I sometimes forget that we ourselves at Berkshire Publishing are engaged in one of the most remarkable and rich experiments around in UGC (User-Generated Content), at our LoveUSHateUS? website. This running exchange is remarkable because it is global, and because it is one of the few places on the web that isn’t just like talking to like (the great danger on social media and the online “community” it enables is a lack of diversity–people generally hang out online with those who share their views). The exchanges at LoveUSHateUS? are generally civil (and we do edit out obscenities) but there is both love and hate in evidence.
A colleague recently wrote that this experiment has turned out much better than he expected, an ethnography of global views and especially of U.S.-European relations. I’ve been talking to a publishing colleague in China about doing a book about what Americans and Chinese people think of each other, which would be another fascinating project. I am not sure we have had any Chinese contributor to LoveUSHateUS? (though we certainly have had some wonderful, thoughtful comments from people in Japan and Southeast Asia). Definitely something to work on, and to look forward to.
And what an appropriate thought, on this 4th of July! (At my house, we are celebrating the 4th with French food and not with hamburgers. I think this is really because 21-year-old Tom leaves for Beijing on Saturday, but he and Rachel claim that we are celebrating our first allies in the War of Independence.)