Whose Global Village? Rethinking How Technology Shapes Our World

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NYU Press, New York, 2017

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Whose Global Village? -Ramesh Srinivasan

In the digital age, technology has shrunk the physical world into a “global village,” where we all seem to be connected as an online community as information travels to the farthest reaches of the planet with the click of a mouse. Yet from the US election, to the growth of the alt-right movement, to the Dakota pipeline to the question of ISIS, we also have begun to recognize how incredibly disconnected we are at the same time, occupying various bubbles and self-selected communities.

While we think of platforms such as Twitter and Facebook as open and accessible to all, in reality, these are commercial entities developed primarily by and for the Western world. Considering how new technologies increasingly shape labor, economics, and politics, these tools often reinforce the inequalities of globalization, rarely reflecting the perspectives of those at the bottom of the digital divide.

This book asks us to re-consider ‘whose global village’ we are shaping with the digital technology revolution today. Sharing stories of collaboration with Native Americans in California and New Mexico, revolutionaries in Egypt, communities in rural India, and others across the world, Ramesh Srinivasan urges us to re-imagine what the Internet, mobile phones, or social media platforms may look like when considered from the perspective of diverse cultures. Whose Global Village seeks to inspire professionals, activists, and scholars alike to think about technology in a way that embraces the realities of communities too often relegated to the margins, of bringing communities across the world together to speak on their own terms.

Reviews of ‘Whose Global Village?’

“The 2016 election showed us what happens when technologies like Facebook, that are supposed to connect us, actually leave us in bubbles and oblivious to the world that doesn’t agree with us. Whose Global Village? shows that another technology is possible, and in fact exists, through examples across the world that are all about furthering cultural voices and conversations.”

—The Yes Men

“In the age of video streaming and the internet, indigenous peoples can fight for their rights as we see with the Dakota Pipeline and across the world today. Whose Global Village? points the way forward to a digital world that recognizes the dignity and voices of indigenous peoples.”

—Winona La Duke, Executive Director of Honor the Earth

“Upstart successes like The Young Turks are becoming less common, partially as a result of the increasing corporatization and monopolization of social media. Whose Global Village? offers an alternate path, out of the self-selected echo chambers that marginalize non-western and indigenous voices, and into a future where new technology operates in greater harmony with grassroots concerns and culturally diverse populations across the world.”

—Cenk Uygur, Founder of The Young Turks

“Whose Global Village? invites us to question some of the sacred narratives that have grown up around digital and networked technologies in the west—first among them, the idea that digital technologies follow some universal path of development. This book is a powerful corrective to various forms of cyberutopianism, even as it reimagines core concepts—from agency and voice to participation and appropriation.”

—Henry Jenkins, co-author of By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism

“In this bold book, Srinivasan tackles the myth of digital universality head on, insisting that technologies should be designed by and serve diverse communities rather than corporate elites. Based on years of fieldwork, Whose Global Village? reads like a manifesto and is bound to stir up debate. A must read for media scholars, technology designers, and community organizations alike.”

—Lisa Parks, Professor of Comparative Media Studies, MIT

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About the Author

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Ramesh Srinivasan studies the relationship between technology, politics and societies across the world. He has been a faculty member at UCLA since 2005 in the Information Studies and Design|Media Arts departments. He is the founder of the UC-wide Digital Cultures Lab, exploring the meaning of technology worldwide as it spreads to the far reaches of our world. [FULL BIO]