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Want To Be A Digital Cosmopolitan? Rewire.

A cosmopolitan, by definition, is a “citizen of the universe” — someone who engages with issues across the globe, from politics, to war, to climate change. I’m sure we’d all like to think of ourselves this way. After all, we listen to NPR, read the paper, check our Facebook pages like the dutifully connected people that we are.

But MIT’s Ethan Zuckerman argues that we’re living in a state of  ”imaginary cosmopolitanism.” We expose ourselves to limited kinds of information, particularly that which is already of interest to us or to those closest to us. He confronts this issue in his new book, Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection.

Guest

Ethan Zuckerman, director of the MIT Center for Civic Media and author of Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection.

More

TED, “Sure, the web connects the globe, but most of us end up hearing mainly from people just like ourselves. Blogger and technologist Ethan Zuckerman wants to help share the stories of the whole wide world. He talks about clever strategies to open up your Twitter world and read the news in languages you don’t even know.”

Excerpt

 


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  • Hbakker

    I enjoyed the interview with Ethan Zuckerman about his new book Rewired. In general I agree with the idea that we need diverse sources of information and should try to become more cosmopolitan in our reading. I agree there are definitely “media blindspots” in any country. If we restrict ourselves to U.S. broadcast mass media t is hard to find news about Ghana, for example. It should be mentioned, however, that the News hour is much better than most of the major networks. I would like to quibble a bit about facebook. The idea that facebook limits us to the familiar because it links us to kids we knew in elementary school, etc., is somewhat misleading. Some of the people I went to high school with in Alabama (Fairhope High School) hold entirely different worldviews from mine. They would label me a “liberal.” I have actually be shocked by the ways in which many folks on facebook do not merely criticize the President but actually use words that would be offensive even if just said while drunk at a bar! Moreover, I have facebook friends in Indonesia and other countries. So, when the interviewer said: “Clearly, it is making us look inward,” I feel that was a bit incorrect. There are plenty of criticisms that can be made about facebook, but it does not necessarily make us look inward than any other medium. Also, one final point. We do “see the world through the eyes of media.” Ethan Zuckerman might want to broaden his use of the term “media” in terms of the ideas Charles Peirce developed about a triadic epistemology and Pragmaticism. His “semiotics” is based on the notion that every “sign” is a medium and that signifier and signified (Saussure) only make sense if we keep in mind that we ALWAYS need at least a third “sign.” Cheers,  Hans = J. I. Bakker   http://www.jihansbakker.com   http://www.semioticsigns.com

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