18 May, 2006

Japanese Society and the "oyakusoku" vol.2

So for the first volume (and this isn't exactly sounding like a blog anymore) I unfolded my opinion that Japanese separate the use of tatemae and honne, and expose the honne in the online world. This time I'll write about the recent Japanese boom, mixi, a social networking system.

I believe SNS was born in the States so a lot of you know more about it than me, and I guess many of you might be members of some kind of SNS like orkut.com or friendster.com.

The way SNS is different from other forums and chats is that it encourages members to show their "real profile" in order to create a trustable online business network. In Japan, the system spread not so much as a place to seek and develop business opportunities as much as a communication place to interact with your friends in the "real" society and friends of friends.

Most of the members expose their real profile - names and faces - while the rule does not state real profile as a must. If you join the ring, you'll find many people using their face photos instead of drawn avatar.

I think the reason behind this is quite simple. Either because mixi is a closed society where you can't join unless someone gives you an invitation and so you can safely show your real face, or, because it's such a small community where only your already-friends can see your page makes no sense to hide your face.

Herewith, mixi made a huge success as an extensive communication place with your friends.

Nonetheless, the popularity is showing a gradual decrease recently, with traffic going down and being unable to persuade an increasing number of quitters.

One can easily see it as a stable phase after a peak, but the reality sounds graver.

So what's really going on?

Analysts from outside make perfunctory supposition that the rising popularity of YouTube might be one reason or that the change in the mixi format affected its popularity, but the insiders' view is totally different. What they say is this:


Not just a few are, but many are. Next time let me explain what about Japan's first community entertainment social network is so exhausting.

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