The Mashable entry on blogging was most intriguiging and very well done.
Of course, when thinking about Japan, one must look into CyberAgent's Ameblo (Ameba Blogs) and Live Door's blogs, as well as many others that the rest of the world has never heard of or considered looking at.
But the article gives a very interesting and detailed account of how things are on the other side of the pond.
A Look Back at the Last 5 Years in Blogging
I have kept a journal since as long as I can remember - probably since the day I learned to write cohesively.
A friend once said that the history of mankind is really a history of doments and letters - without the written word and printing press, history could have been so different and so much more personal for everyone; no one would have had to memorize events like the Introduction of the Weimar Constitution or the rise to power of Shogun Tokugawa if they felt it was not significant enough for them to remember.
OK, that was a bit of a stretch, maybe.
But the written word sure is powerful and lasting.
And blogging has really changed the way we use the Internet and references.
Once upon a time, people rushed to buy the latest editions of restaurant guides - now, so many of my friends prefer to look up blogs and the recommendations of their "peers" over published guides.
I have a reputation as a rather entertaining hostess when I want to be - many of my friends want to know which restaurants are on my list and why when they have the need to find some place they may not have been to before, but can trust.
If I dare tell them to go check out a restaurant guide or the site of a venue, they roll off like "water down a vertical post" incident after incident where they were betrayed or misled by such guides and sites. ARGH!
Japan is a highly literate nation - I believe we are as close to 100% literacy as a country could pretty much get...
And even today, something like 4 billion books are published every year and Japan Post sells 4 billion new year's cards to be delivered in the first few days of the new year, every year. People write and read.
According to Wikipedia, CyberAgent's Ameblo, Japan's No.1 blog service, had approximately 5 million registered bloggers on the site in April 2009 with an active user base of approximately 1.15 million. For a population of 120 million, and 94 million Internet users (population penetration of Internet usage for people over 6 years of age is 78%), that is a pretty good ratio.
According to an article published by japan.internet.com in April 2009 (http://japan.internet.com/research/20090402/1.html) , Ameba is No.1, closely followed by FC2 and No.3 is Yahoo! Blog.
An interesting observation on blogging and SNS is that I have "fans" and friends I only know online; and in some ways, I feel that my blog fans know me better than my next door neighbor. And with some of my digital friends on Twitter, I probably know more about where they go, what they eat, how they are feeling and what music they are listening to than I know about my mother, who lives with me.
It is at times scary when out of the blue, someone who has been following my tweets or blog(s) closely suddenly starts interacting with me like they have known me for ages, forgetting that I may not have kept tabs on them in a reciprocal manner. But it is interesting that the digital relationships can easily overtake physical proximity with people, though I must note that I do not believe that people can survive on digital relationships alone.
Working now with some very gifted wiz kids in programming and web design, e-marketing, etc., I find it interesting that some people are more talkative in the digital world and vice versa.
I refused to let my IT wiz kid set up IM for the office since we were all on one floor.
"What is the bloody matter with just getting up and walking over to someone for a chat?" I asked.
He had no answer, so he did not get his IM.
When he was interacting with our web development and site management company (3rd party), he and the engineers preferred IM to phone calls. I understood it was also good for keeping a log of everything that is exchanged and for them to clock their hours, but another element is that the techies did not want to talk even when they could.
Then, there are some motor mouths that you just cannot get off the phone or out your door fast enough who go awfully quiet and become to the point on email or IM - they are the ones, I later learned, who type slowly or poorly.
So, I have new rules about meetings when I want to keep them short - meet the techies face to face and do it over IM with sales and marketing people. Saves everyone time!
And blogs - yes, blogs (the main theme of this entry) - well, they are here to stay and I trust my kids will grow up thinking they are just another part of life. Maybe by the time the toddlers are grown up, people will only have to think blog entries and a device will post them on the Net?
I do, however, have a friend who has now switched back to using cold hard cash because he does NOT want someone else to keep tabs on where he has been and where and what he has bought at how much how often. He actually made a very conscious choice about this.
He says it is his way of endorsing a bit of inconvenience to preserve certain parts of his privacy.