Ethan Zuckerman: our little interconnected world

From the paradox of news increasingly tending to be locally created to the challenge of a truly "global" writing, capable of moving beyond the reader's cultural background. The director of the MIT Center for Civic Media reflects upon information and globalization

«The things we use every day come from all over the world: we drink water from the Fiji, use cameras from Japan and laptops from China. Yet, information does not seem to have the same ability to "travel". Today we tend to give much more attention to local news than we did forty years ago»: Ethan Zuckerman has no doubts about the existence of a profound contradiction between what that the word "network" seems to suggest and the current status of its use.

For the well-known American blogger, director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT and author of the essay Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection, ours is a hyper-connected but ever smaller world. Advocate of this paradox being just the Internet, by making contents easily accessible and resources tailored to our interests, increasing a kind of myopia about a world we have no direct experience about.

«Helping us to understand what is happening in different parts of the world, what people are interested in each of these angles, how to be truly connected: this is – Zuckerman says – the goal of Internet, the field  on which its highest and most important potential can be expressed. It is a challenge that we can face and it is what I talk about in my book».

With regards to writing, Zuckerman declares himself a possible victim of the same mechanism of "local selection" that he identifies in the current use of the web: «I try not to assume beforehand the knowledge of my reader: my intent is to write for a globally informed audience but I know that often my perspectives and opinions have a U.S. perspective. For this reason, I try to explain as much as possible the context: we should all imagine a reader who does not have our own background and try to write for him».



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