New Seven Wonders of the World: Utter Crap

This is the title of a very valid post on Gridskipper. While there has been an immense amount of hype, especially in the Indian media; something did seem amiss. The TOI has a banner on its front page, extolling our patriotic sense to vote for the Taj. Jingoism goes to a new level when CNN-IBN has a whole video segment on why we should vote. However no one bothers to dwelve into who is making the rules for this list.

New Seven Wonders of the World, right?

The “winners” will be 7 monuments culled from an original list of 177 possibilities, which was first compiled in November 2005. By January 2006, the list of monuments had been reduced to the top 21, which is right about the time we first called bullshit on the whole enchilada, to mix metaphors in a most unappetizing way. Quite simply, the entire New Seven Wonders project is a scam designed to enhance the prestige and coffers of its founder. You might even call it a “pyramid scheme,” though not for the usual reasons.

The man behind New Seven Wonders is Bernard Weber, a Swiss gent variously described as a businessman or an entrepreneur or even an adventurer (like Indiana Jones!). Sure, he’s quite the renaissance man, with many a colorful feather in his cap. Why the compulsion to come up with a new list of wonders? Was there a crying need for such a list? Had anyone gotten upset because they weren’t on the list?

Of course not — at least not until Weber made them upset by creating his new list. The New Seven Wonders is one of the most protracted and bizarrely successful publicity stunts in history, and it’s based exclusively on … well, exclusion. Getting on the list is of questionable value, but being left off the list is perceived as a definite snub. Weber and his representatives make airy proclamations about the democratic process giving the entire world a chance to select its wonders, rather than stuffy old Antipater of Sidon and his original list of wonders. But really the success of the list is predicated on large numbers of people getting whipped into a nationalistic fervor — a frenzy that has draw politicians, entertainers, and even phone companies into stumping for votes.

An amusing side-story developed when it looked like Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza — the only surviving member of the original Seven Wonders of the (Ancient) World — might not make the new list. Various Egyptians protested, even calling the whole thing a conspiracy to defame the pyramids. The New Seven Wonders folk compromised by removing the Giza pyramids from voting, declaring them an “honorary” eighth wonder on the new list. That’s got to be a huge relief to Egyptologists the world over.

But forget the blood and thunder — meanwhile, New Seven Wonders, which is most assuredly a for-profit corporation, has been raking it in. No public reports exist of the company’s finances, but just consider the claim that 70 million votes have been cast worldwide. Even if New Seven Wonders isn’t getting a payoff for the international phone voting, sending an SMS text message to vote will cost you $1 in the United States, with similar fees elsewhere. You can vote for free online via registering, but why not spend $2 on an official certificate documenting the happy occasion?

Continue reading the entire article on Gridskipper.

7 Comments

  1. Ravi July 3, 2007

    Hey Arzan
    Read some of your posts. Pretty interesting.
    I am a journalist and i am working on a story opn the architectural style in Gurgaon. Is there a style at all, is it creating its own style, own vocabulary, what is the design really inspired by, those glass and steel buildings. Why are people now using any local architectural styles, techniques.
    WIll be grateful if you could help me with it. my number is 98913 56224. mail me or call me.
    PS: Is that Wipro building that was commissioned to Vidur Bhardwaj in Gurgaon up and running? That might be a good example of local style, if its up.
    Will wait for you mail
    Thanks
    Ravi

  2. arzan July 3, 2007

    Ravi

    Thanks for your comment. I havent been to Gurgaon in years hence cannot comment on the architecture style of the current times.

    However I do have views on the architecture of Bombay.

  3. Ravi July 3, 2007

    would u know architects who might have a good view on gurgaon?

  4. Melody July 5, 2007

    Arzan,

    Thx for this, I too was taken in the patriotic fever & felt urged to vote for the Taj – which I must admit, I did online. I even blogged online to encourage others to do the same!

    It was only after that (tsk tsk), through the comments left by more enlightened people that I found out what the whole thing was about.

    I couldn’t take back my vote (though it couldn’t have made a difference to the coffers since it was a free online vote) but I did delete the post to stop encouraging others to vote.

    What I was really shocked was that the entire Indian Media is so enthu about backing the Taj in this – has NO ONE seen this yet??

  5. Soraya July 6, 2007

    Very interesting post, I’d just seen this topic on Sky News and must say was very ticked off and suprised that Newgrange (Ireland) didn’t make it into the finalists. I was shocked because this ancient structure is a definite wonder and actually older then the Pyramids themselves.

    I’ve tried finding the original list of 177 candidates but have no luck, I wanted to see was it even on there. You wouldn’t happen to know where I could find it, would you?

    There are one or two candidates on that list…….well lets just say I can’t believe they even got on there, I would have never considered them a wonder.

    At least I know that this is just a huge scam, unfortunately a popular one but I’ll know for myself and will make sure to tell others that it’s not offical and what ever wins is definitely not a 7th wonder.

  6. Elkadio July 11, 2007

    I watched with wonder how the modern world and some of its business people still making mockery of the ordinary people of poor nations and their heritage with no shame or guilt, exactly as they and their predecessors have done for hundreds of years.

    I also watched carefully the dignified silence of the scientific community and the people who know and understand the real value of the heritage of the planet.

    The researchers, who studied monuments like the great pyramid of Giza for years and others, know far better than to speak or comment on such absurdity and mockery of mankind conducted with great media coverage.

    At the beginning of this farce, those people had the audacity to include the Great Pyramid of Giza in a “popular” Internet voting while claiming to protect the heritage of the world too.

    I guess the English would call them “cheeky fellows”.

    Almost as if after years of trying and failing to “unlock” the secrets and the wonders of the great Pyramid, they decided to acquire “lessor” complicated wonders they can explain and brag about.

    I guess this is one way for covering up one’s ignorance.

    Some of the silent observers also know better than to defend such great monuments as the great Pyramid of Giza. I guess defending such a monument would by almost like defending the Sun, the Moon or the Orion belt.

    Perhaps one day this organisation who conducted such a media spectacle and possibly others, could make a competition to choose a new Sun or Moon to replace the existing ones claiming that the ancients didn’t know that other stars and moons exist.

    I hope you don’t think that I am defending the great pyramid of Giza; not at all and far from it.

    I certainly don’t believe that the great pyramid of Giza is in need of such defending or protection what so ever, as it has stood the test of time, weather, invaders, destroyers, envious people for thousands and thousands of years, while majestically and silently keeping its “great” wonder and secrets intact for thousands of years passed and more yet to come.

    I am not even belittling the magnificence of the so called “new seven wonders of the world” either, for they are truly magnificent and deserve to be named “among the other 800 sites” as heritage by a world recognised “non-for-profit” authority on the subject, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

    It is only my fear that such brutal commercialisation coupled with massive greed could one day actually damage the reputation of those seven great monuments merely by being included in such a widely publicised business scheme which “Sadly” was supported by those nation’s governments.

    Those “naive” governments need to see the bigger picture and realise that one day they may face other demands by the same organisation to merely stay on the list, for I guess that this voting will be repeated again and again now that the organisers had the taste for some of the “glory” and “wealth” they were seeking… I hope those governments understand my meaning!!

    The Egyptian Government on the other hand, (lead by Egypt’s Chief of Antiquity Dr Zahi Hawwas and The Culture Minster Mr Farouk Hosni) kept its dignified composure against such commercial brutality and possible financial demands from the organisers to join the game.

    You wouldn’t imagine one day that we vote for new leaders to replace the old ones such as Napoleon and Alexander merely because they are not with us today.. would you? But I guess, this wouldn’t escape these business people imagination one day…

    The Great Pyramid of Giza unlike the other six ancient wonders cannot be challenged or damaged for certain, simply because it is there to be seen, challenging the world for thousands of years to find out how it was built and by whom and why. I guess this is why it was called the greatest of all the Wonders of the World, ancient and modern.

    In fact the irony of this business fiasco, is that all the newly voted Seven Wonders of the World, have all along and for a very long time been known, respected and called wonders of the world too. What is “new” and a real “wonder” if you think about it is the “packaging” and re-selling of these monuments by those “clever” business people.

    The announcement of the new Seven Wonders of the World must have also left other nations saddened and disturbed about their own heritage and wonders, “temporary” losing faith about their history and uncertain about the future of their monuments and contribution to world heritage.

    In fact I wonder about the role the UNESCO is playing in this saga. They seem to get it all wrong in their brief comment on this commercial fiasco. They think that by declaring these new Seven Wonders of the World that tourist will be pouring on then by the millions to see them and that may damage them.

    Wow….. How could such an organisation responsible for our heritage think this way?

    But what can one say when everything in the world now is upside down and we live in the time when business leaders not only marshal armies to force business deals with other nations, They are now changing history itself to suite their business goals.

    Having said this, I am certain that great nations like Greece, France England, the USA and others will not lose faith about their own heritage, wonders and contribution, no matter what lists are being compiled and sold to the people of this planet. For only “greatness” survive and the people will always find the truth for themselves.

    One would hate to think that the organisers by facilitating the “scorning” of the heritage of such great nations, that their citizens would refrain one day from visiting those new seven wonders of the world!!! which would be among other consequences, a financial disaster for those developing nations and their monuments.

    Surly a wondrous time for humanity and some of us are watching with great amusement and amazement..not to mention the upcoming new seven wonders of the world “for a few dollars more!”

  7. aivo.schults@mail.ee August 18, 2007

    urine, join adventures onlyyou for about in to and people apr

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