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<eyebeam><blast> presence

on 2/21/98 8:23 PM Saskia Sassen wrote:

'It seems to me that it is very important to multiply the different
cultures, subcultures, practices, "nationalities" on the Net. It is,
right now too "western" because the western component is massive. There
are a lot of "others" on the Web, but they are not enough to dissolve
the westerness of it. And with commercialization raging onwards, this
will become even more problematic.  I am quite convinced that practice
will make form on the web.  saskia sassen (I grew up in Latin America so
am sensititve to this)'

Let me try to respond to this issue brough up by Saskia,  from the
perspective of Mexico City... "too western" you write/ask/condemn.  And
you suggest as a reason "because the western component is massive". 
Think of the following additional considerations.  85% of the films
being shown in Mexico City are from Hollywood. That seems pretty western
to me, and it's not on the NET. Surveys made recently show that only 12%
of the people actually prefer Mexican films over the ones made in
Hollywood (Reforma Newspaper Research). Watching TV is the single
largest activity in people's free time as reported by this survey. All
this seems pretty western to me.  So all in all, I believe that there is
a certain lack of self analysis when we (lets say from Latin America)
view this massive western influx as if we were victims to this
situation. I believe we participate quite willingly in making this
"western" reality part of our own world. 

I don't believe there is any conspiracy going on to reduce our non
western presence on the net. The problems have a much deeper origin, as
I see it. It has to do with north vs south; poor nations vs. wealthy
ones. But this not only confined to nations, but also true within the
confines of western nations themselves. Or do you think that there is
much difference between the lack of presence of Latin Americans from all
over the Continent, and the lack of black people from the ghettos across
the United States. I don't see them being present on the net either, at
least not in any numbers that equal their representation in society.  So
what we have is a rich vs poor scenario. Mind you I am not thinking that
such poverty is expressed solely in terms of money, I am sure there are
young people on the net that have hardly a dime to call their own. But
they have a level of education that allows them to travel through
cyberspace armed with their wits and knowledge instead of funds.  In the
end it has to do with class.  And this stratification of the net along
class on a global scope is one of the issues that I find most alarming. 
It just happens that many of the Nationalities that Saskia brings up,
fall into this category of classes before the issues of their specific
cultures becomes the stumbling block to make themselves present on the

But let me give you some encouraging statistics... albeit modest, but
they do give us some level of information from which to gleen some
conclusions.  I started a web site dedicated to photography about three
years ago ( http://zonezero.com) . From the first moment I wanted this
web site to be bilingual ( English/Spanish), in spite of the big efforts
that doing so represented both in terms of productions costs as well and
the time to do it all. However two years ago when looking at the stats
of who viewed what, we looked at numbers which were highly discouraging
in relation to our efforts. Not even 1% of our visitors went to the
Spanish part and 99.1% to English.

Today with the total number of visitors having increased some twenty
fold, those that are going to the Spanish section are 20%. So in
absolute numbers the increase is terrific, and proportional to the
number of suscribers throughout Latin America to the rest of the world.
But don't think for a moment that any from the poor masses from our
Continent are present in this equation. Not yet!  probably in twenty
years. I still remember when having access to a TV set was as scarce as
today having a computer and access to the net. I don't have to tell you
the numbers of people who today have tv sets. So maybe in time things
will change, if for no better reason that economies are going to be
highly dependent on this happening and they (governments) will need to
make the efforts towards such a goal. 

I hope this offers some addditional insight into what is certainly an
important topic.

All best to you
Pedro Meyer

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