The Americanization of Internet
Ever wondered how the entire world, feeding on information from the web, is actually feeding on the American thinking (or at best ‘westernized’ thinking)?
Ever gave a thought on Why is everyone talking about Obama being an ‘Internet President’? Why is all the Asian blogosphere abuzz with this news like it was their own elections (Japs in the town of ‘Obama’ (yes that’s actually the name of a town) dancing Hawaiian belly dance to celebrate the win! WTF! Japan!) And pray- why is it that you find Western content on Asian Business blogs?
Have you been following the sudden surge of “social media marketing”? And how almost every other theory/example that you get is from the US?
Quick- name a known ‘internet’ personality: Seth Godin? Robert Scoble? Michael Arrington? Guy Kawasaki? Who else? Don’t say Avinash Kaushik – he did all that he did- guess where? Right! In the US of A.
Don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying its a scam or that something is ‘wrong’- they are all fantastic people and I’m a fan of many myself. But it is something to ponder upon for sure. Here are some thought starters:
Why is the internet so Americanized (or ‘westernized’- at best):
• Internet was developed in the US and spread from there.
• Internet is largely an English media. And still continues to be largely dominated by English- English is the business language of the world. In this part of the world, English is widely used, but largely has been the domain of the educated and the literate. Asia has many languages and many countries are pretty much self contained. Netizens in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and some South Eastern countries publish and document information in their own languages thus preventing the spread and proper dissemination of information. (Japan has the biggest blog traffic in the world- names of some famous internet personalities or marketing/thought starter/gurus or evangelists from Japan? Anyone?)
• The American obsession with documentation- It tangibalizes stuff- and increases what I call the Hype Life Cycle or Buzz Life Cycle of the Idea/Project. In this part of the world (Asia)- documentation is not really the best of virtues (or culture)
• There’s an all American cast in “WebbyWood” (the Internet world) – Microsoft, AOL, Google, Yahoo- all are American Internet superstars that are household names across the globe- and come to think of it- the social media harbingers- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Technorati, et al are all American (I’m sure you’ll have many more examples)
• Their markets are mature and they need to be on the bleeding edge of marketing and innovation to make any decent income/profits
• The American enterprise really rocks- those guys have the ability and the spirit to spot/create a trend, hype it up and commercialize quickly
• The culture of innovation and enterprise- there is probably no other place in the world as silicon valley- where even a half decent product or ones with no proven business model stand a good chance for getting enough capital for the founders to sustain the project (and themselves)
What Asian Netizens need to do:
• Learn best practices from the Americans- innovate, document and disseminate effectively
• Develop local content- learn best practices but for fk sake give Asian Examples to say the least
• Learn storytelling- the art of conceiving an idea and selling to the audience. The plot need not be ground breaking- we all know that in the end the bad guy licks dirt and the good dude gets the pretty girl. What is important is HOW the story is told. Ask Guy Kawasaki.
• Invest in research and breed thinkers.
• Promote local innovations. Prevent Local culture and preserve vernacular languages. While still talking the language the world talks. Take the lead. Please.
I know we need better VC outlook and good funding atmosphere, government interest and a friendlier entrepreneurial environment- but we can begin somewhere on our own selves. No excuses.
So Phase next on the Internet should be called the Asian Internet. Not web 3.0. With half of the world’s population, more than a third of world’s internet population (and number of searches conducted) and obscenely huge mobile phone numbers in Asia, this is what should happen now.
Do you feel that most content on the internet has an American origin? Do you feel that there needs to be a shift in power here as well? Like the world economic shift, financial system shift and migration shift?
Source of photos: gapingvoid.com