Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Global Internet is Decentralizing: Where South Korea Fits

Telegeography has come out with a very interesting new report on Global Internet Geography that shows clearly how the global internet is decentralizing.   To see a full size version of the accompanying graphic, click on it. According to the report, .the global Internet is far less centered on the United States than it was 10 years ago. The development of rich regional networks, coupled with a need for diversification, has reduced the share of international capacity connected to the U.S. for all regions except Latin America.
The report also notes that the shifting topology of the global Internet is tied to the desire to locate content nearer to end users and, ultimately, reduce latency. Several carriers reported that improved routing efficiencies, largely attributable to the caching and localization of content, have reduced traffic on their interregional links and led to more rapid growth on local and regional links. (I have put "localization" in bold to emphasize it.).
The desire to locate content nearer to end users is something that will be apparent to any Korean internet user who has impatiently waited for web pages hosted on servers in the U.S. to respond.   The localization of content is a much more important matter, especially here in South Korea.   This nation, despite possessing the world's most extensive and advanced digital networks, stands out as only one of four countries in the world where Google does not yet have a respectable market share for web search.  See my post in late 2009, before the late arrival of Apple's iPhone here.  The internet in Korea, despite its dazzling networks, is still largely a walled garden ( if you doubt that, do a search of this blog for "walled-garden" to read some of my other posts.)  The vast majority of web surfing done by Koreans is done right here on within the southern half of the peninsula, using Naver, Daum and other popular Korean language sites.  This fact alone says volumes about the nature of the internet and the nature of Korea's information society.  I suspect that similar patterns elsewhere in the world account for the Telegeography findings.  What does all of this say about the role of language and culture in 21st century communications and the potential role of the internet in promoting global awareness?   While the younger generations here in Korea are beginning to search the worldwide web using Google, thanks to the arrival of smartphones in late 2009, these are questions that deserve to be examined in some detail.

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