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.

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