Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection
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Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  79 ratings  ·  15 reviews
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 thi...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published July 12th 2013 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published June 17th 2013)
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There are far too many books about technology and society that start with a premise and then beat it to death. We've recently been treated to a large number of ideological diatribes explaining how the internet is transforming everything, either for the better or the worse. The irony is that most of those decrying the impact of the internet demonstrate the very weaknesses of internet argument they claim to excoriate: they argue from authority, they attack those who disagree with them, and they us...more
Jon Lebkowsky
Just concluded a conversation about Rewire with Ethan on the WELL:

Ethan has studied the global impact of Internet technology for many years, and was cofounder with Rebecca MacKinnon of Global Voices, a global blog aggregator and great source of global perspective. In Rewire, he puts his experience to work, reviewing the problems and promise of global connectedness. The Internet for many of us appeared as a platform to further democratic intent, if not make democracy m...more
Maggie Delano
I thought the content of this book was interesting. However, I really couldn't get over the fact that the author just assumes that the reader wants (or should want) to be a digital cosmopolitan. I'm not saying I don't think being one would be great, but he directly alludes to the "caring problem" that needs to be overcome and provides no suggestions to get there.

I'm not one to consider myself to be all that cosmopolitan - at least not in the sense that the author describes one as (i.e. an empha...more
Ethan has crafted a beautiful, engaging book for all who seek to transcend the cultural, political, and linguistic barriers that history has placed between us. Unfortunately, I fear that those of us who aspire to global citizenship are a small and diminishing minority. In a world where information is everywhere, time is compressed, and attention is fragmented, I sense an emerging impulse to cultivate local community around common shards of our fragmented culture.

Rewire begins with several anecdo...more
Rachel Wexelbaum
Before social media, there were cassette tapes being sent back and forth as cross-cultural connection and communication, the alternative to mainstream news, music, and government. Director of MIT Civic Media Ethan Zuckerman asks, in our "new" world of instant information and connection, how much is authentic cross-cultural exchange, and how much is corporatized? No wonder the Iranians and Arabs could pull off Arab Spring and social media protests so effectively...they had already been doing this...more
Zuckerman's book was eye opening, thought provoking, and inspiring. His central premise is that, though we often believe that the internet's vast wealth of information allows us to be more well rounded citizens of the world, this is often not the case. Rather, we are homophiles. We usually utilize only those resources that are: in close proximity, referred to us by close friends and family, or directly related to an area of study to which we are already predisposed.

This is a must read for anyone...more
Realizing we're parochial and understanding what we're ignoring is different than being parochial while suspecting we're fairly cosmopolitan. Ethan Zuckerman makes a convincing case that our media exposure is far less diverse than we would think—and that the Internet might even be fortifying our parochial tendencies.

While it seems there’s nothing left on store shelves that isn’t made in China, Zuckerman points out that fewer than three percent of US consumer spending goes to Chinese goods. We’re...more
I had the pleasure of hearing Zuckerman present at a conference earlier this year to an audience that didn't work in his particular field (Zuckerman is the Director of Civic Media at the MIT Media Lab and focuses on the distribution of attention in mainstream and new/social media). While not his typical constituency, Zuckerman expertly drew the connections from his research and knowledge of global trends around media and individual engagement that clearly resonated with our broad-based group. I...more
But rewiring is also about the wires, no? A discussion about net culture, it's parochial tendencies, and ways to support network diversity and foster serendipitous discovery are all reasons why I like this book. This work is a conscious apologetic for cyber utopianism. The author argues that idealism for the web is not an empty hope.

What feels cloyingly missing is the economic and material side of this net culture. The closest that we get to a discussion of this is in the analysis of a pre-inte...more
Dani Arribas-bel
The book considers the effect that the internet and the new wave of news distribution associated with it in the last few years (social networks, etc.) can have in our perception of the world and in how connected we will actually stay to more initially distant realities. Surprisingly (or maybe not so much), the main thesis of Zuckerman is that true cosmopolitanism won't come by itself as an extra feature of technology, we have to bring it and built it in ourselves if we really value it. The book...more
Jul 27, 2013 Jae rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
I found the structure of this book kind of frustrating. When I think about it, a lot of that reaction boiled down to the fact that the author seemed to be assuming cosmopolitanism as a generic good in this book, so he didn't bother even trying to make a convincing case for its benefits until the end. I mean, certainly I think it's a positive trait, but I know from my social circles in North America that it's not something most people I know particularly strive for. So there's that. On the other...more
bibliotekker Holman

"A central paradox of this connected age is that while it’s easier than ever to share information and perspectives from different parts of the world, we may be encountering a narrower picture of the world than we did in less connected days." In this thought provoking book, Zuckerman adds detail to this idea by introducing the reader to insightful sociological research into this fascinating yet worrisome phenomenon. A very good read.
The author offers a number of stories and vignettes that give ho...more
Angela Alcorn
Weirdly, I found out about this book via a cool article on world music, discussing copyright of the original songs used by Deep Forest and The Lion Sleeps Tonight. All very interesting. Want to read more.
Top 5 Pop Culture - PLA
Sep 29, 2013 Bob rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: social
Zuckerman thinks about tools that might bring the dream of a "connected world" closer to reality, and does so through interesting (and interestingly presented) case studies. Most of his examples are from the digital world (he works for MIT's Media Lab) but many come from business and NGO initiatives. While the stories are always entertaining and enlightening, the book sometimes loses focus. It gets you thinking, but does not provide a lot of answers.
I probably wouldn't have read this book if I hadn't gotten it in a free goodie bag at a conference, but it was a pleasant surprise. Zuckerman has an interesting thesis and ably challenges weak assumptions about how the internet affects our behavior. I wouldn't bother if the subject matter isn't of particular interest to you, but it's a standout of the genre.
Kaveh Samadikhah
documented facts of modern cosmopolitanism
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Ethan Zuckerman is the director of the MIT Center for Civic Media. A media scholar, Internet activist, and blogger, he lives in Lanesboro, Massachusetts.
More about Ethan Zuckerman...
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“connection can inspire crucial collaborations just as well as it can spread infection.” 0 likes
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