Monday, November 26, 2012

Korean finance companies turn to gamification

Some Korean financial institutions have added games to their online banking systems in order to attract customers.  As shown in the accompanying graphic, (click to see a full size version) this is part of a broader international trend.
For example, "a 39-year-old with the surname Yim plays “My Love Dokdo” on his smartphone whenever he has time - not just because the game is addictive, but because it can garner him a better interest rate on his online banking account. “I started playing it because if I reach level 20 the interest rate on my account will automatically go up 0.5 percentage point,” said Yim, who recently opened a “My Love Dokdo Cyber Fixed Deposit” account with NH Nonghyup."

Friday, November 23, 2012

North Korea's mobile services grow to 1.5 million subscribers

There is interesting news about mobile communications in North Korea in an interview by Forbes magazine with the Egyptian tycoon, Naguib Sawiris.  His company, Orascom Telecom has a 75 percent stake in Koryolink, the North Korean mobile network that is 25% owned by a company under the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.
According to Sawiris, "Koryolink currently has more than 1.5 million subscribers. Coverage includes the capital Pyongyang in addition to 15 main cities, more than 100 small cities, and some highways and railways. Territory coverage is around 14%, and more than 90% population coverage. The subscriber base has been increasing at a very healthy rate from 950,000 at the end of 2011 to an estimated 1.7 million at the end of 2012."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Viral Spread of "Gangnam Style" music video

Psy has won the MTV Europe best music video award and seems headed for further recognition as the YouTube video "Gangnam Style" continues to attract viewers. A simple Google Trends search produces some interesting results that show patterns of attention to the viral video around the world.  For example, as shown in the top graphic on the left (click on graphic for a full size version) there are distinct global peaks in search activity for "Gangnam Style"  on weekends, Saturdays in particular.  Party time!

Google trends also returns a world map as shown below. In the full report, accessible at the Google Trends link below, there is an animation that shows the pattern of how this video spread virally over the past 90 days. Interesting.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Korea: A blind spot in Western accounts of internet and social network history

I've just spent an hour or so looking at timelines on the Web that depict the history of mass media, the history of the internet or the history of social networking. For one example, see the infographic published on Mashable.  Are you surprised to read that not a single one of the dozen or more timelines I found even mentioned Korea's Cyworld, which began operation in 1999, half a decade before the invention of Facebook?  The omission is even more egregious because Cyworld was thriving in South Korea by 2004, with over 22 million users and more than 92 percent of all Koreans in their 20s using the service!
I realize that Korea is not the only Asian country omitted from the many timelines published on the English part of the WWW, but it is a glaring omission because the nation built fast nationwide broadband networks years before other countries caught up. China, which today has the largest population of social media users in the world, also fails to appear in many of these accounts.
The main point of this post:  for readers to remember that the social networking phenomenon, at least measured in terms of public popularity and use, began right here in Korea, not in the Western world.  More on this topic in future posts.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thinking about "social media" and its role in national development

I've been busy reading and thinking about social media these days in connection with a consulting project for a United Nations Asia Pacific regional center devoted to information and communications technology for development (ICT4D).  The field of development communication, which was my focus in graduate school at Stanford back in the mass media era, has changed a great deal, mainly because of the revolutionary development of the internet and digital communication technology generally.  ICT4D and more recently social media for development are now in vogue, in no small part because of the tremendous hopes for the role that mobile broadband internet via smart phones, tablets and other devices, may play in bolstering socioeconomic development in the poor nations of the world.
On the infrastructure side of things, there is ample reason for optimism since it appears that nearly everyone in the world will have some form of mobile broadband access within a decade.   At the end of 2011, the ITU estimated that over 87 percent of the world's population had mobile phone subscriptions.
However, it is well to remember that there were high hopes in the 1970s that mass media would contribute to national development, and those hopes were never realized.   I'll be following this topic more closely and may post here occasionally.  For those of you interested in following the main issues, I recommend two blogs.
The first is the ICTs for Development blog authored by Richard Heeks of the University of Manchester's Centre for Development Informatics.  To ensure a balanced perspective, I also suggest that you consult the ICT4D Jester blog, written by Kentaro Toyama of U.C. Berkeley.
More on all of this in future posts.