Tourism

Online voting and the new wonders of the world

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Now that the Great Wall of China has been named an official New Wonder of the World by worldwide acclaim, we can ask the big questions: who benefits, and what's the point of it all, anyway?

The election was held over the course of more than one year, with votes submitted by phone, SMS, or the Internet. The organizer, the New Open World Corporation, financed the election through revenue gained from the voting process and the sales of memorabilia and broadcast rights, and it promised to use 50% of the proceeds to fund worldwide restoration efforts.

How it plans to carry out protection and preservation efforts has not been made clear, however. It presumably generated quite a bit of income during the election period - when will the Great Wall see some of that money? Here's part of an op-ed that ran in The Beijing News on Monday:

In general, private foundations and governmental organizations whose public service campaigns solicit funds through commercial operations gain trust on the basis of whether they clearly tell people the fund's usage numbers, such as what percentage is used for overhead costs, what percentage is taken out as profit for the operators, and what percentage is used for public service. In addition, the organizers must explain the application procedure and the schedule for release of funds, as well as the methods for calculating contributions and making the books public. Usually, the total amount of donations, and how they are to be divided, is announced when the voting is made public.

According to these conventions, the "New Seven Wonders" foundation's reliability is suspect. It declared the list of winners in a grand ceremony and promised that 50% of the take would be used for preservation and protection, but it has not announced the total income.
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Finally let us look at the operation of the SMS voting service in the China region. A reporter tried out free online voting - it was very complicated and required spending 20 minutes, so the average person would have no patience for it. It appears as if the organizers concentrated their efforts on paid SMS voting. Now that the Great Wall has won first place, it is obvious that numbers should be extremely high for international calls and SMS from the China region, a substantial contribution to the foundation. If statistical results are at odds with common sense, then who is it who's eaten the money?

Before the total amount of donations are disclosed, before the number of votes from the China region are announced, before the Great Wall has received money for repairs, this is all empty celebration. We hope that this is not a case of an international campaign duping our countrymen. We await expectantly to find out exactly how much the Great Wall will receive for protection.

Official statements from UNESCO criticized the "mediatised campaign" and contrasted the election with its own more scholarly approach to world heritage. At a press conference, spokesman Christian Manhart explained that while the organization believes that the winners are worthy world wonders, there are certainly more than just seven wonders in the world today - UNESCO's 851 world heritage sites all qualify. The NewOpenWorld Foundation countered by accusing UNESCO of ignoring the voice of 90 million people all across the world.

Then there's the question of whether the Great Wall even deserved to be in the running. Luo Zhewen, head of the Ancient Architecture Group at the State Bureau of Cultural Relics, noted that the Great Wall and the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing (now destroyed) were named to a list of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. The list, whose date of composition is in dispute, also included the Roman Colosseum. Since Egypt's Great Pyramids were nixed for being one of the original Seven Wonders, their citation medieval list ought to disqualify the Colosseum and the Great Wall.

Another group of critics questioned whether the list misses the bigger picture. On Guangming Online's Observer forum, Xuan Huahua wrote that "Selling snake-oil to the global village is the real New Wonder," drawing parallels to the "Lunar Embassy" that sold plots of land on the moon to gullible terrestrial investors. Slightly less vituperative was an op-ed in yesterday's TBN by Bai Shuo, who saw the online campaign in support of the Great Wall as the true wonder:

Domestic media first noticed this campaign in January of last year, and the Great Wall stood temporarily at the top of the list. In November, things took a sudden turn for the worse, and the Great Wall fell to fourth.

By April, the Great Wall dropped out of the top seven. To reverse the decline, interested organizations began campaigning for votes through various channels. The voting page was written in English, so to solve the problem of the vast majority of Chinese people being unable to vote because they could not read a foreign language, a "SMS vote" service was developed. This innovative development lent a new face to the survey.

Simultaneously, a new round the click campaign took shape on major websites, forums, and blogs. Some netizens took the layout of the voting website and created a step-by-step voting process to assist voters who had language difficulties, and some people even appended images of the stated of the voting process. With help from forum reposters, this post to get out the vote for the Great Wall traversed the Chinese Internet.

After a dynamic "online click campaign," the Great Wall finally found the honor it deserved, with "World's #1" in its pocket. Looking back at the past year or more, you'll easily discover that the true "wonder of the world" was not constructed several thousand years ago by builders piling up stones to form the Great Wall; rather, it was pushed out by contemporary, wired Chinese youth clicking their left mouse buttons over and over. You could say that just as the builders who toiled on the construction of the Great Wall gave of their blood and sweat, industrious online youth broke countless mice and numbed countless click fingers for this "hit count" wonder.
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In their free-time away from game playing and after they've finished chatting, when they're taking a break from their download programs, idle online youth engage in the back-and-forth exercise of clicking and refreshing. This is a relaxed, diverting, selfless act. Does it mean anything? In truth, it really doesn't matter. In the end it's just a mass exercise - at least there's nothing wrong about it. And it even wraps itself in the mantle of "national glory."

I've seen media reports that say that European and North American countries were unconcerned with the "wonders" of their countries. Many foreigners voted for the Great Wall, but very few voted for their own country's "wonder." This describes a certain problem: either those foreigners are not patriotic, or we have a few youth whose methods of patriotism are quite out of the ordinary.

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There are currently 1 Comments for Online voting and the new wonders of the world.

Comments on Online voting and the new wonders of the world

That's mostly a question of marketing and it will help to make communication and renovation through charities for the 7 new wonders. The point is to wonder how many people are aware that the Great Wall is among the 7 new wonders of the world since a majority of them thought that it already took part of the old list - and that's true that we can wonder of the credibility of the vote since major promotion was made in some countries than in others; However, I consider that the Great Wall is really a wonder -

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