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Myrtonos

How American are computers and the internet?

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Myrtonos

I have always thought that the internet's got an American feel to it. In fact, I was introduced to computers and the internet by someone who has always seemed a proxy American, known for his pro-America views. The first personal computers were also American. Apple computers are American, as are the Windows and Linux operating systems. I learned how American the internet was well before my adult life, I think maybe as a child. I later learned that the world wide web was developed by a Brit, however, this is just the main part of the internet. The internet itself began in the U.S.A. And so did the first computerised bulletin board systems, these being the first online communities. Much online communication is sifted through U.S intelligence agenciesNearly all the top internet companies are American, think about the top websites, example not on that list are Wikipedia, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, again, all American. And tech giants of American origin often access the date of millions of non-U.S as well as U.S residents. And it is the freedom conscious U.S.A that has had control over the domain name and numbering system.

Apparently the internet has been used by the U.S state department to preach for American values and interests around the world. This may be values as American as libertarianism.

Edited by Myrtonos
getting it right

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StarlessEclipse

In the Anglosphere at least, the Internet is very much dominated by mainstream American culture, simply because the population of the USA significantly outnumbers the remainder of the English speaking world. I believe this to be a major factor in the gradual erosion of more localised national cultures.

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Miss Chief
On 9/29/2018 at 7:31 AM, Myrtonos said:

Linux operating systems

While I agree with most of your comments I feel the need to point out the while UNIX was developed in the US Linux while based on a UNIX OS it was an open source OS developed by Linus Torvalds who was born in Finland :) 

Of course there were also OS's like the BBC Computers, Commodore Amiga's and Spectrums etc.

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Myrtonos

Commodore International (who developed the Amiga) was headquartered within U.S borders. And I have even been made to believe that the internet and many universalising websites and web applications were inspired by universalising missions of radical Americans.

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Myrtonos
On 9/30/2018 at 1:43 PM, StarlessEclipse said:

In the Anglosphere at least, the Internet is very much dominated by mainstream American culture, simply because the population of the USA significantly outnumbers the remainder of the English speaking world. I believe this to be a major factor in the gradual erosion of more localised national cultures.

But if you look at the most popular websites and web applications, they seem to be nearly all American; Wikipedia, amazon.com, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

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StarlessEclipse
On 11/15/2018 at 1:52 PM, Myrtonos said:

But if you look at the most popular websites and web applications, they seem to be nearly all American; Wikipedia, amazon.com, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

True, and I would agree that - for better and for worse - the Internet is largely reflective of American free market libertarian values, the EU cookie law and the link tax controversy being recent examples of this audacious culture coming into conflict with a more cautious European approach. On one hand, this libertarian culture has allowed for an unprecedented level of creative freedom that's currently under threat from bureaucratic EU legislation. However, it's also enabled brazen surveillance and misuse of personal data on an almost Orwellian scale, resulted in an uncontrollable spread of misinformation and propaganda, and made it much harder for creatives to profit from their work. It should also be noted that Tim Berners-Lee - British inventor of the World Wide Web - has consistently fought to keep his creation non-proprietary and free, much to the displeasure of those who initially hoped to own and profit from it.

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Myrtonos
On 11/22/2018 at 3:47 PM, StarlessEclipse said:

True, and I would agree that - for better and for worse - the Internet is largely reflective of American free market libertarian values, the EU cookie law and the link tax controversy being recent examples of this audacious culture coming into conflict with a more cautious European approach.

For one, the internet has given more freedom than before, and Americans, as a country, are supposed to be freedom conscious.

If you look at domains names, a lot of non-U.S websites have top-level domains ending in country codes such as .co.uk, .com.au, .co.nz, .co.za or .ca. But .us is hardly used, and in primary school, I was told that the U.S.A didn't have a country code on the internet and that it was because the Americans thought they were number one.

Although the web was founded by Brit working in Switzerland, hypertext markup language uses American spelling, such as <color></color> and <center></center>, not the spelling of English speaking countries outside North America (or the unofficial commonwealth). Even the Canadian spelling of 'colour' is also the most common other commonwealth countries.

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StarlessEclipse

The USA's conceited mass delusion of superiority would be a constant source of amusement if it weren't so tragic.

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Myrtonos

@StarlessEclipse I'm not sure what that means but my primary school computing teacher told me that a domain name not ending in a country code (such as .org, not .org.uk or .org.au) was usually American.

And Linus did move to the 'States before developing Linux, and Linux is under an open content licence, which itself was originally written in the 'States, by a born and bred American Richard Stallman.

By the way, the last sentence of the above post was meant to be:  Even the Canadian spelling of 'colour' is also the most common one in other Commonwealth countries.

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Wulf

I'm not sure about personal computers but the internet isn't particularly American as far as I can tell. As has been pointed out, the English-speaking internet is dominated (at least culturally) by the US, but that is hardly surprising. The US has a massive influence on English speaking culture in general, for a variety of reasons.

In terms of the infrastructure however, this claim of US dominance doesn't really hold much water. There were several different "early" forms of the internet (the NPL network in the UK, ARPANET in the US and CYCLADES in France) which all did a lot of the initial researching into networking and different architectures and topologies (CYCLADES in particular was a BIG influence in the later development of ARPANET and I believe the designer (Louis Pouzin) contributed to the design of TCP/IP). The US however did much of the work in connecting these disparate and localised (intra-nationally at least) networks.

With the introduction of TCP/IP and increasing integration between the networks (and the resulting decentralisation as the hosts assumed responsibility for reliability of the network) there was a surge in funding in the US (though primarily still as using these systems for research) with both state institutions and private companies getting involved. By the 1980s (or so) something akin to the internet as we understand it was coming into being and here the US influence starts to diminish as Europe (and to a lesser extent the east) get in on the action and by '89 TBL proposed his information management systems and the rest is history.

So, with that (very brief) overview of the not-especially-American beginnings of the internet (also worth noting is the different tenor of the cooperation at that time, it was much more cooperative than competitive at that time, consisting mostly of researchers) out of the way, does the modern internet bear any more resemblance to the claim?

Not really to be honest. If we look at the top ranked websites , ranked by page visits and unique visitors (not by value of the companies,  a frankly bizarre metric to judge the impact of a site) we see that while US sites dominate the top 5, moving to the top 10 or top 20 we see a much more even spread, with China almost equalling the US. This comes back to the idea of the English speaking internet - this is not the whole internet. In terms of users, China has more, as does India.

A lot of traffic does flow through the US but that is because the companies that provide the services are based in the US. It's not surprising that traffic flows through US infrastructure in those cases.  Europe and China have plenty of their own infrastructure and services and thus see a lot of traffic as well (and yes, that is almost certainly being monitored as well).

Finally, regarding the ownership of ICANN..... having read that link...it appears that the US government handed over "control" (as much as it really is control) to a global community 2.5 years ago. So...it had control but doesn't any more? So what?

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