One Liter of Tears

Web 2.0 | 2007/06/13 14:21 | Web 2.0 Asia
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One Liter of Tears

Last weekend, I watched a Japanese drama called "One liter of tears." The drama was downloaded from a colleague's USB HDD. (He downloaded the original file on his P2P account, of course.)

Update: I explicitly mentioned the fact that my colleague downloaded the file via P2P to implicitly emphasize the fact that there's no legal way of downloading the foreign media files even though one wants to buy the files - but as I see this again, the point wasn't delivered very well.

The drama is so moving, I guarantee you will feel tears coming down your face at the first episode.

If not, you've been in this business for too long. You gotta seriously consider about having some time off and filling in your emotional bank account. :)

But my point, at least for this Web 2.0 Asia blog, is this.

How could I, totally illiterate in Japanese, watch the Japanese drama and get moved by it just like the Japanese? Because the drama was very, very well translated. Nothing, not even the "between-the-lines meanings", got lost in translation.

And how? Through the community-powered, open-source translation.

What's the open source translation? In Korea, at this very moment, foreign dramas are being translated by the people, who are good at foreign languages but do not get any reward other than fame in community for translating those dramas.

Asking why these guys translate the foreign dramas despite no reward is just like asking why Linux developers contribute for SourceForge.

Although these "lay translators" are not professional translators (well, some of them might be ones), they are often better than the professional translators. Once the dramas get translated, downloaders rate the translator on the community boards. The good ones are publicly applauded. The bad ones are replaced by new "challengers".

And why are there many voluntary translators in the first place? Because there are so many people interested in these foreign dramas and downloading them via the net. Just like the rest of Asia have been avidly embracing the Korean dramas ("K-wave"), Koreans absolutely love foreign dramas - especially those from the US and Japan.

I believe the Next Big Thing, whatever it is, should have to do with people's innate desires. For example, behind the success of MySpace and Cyworld, there was a basic human psychology about "wanting to check out the girls/guys". The Next Big Thing will certainly embody some technology elements, but it might not necessarily be the technology itself.

And the interest in foreign culture is, I believe, one of the most fundamental desires of people.

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Erica Sawajiri

People save up their money so they can one day travel around the foreign countries. People are fascinated by foreign culture and become fans of foreign stars - for example Erica Sawajiri (the heroine in One Liter of Tears) is quite popular in Korea too. People want to listen to foreign pops, watch foreign dramas and movies, etc.

Without the internet and things like "community-driven translation" that I mentioned above, enjoying foreign culture would have been relatively difficult unless you were physically in that country. But now we have the internet, and popular dramas in one corner of the world can be watched by millions of people in the other corner of the world, the very next day.

To summarize:

1) The "Next Big Thing", whatever it might be, will have to address the basic human desires
2) Getting drawn to foreign culture and foreign media is one of the basic human desires
3) The Web is making it easier/more effective to consume foreign media - distribution, translation, etc.
4) Therefore, if done right, I believe a killer combination of the Web and foreign media distribution can be a Next Big Thing (I didn't say The Next Big Thing, as the latter would be something more fundamental)
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