Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection

Ethan Zuckerman re:publica Keynote

After the slight disappointment that Sascha Lobo was not going to give his famous state of the (European) Internet address at this year’s re:publica conference in Berlin, I was pleasantly surprised that Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT (the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and a principal research scientist at MIT’s Media Lab took the stage for the first keynote of the first conference day. He was introduced as one of the truly good guys.

The system is broken – and that’s the good news was a very inspiring and non-sarcastic (in comparison to Lobo) talk about how the all pervading mistrust in today’s societies can be a powerful positive force. Mistrust can be corrosive, encouraging us to turn away from politics or from public life. But mistrust can be a powerful positive force, motivating us to take up the task of keeping watch on those in power, or building new institutions that are more just than those we mistrust. Mistrust may be our most valuable civic asset, if we can learn to harness it to change the world for the better.

About Ethan Zuckerman

At MIT’s Media Lab Ethan Zuckerman heads research on Media Cloud, a system for quantitative analysis of agenda setting in digital media, and Promise Tracker, a platform that allows citizens to monitor powerful institutions using mobile and web technologies.  He is the author of „Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection„, published in June 2013. With Rebecca MacKinnon, Ethan co-founded international blogging community Global Voices. Global Voices showcases news and opinions from citizen media in over 150 nations and thirty languages. Ethan’s research focuses on issues of Internet freedom, civic engagement through digital tools and international connections through media. He blogs at and lives in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts.

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