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The Impact of the Internet on Globalization

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The Impact of the Internet on Globalization

Globalization, a growing phenomenon that can be described as a “shift toward a more integrated and interdependent world economy” (Hill 7), has been the subject of many books and discussions for the past decade. Along with the development of microprocessors, the Internet is perhaps the most significant technological innovation of our time, playing a substantial role in the growth of globalization. The Internet facilitated the expansion of the movement toward a global village through the creation of cheaper, faster and easier means of communication, the provision of a vast pool of information, and the expansion of e-commerce.

The Internet provides a cheaper, faster and easier method of communication, an alternative that has created a “global audience”, as mentioned by Renato Ruggiero, director general of the World Trade Organization. In assessing the cost of long distance phone calls versus that of online voice chat sessions, the Internet is much more affordable and also superior in quality. Many web users now possess web cameras, microphones, and all the software necessary to support this hardware. This allows users to speak, see, and be seen by the person they are having a conversation with. People from Asia can carry conversations with Europeans, Americans or Africans at the same time, at no extra cost on Msn Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, or MIRC. Communication is also faster online. An e-mail is sent and received by the other party in seconds, as opposed to regular mail, which may take months to reach its destination when sent over the ocean. Thus, people all over the world can stay in touch on a regular basis, communicate online everyday and even share files. When factoring in the ease of use of the Internet, it is easy to see why so many individuals prefer communicating this way. All that is required is typing, a skill easily mastered through repeated use of the keyboard. Also, the Internet provides an entertaining interaction with another person, as plenty of visual effects and emoticons accompany the software. The affordability, speed, and convenience of the Internet are the factors that account for the creation of this “global audience”. People all over the world are connected to the same network at the same time with access to the same pool of information.

This enormous amount of information being accessed by everyone connected to the Internet is in itself a powerful tool in the development of globalization.

Anyone can create a website and write whatever piece of information they desire. Books, magazines, newspapers, and editorials are shared globally. Video clips, PowerPoint presentations and various materials can be viewed online and used for different purposes. This creates a form of optimistic multiculturalism, where anyone with access to the Internet can communicate local, ethnic, religious, and national beliefs to a worldwide and international audience. Thus, a general homogenization or "internationalization" of cultures arises, favoring Western developed nations, their languages and values, yet accompanied by an awareness of a resulting dilution or disappearance of local and minority cultures. This worldwide diffusion of dominant Western and American cultures who are globalized through ownership of production and infrastructure gives “globalization” a negative connotation often termed hegemony, cultural imperialism, or Americanization by members of underdeveloped countries and by individuals who feel that their country and belief systems are threatened by English-speaking nations. The paradox of global localization is also created when local identity politics becomes a global issue through the Internet. Thus, more and more “local identity groups [are] using the technologies of globalization to promote [their] political interests”. An example is the Taliban in Afghanistan with a website, www.talibanreunited.com, containing alleged terrorist information. Thus, as Benjamin Barber mentioned, “the world is becoming more and more divided into two cultural, political, and economic camps: homogenized transnational consumerist capitalism now extended to global information, communication, and entertainment and fragmented tribal identity wars by groups rejecting transnational and international influences (Barber)” (4). This consumerist capitalism is in part driven by e-commerce.

E-commerce, a large part of the globalization phenomenon, now constitutes a common business practice. The Web allows business, both small and large, to expand their global presence at a lower cost than ever before. Business can sell their goods and services online cheaper as the tertiary step in production is eliminated. Thus, companies obtain a greater worldwide exposure by setting up a company website with the array

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