Finally, I can look forward to opening emails from long-forgotten friends without having to fear that chain-letter craziness. The latest craziness was to vote for the new seven wonders of the world. A website, www.new7wonders.com (sorry, no link; feel free to type it out yourself or cut-paste) popped up out of nowhere and in spite of having no affiliation with UNESCO or any reputed historic preservation authority claimed to rework the seven wonders list. The media all across the world lapped it all up willingly with the Indian media not too far behind. I was surprised to see even otherwise sensible bloggers fall in this trap. To be fair, even Ash fell into the trap at DesiPundit.
The ‘scam’ was just too easy to pull off. It was the brainchild of a Swiss businessman Bernard Weber. He said he wanted to invite the people of the world to take part in selecting the world’s greatest wonders. “So that everybody can decide what the new seven wonders should be and not some government, not some individuals, not some institutions,” he said [via]. Of course, he failed to mention that by everyone he meant those with an Internet connection or with at least a cell phone with text messaging capability. Choices were invited and of course, a whole bunch of structures that man has managed to erect made the list; some of them great some of them not so. The folks running the website undoubtedly enjoyed the immense attention so much so that that was all they could talk about in the above-linked CNN story. I’m sure, they also had some kind of revenue sharing model with the cell phone carriers or the media outlets that urged people to text in their votes.
Now if you believe that the people voting were actually judging the choices appropriately and voting for the structure that deserved a place in a list of top seven wonders, then you are mistaken. Several countries including Brazil, Jordan, and India unofficially endorsed this campaign and asked people to vote for the structures in their country. It is not surprisingly to note the location of the structures that finally made it to the list.
For India, it was the Taj Mahal, of course. Why? I guess because if it didn’t make it to the list, it would be a cause for national shame and we would never visit it. Never mind the untold damage that has been wrought on by the environmental and crowd mismanagement, the Taj should frikkin be in that list. There might be hundred other structures that may be better but jeetega bhai jeetega, India jeetega. Bah! Such morons! The Taj doesn’t need any hyped up media campaign to be counted as among the world’s wonders. People have always loved it and will continue to love in spite of the fact that they are more enamored by the background love story rather than the perfect symmetry of a exquisitely constructed marble edifice that is not just an architectural marvel but also an engineering feat.
Also, why just seven wonders? Why not round it off to ten or still better 50 or even 100? I am sure there are plenty of magnificent structures around the world to still make it a closely-fought contest if that is the intention. In fact even the 1000 places to visit before you die is an insufficient list if you really are a travel bug. Frankly, the Web 2.0 structure of citizen democracy doesn’t necessarily work for everything especially scholarly material. The citizens are already voting with their feet when they visit any monument in droves. But at the same time, the less visited monuments aren’t necessarily bad ones. It just means that they aren’t being marketed effectively. The seven wonders hype is crap. Every person has their own list of wonders, natural or manmade that they wish to visit and will not drop anything just because it didn’t make it to a stupid list.
Oh yeah, the Pyramids in Egypt long counted among the world’s wonder, seven or more didn’t make it to the list. So to counter any ridicule, the organizers accorded the Pyramids an ‘honorary status’ in addition to the seven wonder. Ah! Even the Wonders of the World have lifetime achievement category.
And if you are still interested, the new seven wonders of the world are: The Great Wall of China, Petra in Jordan, Brazil’s statue of Christ the Redeemer, Peru’s Machu Picchu, Mexico’s Chichen Itza pyramid, The Colosseum in Rome,and India’s Taj Mahal. Now go and revise your must-visit travel list.