This week we recommend Rewire, Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection, by Ethan Zuckerman.
The first book by the director of the MIT Center for Civic Media and co-founder of the blogging community Global Voices, is a key work for understanding the new social scenario being built by the Internet. Despite the huge possibilities afforded by the Internet for creating, sharing and disseminating information, does global access to that information really imply a more cosmopolitan society?
The book by Zuckerman calls into question this information universe that is supposedly a result of technological progress: global connectivity, global access, variety and endless diversity. Is there a gap between reality and potentiality? Disconnection exists and is even exacerbated in the on-line world: Americans now read less international news than in the decades before the Internet, despite the facilities they have today. Why? If we ask ourselves about some of the reasons behind the main “gateways” to the Internet, such as Google or Wikipedia, we find a common pattern: they help us look for what we deliberately want to find.
Beyond the technological world, this book is about people and about the incredible wealth we have access to when we “connect” to each other through our differences.
Although we can aspire to be citizens of the world, in practice, our attention continues to be stubbornly local. The Internet has not ended with the fear of difference but, can the network of networks “rewire us” and really connect us? People are at the core of Zuckerman’s vision. They are therefore the true bridge toward that transformation, toward a cross-cultural society, interested in newness, in diversity, which can experience “casually”, regardless of their own prejudices. Current and future technologies are key aspects in this process.