Monday, December 31, 2012

Search languages on the Web

This will be my final post for 2012, but it is a beautiful one!  Readers will know from earlier posts (such as this one) that I'm very interested in the role of language in shaping people's use of the internet in different cultures around the world.   As one of its Chrome experiments Google created the animated globe below, which displays search volume by language from all around the world.  English is represented by blue spikes, while Korean is a turquoise color, Chinese language a dark orange, etc. Take a look at the clear patterns in the Asia Pacific Region, and note the absence of search activity from north of the Korean DMZ. Or, explore your country or region of interest. Just click and hold your mouse, then drag it to rotate the globe, similar to the way Google Earth works. Enjoy!

Visualizing Korea's national image

As readers of this blog are well aware, I've long been interested in the matter of Korea's national image and the efforts of the Korean government to deal with it. To retrieve earlier posts on the topic, use the search box at the right and enter "national image" or look at just this post from 2009.
Today, in what will probably be my final post of 2012, I'd like to introduce a new perspective on Korea's national image, courtesy of Google Trends (formerly Google Insights for Search).  As noted in several earlier posts (e.g. this one) Google Trends is a valuable tool for studying world attention patterns in the information age.
As shown in the graphic below, a comparison of worldwide search activity for "North Korea" and "South Korea" vividly highlights (the peaks on the graph) attention to North Korea's attacks on the South, its nuclear tests and generally emphasizes the military confrontation between north and south.

To test this, use the hyperlink to view the full report in Google trends and hover over the news items indicated by capital letters on the peaks of the graph.
In earlier posts, a few years back, I published separate links that showed patterns in searches for "Samsung," "LG," and "Hyundai," but it is more interesting to include a couple of these companies in the same chart, as below.  I think the relative volume of search for Samsung and LG, versus North and South Korea, provides a powerful message about Korea's national image.  At least it provides food for thought and data-based evidence of relevance to policymakers. I encourage you to explore the data using Google Trends and its different capabilities. The animations that accompany the world map are particularly fun. I will revisit this topic, so your reactions and comments are welcome!

Some year-end thoughts,새해 복 많이 받으세요

A quick check shows that my blogging activity in 2012 is down measurably from the previous several years.  That is largely because of my teaching, research and other commitments since joining KAIST in February as a Visiting Professor in the Graduate School of Science and Technology Policy.  However, as I'll briefly explain here, there should be an uptick in the quality, if not quantity of my blogging during 2013.
The first reason for my expectation is that this blog will benefit from my exploration of related topics in the "Introduction to Mass Communication" course that I'm teaching.  Preparations for that class and the interaction with very bright, mostly motivated students from Korea and around the world is helping me to build a broader and deeper perspective on the emerging global information society.
A second reason has to do with the research side of my activities here.  I've co-authored a paper for a forthcoming academic conference with a good Korean colleague that focuses on Korean government restructuring and its impact on the ICT sector.
My major research activity of late involves writing a monograph length document on behalf of a regional UN institute on the topic of social media for development.  From the beginning, late last summer, this has been not only a tremendous learning exercise and also a very compressed writing project.  It leads into several subjects that I hope to explore on this blog in the future.  One area,  the growing field of "data visualization" will be the subject of my next post.  My exploration of the young, growing field of social media has also given me a few obvious pointers on how to improve the reach and targeting of this blog.
This is likely the penultimate post for 2012!  "Happy New Year" or 새해 복 많이 받으세요!

Malware on a major newspaper web site

My morning routine usually starts with breakfast and then, along with my morning coffee, I read a number of newspapers and news alerts.   One of those is The Korea Times.  This morning when I attempted to open that newspaper's web site my Chrome browser produced the warning shown here (click to see a full size version). This is not the first time this has happened, and I've never experienced a similar problem with other Korean newspapers, so I thought I'd share this with readers.  For the time being, I'm avoiding the site.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The role of media in Korea's 2012 presidential election

December 19, 2012--I've been watching Korean television all evening, watching the election returns and it just seems an appropriate time to make some observations on the role of media in this year's election.
First, the internet, digital networks and social media played a role in the election, but it was not at all like 2002, when youthful members of "Rohsamo" were credited with sweeping Roh Moo Hyun to victory on election day.  Ten years of experience with the new digital media seem to have given Korea a more mature media and political culture.  Mobile voting was used by the opposition party in the Korean equivalent of primaries that chose Moon Jae In as the presidential candidate, and it caused some controversy but there were no major controversies involving the internet and digital networks in the general election.
Second, all of the major television broadcasters covering election results followed some basic rules.  The first of these was that there were no exit poll or computer projections aired until after the polls closed, at 6:00 P.M. in the evening.  The broadcasters did make an effort to build up some suspense leading up to the 6:00 hour.  YTN, for example, displayed an on-screen countdown during the last 60 seconds before 6 P.M. and then proceeded to broadcast its projections based on exit polls.
Third, at 6:00 P.M. all but one of the leading broadcasters projected a narrow win by Park Geun-hye.  However, YTN television predicted that Moon Jae In would win the election.  No doubt there will be considerable analysis of polling methods and results in the coming days!
Finally and perhaps most interesting, most of the broadcasters used cartoons, caricatures of the candidates or animations to illustrate their presentation of results as the night wore on.  For example, SBS used an Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark motif along with music from the movie to accompany its presentation of some results, after final projections had been made.   It should be noted that this addition of a light, animated or humorous approach is a general pattern in Korean television content.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sensor industry important, but part of ICT convergence

As reported in the Korea Joongang Daily this morning, the government plans a significant investment in development of the sensor industry, as shown in the accompanying graphic. (click to see a full size version) This is an important development, but needs to be seen in its proper context, which is building the "ubiquitous networked society" that South Korea declared a national goal back in 2006 with its U-Korea plan.  Readers will see the relationship to my previous post about Korea's nanotech convergence policy.
Korea will need to develop its sensor market, but the value of doing so is not apparent from treating it as a silo and in isolation.  Sensors are only valuable because of the information they sense, record and transmit.  The communication, and especially the communication content, is what is essential.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Microsoft monoculture persists in Korea!

As readers of this blog are well aware, I've been regularly following the topic of Microsoft's undue influence on web surfing and computing in South Korea, otherwise referred to widely as this nation's "Microsoft Monoculture."   My last post on this topic was in April of this year, but an article in the Joongang Daily this morning reminded me that the problem of over-reliance on outdated Microsoft software--specifically ActiveX--persists!  Ahn Cheol-soo, while he was campaigning for the presidency here earlier this year, made a campaign pledge to eliminate ActiveX. “ActiveX is irritating everyday life for the people of Korea,” he said in a speech, “I will lift ActiveX and that will be a crucial part of my campaign.” Now Ahn is out of the campaign, but ActiveX remains a big nuisance here in South Korea.
The Joongang Daily article has some interesting detail, including the above graphic (click to see a full-size version).  It reports that "According to a second-quarter survey of 200 public and private Web sites by the Korea Communications Commission, a top government agency overseeing IT policies, 84 percent, or 168 sites, were using ActiveX. The plugin had the largest usage for Web security - 42.2 percent for public sites and 39.7 percent for private sites. The next biggest use of ActiveX was for online shopping and personal verification."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Korea's narrow nanotech convergence policy

The phenomenon of convergence is a broad and complex one that touches on virtually all economic and social sectors in every modern economy. For example, back in 2000, the United States launched the National Nanotechnology Initiative, and that organization's website comprises an interesting introduction to the subject.  Another interesting place to start is the European Nanotechnology Gateway.
This morning's Joongang Daily carried an article on the topic of nano convergence in Korea.  As noted in the article,"The government will invest nearly 1 trillion won ($923 billion) to boost nanotechnology companies and their convergence with other industries so Korea can more than double its share of the global market by 2020, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy."Korean researchers have been working on nanotechnology in a variety of industries including electronics, biotechnology, medicine and engineering.
What I find interesting is that the article and, by extension, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy(MKE), treat convergence as a silo or vertical process affecting different industries. However, there is no attention to the obvious reality that a broader, horizontal process of convergence represented by revolutionary developments in digital networks and associated communications and sensing technologies is at work and would seem to deserve even more attention from the MKE.  Arguably, the biggest impact of nanotech convergence is going to be in electronics and telecommunications and the ICT sector, those general purpose technologies that give rise to the new global information era.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Apple iPhone's "sterile platform"

An article in the Joongang Daily this morning reminded me of the opening pages of Jonathan Zittrain's excellent book, The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It. (available for full download with a Creative Commons copyright)  He begins by describing the Apple II computer as a "quintessentially generative technology," and then goes on to explain why the Apple iPhone was the opposite, a pre-programmed, sterile platform.
It turns out, as reported in the Joongang Daily, that the Korean government is preparing to launch a mobile app for use by the nearly one million civil servants employed by the Korean government.  According to the article, Korea's "...Ministry of Public Administration and Security said it asked the National Intelligence Service late last year to review the security level of smartphones and tablet PCs on the market as part of its preparations for developing the new service. Following the review, the NIS asked mobile device manufacturers like Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Pantech and Apple to meet security-level requirements including source code disclosures as a prerequisite for participating in the development and installation of the electronic system."
Apple's local subsidiary rejected the NIS request on the basis that it represented unwanted meddling. “What the NIS and Korean government are trying to do is meddle with Apple’s own system,” said an Apple Korea insider, who asked not to be identified. “But Apple is equipped with the one and only door to its iOS system - iTunes - in the interest of tight security and to protect itself. That’s why Apple has gained a reputation for stable security. Look at Android. It has about 100 doors. It’s impossible for Apple to hand the key to the door over to the Korean government.” In this instance, the contrast between Google's open source platform and advocacy of an "open web" and Apple's closed, sterile approach, could not be clearer.