Ethan Zuckerman is the director of the MIT Center for Civic Media and has impressed many with his talents as a media scholar, Internet activist, and blogger. According to Zuckerman, Americans now possess a wealth of new ways to learn what is going on in other parts of the world. With more than two billion people connected to the Internet and six billion with mobile phones, we have more access to information about faraway places and peoples than ever before. But our natural tendency is to ignore other cultures and stay cocooned in what is familiar to us. The majority of Facebook users would rather keep up with high school friends than use social networks to befriend strangers. Zuckerman contends that we have "new opportunities to participate in conversations that are local and global, to argue with, persuade, and be persuaded by people far from our borders."

Whereas some of us would like to think of ourselves as open-minded cosmopolitans with a large appetite for diversity and encounters with far-flung cultures, ideas and individuals, the majority of people like to affiliate with those who have similar opinions, backgrounds, and interests. International travel accounts for just 9.4 percent of air passengers and Netflix has reported that non-U.S. films only accounted for 5.8 percent of rentals in 2006. These facts along with the curtailing of international news on the American TV networks and elsewhere are conspiring to create a narrower world than we expect or hope to encounter.

Zuckerman wants to rewire the web for a wider world. Here are some suggestions he makes for increasing the diversity of influences we're encountering: track the media you consume and see what you are missing, dig out the international roots of subjects you are already following, find and follow bridge figures who have much to say about cultures you don't know much about, and make a conscious effort to increase serendipity and new discoveries as you surf the Internet. Zuckerman's arguments make a persuasive case for global citizenship and the kind of connections with others that are deeply humanizing.