserve.
If this book isn’t in the curriculum for teaching students about media and the information environment it absolutely should be. This is by far one of the best introductions on the topic I have read.
The Influence Machine is available on Amazon.