The Internet

 

There is no way around having a discussion on cultural imperialism without making a reference to the Internet. Communication, which took seven days in the past, can now be accomplished within 10 seconds or less. Places that were unreachable like Antarctica are now accessible via e-mail. The Internet has been one of the most rapidly adopted communication technologies. It brings over 30 million people on-line worldwide, inviting an average of 150,685 new users per day. Currently, 90 percent of traffic worldwide on the Internet is English. Most of the world’s websites, and software’s are in English and based in the United States. Many can argue that since the Internet is anchored in the United States it is one of the country’s biggest weapons for cultural dominance.

            I disagree with this ideology. First of all, there is no central location for the Internet. Unlike radio, television and the press, the Internet is decentralized. Even though the majority of the websites are based in the United States it should not remain the case. Second, there are relatively few barriers to get on the Internet and start a site. Third, the Internet allows people to continue to participate in the "local" culture no matter where in the world they are. In other words the Internet can be used to preserve and celebrate cultures. Fourth people seek information or entertainment on the Internet. They pull information rather than have it pushed at them. Finally, rather than advancing the cause of cultural imperialism it could be used to sustain multiculturalism. There is nothing keeping the French from opening French chat rooms and over the past year non-English sites have doubled. Netscape Navigator and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer are coming out in various languages, and with a multilingual web browser capable of translating web sites into over seventy-five languages. My conclusion to the Internet is that it could also be used as a tool against cultural imperialism.

 

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