Synopses & Reviews
examines the impact of new media and communication technologies on the spatial, strategic, and organizational fabric of social movements.
Todd Wolfson begins with the rise of the Zapatistas in the mid-1990s, and how aspects of the movement--network organizational structure, participatory democratic governance, and the use of communication tools as a binding agent--became essential parts of Indymedia and all 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.
After examining the historical antecedents and rise of the global Indymedia network, Wolfson melds virtual and traditional ethnographic practice to explore the Cyber Left's cultural logic, mapping the social, spatial and communicative structure of the Indymedia network and detailing its operations on the local, national and global level. He also looks at the participatory democracy that governs global social movements and the ways the movement's twin ideologies, democracy and decentralization, have come into tension, and how what he calls the switchboard of struggle conducts stories of shared struggle from the hyper-local and dispersed worldwide. As Wolfson shows, understanding the intersection of Indymedia and the Global Social Justice Movement illuminates their foundational role in the Occupy struggle, Arab Spring uprising, and the other emergent movements that have in recent years re-energized radical politics.
"Makes an original contribution through the depth of the empirical case studies of Cyber Left organization. . . . I cannot think of another book that puts so much of the story of the U.S. left's experiments with the creation of an 'electronic fabric of struggle' within a single volume. . . . The author's knowledge, thoughtfulness, and political passion is evident."
--Nick Dyer-Witheford, author of Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games
"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 Declaration
About the Author
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 cofounded the Media Mobilizing Project in Philadelphia.