Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection (Hardcover)

Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection By Ethan Zuckerman Cover Image


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.

About the Author

Ethan Zuckerman is the founder of the Institute for Digital Public Infrastructure at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and associate professor of public policy, information, and communication. From 2011–20, he led the Center for Civic Media at the MIT Media Lab. He is cofounder with Rebecca MacKinnon of the international blogging community Global Voices.

Praise For…

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.

— Clay Shirky, author of Cognitive Surplus and Here Comes Everybody

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.

— danah boyd, Microsoft Research

Weaving a rich tapestry of stories, data, and theories, Rewire challenges many of our core assumptions about globalization and connectedness and how the Internet affects us. It is a book well worth reading.

— Yochai Benkler, author of The Penguin and the Leviathan and The Wealth of Networks

No one is in a better position than MIT and Harvard’s Ethan Zuckerman to confront the Internet’s failure to connect us across cultures. Zuckerman’s astounding range, careful reasoning, and superb storytelling make Rewire an essential and urgent read.

— David Weinberger, author of Too Big to Know

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.

— Craig Newmark, founder, craigslist and craigconnects

One of our most important books on globalization.
— Steve O’Keefe - New York Journal of Books
Product Details
ISBN: 9780393082838
ISBN-10: 0393082830
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: June 17th, 2013
Pages: 288
Language: English