Emily Parker

Author, Now I Know Who My Comrades Are

How the internet is transforming grassroots politics around the world.

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Biography

Emily Parker draws on a unique background in political journalism, technology, and international relations to explain how the internet is transforming global politics. Her book, Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground, shines a light on activist and grassroots movements around the world, showing how the internet and social media have powered protest and change in China, Cuba, Russia, and the Middle East.

“…a rigorously researched and reported account that reads like a thriller."
— Mario Vargas Llosa, winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature

Emily has a long history as a writer on geopolitics and internet activism. She spent over five years working for The Wall Street Journal, first as a writer in Hong Kong and later as an editor in New York. From 2004 to 2005, she wrote a Wall Street Journal column called "Virtual Possibilities: China and the Internet." She was also a staff op-ed editor for The New York Times.

She has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Newsweek, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, The Far Eastern Economic Review, Project Syndicate, and World Affairs. Her chapter on Chinese nationalism appeared in China's Great Leap: The Beijing Games and Olympian Human Rights Challenges (Seven Stories Press, May 2008). In 2002 she worked at the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) in Tokyo, where she researched how historical tensions between China and Japan would affect Sino-Japanese business relations.

Emily is currently digital diplomacy advisor and senior fellow at the New America Foundation, where she has been writing her book and working on a US-China innovation project. Previously, Emily was a member of Secretary Clinton’s Policy Planning staff at the U.S. Department of State, where she covered 21st-century statecraft, innovation, and technology.

She is a founder of Code4Country, the first open government coding marathon between the United States and Russia. Code4Country brought together Russian and American software developers to identify technological solutions to challenges of government transparency.

Emily is a former International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, an Arthur Ross Fellow at Asia Society's Center on U.S.-China Relations and a Global Policy Fellow at Carnegie Moscow Center, where she researched the role of blogging and social media in today's Russia. She speaks Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, French and Spanish.

Books

Now I Know Who My Comrades Are

Voices from the Internet Underground

Emily Parker

In China, university students use the Internet to save the life of an attempted murder victim. In Cuba, authorities unsuccessfully try to silence an online critic by sowing seeds of distrust in her marriage. And in Russia, a lone blogger rises to become one of the most prominent opposition figures since the fall of the Soviet Union. Authoritarian governments try to isolate individuals from one another, but in the age of social media this is impossible to do. Online, people discover that they are not alone. As one blogger put it, "Now I know who my comrades are."

In her groundbreaking book, Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground, Emily Parker, formerly a State Department policy advisor, writer at The Wall Street Journal and editor at The New York Times, provides on-the-ground accounts of how the Internet is transforming lives in China, Cuba, and Russia.

It’s a new phenomenon, but one that’s already brought about significant political change. In 2011 ordinary Egyptians, many armed with little more than mobile phones, helped topple a thirty-year-old dictatorship. It was an extraordinary moment in modern history — and Now I Know Who My Comrades Are takes us beyond the Middle East to the next major battles between the Internet and state control.

Star dissidents such as Cuba’s Yoani Sánchez and China's Ai Weiwei are profiled. Here you’ll also find lesser-known bloggers, as well as the back-stories of Internet celebrities. Parker charts the rise of Russia’s Alexey Navalny from ordinary blogger to one of the greatest threats to Vladimir Putin’s regime.

This book introduces us to an army of bloggers and tweeters — generals and foot soldiers alike. They write in code to outsmart censors and launch online campaigns to get their friends out of jail. They refuse to be intimidated by surveillance cameras or citizen informers. Even as they navigate the risks of authoritarian life, they feel free. Now I Know Who My Comrades Are is their story.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (1 Mar 2014)

Reviews

Anti-Authoritarianism in the age of the InternetNew Republic
Books to Watch Out For: FebruaryThe New Yorker
ReviewThe Wall Street Journal
Web warriors cause big brother for Big BrotherBBC News
How social media fights repressive regimesThe Baltimore Sun
ReviewThe Boston Globe

Praise

“Emily Parker’s book Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground is a rigorously researched and reported account that reads like a thriller...It’s been a while since I have read a book that is so entertaining, not to mention one so encouraging for the culture of liberty.”
— Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel Prize–winning author of The War of the End of the World and The Time of the Hero                                   

Now I Know Who My Comrades Are is a timely and necessary book. Story by story, Emily Parker shows how the Internet has changed lives and social realities in three oppressive countries. The clarity, honesty, and intelligence of her writing make this book both admirable and enjoyable.”
— Ha Jin, National Book Award–winning author of Waiting and War Trash

“Emily Parker tells us enthralling and beautifully detailed stories about bloggers and Internet activists in China, Russia, and Cuba, showing us the power of human connection even as she describes and analyzes it. The combination of her humanism and keen insight illuminates dimensions of the Internet that we so often miss, the ways it can create the personal ties and trust that are the foundation of collective action. A great read for both the nightstand and the scholar's shelf.”
— Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of the New America Foundation, and Former Director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department

“The heroes of this terrific book are ‘Internet foot soldiers,’ not the usual foreign ministers and businessmen, and those soldiers are changing Russia, China, and Cuba...and the world. Emily Parker is among a handful of the most promising new foreign policy commentators who weave together technology, culture, society, and politics with hard facts and clear analysis.”
— Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations

“This book is a must read for anyone interested in how the Internet and social media serve as instruments of change in societies where information has been tightly controlled by authoritarian regimes. Through a wealth of personal anecdotes enriched by judicious commentary, Emily Parker deftly shows both the possibilities and limitations of the Internet's ability to promote greater political openness.”
— J. Stapleton Roy, former U.S. ambassador to China, Singapore and Indonesia

“This book is about twenty times better reported or written than any book ever written about the Internet, period.”
— Tim Wu, author of The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires

“In this fascinating book, Emily Parker shows that the Internet affects politics by affecting the psychology of its users. Now I Know Who My Comrades Are demonstrates how much it can matter for citizens to have a voice, and to discover that they are not alone.”
— Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations

"Parker’s book is clearly written, well researched, and contextualized. Her long-lasting relationships — she meets Chinese dissident Michael Anti for the first time in 2004, for example — allow her to create a narrative history of these bloggers’ personal evolution as potential reformers, of Internet activism as a whole as seen through their experiences, and of government responses to it."
The Brooklyn Rail

A New Yorker Book to Watch Out For, February 2014

Videos

The fight for free knowledge for everyone with Jimmy Wales | WHD.us 2015

Voices from the Internet Underground | Oslo Freedom Forum

Social media and global uprisings | MSNBC All In with Chris Hayes

U.S. must tread lightly in fostering Russia's Internet activists | Reuters

Big Brother in Moscow | WSJ Opinion Journal

Feedback

An American global financial services firm:
Emily was great.

An independent organization on positive development of the internet in Sweden
Emily was great and was easy to work with — she was also very appreciated with a number well over 4 on a 0-5 scale. (we measure everything here :)