Localizing the Internet

As so many people go on and on about how the internet breaks down geographical boundaries, it seems that companies are looking at building walls. Beyond the ‘need’ for legislature governing gambling laws (I still cannot win an online contest in the US because I live in Quebec!), I wonder why companies such as MSN and Yahoo are pushing the geographical definitions of self onto their users.

Case in point (that annoyed me). I live in Canada but like to read the headlines from both Yahoo.ca and Yahoo.com. When I went to Yahoo.com recently, I got a pop up message saying something along the lines of “We noticed that you are Canadian user, please go to Yahoo.ca…. blah blah blah – click here to go to Yahoo! Canada or click here to ignore and continue”. I was irritated at this pop up as it delayed my three minutes of browsing, but also because I felt like I was not welcome at the US site since I was not “from” there. I know that this was more than likely not their intention – is probably meant to help those who do not know better, and if they want to shop in CAD funds, or read CAD headlines – but still – I felt that my boundariless internet had fences being built.

Second case in point – we recently upgraded our children’s computer, and so IM had to be reinstalled. My daughter was miffed when she tried to download MSN and got a pop up telling her that her IP was a canadian one and she was promptly redirected to MSN Canada. Although she doesn’t know what the difference is (neither do I) in terms of messenging services, she felt annoyed that she was shipped off by geographical affiliation.

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