January 2006


Thinking Globally

Yesterday iTunes informed me that I needed to upgrade my software as fast as possible—being a bad person, I waited a day before installing the software.

The principle change appears to be the addition of Internet radio stations—so while surfing the web today, I decided to listen to one of the many trance options, Fusion Radio Chicago.

Mind you, that according to the web site, it is the third largest commercial dance internet station—from “Albuquerque to Amsterdam” they claim, yet the focus was surprisingly local when I tuned it. In fact, I heard an advertisement for a DJ from Indianapolis whose show is on from ten to midnight every Saturday night.

No time zone specified.

Now, because I’m an intelligent person, I know that Chicago is seven hours behind Germany, so I think that she’ll be on from 5 to 7am Sundays in Germany (I won’t be listening).

But that’s the thing, there’s a huge presumption of knowledge about (a) where the station is based (ok, the name gives a strong clue, but no offense to Chicago—you aren’t New York City), and (b) what time zone the station is based in.

I realize that short of using the obscure Swatch Internet Time there is no easy way out of this conundrum.

However, they should probably give at least two points of reference. CNN’s US website gives two points of reference: US Eastern Time and GMT. The world website lists GMT and Hong Kong. These two data points help people globally know what time the website was last updated—something less relevant as opposed to live streaming where the time really does matter.

However, lest my annoyance seem completely focused on one hapless Internet Radio Station, I’ll also complain about the local inward thinking of hotels in the United States.

I was making a reservation for an upcoming trip to the States on the Internet, and it asked for my phone number—so I typed in “+49” to start the phone number—the plus indicating that it was an international number based in Germany. The computer specifically rejected the “+” so I ended up typing in “011 49”—something Germans wouldn’t recognize in order to placate the computer. I could have typed in “00 49,” but then it would have been meaningless in the States.

2 comments to Thinking Globally

  • ChrisC

    Yes Adam, but remember that Europe is geographically similar in size to the USA.

    I can’t expect dialing my friends 765-4321 number from my home in North Carolina will connect me with him in Florida unless I dial the appropriate area code.

    Countries being the size they are in Europe, their country codes seem to serve a similar purpose.

    This won’t matter to people in the US, generally, since most are not cultured enough to be exposed to the occasional foreign phone call as they are too busy shopping at Sprawlmart and watching NASCAR.

  • Grrrr… I might point out that country codes are in addition to the area codes, which in Germany more closely resemble “city codes.” Weimar’s code is different from Jena’s code, although we are in the same state and only about 20-25km apart.

    Within the US, I would expect a 4 Diamond (AAA rated) hotel in a major urban center to have a reservations system capable of dealing with international phone numbers — this isn’t Backwoods Wyoming!