How To Start A Revolution – iPad App Review

Written by Angel Storm, Associate for the Peace and Collaborative Development Network.


This is the first review PCDN has done for the new series of Tech for Peace. Developing apps for conflict resolution, peacebuilding and nonviolence movements is a growing trend, and PCDN hopes to bring you the most accurate reviews and suggestions in this developing movement. This particular app has the goal of providing the tools and resources that Gene Sharp has developed in one format.


This app is simply a must-have among peace studies scholars, those actively working to start or reorganize revolutions, or anyone who is interested in the logistics, history, and outcomes of nonviolent revolutions. Based on Gene Sharp’s lifelong work, this app includes the full-length video How To Start a Revolution, biographies of revolutionary leaders and other key figures, maps, video clips, four books, and an interactive map that tracks revolutions worldwide. Below are more details for each of these categories, and you can learn more about the app by visiting This app is priced slightly higher than apps of similar format ($8.99), but I think it is worth the investment. 


This groundbreaking app is a touch activated documentary embedding analysis, extra video and satellite mapping with four of Gene Sharp’s key books including his famous work, From Dictatorship to Democracy, described as a handbook for revolutionaries. For the first time, the iPad brings together an award winning film and books which have helped nonviolent activists change the world. Integration with Gene Sharp’s Albert Einstein Institution website provides hundreds of pages of additional readings and case studies.” – How To Start a Revolution Website (, designed by The Project Factory


Film: How To Start a Revolution


The full-length video is included in the app. The film summarizes the work of Nobel Peace Prize nominee Gene Sharp and how his ideas, tactics, and theories have influenced dozens of revolutions worldwide – all through nonviolent means. Viewers will learn some of Sharp’s 198 steps for overthrowing dictators and the seven lessons of nonviolent struggle. Sharp has been labeled by dictators in several countries as a “threat” and his book From Dictatorship to Democracy has been called a “bomb,” all while operating on a shoestring budget.


In addition to viewing the movie in its entirety, users can also select a specific revolution, person, concept, or place and choose to watch only relevant section, or see the icons that appear during that video segment and click on those to receive a brief summary, view the location on a map, or see video clips.  (Pictures below further illustrate this concept.)


Here, the user has the option to choose sections of the film to watch, or to click on the icons associated with that clip.



More options for the user to find and view sections of the film that are most relevant or to click on the icons associated with that clip.



When viewing the full-length film on the app, users are able to click on icons that appear throughout the screen whenever a new idea, place, person, theory, or revolution is introduced (the film is a touchdoc). When the user clicks on an icon, the movie automatically pauses and the information appears on the screen. The movie resumes from the same spot when the icon is closed. This function is extremely helpful in providing backstories for those topics which viewers may not be familiar with. (See pictures below for more detail.)


Here, users can see how the touchdoc film works. When new ideas, places, or people are introduced, a small icon appears at the top of the screen. Touching these icons pauses the movie and allows viewers to read backstory information about that topic.



Map: Revolution Monitor


The revolution monitor is a map of the world with dots that mark the locations of revolutions in real time. By clicking on a dot, users will see the live Twitter feeds relating to that particular revolution. This function also gives users the option to re-tweet any messages or add their own that will contribute to the feed.


Revolution Monitor shows the places where revolutions are taking place. Clicking on one of the red dots will pull up the Twitter feeds that are associated with each revolution. This photo is showing the Twitter tags for Libya.


Revolution Monitor shows the places where revolutions are taking place. Clicking on one of the red dots will pull up the Twitter feeds that are associated with each revolution. This photo is showing the Twitter tags for Sudan.



Features: Videos, Bios, Extras, and Maps


This part of the app allows users to view relevant video clips related to or directly taken from a revolution, read biographies of founders of revolutions, theorists, contributors, reporters, and dictators, view locations mentioned in the film on maps, and learn more about certain places (such as Tahrir Square), things (such as specific weapons), ideas (such as Sharp’s 198 methods of nonviolent action), institutions (such as Harvard and Oxford Universities), wars (such as Vietnam), people (such as the Karen), movements (such as OTPOR), and many more. The amount of information that is available through one app is extraordinary and therefore useful to many different people in various situations. (Pictures below demonstrate the use of this feature of the app.)


This photo shows some of the options users can choose from under the “Features” section of the app.


This photo shows some of the options users can choose from under the “Features” section of the app.



This photo shows an example of what users will see when clicking on the “Tim Marshall” icon, under the “Features” section of the app. A biography appears.



Books: From Dictatorship to Democracy, There Are Realistic Alternatives, The Anti-Coup, and Self-Liberation


All four books are written by Dr. Gene Sharp and provided as full versions in the app, which users can open in iBooks, Nook, Evernote or Stanza. Each one is short (less than 100 pages each) and From Dictatorship to Democracy is available in 12 languages other than English (the other books are only available in English through this app).





Overall I believe this app to be very useful for those studying peace, researching nonviolent resistance, or starting a revolution. The app is very user-friendly, affordable, and interactive. In addition, the design of the app leaves room for designers to expand the depth the app covers on specific revolutions. I highly recommend buying this app, as it allows users to access a lot of information in one place.



Tags: Gene, Sharp, a, app, how, iPad, revolution, start, to

Views: 498

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Thank you Angel for the thoughtful and thorough review


Sponsored Link

Please Pay What You Can to Support PCDN

Please consider Paying What You Can to help PCDN grow. We encourage you to consider any amount from $1 and up. Read the SUPPORT page prior to making a payment to see PCDN's impact and how your payment will help.

Sponsored Link

Translate This Page


PCDN Guidelines and Share Pages

By using this site you're agreeing to the terms of use as outlined in the community guidelines (in particular PCDN is an open network indexed by Google and users should review the privacy options). Please note individual requests for funding or jobs are NOT permitted on the network.

Click BELOW to share site resources Bookmark and Share
or Share on LINKEDIN




© 2016   Created by Craig Zelizer.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service