“If you want to save anything, you first have to really appreciate it.”
The personal story behind the world’s first-ever global vote I started the New7Wonders project in 1999, while still living in Montreal, Canada. The original idea came from my desire to make intelligent use of the new technologies at a time when the internet and mobile telephony where just about to become available to a larger segment of humanity. To start this project, I bought my first computer and I spent CAN$ 700 to have the first New7Wonders website designed and put online. In a way at almost 50, I was the “kid” with the naïve approach to modern technologies as many children had already grown up with computers in North America and Europe during the nineties. The question I asked myself was: what could be the smallest common denominator, a sentence, a word, a concept that anyone on this planet would understand immediately and, hopefully, would get excited about? One evening, my partner, who is a teacher in Germany, came home from school and asked me if I could name the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World. Of course I could not (in fact, the BBC reported that even though everybody knew about the 7 Wonders, only one person out of 6,000 could name all of them). So after being told what the Ancient 7 Wonders were, I started to do some research. Declared by, Philon of Byzatium in 200 B.C. in Athens, only one is still standing: the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. The rest were located in the then known world limited to the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, a relatively small part of the world. All were gone in a couple of centuries, victims of earthquakes, wars, vandalism and erosion…and today we don’t really know what they even looked like!
This seemed to me like a enough good reason to revive this ancient Greek concept (following the precedent of the Olympic Games, which were revived in 1896 by Pierre de Coubertin), but with the difference that Philon’s ancient concept would be combined with our newest and latest technologies so that everyone with access to a computer or a telephone could have a say in deciding which monuments should be the New 7 Wonders of the World. And which body would organize the event? UNESCO? Its World Heritage List is selected by just 21 people and is barred by its statutes from any similar focus on cultural or natural sites because it would look like favoritism. No. Not UNESCO. I concluded that the people of the World would be the valid authority to elect the New 7 Wonders of the World and as a result New7Wonders became the first-ever worldwide democratic exercise of its kind. Like in any orderly political campaign it is not necessarily the best who win but the ones who know best how to motivate their voters. New7Wonders is primarily a platform for virtual and a real-life campaigns that inspire and encourage people all over the world to participate and express their opinions regardless of their origins, colour, religion or culture.