How "American" is the Internet?
Early on the Internet was largely "American" and threatened to colonize other cultures. As recently as 1998, 74% of domain names and 85% of all .edu's were registered in the U.S. Combined with portals such as AOL, Google, eBay, MSNBC, and Yahoo, and the lingua franca use of English, the U.S. seemed set to dominate world culture. But the reverse has happened. By 2004 the U.S. accounted for only 57% of domain names (only 40% of new names) and only 72% of .edu addresses. As statistics gathered by NUA, Nielsen NetRatings, and Prof. Mathew Zook of UC-Berkeley show, the "American" and English proportions of the Internet have steadily declined. According to Verisign, by 2003 English was not the preferred language of the majority of Internet users and the mother tongue of only 43%. By 2004 the English content of the Internet fell below 50%.
Keywords: Internet, English, American, popular culture, globalization, colonialism
Prof. William Marling
Professor and Director, World Literature Program, Department of English