I've been a fan of John Dvorak for -- let's say decades. He's always been one of my favorite curmudgeons among technical columnists. We've both seen fads come and go, and that memory keeps us steady in hip deep hype. He's blogging now, he gets it, and he's started to metablog.
In a recent column for PC Magazine, Conformism in the High-Tech Era, he cites my post about the Korean blogosphere to make a point about jump-on-the-bandwagon hype and conformism.
"It is asserted that there are 11.9 million bloggers in South Korea, a country with a population of around 50 million people. This means that over 20 percent of the people in the country, including old ladies and babies, are bloggers. This is a laughable and needy assertion. IBM cannot even muster 0.1 percent of its employee base, and Korea manages over 20 percent of its entire population? This is how delusional the blogging-crowd members have become about their hobby. And, frankly, I don't get it. Everyone has to conform. It's the 'everyone must become a blogger because I am one' mentality."
He's making a bigger point, and I don't want to take away from it.
But on the South Korean numbers, I agree. It's hard to swallow. That's a lot of bloggers. A nation of bloggers, even.
Given that South Korea is one of the most wired places on the planet, would you think those numbers large for web users? for email users? for IM users? 75% broadband access in the home, compared to 45% in the United States. 95% of South Koreans have broadband access somewhere (home, school, work), many at 100 Meg per second, not even dreamed of in the U.S..
This is the place, after all, that elected a new president through the power of SMS texting. Where thousands of citizen journalists write OhmyNews.
For a more complete description of the evolution of blogging in Korea, read Korean Broadband Holds Lessons for U.S. by entrepreneur and blogger Bernard Moon.
In about 18 months, CyWorld went from nothing to being Korea's leading Web site in terms of page views and visit durations, and 19th in the world in terms of traffic (after AOL.com and Amazon.com), according to Alexa Traffic Rankings.
It's clear why Yahoo! started their blog service there, to learn about blending blogs with other services. Their sudden successes explain Yahoo! 360 blending blogs, Flickr, MyYahoo, etc. Microsoft Spaces blending IM. Friendster giving blogs to all their members.
The problem in this case, John, isn't a shortage of reality or skepticism. It's clutching old numbers when new realities defy experience. Blogging is one of those behaviors that take off in fertile ground, and South Korea is more fertile than most. Our challenge: forget selectively, so the world may astonish us.
Update: If you look at Alexa figures, you'll see Nate.com as the top site. Cyworld is now part of Nate. See also:
- Francesco Cara's UsageWatch.org: How many people publish, read or contribute to blogs? 2.0. A January 2005 roundup of Cyworld traffic growth and Korean blogging in general. "The Cyworld form of blogging has reached 79% adoption among young people in their 20s and 30s (source SK Communication); and 90% adoption among young people in their 20s (source researcher KoreanClick)."
- David Brake posted Korean blogging is huge! to the Media @LSE Group Weblog. He points to:
- "this International Herald Tribune article for the demographic and financial figures
- ‘I Was a Cyholic, a Cyworld Addict’ for a more personal view (from one of the ‘citizen reporters’ for OhMyNews - another S Korean phenomenon I blogged about earlier…
- and here for some suggestions about why S Korea has such high broadband penetration."