Peter Wilson

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America is not the center (or is that centre) of the universe as we know it! Amercan arrogance is astounding (and I like Americans)

American arrogance as its position as the world leader in everything is astounding. I just don't think that Americans 'get' that there are other views in the world. However rather than it being a big debate lets start with all the small things Americans, and American companies can do to recognise, or even demonstrate that they are open to other ideas. Lets start with who owns the Internet?

In fact lets start with a simple example of registering for TED Conversations (and nearly every other forum registration on the internet) - Why is the United States listed first and all other countries in alphabetical order after this?

The internet is awash with 'Americanisms' (is that even a word - separate debate!) but should the internet not have a common denominator that is not US centric. (That word common, works on so many levels). Default date selection should not US based, spelling should not be US spellings and when asking for an address ZIP code should not be the default!

Now you may think this is a petty debate, but its not. The Internet is a force for good. We have all been admiring its use in the 'Arab Spring'. We all love the idea of collaboration and easy access to research and expertise. However all the major bodies that govern the internet have a strong US bias and perhaps it is time to change that. I read recently that Superman is to become a more global figure, standing for Truth and justice the global way: fighting tyranny no matter the perpetrator. Perhaps the internet needs to be the same and perhaps we can start with small steps instead of looking for big solutions. Perhaps next time I register on a forum the country list will be purely alphabetical?

  • Jun 6 2011: What I have noticed in Americans is how they think they are the default people of the world, It's like in their films that when aliens are attacking the earth, The earth means America.
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      Jun 6 2011: shab: You are right. We have grown self-centered and unaware of the outside world in our isolation. Perhaps the internet enabling people like you to communicate alternate viewpoints will wake us from our slumber.
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        Jun 7 2011: I can handle criticism when it isn't completely flawed. My half-French side is very critical of America, but my arguments aren't wishy-washy. Sha b's use of IMDB to illustrate her view as well as Peter Wilson's use of the internet are poor examples of what is otherwise a perfectly valid idea. It's true, America as a country is quite self-centered and self-important. But, given that Sha b's objections are based not on reality, but on her misconceptions about what IMDB stands for, for example, I think she's hiding the true motives of her opinion (a shame, because those motives could be entirely valid).

        Disagreeing with any of you does not mean Americans can't handle criticism. Maybe you should hear some of them out. Isn't this a debate after all?
        • Jun 8 2011: "true motives of her opinion"...like what? Honestly, They are hidden from myself too.
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        Jun 8 2011: Then perhaps it is time for a little introspection.
        • Jun 8 2011: What does America has to do with my inner ? I am not *that* involved with anything America.
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      Jun 7 2011: No doubt this is true. One of the reasons I suspect is the workaholic culture in the states leave little room from travel which would provide the needed chances to explore different cultures. How else can one get over themselves, but by engaging in others. Also it would (hopefully) help anti American sentiment. It true that much power in the states get wielded clumsily, but many people here are struggling to make this a better place as there are people struggling all over the world doing likewise. Every culture has it share of lazy people, but we should all not be judged by our worst representatives.
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          Jun 7 2011: Yes many Americans do have a decent pension, and many choose to travel during these years. That said, it is rare that people travel outside the country, and if they do most likely they will stay at a resort where they will only meet other Americans or people who are paid to be nice to them. This does give many of us a redacted view of the world, but it also gives the rest of the world a distorted view of us. Because of our global political position in the world it not like people are not going to have opinion about us, but I wonder how much that is based on real person to person interaction, or instead is based on media perception.
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          Jun 8 2011: Good question. It can be quite challenging to open minds. I think the best way to change social norms is simply do not become enslaved to them. People are social animals and will be open to new ideas if someone else is already trying them out.
  • Jun 6 2011: no matter if american is the center or noy.
    what you hav,e done to the world always back to yourselves.
    at the loobal village, each one of us cant just gets the merits and get rid of the disadvantages.
    we all here to share the good things and bad things here.
    but i think you americans get the good things more than bad things.
    so you have more responsibility and power to repair the earth.
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      Jun 6 2011: Honestly, what do you expect to be done about the time difference? You say that you miss videos because of the time difference; well, keep in mind that the notifications are usually about the Talk of the Day. So, I ask: why should you expect them to send out notifications anywhere from 10:00 PM to 3:00 AM? Would you be willing to do the same for your job?
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          Jun 6 2011: I know you said it wasn't a personal attack. I wasn't treating it like a personal attack. I was just listing what I thought were perfectly rational comments about your statement. Did I think you really expected someone to do something aboutthe time difference? No. Again, I was just posting my thoughts. So why don't you lighten up, huh?

          And as for the "hot dual" of words...never heard the expression before. Well, you learn something new everyday.
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    Jun 6 2011: There are so many things you could have said to give your argument some good solid foundations. But I think your example of the internet is pretty poor. If you spend a lot of time on .com websites, sure you're going to see some US specific formats and whatnot. When I fill my University applications in the UK, some of the formatting is pretty typical of the UK. Also America as a whole is not responsible for what has become the default on the internet, although Cristopher has already made that point.

    Also, people who complain about auto-correction should get a reality check. It was up to the UK to make it's own version of word that automatically defaults to UK correction (like it's done in countries with a different language like France). I could understand your frustration if it was a British product that defaulted to American English, but it's not. It's something petty to be angry about. (I find it funny you spelt centre the American way...)

    Saying "and I like Americans", is like saying "no offence" after saying something rude or "I'm not racist but" before saying something prejudiced. Doesn't really help. Just saying.
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    Jun 5 2011: Let me weigh in as an American.
    The majority of American internet users are not responsible for the status of the internet.

    It is not my fault a company picks .com over .co
    It is not my fault USA comes up first in County of Origin.

    But the majority of English as a native language users are from America, so for convenience English websites to to appeal to Americans.

    I'm not saying it is right, but please try not to blame the innocent American on the other side of the monitor.
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    Jun 5 2011: Why have demarcation by country? What is the purpose? The internet is a global tool and artificial borders in internet space really is pointless. While we have these divisions it can end up fueling a discussion like this. I was born and raised in the UK and for the last 12 years have resided in the US. When registering what do I determine ... my point, who cares?
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    Jun 6 2011: Actually, I think what you are describing is just a single manifestation of a larger issue - the anglo domination of the world. The English language has become the de-facto international language. And ever notice how in most places that the English colonized, they wiped out the local populations (USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand)?

    What is it about anglos that have made them so dominant? Culture? Religion? Genetics?
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      Jun 9 2011: I'm not sure it was culture. I, myself, agree with the anthropological view of culture, in that every group has some form of culture, and that it doesn't always follow the Anglo view of Culture from the Renaissance onwards. I don't think it was religion either, and I certainly don't think it was genetics. Rather, I think it was military and weaponry. You point out that in most places the English colonized, the local populations were, for the most part, wiped out. Well, yes, I know that the diseases that were introduced by the colonists played a large part. But, more importantly, in the long run, spears, and bows and arrows are no match for cannons and rifles. Colonists, in general, could take over a piece of land and if they felt it was necessary, could use force to do it. I believe, it's really a case of who dominated in terms of military and weaponry innovation. In this case, the Anglos won.
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    Jun 6 2011: I have to ask, Peter, where do you see, other than TED, the United States listed as first in a list of countries? Maybe if we know who they are we can think of solutions that appeal to the various groups behind these websites.

    As for spelling, and date selection, I feel that really depends on the group designing the website or web app. I'm not really sure how we could do something about it. I think that even if we convinced people to use other formats for spelling and date selection, we would still gravitate towards a "default" format, regardless of whether or not the format is American in nature. As I said before, I think this depends on the web designers and developers, as well as what type of browser you use.

    I know that Mr. Alan Bishop made the comment that we shouldn't need demarcations by country. I thought it was for legal issues, to be honest: that way, should something happen involving a particular user or website, the demarcation would at least determine whose jurisdiction it fell under. Is that not the case? I ask the same question of domain names: is that the principal reason behind different domains for different countries?
    • Jun 6 2011: IMDB...It is called *International* Movie database, But as a non-American I feel like it's by Americans for Americans, The most represented films/actors/directors are the American ones, The main event is Oscars. Any poll result represents what Americans think...Why it is named international? When Its Americans that are running it?
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        Jun 6 2011: Maybe also because Hollywood is a pretty big deal...just a thought...Where do you live? Because I'm in the UK right now and imdb.com has three boxes on the right that say "UK box office", "UK opening this week" and "UK coming soon". The news part says "UK top news". When I'm in France, imdb.com goes to imdb.fr which is all in French! Just like Peter Wilson, you open up with a perfectly legitimate premise and than choose a damn awful example.

        That aside, the straight answer to your question "why is it named international when its Americans that are running it"...uhm it's not named International...IMDB stands for Internet Movie Database...big huge flipping duh!
        • Jun 6 2011: I live in Iran, So it's always".com", I didn't even know the .fr and .uk versions existed, (is there a .uk version? I can't seem to reach it from here)

          And my bad, assuming the i stands for international. Guess I was too quick to make a conclusion based on my assumption. The wrong assumption,Though I still stand by my conclusion.
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        Jun 6 2011: There is no UK version per se. IMDB just knows I'm in the UK and therefore changes the layout of the website accordingly.

        So you're saying that you're standing by your conclusion that is based on a wrong assumption? Nice for you to admit that your attitude is irrational.
        • Jun 6 2011: Lets not discus my attitude, I am not claiming anything about myself,
          Yeah I think somewhere in IMDB.com it should be pointed out that,at least in this case .com means .usa. I can't say anything about other versions, But as it is I think non-American films/film festivals/writers/directors are underrepresented in imdb.com.
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    Jun 6 2011: This the human nature the strong will apply his rules
    when people says we are living in Golden age of history I say we are living in the worst age of history
    under the law of Jungle
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    Jun 5 2011: Good idea to bring this to attention, I imagine very few American internet users actually think of this while surfing the web.

    I was speaking with a client recently for whom I was building a website. Upon recommending a forward-looking .co global domain name, they strongly preferred a US based .com domain.

    What are your ideas and recommendations to promote awareness or change this bias?