Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection

Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection

by Ethan Zuckerman
     
 

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A rousing call to action for those who would be citizens of the world—online and off.
We live in an age of connection, one that is accelerated by the Internet. This increasingly ubiquitous, immensely powerful technology often leads us to assume that as the number of people online grows, it inevitably leads to a smaller, more cosmopolitan world. We’ll

Overview

A rousing call to action for those who would be citizens of the world—online and off.
We live in an age of connection, one that is accelerated by the Internet. This increasingly ubiquitous, immensely powerful technology often leads us to assume that as the number of people online grows, it inevitably leads to a smaller, more cosmopolitan world. We’ll understand more, we think. We’ll know more. We’ll engage more and share more with people from other cultures. In reality, it is easier to ship bottles of water from Fiji to Atlanta than it is to get news from Tokyo to New York.
In Rewire, media scholar and activist Ethan Zuckerman explains why the technological ability to communicate with someone does not inevitably lead to increased human connection. At the most basic level, our human tendency to “flock together” means that most of our interactions, online or off, are with a small set of people with whom we have much in common. In examining this fundamental tendency, Zuckerman draws on his own work as well as the latest research in psychology and sociology to consider technology’s role in disconnecting ourselves from the rest of the world.For those who seek a wider picture—a picture now critical for survival in an age of global economic crises and pandemics—Zuckerman highlights the challenges, and the headway already made, in truly connecting people across cultures. From voracious xenophiles eager to explore other countries to bridge figures who are able to connect one culture to another, people are at the center of his vision for a true kind of cosmopolitanism. And it is people who will shape a new approach to existing technologies, and perhaps invent some new ones, that embrace translation, cross-cultural inspiration, and the search for new, serendipitous experiences.Rich with Zuckerman’s personal experience and wisdom, Rewire offers a map of the social, technical, and policy innovations needed to more tightly connect the world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this fascinating and powerful reflection on what it means to be a citizen of the world in the Internet age, media scholar Zuckerman declares that, far from aspiring to full engagement with others around the world, we seek to connect with people who share our values, nationality, gender, and race. We are “increasingly dependent on goods and services from other parts of the world,” he points out, “and less informed about the people and cultures who produce them.” He argues that we all possess the capacity to build networks that “rewire” our world with a better sense of interdependence. Zuckerman suggests several ways we can utilize the Internet toward that end: cultivate “xenophiles”—individuals whose love of other cultures enables broad conversations across boarders—and seek serendipity by taking risks and exploring new forms of media that encourage discovery of eclectic ideas. Zuckerman’s imaginative and inventive reflections offer a resourceful guide to living a connected life with intention and insight. Agent: David Miller, Garamond. (June)
Clay Shirky
“Ethan Zuckerman is a true cosmopolitan, a citizen of the universe. In Rewire, he describes how our new communications tools allow us to take part in a truly global conversation and why almost none of us actually take advantage of that opportunity.”
David Weinberger
“No one is in a better position than MIT and Harvard’s Ethan Zuckerman to confront the Internet’s failure to connect us acrosscultures. Zuckerman’s astounding range, careful reasoning, and superb storytelling makeRewirean essential and urgent read.”
Craig Newmark
“Ethan Zuckerman is the real deal, a thinker and activist brilliantly connected to what’s really happening on the Internet on a genuinely global basis. For those who think the digital era gives them all the information they need, Rewire shows them how much more there is to learn.”
Danah Boyd
“A compelling account of an intertwined global world, Ethan Zuckerman's Rewire makes you fall in love with a wide range of cultural practices and peoples. As he explains the importance of understanding not just how information flows but also how people connect, he lays a foundation for rethinking what global citizenship can and should be. Rewire offers a desperately needed dose of inspiration for those who want to make the world a better place.”
danah boyd
“A compelling account of an intertwined global world, Ethan Zuckerman’s Rewire makes you fall in love with a wide range of cultural practices and peoples. As he explains the importance of understanding not just how information flows but also how people connect, he lays a foundation for rethinking what global citizenship can and should be.”
Yochai Benkler
“Weaving a rich tapestry of stories, data, and theories, Rewirechallenges many of our core assumptions about globalization and connectedness and how the Internet affects us.It is a book well worth reading.”
Steve O’Keefe - New York Journal of Books
“One of our most important books on globalization.”
Kirkus Reviews
In his debut, Zuckerman (director of MIT's Center for Civic Media) argues that we must "take control of our technologies and use them to build the world we want rather than the world we fear." To his credit, the author spends more time writing about "the world we want" and less of "the world we fear," an invigorating change from the foreboding and anxiety in so many recent tech books. To get to the world we want, we need "to access perspectives from other parts of the world, to listen to opinions that diverge from our preconceptions, and pay attention to the unexpected and unfamiliar." Zuckerman employs a wide variety of unique anecdotes, touching on everything from Diogenes to Paul Simon's Graceland to show how more cross-cultural exploration and insights would improve life for everyone. The overall effect sometimes feels a bit like reading a long TED talk, heavy on cool stuff but light on proof. For example, Zuckerman explains that when the remaining members of the band Journey needed a new lead singer to replace Steve Perry, they watched countless YouTube videos of cover bands until they found one of Arnel Pineda singing in a club outside of Manila. Pineda sounded so much like Perry, Journey fans were thrilled, but Pineda's achievements with Journey also connected the band to millions of Filipinos, thrilled by the success of their fellow countryman. The story is admittedly cool, but Zuckerman's analysis is glib and brief--"In a world where the Filipino lead singer of an American rock band wows crowds in Chile, it's the connected who shall inherit"--before he charges on to the next idea. Still, Zuckerman's prose is readable and occasionally funny--e.g. Diogenes is ancient Greece's "cross between Woody Allen and Old Dirty Bastard"--and definitely of interest for anyone looking for a distinctive view on the future of technology. A refreshingly different perspective on forging the future of the Internet.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393082838
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
06/17/2013
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,173,067
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Ethan Zuckerman is the director of the MIT Center for Civic Media. A media scholar, Internet activist, and blogger, he lives in Lanesboro, Massachusetts.

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