'Korea Technology Review'에 해당되는 글 35건

  1. 2009.03.31 Korea's Google Cracks Open Its 'Great Fire Wall' (68)
  2. 2009.03.31 Journalism As a Conversation (42)
  3. 2009.03.30 Merger of Korean Telcos May Open VoIP Heaven (63)
  4. 2009.03.30 Korean High-Tech Sector Braces for Sandstorm (52)
  5. 2009.03.30 Google Searching for Korean Customers (60)
Korea Technology Review2009.03.31 10:06



Naver gives up 'walled garden' and introduces Newscast and Opencast

"If China has a 'Great Firewall of China,' Korea has a 'Great Firewall of Naver.'"

Many netizens unhappy about the ever-increasing power of Naver complained that 'Korea's Google' is destroying the Korean Web ecosphere by monopolizing the vernacular online traffic. Indeed if you listen to it very hard, you could almost hear the giant sucking sound of Naver gobbling up near 70 percent of Korean Web traffic.

Naver is Korea's top search engine but simply calling it a "search engine" would be a disservice to this Korean internet giant. Imagine Google, Yahoo, eBay and Electronic Arts merged together one day to create a one-stop online destination for every American -- only then you can properly appreciate its imposing presence among Koreans.
Unfortunately for many online start-ups, this home-grown Korean search engine did not just work as a conduit leading to the greater Korean Web; it instead built a giant walled garden where no content is allowed to leave once it comes in, destroying the delicate balance of Korean Web ecosphere.

So goes complain from many independent-minded net users, but it was not just sophisticated power users that were complaining about its arrogant practices. Korean news sites that sell bulk of their news content to Naver started to feel uneasy as well about the growing power of Naver as a news portal.

Newscast, a new platform Naver introduced this January is the Naver's answer to this growing concern.

Its main news box, previously edited by Naver's internal editors, is now open to near 40 independent news providers including OhmyNews.com. Naver will randomly show 40 different news boxes edited by each of them as a slide show. If a user clicks any news link, it now leads to a final article page of each news site.

Will this change mitigate their anger and make them happy finally? Their reaction so far has been mixed.

Each of the news sites invited to fill in its edited news box on the Naver's main page has been instantly bombarded with huge traffic, increasing its page views by two to three folds.

Some minor news sites with limited server and network capacity had to ask Naver to stop sending traffic after they saw its system keep crashing or slow down remarkably.

Even for a big name news site that can handle sudden explosion in page views, it is still unclear how they can make the best of this traffic from Naver given the absence of a working business model--Korean news sites rely heavily on the sales of display ads and sponsorship deals with big name advertisers and for now they are clueless about what to do with the mounting traffic. 


To make the matters worse, they will have to purchase new servers and network capacity to cope with the exploding online traffic whereas no new working business model is yet to be identified any time soon.

Still, Naver seems to be happy to know that it can finally put out an excuse for all those complains about Giant Firewall of Naver. Naver introduced Opencast at the same time, a platform targeted at bloggers but not unlike Newscast in its purported nature of traffic diffusion. Naver is also toying with expanding its concept to display ads -- it plans to allow users to select only ads they would want to see.

Whether the great diffusion of Korean online traffic triggered by Naver's Newscast and Opencast will lead to the diffusion of its Web dominance remains to be seen. The fact that everybody is intently watching Naver's next move is the one powerful evidence that Naver is still the kingpin of Korean online ecosphere.

Posted by PSB

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Korea Technology Review2009.03.31 10:01
This article first appeared in Harvard Nieman Reports Volume 59 Number 4, Winter 2005. Jean K. Min at OhmyNews International provided the article for Harvard University.

In a surrealistic bout of fate, passengers on JetBlue 292 en route to New York were watching their aircraft broadcast live on the screens of the in-flight DirecTV. The pilot was attempting an emergency landing on the tarmac of the Los Angeles International Airport with its front landing gear, clipped at a wrong angle, jutting out of the fuselage. 

While millions of viewers in America alone watched this nail-biting drama, 140 passengers aboard the Airbus A320 found themselves the subject of live television news unfolding before their own eyes. 

"It was absolutely terrifying, actually. Seeing the events broadcast made it completely surreal and detached me from the event," said Zachary Mastoon in an interview with The Associated Press. "It became this television show I was inextricably linked to. It was no longer my situation, it was broadcast for everyone to see. It only exacerbated the situation and my fear."

A couple of NBC executives were also flying in the JetBlue plane and managed to set up a mobile phone call to report the situation back to NBC headquarters. What if the rest of the passengers were able to hook up to a high-speed wireless network and report the situation inside the aircraft back to a television station? Instead of watching their mile-high ordeal covered by someone else in a remote station, they would have been the ultimate producer of their own news, delivering the story to millions in real time, including on JetBlue's in-flight screens. 

Oh Yeon Ho having a brief staff meeting in OhmyNews newsroom
©2006 Kwon W.S
"Honey, I'm on OhmyNews!"

Citizen reporters of OhmyNews, a unique news organization in Korea, now number more than 41,000 and are no stranger to the sensation that comes from producing their own news. It is this transforming and empowering experience that attracts thousands of "citizen reporters" to OhmyNews every day. Kim Hye Won, a long time citizen reporter of OhmyNews, described her excitement when she found her story published on OhmyNews for the first time: "As soon as I saw my article with my name, Kim Hye Won, attached to it, my heart fluttered. A housewife who for the last 18 years has been caught up in housework raising her children has now become a reporter. This was possible thanks to the OhmyNews spirit of 'every citizen is a reporter.'"

For lots of angry young Korean "Netizens" who felt their voice was perennially ignored by the overwhelmingly conservative Korean mainstream media, OhmyNews was a godsend when it was launched in February 2000. They were angry because the mainstream media constantly manipulated the nation's important agenda in politics, the economy and society for their own taste and purpose.

Oh Yeon Ho, the founder of OhmyNews, left his job at a monthly magazine to test his ideas about this new form of journalism through the Internet. He deeply sympathized with these young Netizens in their anger against the mainstream media. In an interview with The New York Times in early 2003, Oh hinted that a part of his motivation in launching OhmyNews was to fix this skewed Korean news market: "We have a real imbalance in our media-80 percent conservative and 20 percent liberal-and it needs to be corrected. My goal is 50-50." More recently Oh has written of his original vision that he "wanted to start a tradition free of newspaper company elitism where news was evaluated based on quality, regardless of whether it came from a major newspaper, a local reporter, an educated journalist or a neighborhood housewife….So I decided to make the plunge into the sea of the Internet, even though I feared that which was different from what I was accustomed."

Many young Koreans who were already sharing their thoughts on the Internet found that it made infinitely more sense to write for a news media with a strong national brand and formidable presence in the news market than scribble their anger in a puny blog. Goh Tae Jin, a citizen reporter turned cyber columnist shared his revelations about how he felt when his harshly critical piece appeared on OhmyNews in 2000. In it, he attacked one of the nation's top newspaper columnists for "factionalism and arrogance" that he'd exhibited in his column. "Unexpectedly, my article was chosen as the top story and suddenly sparked numerous heated opinions. It was an astounding experience for me to have for the first time in my life. On that day, OhmyNews transformed me from a reader into a reporter, true to its motto that 'every citizen is a reporter.'" 

Typical citizen reporters write a story or two per week. After submitting a story, they can track their status. Stories remain as "Saengnamu" articles before being accepted by OhmyNews copy editors. Once accepted, citizen reporters can follow the status of their words in real time, observing the number of readers' clicks into each of the stories, the number of comments, or the money collected in the "tip jar." 

The Audience is the Content

What happens on OhmyNews is an intensely interactive online conversation. Citizen reporters have to persuade OhmyNews' front-line copy editors to have their stories accepted in the first place. As much as 30 percent of daily submissions are rejected for various reasons such as poor sentence construction, factual errors, or its lack of news value. After stories are accepted and edited, then placed in a more prominent space, usually within minutes they draw scores of readers' feedback. When the story is controversial, as in the case of Goh's, the number of readers' comments can shoot up to hundreds and even thousands. 

This feedback from readers, coupled with editorial advice by OhmyNews' copy editors, gives citizen reporters invaluable lessons in writing. A quick online search through the OhmyNews database yields 500 to 600 stories for some of our diligent citizen reporters and the difference of quality between their first and more recent writing is remarkable. Nearly 70 OhmyNews citizen reporters now have contracts to write books. If you believe, as I do, that an adequate level of writing skills is an important ability for citizens to have in a civil democracy, then OhmyNews' citizen reporters can proudly be named the most capable practitioners of "the Emersonian vision of an expressive society."

The New York Times-and many other prominent news organizations-appear to consider the Web as simply another format in which to sell their news content. They sold the news once in the paper medium, now they will sell it again to an online audience and increase the return on their investment. For OhmyNews, the Web is seen neither as a channel for information flow nor as a pipeline for news delivery. It is a playground for our readers, a cyberspace for Netizens. 

In accepting this Internet vision, a whole new horizon opens for us. The readers, or news audience, are no longer passive consumers of news produced by a few privileged, arrogant reporters. They are active producers of the news they will consume at the end of the day. Participation in this great news sphere is realized for them either by joining OhmyNews as a citizen reporter or by participating in the online forum offered at the very bottom of every story we publish. 

Only as an afterthought did it dawn on us that the audience is the real content on the Web. Like any nimble disk jockey in a cool nightclub in town would do, we gave them a place to hang out and mingle in with the brightest minds in Korean cyberspace. One survey by a major Korean portal revealed nearly 40 percent of users' daily mouse clicks on it were for user-generated content, such as readers' comments and blog posts. A similar result was also found for OhmyNews. OhmyNews readers generate on average somewhere between 30 to 50 percent of daily traffic on the Web site through their participation in various online forums (other than their reading of the news). This is surely a wealth of eyeballs that any shrewd advertiser would salivate for. The "audience as the content" model makes a lot of sense for our business as well. 

Bloggers, Citizen Reporters and Journalists

For many, citizen participation on a news site seems identical to blogging. But while Weblogs stimulate colorful outpourings of citizens' voices on the web, most of time a blog is one-person operation and many bloggers are pursuing their journalistic passion at their own peril. Without adequate advice from trained journalists, they risk being ensnared into potential legal disputes involving, for example, a defamation case.

The OhmyNews model is fundamentally different. We believe bloggers can work better with professional assistance from trained journalists. On the other hand, we also believe professional journalists can expand their view and scope greatly with fresh input from citizen reporters. News media as a whole can offer more diverse and rich content to readers by tapping into the wealth of Netizens' collective wisdom.

Unlike Wikinews, which restricts their oversight role to a "janitor," OhmyNews works as a convener by actively promoting conversation among editors, citizen reporters and professional journalists. (We also, however, have a cyber janitor to clean up any mess that might be left in the aftermath of fierce online debate.) However, there seems to be a subtle division of roles between the OhmyNews staff reporters and citizen reporters. Citizen reporters understand that instead of copying the styles of trained journalists, they will shine brighter when they remain true to themselves. Citizen reporters excel when they write something they understand well and have a strong inkling for. 

No story is published before it goes through an extensive screening and copy editing process. Citizen reporters realize their edited text looks better with snazzy headlines and sometimes eye-catching thumbnail pictures. They also find their stories more polished after proofreading and editorial retouching by professionals, even if they occasionally face frustrating rejections of their stories. 

A recurring fear among journalists is that the coming age of citizen journalism would signal the end of "journalism as a serious profession." On the contrary, the OhmyNews experience shows that trained journalists will be in greater demand as an increasing number of "citizen journalists" start to produce explosive amounts of news themselves. Alas, if only journalists would understand how to reinvent themselves in this age of citizen journalism! 

OhmyNews editors spend a lot of time educating aspiring citizen journalists. We regularly invite them to our news room and give them "Journalism 101" classes. We encourage them to keep keen eyes on things going on and give advice that, if properly applied, would enhance the visibility of their writing as a means of effective communication. 

Harnessing Collective Intelligence

Recently, OhmyNews opened a new service feature in which our readers can participate in the editorial process by voting for their favorite writers or stories. OhmyNews servers collect the data and sort out the stories according to the number of votes each received. If we can define the first generation OhmyNews as "a massively distributed collaborative news operation on the Web," OhmyNews 2.0 can be described as "a massively distributed collaborative editorial participation on the Web." For example, when citizen reporters set up their personal blog site in OhmyNews, we encourage them to become an editor for their own edition of OhmyNews. They can drag and drop any of the few hundred stories available on OhmyNews each day to build their personal edition. Now every citizen can be an editor at OhmyNews. 

In OhmyNews 1.0, we tried to bridge the gap between pros and amateurs by introducing "journalism as a conversation" as opposed to "journalism as a lecture." OhmyNews 2.0 will continue to evolve with the development of more Web tools that will help us to harness the collective intelligence of Netizens on a global scale.
Posted by PSB

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Korea Technology Review2009.03.30 23:38


Want to be freed from paying your phone bills -- forever? That would no more be a far-fetched fantasy for Koreans according to a plan by a newly merged Korean telecom giant. 

The Korea Communications Commission approved Wednesday the merger of KT and KTF, its mobile service affiliate, paving the way for a host of innovative services across wired and wireless platform.

The merged KT, with its combined annual revenue of 19 trillion won ($14 billion), is expected to introduce a variety of hybrid service packages by coupling its land line, broadband and wireless assets. However the most intriguing concept by far is a WiBro phone KT is developing with its partner Samsung.

A KT official involved in the project told a local media outlet, "KT will install WiBro component inside a Samsung smart phone to provide both 3G WCDMA and WiBro service from a single handset."

▲ Nokia phone with a Skype mobile Internet call plan
ⓒ2009 Skype
Codenamed Wi-Omnia since it will add up WiBro connectivity on Omnia, a Samsung’s smart phone popular among Asian and European consumers, the new phone is rumored to feature a 3.3 inch LCD screen, 3 million pixel camera, Bluetooth, WiFi and Windows Mobile 6.1 edition.

WiBro is a service brand for KT’s mobile WiMax which promises up to 50Mbits per second of seamless broadband data communication over wireless network. It currently covers Seoul and other major metropolitan areas and further expansion of the network is on the way. Theoretically, users with a WiBro handset can surf the Web at super speed in subways, bus and high speed trains without stopping for a wireless hot-spot, since it guarantees mobile broadband connectivity at up to 120Km per hour.

KT hopes to develop a fresh new market segment with the upcoming WiBro phone; however, the real potential of the phone is that it can double as a mobile VoIP phone, opening the door for completely free phone calls over wireless network.

Scores of VoIP phones and services are available already for sure and Skype is selling Internet call plans for mobile phone users available in two Nokia models. Truphone, Fring and other software-based Internet phone service providers are also giving away free widgets designed for iPhone, iPod Touch and other smart phones. 

However for many Koreans accustomed to over 100Mbps broadband Internet at home, Skype’s mobile VoIP service is far too sluggish a standard to be called a mobile broadband -- it still relies on the antiquated 3G network. 

The WiBro phone KT is developing with Samsung promises users that they don’t have be tied to a landline or hunt for a WiFi hotspot for VoIP calls and Web surfing anymore, leading to a complete freedom from nagging phone bills on the way.

Wi-Omnia for KT may be launched before this June and SK Telecom, KT’s domestic archrival also hinted at selling its own version as early as March.

Apple’s iPhone and other latest smart phones have resolved most of the thorny issues in user interface and hardware. And the VoIP phone market is forecast to jump from virtually nil in 2007 to over 250 millions by 2012 according to Disruptive Analysis, a London-based consultancy.

But smart phone users have complained that current wireless infrastructure cannot satisfy the demanding bandwidth appetite of today’s advanced handsets. Introduction of WiBro phone equipped with a potential backdoor for VoIP service signals that the weakest link of smart phone industry will be finally fixed. 
Posted by PSB

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Korea Technology Review2009.03.30 23:31


How do you know spring has arrived in Seoul? The answer: A sandstorm. Looming clouds of yellow sand blowing from China's Gobi Desert is the clear visual evidence for Koreans that long winter is finally over. The giant stream of yellow sand even blows over the Pacific Ocean and was once spotted as far a place as in California.

For Korean semiconductor and flat-screen manufacturers, the sandstorm is also an urgent warning to raise their dust defense to full alert. Lee Hae-sun, a line manager at LG Display's Paju fabrication plant says "it has already taken every preemptive measure in store" as the worst sandstorm in 58 years is forecast to come this spring. 

Memory chips and flat screens are assembled in so-called clean rooms, where the dust level is controlled at Class 1 -- no more than one dust particle bigger than 0.5 micrometer is allowed per each cubic square feet. Hard to grasp this? Imagine a coin-sized blob of dust particles in a mid-sized city. Any slight leak of yellow sand could mean a spike in the deficiency rate among finished components that would potentially lead to a billion-dollar loss.

When tons of yellow sand are blowing over Korea every spring, their fight against the yellow storm is a make-or-break moment not only for Korean manufacturers but also for the global high-tech industry. 

The global supply chain of DRAMs and flat screens can fall into disarray if the sandstorm ever disrupts those fragile fabrication lines--when massive earthquake attacked Japan in 1995 and Taiwan in 1999, the countries' high-tech industry had to spend for over a couple of months fine-tuning assembly lines until the production capacity was normalized back to previous level. 

Korea is now the No. 1 country in terms of DRAM and flat screen shipments. Korean Air was able to grab top market share in global air freight business by air-shipping those precious electronic components to the world. 

Their first line of defense against yellow sand is a carbon air filtration system. A line manager at Samsung says "since the carbon filtration alone was not an enough defense in time of the sandstorm attack," they blocked air stream entirely to the most sensitive area, where critical components are assembled.

High-tech assembly lines are mostly run by computers to minimize human contact with the sensitive equipment but some amount of on-site human supervision is always inevitable. When human supervisors enter into the clean room, they have to go through multiple air-showers in airlocks after putting on white dust suits. Samsung doubled air shower time required for its workers during the sandstorm event this spring. 

Every risk entails a new opportunity, however. While Samsung, LG and Hyundai are struggling to stop yellow sand affecting production, shares of Korean pharmaceutical companies and air cleaner manufactures posted a sharp rise Monday in the Korean stock market as Korean consumers are expected to buy more eye drops and air cleaning devices.

Struggle or benefit, Koreans are worried about whether the alarming deforestation of the Gobi Desert -- despite China's best efforts - could mean that they are ultimately fighting a losing battle.
Posted by PSB

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Korea Technology Review2009.03.30 23:21


A giant Google logo was spotted over and over again roaming around universities and shopping malls in Korea last summer. The white double-decker, wrapped in the emblem of the global search king, was Google's latest foray into the broadband capital of the world, an unusual move for the Mountain View, California company that had conventionally relied on buzz and word of mouth for promoting its services. 

The potentially million-dollar marketing blitz that Google has never done anywhere but in Korea shows how much stake it puts on the world's 10th largest economy in its global expansion strategy. Despite this extraordinary effort, however, Google's share in the Korean search market measured by the total number of daily queries remains at a meager 3 percent, while Naver, its Korean archrival, attracts a whopping 70 percent of total search-related traffic, according to a recent survey. 

Google's dismal performance in Korea is all the more perplexing because it has never failed to conquer any market it has entered -- in most of the major markets outside its familiar Anglophone stronghold, Google's unparalleled technology has almost always guaranteed it the crown of the local search king, according to the spokesperson of Google Korea. 

A prevalent theory in Korean dotcom circles is that Google failed to impress demanding Korean customers with its lousy service. This is at least what Naver and other major local portals want Koreans to believe. 

Choi Mi Jung, who leads Naver's "Knowledge Man" service, a Wikipedia-like online encyclopedia built by the spontaneous participation of Netizens, scoffs at the sloppy interface and unfriendly way Google's Korean site presents its search results. "It is how meticulously their service was designed that made the difference," she says. 

However, the real reason behind Google's difficult path in Korea is that its highly praised search technology was rendered practically useless in the Korean language sphere when major portals decided to block Google search robots from crawling around the content they hold, industry observers universally note. 

Kim Joong Tae, an online columnist who writes for IT SpotNews, says that he dug up "robots.txt" from all of the top three portals. "The code, designed to prevent unwanted assaults on privacy by search bots, was never misused this extensively anywhere else to block archiving of the entire databases that portals hold," Kim says. Naver's Knowledge Man alone boasts over 37 millions questions and answers, but Google was never able to archive this massive database and show them to its Korean users. 

Empas, a midsize Korean portal that nevertheless stood up to Naver and Daum by archiving their databases, named its search service "Open Search" -- a tautology since search by nature relies on the "open" architecture of the Net, according to the consensus of the international dotcom community. Is it a pure coincidence that Empas formed an alliance with Google in developing its "Open Search"? 

How things have developed in this way is a long story. Back in 1997, when most of the Korean portals were launched, the total number of websites that existed in the Korean language sphere was barely over five thousand. For the Korean portals that were desperate to entice early Internet users, simply archiving the puny number of Web sites did not make any sense. The popular content providers at the time were news sites operated by the familiar names in mainstream media. 

Following the path of AOL that worked so well during the early days of dial-up connectivity, Korean websites decided to build their own "walled gardens" on the net, where users would create content themselves or copy and paste other content they found elsewhere. This strategy worked well for them. 

First, Daum introduced "cyber cafe," where online hobby groups, class reunions and various other discussion groups would generate tons of content by themselves. CyWorld came up with a personal homepage service festooned with lots of bells and whistles that allow users to socialize with others at a much faster pace than they otherwise could. 

Recently, Naver introduced Knowledge Man and blogs to users, giving them a place to play with their intelligent online peers. Even the news service was simply a tool to stimulate extended discussion, hence generating huge amounts of user-created content. One online survey found that Daum earned near 40 percent of its traffic from the user-created content, rather than the paid-for content. Finally, Internet-size fences were built up around the content reservoirs they accumulated over time in the form of search bot blockers. 

To be fair, the Korean portals should be given credit for realizing the vision of Web 2.0 for Koreans well before anyone in Silicon Valley started such discussions seriously. By simplifying the web publishing process with more standardized content creation tools such as online cafes, blogs and mini-homepages, the portals popularized the web experience for many Koreans, advancing the market to a maturity far earlier than in any other country. 

The caveat of this approach is, while putting more stress on users' content generation than on archiving the web, it ignored the enormous amount of useful content lurking outside the Korean language sphere. Kim of IT SpotNews warns that while Korean portals were gloating over the domestic success they achieved with the walled-garden strategy, they lagged behind Google in the development of more sophisticated search technology. 

A vice president of a major Korean portal observes that the unprecedented early maturation of the Korean web sphere drove the general Internet culture in a grossly entertainment-oriented direction. 

"With so many juveniles and even kindergarten-age children surfing the web," he laments, "Koreans would not be able to see in their web space the level of intelligence and sophistication that is easily found, for example, in Wikipedia." 

Already, Korean "power users" who can surf English language sites without much difficulty complain that Korean portals cannot compete with Google at all in the league of more advanced search games. University students looking for in-depth information for their research papers usually find far more useful content written in English from Google than Naver and Daum can do in their combined searches. 

As an increasing number of younger Koreans are getting used to the English language and starting to command a fair level of proficiency, they will realize that a bigger and more interesting world does exist outside the horizon of the Korean language sphere. If that scenario is ever realized, that will be the judgment day for those Korean portals that have basked in their protracted complacency. 

Meanwhile, Google's white double-decker will have to keep crawling around the streets of Korea looking for customers, while the legs of its search bots remain tied to its parking lot.
Posted by PSB
TAG Google, Naver

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