Recent Posts

Joy defends herself
Hope and Joy

My great aunt Jean carried a huge plastic tote bag as her purse. On each side of the bag were photos of eight of her grandchildren, surrounding a photo of a bottle of dish soap on one side, and of lau…

Microfinance and public shaming in Nigeria

I got an interesting email from a young Nigerian today alerting me to the problem of social shaming and microlending. He wanted me to promote his petition and so I did a little research. (This post wa…

I read Facebook’s Widely Viewed Content Report. It’s really strange.

What content is popular on Facebook? This is a surprisingly difficult – and very important – question to answer. Facebook is the most popular social network in the world, and is used by ro…

Why Study Media Ecosystems?

A few years ago, friends involved with the Media Cloud project – notably Fernando Bermejo, Hal Roberts, Rahul Bhargava – and I began talking about the need for academic approaches to media…

Recommendations from the road

Amy and I had about as gentle a pandemic as one could have. No one in our immediate family contracted COVID, we both were able to move our jobs online with no major hitches, and our time at home gave …

Ethan Zuckerman

Hi. I’m Ethan Zuckerman. I’m a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where I teach Public Policy, Communication and Information. I’m starting a new research center called the Institute for Digital Public Infrastructure. Over the years, I’ve been a tech startup guy (with Tripod.com), a non-profit founder (Geekcorps.org) and co-founder (Globalvoices.org), and throughout it all, a blogger.

I started blogging here in 2003 when this site was titled “My Heart’s in Accra”. I now write in a lot of different fora – for The Atlantic, Columbia Journalism Review and other sites, on my Medium page and as part of different university projects. Blogging led me to writing books as well as academic and journalistic articles, and much of that work features here.

Books

Mistrust

How can you change society if you lose faith in institutions like governments and corporations? Mistrust (2021) is a guidebook to social change through movements that try to change minds and hearts as well as laws.

Rewire

 Is the Internet bringing us closer together? Or just insulating us in our echo chambers? Rewire (2013) explores ways to break those echo chambers and build a more connected world.

Projects

iDPI

 Institute for Digital Public Infrastructure – a new research center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, exploring future visions of the internet that center civic life and the public good.

Gobo

A social media aggregator that gives you control over what and who you hear the most from. 

Media Cloud

A free, open source tool for tracking ideas, individuals and stories across the open web.

Global Voices

An online community of writers, artists and translators who work together to bring a richer, more nuanced picture of life around the world, with contributors in over 150 countries.

Articles

“The Internet’s Original Sin” is an article I wrote for the Atlantic about the toxic nature of the ad supported internet… and my confession of unleashing the popup ad on the world.

“The Case for Digital Public Infrastructure” offers a vision of how we might build an internet on values of civic engagement rather than private profit.

“Cute Cats to the Rescue?” is an oldie but goodie – my attempt to explain the Cute Cat Theory of Digital Activism and censorship resistance in academic form.

Tweets & Podcasts

Podcast: Reimagining the Internet

My Tweets

Amherst friends: please take a few minutes to help us with a survey on local political participation. Doesn’t matter if you don’t participate in local politics – we want to hear how you get your info, etc.: https://umassamherst.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0lzdIgA6ApVCwdM

In this week’s re-run, @ehansen02 joins @EthanZ to talk through our paper from earlier this year “New Approaches to Platform Data Research” covering a variety of ways platforms like Facebook and Twitter can be researched and, therefore, held accountable.

https://publicinfrastructure.org/podcast/38-rerun-elizabeth-hansen-shapiro

I know reruns are supposed to be boring, but this one is not – the paper @ehansen02 and I wrote almost a year ago is a great introduction to the problems of studying the big platforms, an issue that’s awfully important right now.

Twitter finds that right-wing news, politicians are disproportionately amplified on its news feed. While the bias is clear, the cause is not – Twitter is now working to study why this bias might exist: https://www.protocol.com/policy/twitter-algorithm-right-wing-bias

Mistrust, featured in the Next Big Idea Club: https://www.fastcompany.com/90686915/9-books-to-help-you-navigate-disagreements

Public Speaking

My Talks

I enjoy public speaking as a way to develop new ideas, meet new people and see different parts of the world. My TED talk, seen below, is a good introduction both to my public speaking and the ideas in my books.

I don’t use an agent for speaking – if you want to invite me to speak at your event, conference or bar mitzvah, contact me through my contact form.

Fixing Social Media
What the Post Office Can Tell us about the Internet