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

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  288 Ratings  ·  36 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
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 17th 2013 by W. W. Norton Company
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To make a complex and interesting book short, this book calls for a re-evaluation of what it means to be a true cosmopolitan in the age of the Internet. It is simply not enough to use modern social media and thus claim to have access to all of the world's information. It is necessary to seek out and discuss with those who share different perspectives than yours, and empathize with another's point of view.

With the rise of what Eli Parisier has called the 'Filter Bubble', search engines tailor the
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
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
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Maggie Delano
Nov 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: tech-book-club
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
David Sasaki
Apr 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
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
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
I read this book hoping to find an interesting text for my undergrad students on media and politics in the digital age. Zuckerman does a decent job of presenting a few important social science ideas and theories in an accessible way for a lay audience. But there are some things he oversimplifies enough that his descriptions become truly misleading. The worst part of book, however, is the never-ending series of vignettes. Used carefully, and thoughtfully tied to the larger ideas that are then ful ...more
Filip Struhárik
Mar 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Internet will not magically turn us into digital cosmopolitans." Very good book, very good thoughts. I made a lot of notes.
Craig Jaquish
Jun 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Kate Boudreau
Sep 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Although I'd give the content 5 stars
Francesca Woodhouse
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
The first half of the book was stronger than the second, but I would recommend it as a good
call to action for the positives of a more connected world - discussions around bridging, friends across borders, openness to other news.
Alina Seniuta
Jul 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Felt more like an extended article rather than a book for me. The author did share a different perspective on what we usually make no question of , provided a whole bookmarks bar of further readings (at least for me), but kind of rolled it up in a clumsy trying-to-be-persuasive way.
Winston Hearn
Sep 13, 2017 rated it liked it
There's a lot of race, class, and inequality analysis that should be present in this book but isn't.
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
Dan Tasse
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: research
Overall, totally dig it. He's pushing cosmopolitanism, the idea that we can be "citizens of the world", taking into account our responsibility and connectedness to each other.

He started this "Global Voices" site a few years ago, trying to offer views from bloggers worldwide. It's pretty cool, but as he notes, not enough. It's hard for me to care about what happens in Gabon. But in an age of SARS and Arab Spring, we kind of need to. At least, someone needs to.

Some useful concepts or other notes:

Dani Arribas-bel
Aug 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Roger K.
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book takes a pragmatic, clear approach to a challenging issue - how to maintain openness to the new and valuable in a world where it is easy to fall into a rut of the familiar and comfortable. Zuckerman's background in the MIT Media Labs and the Global Voices project suits him well in this undertaking.

While the hopes of technology pioneers are often that tech will create a single, connected humanity, it also tends to at least initially harden hierarchies. The initial democracy of radio was
May 09, 2014 rated it liked it
I think that for someone that is not intimately familiar with the many ways that life online has transformed our global world, much insight would be gained from this book. The information presented by the author, mid-read, that recounts some basic theories of mass communication, gate-keeping and the press bored me, because of my professional familiarity with the literature. There were some new ideas and ways of looking at networking online that I found interesting and well presented. For some re ...more
Jun 02, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jun 27, 2013 rated it really liked it

"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
Chris Bracco
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Author Ethan Zuckerman explores the current state of digital media, the effects of globalization on culture, and what can be done to “rewire” our modes of thinking in an age where everyone and everything can become so easily intertwined. Ethan rifles through dozens of real world examples to support his arguments.

I really enjoyed Ethan’s explanations of bridge figures, xenophiles, local maxima, and the use of serendipity on the web, and how they can be helpful tools for integrating cultures and
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
Mar 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Rewire takes a look at how the internet offers us the possibilities to discover new things, but instead we often gravitate towards to a few familiar haunts and points of view. While it can feel a little like an extended advert for the author's Global Voices website, the information is strongly researched, varied, and brings up some fascinating ideas about who we are, why we like the things and people that we do, and how this can actually stop us from harnessing the true potential of a world wide ...more
Sep 22, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
Jun 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Eye opening book on the links and connections between many processes and events that trigger outcomes on the other side of the world - like the Iran revolution, the storming of the US Embassy in Tripoli, the SARS outbreak (and containment), cotton subsidies, Paul Simon & African music, Chinese media & translation, Walmart supplies etc.
Two Readers in Love
Feb 02, 2016 rated it liked it
The author proves that easier access to global content does not necessarily result in global engagement. Already xenophile, some of this felt like 'preaching to the choir' - and so I was left wanting a little less general advocacy, and much more practical how-to advice. Still - a nice start on what I hope is a topic we'll be seeing a lot more of in education and the popular press.
Jul 15, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
Nov 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-read
Difficult to read initially but gets better in the later parts. Author stressed with a few examples the way we consume media, who interact daily and what we are interested does not provide us with a accurate overview of the whole picture. The way we behave in the connected age maybe inhibiting to our ability to discover new things, solve problems and do well. TL;DR - diversity for serendipity.
Angela Randall
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.
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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.
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“while it’s easier than ever to share information and perspectives from different parts of the world, we may now often encounter a narrower picture of the world than in less connected days.” 1 likes
“we need to be cautious of architectures that offer convenience and charge isolation as a price of admission.” 0 likes
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