¿Socially-Enabled What?

The mystery of Galvão birds. Twitter use in Japan and Brazil. Different trending topics in the US depending on whether you are black or white. The “wisdom of the flock.” How the new media doesn’t help us. “Imaginary cosmopolitanism.” How “we think we’re getting a wide view of the globe.” Except we’re not. We’re in social media “filter bubbles.” We don’t see the wider picture.

There are lots of people who don’t get the notion of true global connectivity, replacing the essence of global relationships between real people with a ’Globish‘ Anglo-American-centric debate about digital infrastructure instead. But, this guy coming up does.

If you want to move on past that tired social media guru “we’re all connected now through Facebook and Twitter” stuff (actually the second easiest job in the industry,) then he’s for you.

So, I urge you to view the very refreshing and insightful TED talk called The Need for Cultural Translation with Community Media by Ethan Zuckerman of Global Voices. PBS tells us his talk is about exploding “the big myth that the web is bringing us closer to other cultures or countries – when we’re on the web, we’re basically in our own small islands of our social networks.”

Ethan says we need “DJs … skilled human curators” who “speak the language of the West and of other cultures at the same time.” We need more “xenophiles,” those “bridge figures” who can and do cross cultural divides, rewiring information systems across language and culture so we get that wider picture.

The talk has subtitles in English and Portuguese different languages.

We need more Ethans too.


Ultan Ó Broin
Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally. Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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