380 Articles for '전체'

  1. 2008/05/10 Is the Chinese BBS really the future of social media? (3)
  2. 2008/05/07 italki is the language learning 2.0 (2)
  3. 2008/05/07 Spotplex goes into deadpool
  4. 2008/05/07 Microsoft to work with Hyundai-Kia Motors on "in-vehicle infotainment"
  5. 2008/04/30 Cyworld 3D about to enter closed beta
  6. 2008/04/30 Where the online meets the offline: Gas price edition
  7. 2008/04/24 Progress update on the Asia Web Conference plan (14)
  8. 2008/04/24 Up close and personal with Myspace CEO Chris DeWolf (4)
  9. 2008/04/24 Nurien's 3D world will blow you away (4)
  10. 2008/04/22 KT launches a $3/mo. unlimited wireless internet plan for iPod/iPhone users (4)
The other day, I read a piece on the China Vortex, shared on Google reader by Tangos. (Thanks Tangos - I'm getting lots of insights into the Chinese web industry through your shared blog articles. Of course I enjoy your own too.)

In short, the article said:
  • Much of Chinese internet = BBS
  • Often the Chinese "group thoughts/activities", such as the recent (rather unfortunate) "Angry Chinese" incidents, get organized on these BBSes
  • Chinese' love of BBS might have come from distrust of traditional media
  • Outsiders have not figured this out
But the very last part of the article kind of made me scratch my head:
So, BBSes are the real social media marketing tool, and as usual, the Chinese are ahead of everyone else, but just haven’t figured out that part themselves. While the west talks about social media and Web 2.0, China has had a version of it for the past ten years. It may not be pretty, but it works.

Does the fact that BBS is so popular in China today mean a) BBS is the right platform for social media and b) BBS will remain as popular in China for the coming years? I'm not very sure about that, at least using the Korean market as a "canary in coal mine" example.

a) Is BBS the right platform for social media?

If we define "social media" as the collection of unque, diversified individual voices, I don't think BBS is the optimal platform for social media activities - on the contrary, BBSes can often lead to group thoughts and monoculture, where the agenda is largely driven by big voices.

b) Will BBS remain popular in China for the coming years?

In Korea, we have a popular BBS/forum service in "Daum Cafe". Three or four years ago, Daum cafe was arguably THE most popular service for Korean netizens. Today, Daum Cafes are still doing pretty okay I guess, but are definitely not the most popular daily web destination as they once used to be. Over the last several years, Daum Cafe has given much way first to minihompies, and later to blogs.

The problem of Daum Cafe as a BBS-type service was that it wasn't as much focusing on individuals. On BBSes and forums, usually it's difficult to keep track of the messages users left on different spaces and the subsequent comments left by other users. It's also difficult to put one's personal identity to the page that collects all his postings ("My page"), just like a contributor's personal page on Wikipedia is rarely visited (many people don't even know such pages exist). People like group activities too, but basically people are individualistic. Users want to have "their own site" where they have all their content under a specific URL which they can use as personal brands.


I know this is a very crude analogy, but I think the evolution from homepage to BBS to blogs and other forms of social media can be said:

Generation 1 = Homepages = individual "homes" without much communication channels. People sometimes visit other "homes" but communication between homes are generally not very active. Besides, it's generally difficult to build and manage one's own home.

Generation 2 = BBS = town hall meetings or cocktail parties where people gather together and talk about various topics, but not much of "individual space".

Generation 3 = blogs = individual homes with built-in communication system and numerous, instant townhall meetings (i.e. the content aggregation via XML/RSS).

If we look back on the Korean web service market, the game-changing services have walked through the above generations. First the homepages were all the rage (circa 1998), then there were Daum Cafe and other BBS/forum services like Freechal (circa 2000). Then, of course, Cyworld minihompies came along and took the market by storm (2002 or so). And now the name of the game is, arguably, blogs - I'm not saying this because I'm a blog company CEO :)

Of course this is only what happend in the Korean market, and just because something happened in the Korean market doesn't mean it will happen everywhere else. But having said that, I am eager to see if the Chinese' love of BBS will continue or even get stronger, or the Chinese netizens will further embrace blogs or other forms of more "personal" media platform. What do you think?  
TAG BBS, blogs, cafe, China, Daum, Freechal

italki is the language learning 2.0

Web 2.0 | 2008/05/07 20:10 | Web 2.0 Asia
Shanghai-based italki is "applying Web 2.0 concepts, such as social networking, user-generated content, and crowdsourcing, to language learning." Founded by American and Chinese entrepreneurs, italki has 210,000+ users from 100+ countries speaking 90+ languages. They have recently launched a new version, where users can "now collaborate on creating free language learning textbooks", according to Kevin Chen of italki.

On italki, speakers of different languages can exchange questions/answers regarding the languages they are learning. For example, as shown on the screenshot below, those who are learning Korean language can post questions, for which Korean speakers (like myself) might provide some help.

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Or, one can also find a "language partner" for peer study. Naturally, I searched for the 18-25 year old females - go ahead and sue me :) By the way, the search still gave me some 17 year olds - a small glitch, perhaps? (Just hope there isn't such thing as "underage peer language learning").

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Users can do more, such as posting language-learning resources and files, and forming study groups. The site is cleanly designed and very web 2.0-ish (with the Truebuchet font and all). The fact that they already have user base in the order of couple hundred thousands is also a plus, I guess.

I don't know if italki has indeed finally brought the concept of "education 2.0" into existence, but it's true that many people (including an avid reader of this blog who now became a friend of mine) firmly believe that education and web 2.0 are natural fit and the so-called "education 2.0" is very, very promising.

My thought is that, perhaps the true Litmus test for italki will be to see if italki can replace, or at least provide a more efficient way to learn foreign language than the existing language-learning methods.
TAG italki

Spotplex goes into deadpool

Web 2.0 | 2008/05/07 20:06 | Web 2.0 Asia
Spotplex, a Silicon Valley-based blog analytics service that was founded by Koreans and once touted by Techcrunch as "a better Digg", apparently closed its door:

Dear Spotplex users,

We regret to inform you that Spotplex is going offline. This was a very hard decision for us and we are sure you will miss the service as much as we do.

Thanks for your support. For any question, please send us an email at .

The Spotplex Team
Spotplex was "a real-time ranking for blog articles based on actual impression counts, not the number of votes or recommendation. In short, people can find what people read most today and thus most interesting news of the day."

Spotplex was run by Doyon Kim, co-founder of Dialpad (sold to Yahoo) and Opinity. As someone who personally knows Doyon (we even went to the same school, albeit during different years), I am sorry to see Doyon's service shutting down. But I'm sure Doyon is learning tons and will bring us other exciting services in no time.

Other Valley-based services founded by Koreans include Mysimon.com; And some Korean web services like Cyworld have their US operations.
Bill Gates, after meeting with Korean President Lee, announced Microsoft will invest $100M+ in setting up the "Automotive IT Innovation Center" jointly with Hyundai-Kia Motors, the nation's premier auto company.

According to Reuters, the first product under the partnership would be a voice-controlled system linking mobile devices to car stereo systems; Later versions are expected to include multimedia and navigation-related features.

In plain English: the US-bound Hyundai and Kia vehicles will soon have Microsoft-powered gadgets inside the cars. Which means those cars will be the first models that come with the integrated Ctrl + Alt + Del keys on dashboard. :)

As evidenced by Ray Ozzie's "Mesh" plan, Microsoft is working hard on its new corporate vision to provide ubiquitous connected experience across all devices and environments, including the driver's seat. Meanwhile, other companies like Apple should also be looking at similar opportunities.

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Cyworld 3D about to enter closed beta

Web 2.0 | 2008/04/30 13:00 | Web 2.0 Asia
Cyworld "Minilife", aka Cyworld 3D, is about to start closed beta service. They are accepting up to 500,000 closed beta users (about 2% of their current user base of 22 million). Cyworld Minilife is a Second Life-like virtual 3D social network service, and is expected to launch in June this year. So far I'm not that impressed, but will deliver updates anyway.

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In Korea, you can check out the gas price on the web in advance before you fill up your car. The government-operated site, Opinet, offers a near real-time price comparison service for the nation's gas stations.
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For those who are always on the move, this feature will soon become available on mobile and in-car navigation. So the age-old "future scenario", where we drive our cars around and find shopping and price information around us in real time, doesn't seem too distant to finally become reality.
TAG Gas price, opinet

Progress update on the Asia Web Conference plan

Other | 2008/04/24 17:01 | Web 2.0 Asia
It's been some months since I wrote an open letter on this blog, proposing the first-ever Asia Web Conference (the final name of the conference is TBD).

Since that post, I've been talking to bloggers and web experts in Asia, in an "under the water" fashion. And within some weeks (early this year), we had kickstarted the project - here's a brief update.

We now have the following people as the organizers for the Asia Web Conference:

If you follow blogs about Asian web industry, you should be familiar with these names already. They are some of the best and brightest guys, I'm sure.

As you can see here, we need oranizers from other countries - most notably missing is Japan. If there's anyone reading this blog post from Japan who's interested in making this conference happen, come aboard! Just roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, it will be fun.

For the last several weeks, we've been exchanging various ideas about the conference via Google Docs (which we're still doing). We recently put together the possible list of speakers and sponsors, and we now have 54 A-list potential speakers on our list. Of course this doesn't mean we'll have all 54 of them on our conference, but I'm sure we'll get some of the best speakers you can find in and out of Asia in our conference.

The central theme of this conference will be "social". We used a couple of criteria when we decided the conference theme: a) the topic should be about an area where Asia has unique strengths, b) the topic should be important/trendy enough to attract participants/speakers/sponsors, and c) it should be where each Asian country has its own market-dominating player, so that some nice cross-country comparisons can be made. We came up with "mobile" and "social" as two best possible topics, and we finally chose "social". Social isn't such a terribly narrow topic either, but the topic shouldn't have to be too restrictive either, we believe.

We still haven't decided on the venue. Well, we didn't even decide which country to hold the conference in, for that matter - I'm still rooting for China but there's the Olympics logistics issue, and the visa requirement doesn't help either. I'm also looking at Korea too, part of the reason being I'm kind of being the main guy pushing this and Korea is my home turf where I can get some help from companies and even the government more easily.

As always, what matters most is the money side. We should find sponsors and come up with the financial plan. To do that, we need big-name speakers, and to do that, we should finalize the venue, dates, and the program, and to do that... well, there's still tons of work to be done.

But in any case, I still firmly believe that the Asia Web Conference is very much in order, as the world's internet industry increasingly sets its eyes on Asia, both for market opportunities (ie. China and India) and for inspirations (e.g. the digital "craziness" of Japan and Korea). Heck, I personally met two big-name Silicon Valley CEOs within three days in Korea!

This was just a brief update, and I'll keep you posted as we go along and get more updates. Of course, if you are interested to be an organizer/speaker/sponsor, don't hesitate to contact me or anyone listed above.
TAG Angus Lau, Asia Web Conference, Benjamin Joffe, Bernard Moon, John Kim, Lu Gang, Tangos Chan
Here's the video of my interview with Myspace co-founder and CEO, Chris DeWolf, and also with Travis Katz and Sung Lee, both VPs at Myspace. (Sung is heading up the Asian operation of Myspace.)

Do you know what keeps Myspace CEO up at night? The fact that there are local competitors in every country, and that he has to keep track of about 30 of them.

As a tech blogger, this was really a golden opportunity for me - Well, it's not like you get to interview Myspace CEO every day, right?

The interview went very smoothly. I'm not necessarily saying this was a good thing though. In retrospect, I think the interview could have carried more "sting", with perhaps more jokes and curve balls (ie. hard questions) thrown. To defend myself a bit, somehow the settings were not entirely conversational - I suspect this was because at the end of every sentence we all had to wait for the translator to translate the entire paragraph.

By the way, it's worth noting that more and more Silicon Valley CEOs are visiting Korea. Interview with Chris marked the second time I met a big-name Silicon Valley CEO during the span of three days (the first such meeting was with Max Levchin of Slide.com.)

So who should I interview the next time in Korea, Google founders maybe? :)
TAG Chris DeWolf, Interview, Korea, , Sung Lee, Travis Katz

Nurien's 3D world will blow you away

Web 2.0 | 2008/04/24 00:37 | Web 2.0 Asia
Nurien Software finally announced they raised $15 million from investors in the US and China:
(Via Venturebeat) ...The company lets users create their own avatars and then socialize in a variety of topic areas. Its service has been in development for three years. Investors include Beijing-based Northern Light Venture Capital, Globespan Capital Partners, New Enterprise Associates, and QiMing Venture Partners...
I said "finally" because I knew about their funding from a while ago. Tim Kim, VP/co-founder of Nurien who pulled this deal after pitching to virtually all major VCs in the Valley (and many in China), is a friend of mine.

This is actually not the first time Tim raised a big round of venture financing from Silicon Valley investors. He played a key role in Realtime Worlds' $50 millon second round, which was announced not too long ago. The thing is, Tim and his company were initially part of Realtime Worlds, a UK/US-based game publisher, but they had spun out to found Nurien and went through a fresh round of venture funding.

People say it's nearly impossible for non-Valley companies (except for those in China and India maybe) to raise venture funding from the Valley investors. But maybe it is possible - here's the guy who did it, not once but twice.

Of course, Tim wouldn't have been able to raise $15 million without a killer product. What Nurien provides is, in essence, a 3D platform on which various activities, such as dancing, chatting, fashion shows, and gaming, can take place. Perhaps a video is worth a thousand words - Go check out their intro video, which will blow you away, and you'll immediately get what they are up to. (Cannot embed the video, so I'm instead providing the link.)

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Virtual character created by Nurien Software

TAG 3d, Nurien, Realtime Worlds, Tim Kim
KT (Korea Telecom) announced it will start offering a $3-per-month unlimited wireless internet access plan for the users of its "NESPOT" WLAN hotspot service.

This means that the iPod touch users who have Skype account can practically use their iPod touch as a phone (via Skype), at only three bucks a month. (Plus your Skype fees, of course, but those won't be huge).

Well, given the ubiquity of NESPOT coverage, at least in Korea, who needs an iPhone when they can use iPod touch + Skype + $3/month NESPOT?

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