December 13, 2002

· Internet

The BBC has been doing yet another one of its stupid “Top 10” Internet polls, this time to find The Worlds Top Ten Songs. Big mistake for aesthetic reasons, of course, but also open to manipulation by small countries with a high capacity for networked collective action. In a move that captures the national character perfectly, Irish students emailed everyone they knew and told them to vote for A Nation Once Again, an old nationalist standby. (When boyhood’s fire was in my blood / I read of ancient freemen / For Greece and Rome who bravely stood / Three hundred men and three men. / And then I prayed I yet might see / Our fetters rent in twain / And Ireland, long a province / be A nation once again.“)

Frankly, I hope it wins. As anyone Irish will tell you, there’s something irresistable about the idea of hearing some plummy BBC voice being forced to announce that the most popular song in the world is ‘A Nation Once Again.’

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I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center.

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