Digital Rebellion: The Birth of the Cyber Left

Digital Rebellion: The Birth of the Cyber Left, by Todd Wolfson
(History of Communication Series, University of Illinois Press)

UIL Press: www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/89cmd2yt9780252038846.html

Digital Rebellion examines the impact of new media and communication technologies on the spatial, strategic, and organizational fabric of social movements.

Todd Wolfson reveals how aspects of the mid-1990s Zapatistas movement–network organizational structure, participatory democratic governance, and the use of communication tools as a binding agent–became essential parts of Indymedia and other Cyber Left organizations. From there he uses oral interviews and other rich ethnographic data to chart the media-based think tanks and experiments that continued the Cyber Left’s evolution through the Independent Media Center’s birth around the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle. From there he looks at the participatory democracy that governs global social movements and the ways democracy and decentralization have come into tension, and how “the switchboard of struggle” conducts stories from the hyper-local and disperses them worldwide. As he shows, understanding the intersection of Indymedia and the Global Social Justice Movement illuminates their foundational role in the Occupy struggle and other emergent movements that have re-energized radical politics.

A trained socio-cultural anthropologist, Todd Wolfson is currently an assistant professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University. He is also a community organizer and in 2006 co-founded the Media Mobilizing Project in Philadelphia.

“Combining the passion of an activist and the reasoned arguments of a scholar, Wolfson wonderfully details the emergence of the Cyber Left. In Digital Rebellion he not only celebrates its political potential but also, and more importantly, provides a lucid critique of the forms it has taken thus far.”
–Michael Hardt, co-author of Empire, Multitude and Declaration

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