The Web No Longer American

[SOUTH AFRICA] – The Internet was created by Americans and they have remained the dominant cultural force on the Web. But they are no longer in the majority, according to a study by WebSideStory, the company behind HitBox.

The survey was carried out by StatMarket, the statistics division of WebSideStory, who monitored 200 000 websites and then identified surfer nationality from the location of their ISPs.

The survey found that 54.95% of Web-users are non-American, the first such finding ever. The largest group of non-American surfers came from Germany (5,6%), followed by Canada (5%), South Korea (4,6%) and Japan (4,3%).

By comparison, the population of America is estimated at just over 275 million, Canadas at 31 million, Germany’s at 82 million, South Korea’s at 47 million and Japan’s at 126 million.

So the top 4 countries, representing 19,5% of total Internet surfers, have a combined population of 286 million people larger than US’s 275 million, from which 45% of the web world originates. The US, then, is still by far the most dominant cultural force on the Internet.

But according to the Internet Industry Almanac, America ranks number 4 for the number of Internet users per Capita 406.4 per 1000 people. Number 1 is Canada, with 428.2 Internet users per 1000, followed by Sweden (414.5/1000) and Finland (408.4/1000). By the end of 2002, 23 countries are expected to have over 30% of their population wired onto the Net. Of the 601 million projected Internet users by 2002, the Almanac expects 27% to be American.

As the Net develops, English will cease to be the dominant language, with Chinese, French, German and other languages generating webs within webs, only available to those who speak the language and thereby have an understanding of the culture. In South Africa, Afrikaans is already well represented and as other cultural groups gain access to the Net, more will follow.

Important for Americans is the fact that most Americans only speak a single language, while English is the most spoken 2nd language in the world. In other words, as the Net develops, non-American surfers, who generally speak 2 or more languages, will have access to a larger web than their American counterparts.

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