2006 has been the year of video and social networking. YouTube in video, and the likes of MySpace, Facebook and Mixi in social networking, have defined these two spaces. Both are secular trends in the sense that they are not going to go away. Video is a natural evolution from the limited world of text and images that we have seen in the first decade of the Internet. Social networking is an extension of how we all live for and around family and friends. In the world of social networking, one of the early pioneers was Cyworld, which started in South Korea. In this week’s Tech Talk, we will take a closer look at Cyworld, and see what ideas, if any, are relevant in the Indian context.
Wikipedia provides an over view of Cyworld:
Cyworld is a South Korean web community site operated by SK Communications, a subsidiary of SK Telecom. Literally translated, “Cyworld” can mean “cyber world”, but it’s also a play on the Korean word for relationship, so it could also mean “relationship world.” It takes the concept of personal, virtual rooms similar to MySpace, CokeMusic, and AeroWorld which is still in service in the USA to promote their products.
Members cultivate on- and off-line relationships by forming Ilchon buddy relationships with each other through a service called “minihompy”, which encompasses a photo gallery, message board, guestbook, and personal bulletin board. A user can link his/her minihompy to another user’s minihompy to form a buddy relationship. It is similar to U.S. based Facebook and MySpace websites. It has been reported that as much as 90 percent of South Koreans in their 20s and 25 percent of the total population of South Korea are registered users of Cyworld, and as of September 2005, daily unique visitors are about 20 million.
Cyworld launched its US site earlier this year. This is how it outlines the services on offer:
Your Life. Your World. Cyworld.
Cyworld is a whole new way to connect with the people in your world. Here you’ll find friends you know, new people to meet, clubs to join and special spaces for your photos, artwork, journals and more. In Cyworld, you can meet up, hang out, play, dream and share your world like never before.
Build your Minihome – Your personal space in Cyworld.
Write your profile. Keep up with your friends. Upload your photos, drawings and images – we give you unlimited storage so you can save and display as many as you want.
Design your Miniroom
A place to tell stories and bring your dreams to life. Travel to exotic lands, talk about last weekend’s party or cozy up with a cutie – the only limit is your imagination.
Create your Minime – your avatar in Cyworld.
Your Minime represents all aspects of you … the “you” inside of you, the “you” you want to be. Or just the “you” you feel like sharing today. Have fun styling your Minime. You can change its hair, clothing, facial expression, mood, position and background as often as you like.
Connect with friends
Go out and visit friends, exchange gifts, post messages, create neighborhoods, join a club or even start a club. Millions of people around the globe have already moved into Cyworld. We’ll think you’ll like it here, too.
Tomorrow: Key Features