The not-so-World-Wide Web

This post is inspired in way by Anil Dash’s article “The Web We Lost“, a concept I find very troublesome and that I am sharing with my students of #inf115 (New Media & Social Nets). But there’s one extra reason to worry about. At least I am bothered by it. I am tired of the World part of the WWW being decontextualized. I refer to the sad effect that the AD-Sense advertisement strategy is having on the Web, by which when I navigate a (British) news-site like The Guardian, I get ads in Italian (or Spanish), depending on which language I have set at the moment for my browser/computer.

I find this very disturbing, not only because the technique introduces a certain linguistic schizophrenia in the webpages I visit –I don’t expect The Guardian to publish ads in Italian– but also since I actually like to see the “foreign” ads: What cars (or games, or books…) are they selling in England? What movies are they showing, etc??

Could this effect be catalogued as a globalization phenomenon? It may, but one thing rests certain: It produces a hyperlocalization of the Web, by which everything get scaled down to local-specific activity. I believe that one of the greatest virtues of the Web is for it to be really World Wide, and I am worried that this is something going away, little by little. It is a corollary to the homogenization of the world according to McDonalds or Chipotle. One view, spread uniformly around the world: Who needs diversity?

Screenshot from The Guardian

Screenshot from The Guardian

About Antonio Vantaggiato

Professor, web2.0 enthusiast, and didactic chef.
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