Social Networking

MySpace faces stiff competition in Japan
Kenji Kasahara the founder of Mixi, Fumi Yamazaki at Technorati Japan, consultant Ko Orita, researcher Michiko Yoshida and SNS user Jun Yamagishi are among the people interviewed in my story on the cultural differences playing out in social networking services in Japan vs. the U.S.
Cultural differences make for an old story but how they emerge in new kinds of services are new _ and, what’s fascinating, confirm old ideas we may otherwise be tempted to dismiss as stereotypes.
Of course, there are similarities.
And how the various services that develop in each culture may take advantage of that cultural characteristic to strengthen technology and services that cater to that characteristic may even allow a service to translate into other cultures in the future.
Technorati’s Yamazaki says the key to getting a successful SNS going (in either country) is to attract young people and get them “addicted,” that is, get the kids to keep coming back.
She told me about a booming Mixi community that’s called “Mattaku wake ga wakarimasen,” or “This makes absolutely no sense at all,” where people write in absurd situations they’ve run across.
Maybe part of the reason why Yoshida at Fujitsu Research Institute in Tokyo keeps calling much of what’s on Mixi “gomi” or “garbage.”
But she says there are interesting SNS communities, too, like the one by ANA mileage card holders who exchange travel information. That sprang up as a consumer, rather than ANA, initiative.
Yoshida thinks SNS will diversify and develop more business uses _ and become with time perhaps less gomi.

Story on Washington Post online.