Brazil's Orkut rule

Posted in: Internet Use/New Technologies at 18/01/2008 06:40

"The Orkut Rule," writes Bryan McCann in a forthcoming history of modern Brazil, "holds that, wherever possible, Brazilians will avail themselves of the possibilities of digital media to create subcultural niches and cross cultural networks in ways that defy traditional social hierarchies and the existing national cultural canon."
As has been well-documented, Google's early entrant into the social networking wars fizzled in the United States but exploded in Brazil. As of late 2007, Brazil boasted 40 million registered Orkut accounts, offering equal room for skate-punks and samba lovers to construct their intentional online communities and chat away. Brazil, writes McCann, "has the largest and most sophisticated electronic communications and entertainment industry in Latin America," with "more Internet users than any other Latin American nation, more cable TV subscribers, more cellphones."

Having the biggest population, by far, in Latin America helps pad the numbers, but there are other factors at play, namely: strong government support for "digital inclusion" and Brazil's essential openness to hybrid cross-fertilization of all forms of culture. When Brazilians find a new toy, they'll play with it, take it apart, and mix it together with all their other favorites.

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