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REWIRE by Ethan Zuckerman


Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection

by Ethan Zuckerman

Pub Date: June 17th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-393-08283-8
Publisher: Norton

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.