Monday, September 10, 2007

An American's Observations on the European Internet...

To all my loyal Nerfherder readers - and a particular shout-out to John McGill who offered some rare words of encouragement recently - I have returned from my two week trip abroad, and feel refreshed and filled with a renewed vigor. Lucky you :-)

Rest assured, I've been stockpiling new ideas to blog about during my brief hiatus, and will be pouring them out of my brain in the form of binary ones and zeros beginning immediately. But quickly, just to kick start the new academic year, here are a few observations on the state of the European Internet from the perspective of an American who just returned to Europe after a five year absence:

1) What happened to all the internet cafes? A few years ago they were sprouting up quicker than Starbucks and became more ubiquitous than leiderhosen. But I noticed a striking lack of commercial internet cafes, and more reliance on private sources of internet access. You can decide whether or not this is a positive development.

2) Facebook is king. As opposed to here in the United States where a variety of popular social networking websites vie for users, in Europe there is only one major player - Facebook. MySpace and others of their ilk were scoffed at in terms of their relevancy by the few people I talked to. Why is that? Is there some fundamental difference we should be paying attention to?

3) Cell phones are light years ahead of America's. I commented to my girlfriend how everybody was listening to a portable MP3 player, yet almost nobody had an iPod. Cell phone technology is probably four years ahead of that in the States, and this is no better demonstrated than seeing Europeans using their cell phones as music players at levels that iPhones only hope to one day achieve.

4) Different keyboards. Seriously, what's going on here? You're telling me we can instantaneously translate huge websites and other documents with a single mouse-click, but we can't all use keyboards where the letters are located in the same places?! I felt like I had sudden dyslexia (and this was when I was NOT in Amsterdam)!


At 10:26 AM, Blogger Fitz said...

Great stuff! I was wondering why the blogging stalled. Good to have you back.


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