Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Alexa shows us that of the top 5 websites in the world, 2 are Korean and they rank above Google which is 5th. Korea's new President is a self-proclaimed Internet president. Howard Rheingold sends the Korean cyberspace generation a message. The message has four main points, the first one sounds almost like it was written to me. ;-) Although his message is to the Korean cyberspace generation, his points are broadly applicable and are very relevant to the emergent democracy discussion.

Howard Rheingold
First, do not mistake the tool for the task. The democratization of publishing, communication, and organizing that is afforded by PCs, the Internet, and wireless mobile devices is indeed an important tool for grassroots activism. But it is the knowledge, intentions, and actions of people in the real world — where ballots are cast, political decisions are made, wars and demonstrations take place — that empowers democracy. Netizens must have more in common than their technical expertise in order for them to conduct discourse rather than flame each other, to act collectively in the physical world rather than sit in front of keyboards and type all the time. Long-term political organizing is hard work.


Ok after seeing the rates of broadband usage broken down by country, I knew I needed to add Korean to my languages. It's just hard because I've invested so much in Japanese. Then to go over there and see how few people in Japan realize what the net could do for them. Boy what a difference broadband makes. Joi, wana shake up the power structure in Japan, lets get NTT to move its butt! Viva la buurado-bando!

Alexa's rankings are based on usage by people who have downloaded their toolbar, many of whom are Korean. See this thread on Webmaster World and scroll down a few messages.

Actually there seems to be a bit of a debate over the Korean tilt of Alexa. No hard data at all in that thread. Slight racist undertone it all, there is a tacit assumption among some of the posters that Alexa can't be right just because it ranks so many Korean sites so high.

I'd really like to get some real data to verify how accurate Alexa might be. It obviously skews toward sites that Alexa toolbar users tend to visit, so what's needed is data on who uses Alexa. Do Europeans and Latin American's have something against Alexa, or are they really online that much less then Asians?

I think Alexa is being installed into Korea PCs by people other than the users. PC-bangs (Korean Internet Cafes) alone could tilt the Alexa result.

BTW, Daum cafe is indeed very popular in Korea. I use it once in a while. Its also a haven for pirated music, movies, and eBooks. Naver, on the other hand, shouldn't be up there.

Very good quotes there. I am trying to study Hangul too. I really love the language, but don't have much time to devote to it with all the other studying I do. I really got a lot out of the message that the internet is a tool, not a task in and of itself. I miss this a lot, and need to be careful to keep it in mind as I develop my business.

The great thing about learning Korean coming from a knowledge of Japanese, is that the grammar is almost exactly the same between them. It's almost a one-to-one conversion of grammatical particles from Japanese to Korean, although there is a bit more grammar in Korean...

For instance, wa/ga/o/ni/de in Japanese, become nun/i/rul/e/eso in Korean, and the word order is the same as Japanese. Check this out:

Japanese: gakusei wa gakko ni imasu.
Korean: hakseng un hakkyo e issumnida.

BTW, the characters for 'gakusei' and 'gakko' are the same in korean as well, although they basically never use kanji anymore...

I feel like I should get crackin' with Korean again too -- I even have a korean father in law to talk to... There's never enough time though. :)