Early proponents of the power of digital publishing celebrated the ways in which the Internet, and in particular the world wide web, democratized both access to information and the ability to disseminate knowledge to wide audiences. It’s possible this utopian vision reigned for at least the early years of the consumer web, when independent online publishing was common. It’s also arguable that this has always been a fantasy, and that chokepoints like the domain name system and large internet service providers have always had the power to control speech.
Ethan Zuckerman is director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT, and associate professor of the Practice at MIT’s Media Lab. He is the author of Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection, published by W.W. Norton in June 2013. With Rebecca MacKinnon, Ethan cofounded 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 http://ethanzuckerman.com/blog and lives in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts.