Is It Really a World Wide Web?

World ViewExcuse me as I blabber on about this... You see, I read Molly Holzschlag's blog post about "Avoiding the Melting Pot While Embracing Global Differences" this morning and couldn't stop thinking about the points she made. Including the question on "What are your thoughts about blogs, the social network and cross-cultural enrichment?"

I think it got to me because it's a subject that's quite close to my heart.

Anyway, Molly's post was triggered by a Vietnamese translation by Hùynh Vĩnh Sơn of the 15 Amazing Women Bloggers list from xfep.com, which was published mid-December 2007. In Hùynh Vĩnh Sơn, he asked at the end of the translated post: "Vietnam female blogger, where are you?"

And, like Molly, I found that post by Hùynh Vĩnh Sơn via incoming links, as I was also listed as one of the 15 Amazing Women Bloggers. I also echo Molly's sentiments when she wrote:

One of the most awesome things about the Web is surely how global we have become. Yet, our blogging and social networks, while becoming more international in readership and scope, still have gender, language and cultural boundaries that will likely remain for a long time to come. And, these distinctions are important. I for one want to see the values of culture preserved. I’m sure most will agree. I mean, who wants to have one language, one food, one way of life? Much of life’s experience is in fact in our diversity, and the fascinating things that happen when we are expanded as individuals and groups through different views of the world.

Yes, I agree that a "One World" scenario with no diversity will just be boring and disastrous. I'd hate to see cultural flavours disappear completely.

But, at the same time, I also I believe that society - web culture, included - will always force us in to a 'melting pot mentality'. And to me, it's not necessarily a bad thing in all circumstances.

I've never liked the idea, of say, someone migrating to a country and refusing to adapt to the culture of that country. Insisting that he/she is [insert nationality of choice] through and through. I don't agree with that kind of thinking. In the same vein, I don't agree with removing every single bit of one's background and refusing to acknowledge one's heritage when one moves to a different country. Both types of thinking will lead to isolation and frustration.

The web, to me, works in a similar way. If you wish to be able to reach a wider audience for your country and for your people, you must learn to adapt. And, for better or for worse, one of the ways to do it is to communicate in the web's universal language: English. It's difficult, I know. But, a message can only be heard if it is understood.

But, not everyone wants a universal audience. And, to me, that's a good thing too.

I'll take Filipino blogger Batjay as an example, because he writes in a non-English language that I understand through a blog called "Kwentong Tambay". I'm seriously trying to think of a good English translation of that Tagalog expression, but I'm having difficulty at the moment. The only thing I can think of is, "Tales of a Bum".

Anyway, Batjay writes primarily in Tagalog. Sure, the rest of the English-speaking web may not understand what he's writing about, and will never know just how funny he is, but he serves the Filipino audience who wishes to see (and read) the world in one's native tongue.

He may not reach a Top 15 Amazing Bloggers list on the web because of the language issue, but he is well acknowledged and awarded by Filipino readers and bloggers. I imagine a similar situation is happening (or can happen) in the Vietnamese blogging community, as well as other communities from different countries.

But, before anyone raises any issue with the thought of trying to adapt in order to assimilate on the web, please know that I believe adapting doesn't mean removing your own sense of personal and cultural identity. It's just about finding that balance of assimilation and cultural preservation.

So yeah, to go back to the initial subject of this post, the questions: "Vietnam female blogger, where are you?" (Hùynh Vĩnh Sơn) and "What are your thoughts about blogs, the social network and cross-cultural enrichment?" (Molly Holzschlag).

Well, on the first question... I'm not even sure if it's fair to ask that because, first of all, that list is primarily filled with North American bloggers. I think I'm one of the few who made it from outside that part of the world. And the only Asian one, from what I know. Second, it's difficult to look at a list like that in think in terms of ethnicity/nationality. I mean, where does it stop? There will be more than 15 in that list, I'm sure, if David can list every single amazing women blogger there is the world. Some of the most amazing bloggers I know aren't on that list either. So, third, if anyone wants to create a list based on nationality (or any other criteria for that matter), no one says you can't. In fact, it'll be interesting to learn all about who are considered the Top Bloggers from different parts of the globe.

On the second question... well, here's how I sum up my thoughts on the matter:

1) Adaptation is vital to assimilation on the web. But, if that's not an option:
2) Accept and celebrate your difference. It's great to be able to serve your own niche on the web.
3) These "Top Lists" aren't THE final word in the world of weblogs and social media.
4) Create and populate your own list. You never know what kind of effect that will have on the web.
5) Language choice is key when it comes to reaching particular types of audience.
6) Adapting doesn't mean removing your own sense of cultural identity.
7) WWW stands for the World Wide Web for a reason. Although it may seem primarily US-centric, there is still plenty of room for the rest of the world.

About the Author Shai Coggins

Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.

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