195 Articles for 'Web 2.0'
- 2009/06/03 ViiKii is Youtube for international videos (8)
- 2009/05/27 Top Korean sports celebrity to join Twitter (2)
- 2009/05/19 Playstreet lets you walk through Seoul's hotspots (4)
- 2009/05/14 Cyworld to embrace Open Social
- 2009/05/13 Enswer.me seems to have found the holy grail of monetizing online videos
- 2009/05/11 Wetoku is Interview 2.0 (2)
- 2009/05/04 No cram school after 10PM; a boon for e-learning? (5)
- 2009/04/28 Korea's leading games company to downsize its web business unit
- 2009/04/27 Newspaper says "Cyber exiles" are increasing in Korea
- 2009/04/14 Does the concept of country matter any more in the internet era? (7)
A few days ago, I met with the founders of ViiKii, a Valley-based startup specializing in sharing subtitled international videos. The husband-and-wife team originally come from Korea and they have extensive startup experiences under their belt. They started ViiKii a few years back when Changseong Ho (the husband) was still at Stanford MBA. Now the site is a booming and bustling place, where lots of subtitle creators and viewers interested in watching international videos hang out. Also the service is already profitable with ads and donations, they say.
People gifted with translation skills can create subtitles for videos produced in foreign languages. Right now translators do not make money directly from their work, but they get reputation among the community - which is enough of a motivation for so many subtitle creators that there is sometimes even competition going on among them as to who gets to translate a certain piece of video.
Thanks to the contribution of those subtitle creators, viewers can watch various international videos without so much of language barrier. The site's reputation system makes translators do a good job, and after a quick spin I find the general quality of translation very good. The site has clean design and has all necessary features like sharing, embedding, comments, etc. You can call this a Youtube of translated videos.
As the world becomes more globalized, more and more people will develop interest in foreign culture, as observed in the recent popularity of Korean pop culture among other parts of the Asia. That means the number of people who want to consume subtitled international videos will only increase, suggesting a bright future for ViiKii.
After Oprah's blessing, Twitter has become officially mainstream, and many celebrities are joining the micro-blogging service. Yuna Kim, a Korean figure skater who is one of the most popular sports figures in Korea, also started her own Twitter recently. Kim's Twitter has instantly got .
Whenever I talk to folks from the Valley, many of them ask me why no one had started a Twitter clone in Korea. It turns out that we do have a cool Twitter-like service in Me2day, which is now part of NHN (the company behind Naver.) Also there is another service called PlayTalk, which became famous after a famous Korean book author published a best seller book, based on his "Twits" on PlayTalk.
Speaking of a famous figure using the service, Me2day also saw increase of use after having Epic High, famous singer, on board. Key takeaway here: Whether it's Oprah, a figure skater, or a best selling book author, having a celebrity on your service can make it much more visible to the mainstream users.
Playstreet is a new service that sort of combines the best of Google's street views and Yelp.com. In a nutshell, Playstreet, a Seoul-based startup service, is a local review service on select hot spots. Hotspots in cities are usually represented by streets -- think Paris' Champs-Elysees, New York's 5th Avenue, Los Angeles's Rodeo Drive, or Tokyo's Harajuku Dakeshita Dori. Playstreet displays local review content on those popular streets in a unique way, where street view images are overlayed onto graphical maps, so that it can give users a feeling as if they were actually walking on the particular spot.
Playstreet only focuses on "hot spots", and for Seoul, currently there are 29 hotspots. I think that's plenty.
Select a hotspot, and the default view presented is a graphical map. But notice the map doesn't try to cover everywhere, but specifically focuses on most interesting streets. When mouse is over a blue line on the map (i.e. certain street of interest), it gets highlighted.
Click on the highlighted blue line, and you get a more detailed view for the street. Now you see a mashup of street view (top pane) and the matching graphical map (bottom pane). The two panes are synchronized, so whichever pane you are scrolling in, the other pane gets scrolled at the same time.
Notable places on the street view are tagged; Click on a place tag, and a popup window shows basic information and review content about the place. (There isn't so much of content for the time being, it appears).
It's interesting they are not using Google's street maps (which doesn't support Korea right now anyway), or anything equivalent, but are producing their own version of street images. They say they have a partnership program with colleges, and through that program they can hire college students for a low-cost photo taking. Playstreet says the key reason they have to produce their own images is the needs for more frequent update - in Korea, shops do change all the time. But I'm still wondering if producing the street images in-house is the best approach for them in the long term.
It also remains to be seen if Playstreet will be able to amass enough content, either through crawling or through user generation. At the end of the day, local information sites would be all about content. Having said that, I think this is a quite interesting concept and a brilliantly unique user interface.
Image from Google
At this point, it is not 100% clear how far the company will go in terms of integrating Open Social in Cyworld. Most basic implementation can be something like making Cyworld an Open Social container so that Korea's third party developers can introduce and sell interesting small applications to the minihompy users. That's almost given, I would say, but it will be more cool to see Cyworld's social graph become available to third party developers so we can see some interesting apps that leverage Cyworld's "1-chon" social graph, or better yet, Dotori (acorns) virtual payment system. If app developers can piggyback on Dotori system, it will allow micro payment and help monetizing apps -- which will lead to more active participation of app developers.
Largely, Cyworld Minihompies have been called a closed ecosystem. Now Cyworld wants to become "as open as Facebook", according to the article quoted above. Hope Open Social will rejuvenate the recently stagnating Cyworld, the "mother of all social networks", by bringing in lots of interesting apps to the game.
Web 2.0 | 2009/05/13 12:43 | Web 2.0 Asia
In this Youtube era, people upload TV content on the web literally the minute after programs are aired. Content owners are almost frantic to chase after those non-copyright uploaders and delete their uploaded content. But it often ends up being a mere hide and seek game, as for every deleted piece, there is always another piece of the same content getting uploaded. Also, content deletion leads to a bad user experience, as people often see the image of a video, click on it, and end up seeing "This content has been deleted due to the request of the original owner" sign.
Back to the Boys Over Flowers. The content owners of Boys Over Flowers knew that their program would be put up on the internet in no time, and their effort to hunt down the illegal uploads would be simply not enought. So intead they worked with Enwer.me, a video startup (which I covered in my previous post), to search the user-uploaded Boys Over Flowers content on Daum and Cyworld, and put relevant ads.
Content owners, instead of relentlessly chasing after user uploaded content and deleting them, could generate fresh ads revenue -- the more users upload content, the more money content owners make. Enswer's video search technology enabled such targeted video ads, and anyone would agree that this would be a far better way to monetize video content than banning user uploads and restricting the viewing experience to those channels that the content owners have direct control over. Job well done.
Wetoku is a new web service out of Korea that doesn't try to do too many things, but does one thing very well -- interviewing someone on the internet. Doing an interview can be a rather cumbersome process: think all those travels and equipment-carrying. But Wetoku makes doing an interview as easy as filling out some basic info, creating an interview session, and sending the created interview session's URL to the target interviewee.
Once the recording is done, the interviewer can embed the copy of the URL to easily embed the interview content on blog or other sites. Here is an example of an interview done ovder Wetoku and embedded on a website.
Wetoku is a product of Zenitum, a Seoul, Korea based professional service agency cum small-scale venture incubator. As for the name, Wetoku is the Japanese way of pronouncing "We Talk", according to Wetoku. This is just a fun and hip way of coming up with a new brand, never meant to be making fun of Japanese accents at all, Wetoku says - in fact, they say the name came from one of the Japanese speakers at the firm. Well, with the likes of Wetoku and Big in Japan (which has nothing to do with Japan anyway), maybe Japan is becoming the newest source of inspiration for Web 2.0 names? We'll see.
The guys behind Wetoku are agile application developers, who also produced Edufava, a web service whose tagline is "Find and learn from the world's best educators." Both Wetoku and Edufava were built in Korea, but they are obviously targeted for global audience, both being available in English. Also both sites have very clean, uncluttered design. Hope they become the long-awaited Korea-born, globally-hit web services.
TAG Edufava, Wetoku, Zenitum
Image from Google
I think this is one of those only-in-Korea stories. Korean government announced plan to strengthen the current regulation on late-hour classes in Hakwons, the after-school test prep institutions (more simply put, cram schools.) Currently Hakwons are "advised" to send their kids back home by at least 10PM. However, according to the article, in real life many Hakwons hold classes until 11PM. Yes, you read it right -- 11PM wasn't a typo. Add to that the commute hours and some "spill-over" study to do, and you can see why so many Korean kids suffer from sleep deprivation.
The government wants to migitate the situation by enforcing 10PM curfew on all Hakwon classes. But that doesn't make the Korean society less competitive all of a sudden. Korean kids still have to make it to good colleges and get a decent job after graduation to even barely survive in this hyper-competitive society. That means they have to study the hell out of themselves, and even if Hakwon now finishes at 10PM instead of 11PM, students have to resume their study after they hit home. Hence the boost of e-learning companies' stock prices; For example, Digital Daesung, a Korean e-learning company, saw its stock price surge by about 25% after the government announcement. They say Korea is a dynamic country. Sometimes the country can be too dynamic. Koreans need some rest (myself included, perhaps), and highschool kids are no exception.
Web 2.0 | 2009/04/28 07:35 | Web 2.0 Asia
NC Soft, Korea's leading online games company, appears to have shifted down on its Web 2.0 play through Openmanu business division. (Link in Korean). NC Soft is one of the world's biggest online games company, most famous for its Lineage series. The company recently launched another smash-hit-ready title, AION.
Openmaru is an NC Soft business division that's been dedicated to developing new web applications, generally themed under open source and Web 2.0 spirits. Openmaru was supposed to be the seed for new business for NC Soft, it appeared: The gaming company wanted to use Openmaru as its pioneer to help extend NC's supremacy into the general web business (especially the newly emerging Web 2.0 area), as well as the gaming industry, where it already dominated.
However, sometimes one's biggest enemy is its own success. As NC Soft's games business continued to take off and rake in big monies, internal pressure to focus on its core games business grew on, it's been often said around the industry. As a public company that has to post continuous quarterly growth, it would have been difficult for NC to justify the presence of a pureplay web business unless that new business was showing some healthy sign of potential revenue stream -- which the business unit apparently failed to show.
That said, Openmaru has given us the Korean internet users many good web apps. As I'd written before, their eye-pleasing user interface and their overall approach towards developing and launching new web apps are just top notch.
Overall, NC's decision to downscale its web business to focus more on its core games business seems to be a right decision. However, it will be rather unfortunate to see NC Soft not achieving the same feat achieved by its claimed archrival, Naver. Naver leveraged its games revenue through Hangame division as the fuel for developing game-changing (pun intended :-) web business. Meanwhile, NC Soft will likely remain a games-specialty company, while coming a bit short on also wearing the "great web company" moniker seemingly coveted by the company. Which can be perfectly okay, because NC Soft may be only an online games specialty company, it's arguably world's best online games specialty company.
Newspaper says "Cyber exiles" are increasing in KoreaWeb 2.0 | 2009/04/27 18:25 | Web 2.0 Asia
More and more Korean netizens are "fleeing to foreign internet services", in response to tighter net censorship recently being implemented by the Korean government, Korean newspaper Hankyeoreh reports.
Under a new law, Korean internet users have to submit their real name and residence registration number (similar to social security number in the States) for ID verification, in order to use any major web service (more speficically defined as sites that have daily average viewership of over 100,000.) The law was initially proposed by the previous administration to prevent bad side effects of the internet's anonymity. Under the new law, people can still use their virtual IDs to express themselves, but if service providers are asked by the authority to reveal the real-world profile data of a particular virtual ID, they are legally required to submit such data. Hence the perceived deterioration of freedom of speech -- It's not easy to speak your heart out when you know the government might one day ask around who you are.
Despite increasing number of incidents that show how the anonymity of the internet can sometimes lead to horrible results, such as the recent "Craigslist murder", the US government is yet to mandate real ID verification or similar public policy to the internet service providers. In general, majority of Korean internet users are against tighter censorship around the internet, as exemplified in this recent survey. After a TV show "100 Minute Debate" on MBC, 83% of people said Youtube was right in its move to not follow the real name verification requirement.
Most of Korean netizens are using Korean local services, mostly big portals such as Naver and Daum, for their daily online activities. But "Cyber Exiles" are so worried about submitting their real-world information to use Korean web services that they are starting anew at foreign web services such as Google's Gmail, Hankyeoreh says. I don't think majority of Koreans will suddenly ditch all the archive of data they have accumulated all these years and flock to foreign services en masse anytime soon. But on the other hand, switching cost in the internet world is notoriously low, the government should carefully note.
Does the concept of country matter any more in the internet era?Web 2.0 | 2009/04/14 23:33 | Web 2.0 Asia
Sorry about the recent slow posting - Yes I've been terribly busy, but it is also rather difficult to blog when the sweeping story in the nation's web industry involves your own employer. I'm talking about the news that YouTube is not following Korean government's real name verification requirement and instead . (Also picked up by )
On the heels of the Youtube news comes another news on Korean government's Big Brother moves: Minerva, a blogger who criticized the government's sloppy economic policies and later got indicted in January, has been sentenced 18 months in jail yesterday. The charges on him: Spreading false financial rumors on the internet, thereby undermining the government's leadership. (Many of his "predictions" turned out to be right, including the fall of Lehman Brothers, by the way.)
I'm not saying this in defense of the Korean government, but it's not like Korea is being the only country in the world whose government is trying to exert more control over the netizens' freedom of speech. Iranian government reportedly tortured and killed a political blogger; Indian government wants all Indian nationals to use .in email addresses, not .com ones; Chinese government censored certain search results, a policy to which even Google had complied.
Maybe I shouldn't reiterate what would be pretty obvious to the readers of this blog, but the key misunderstanding these government officials have is that the same policies in the real world can be applied to the web world. But as a web service professional, I can attest it's not the case -- country border doesn't mean much on the internet, and the only meaningful diving line for an internet service is language.
I'm not saying this from a public policy or academic standpoint; I'm saying this from a very practical perspective. For Spanish-speaking audience living in California, language preference (Spanish) carries far more importance than country settings (US). An American expat living in Japan would want to be able to access Hulu and consume content in there, but would be frustrated to find that he's unable to access the site because his IP address shows he's in Japan and the site (falsely) assumes he's a Japanese.
Obviously there are still some road blocks, such as payment system or other country-specific factors, that require web services to implement country lenses. But the web will eventually evolve into a truly global medium, if it's not one already. When that time comes, country selection may become meaningless and obsolete, and governments won't be able to easily put forth proprietary internet policies that are relevant only to a specific country. Users will still have to specify their language preference, either explicitly or implicitly through browser's default locale -- of course, that's until Google perfects its translation engine and lifts the last-standing barrier of the internet.