The Wealth of Nations

Open Cul­ture has been up and run­ning for less than a month, and we’ve been mon­i­tor­ing traf­fic for about two weeks, thanks to Google Ana­lyt­ics. So far, here’s what we’ve seen: Rough­ly 70% of read­ers come from with­in the US, leav­ing 30% to an inter­na­tion­al audi­ence, which is itself very diverse. The read­er­ship rep­re­sents almost 40 coun­tries (and every con­ti­nent, except Antar­ti­ca), and it includes Brazil and Colom­bia in South Amer­i­ca; France, Poland, Bul­guria and Greece in Europe; Moroc­co Egypt, and Qatar in Africa and the Mid­dle East; and then India, Bangladesh, Chi­na and Japan in Asia. Aus­tralia is part of the pic­ture, too. Click here to see the full list.

The point of men­tion­ing this is sim­ply to illus­trate with hard facts just how thor­ough­ly the inter­net makes the world flat and bor­der­less, and quick­ly lets infor­ma­tion flow to wher­ev­er it wants to go. In some sense, we should­n’t be sur­prised. For years, we’ve heard about how the Net is glob­al­iz­ing infor­ma­tion. How­ev­er, did we real­ly real­ize just how com­plete the glob­al­iz­ing effects have been? Tracked in real time, the flow of infor­ma­tion is breath­tak­ing. A lec­ture pre­sent­ed in an Amer­i­can class­room gets turned into a pod­cast and, with­in days, finds lis­ten­ers in Viet­nam first, then Ire­land, and next Egypt. Instant­ly, the infor­ma­tion reach­es its audi­ence, pro­vid­ed that — and this is a big caveat — users know where to find the infor­ma­tion they want and need.

Even in the era of Google, search engines still have a long way to go before they push the lim­its of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence and tru­ly under­stand and answer our ques­tions. Google is good, a big improve­ment upon what we had, but it still does­n’t make the dis­cov­ery of qual­i­ty infor­ma­tion a seam­less propo­si­tion. Until it does, there’s still plen­ty of room for peo­ple to stay in the mix and orga­nize slices of the web for you. So, for now, Open Cul­ture will keep bring­ing smart cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al media & resources your way. Thanks for vis­it­ing and come back often.


Thomas Fried­man is some­one who has writ­ten a great deal about tech­nol­o­gy (par­tic­u­lar­ly the inter­net) and glob­al­iza­tion. The last half of this short, home-brewed inter­view gets suc­cinct­ly at some of what we’re talk­ing about here.

I’d also strong­ly rec­om­mend a serious/substantive 23-minute inter­view with Fried­man, con­duct­ed by Nayan Chan­da of Yale­Glob­al Online. He talks in inter­est­ing ways about who will suc­ceed in the new flat world.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.