I haven't touched on the topic of social networking lately, but it is all over the news. One set of articles that caught my eye were those that mentioned a new TNS study of social networking in 46 countries around the world. A headline in the Chosun Ilbo declared "Koreans Among Least Social in Online Networking." That caught my attention for the simple reason that "least social" is the last thing that would come to my mind to describe Koreans. "Most social," perhaps, or "More social..." According to the Digital Life report released by the British market research firm TNS, Koreans had an average of 50 friends in their social networks, ranking 44th among 46 countries studied.
Overall, the Digital Life study noted such broad trends as social networking sites overtaking e-mail in popularity and the the growing use of digital sources for news around the world. It would be interesting to know how much of the first trend is due to the seemingly uncontrollable growth of spam and malware.
The suggestion that Koreans are "less social" may have to do with the structure of the study (were Western, and English language sites weighted equally with Cyworld in the study?), or it may simply require further explanation. After all, most Koreans were experimenting with their own version of "social networking" via Cyworld about four years before Facebook hit the market in the U.S. The finding may simply reflect the close-knit family-classmate-friend nature of Korean interpersonal networks or the linguistic and homogeneity of the information culture here. Comments on the TNS finding are welcome.