Monthly Archives: October 2011

Why Japanese Online Users Do Not Click “Like” Facebook?

Mixi, No.1 Social Networking Website in Japan With More Than 20 Million Users.

Mixi, No.1 Social Networking Website in Japan With More Than 20 Million Users.

A study from Stanford University suggests that persuasive styles of Facebook (from the U.S.) and Mixi (from Japan) reflect culture differences of the two nations. This critique paper argues that persuasive design elements of both websites are similar (or mostly the same). The key difference between the two sites is the view of users’ identities in American and Japanese cultures.

In a survey of 2,130 Japanese mobile Web users, 89 percent of respondents said they are reluctant to disclose their real names on the Web. Mixi’s users are not encouraged to reveal their identities or even their profile pictures. A large number of Japanese users in Mixi use animals, toys, or celebrities as their profile pictures.

In addition, a 2010 survey by Microsoft points out that more than half of Japanese respondents said that no one in the friend list of their SNSs was a close friend.

This is an evidence to support why Japanese online users prefer Mixi, a SNS website that does not encourage its users to reveal their real identities.

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Cloud Computing Crisis in South Park

“No one in South Park has Internet and there’s no telling when, or even if, it will come back. Desperation sets in as the fear of the unknown spreads rapidly across the country. When Randy hears there still may be some Internet out in California, he packs up his family and heads west in search of a signal.”

South Park: Randy’s family needs to migrate to Silicon Valley in order to seek for Internet usage.

South Park: Randy’s family needs to migrate to Silicon Valley in order to seek for Internet usage.

Silicon Valley seems to be the last resource of Internet in the story. Silicon Valley turns to be a refugee camp and people need to cue for the use of Internet.

Unquestionably, our lives do rely on Internet. When I was watching this South Park episode in Spring 2011, I was realized how serious the problem could in in real world.

What would happen if people could not access cloud computing? Jaeger, Lin, Grimes and Simmons pointed on in their article that services providers and government need to be very careful about the placement of data center. Energy-saving natural features and safety are two key considerations (2009).

As a graduate student in the U.S., I feel impressed by policies of cloud computing in this nation. Considering about energy and safety, “The Google Navy”, the idea to locate data centers on ships in international waters seems to be a thoughtful way out.

Nevertheless, as being an international student, I do have some concern on cloud computing for users outside the U.S. who need to rely on it but they might not have their voices and powers to control it.

What would happen if there was a global crisis about cloud computing as same as it happens in South Park. People in the U.S. might be survived since the U.S. is the location of data centers. How about the rest of the world?

While I could not imagine how terrible it is in those developing countries, the story of South Park makes me think of one country who might not be effected by the crisis, China. While most of world population rely on global cloud computing services like Facebook, Google, Twitter. In 2009, China blocked those international services. This seems to be questionable at the beginning.

Social Medias in China

Social Medias in China

Nevertheless, there must be many reasons behind the ban in in China. Security and privacy issue shall be one of those important reasons. If there is a global crisis about cloud computing, for example, people could not access Facebook, Google or Twitter, China citizens might has effects in minimum. Why? As long as they can access the Internet. Their lives will be the same, they can enjoy their own social medias which are not international cloud computing services providers. China has their own versions of cloud computing services which offer similar services as Google, Youtube, and Facebook. The equivalent of Twitter in China is Sina Weibo (www.sina.com.cn), and the two equivalents of YouTube are Tudou and Youku (www.tudou.com and http://www.youku.com, respectively). The most similar services of Facebook is http://www.renren.com. … Sounds good?

Reference:

Jaeger, P. T., Grimes, J. M., & Simmons, S. N (2009, May).  Where is the cloud? Geography, economics, environment, and jurisdiction in cloud computing. First Monday, 14,(5 – 4).


How to Help Asian Students Feel Free to Share Their Thoughts?

Teacher-Centered: Learning Environment in China

Teacher-Centered: Learning Environment in China

Spring 2011: My first semester in Teachers College Columbia University. I was stunned by the U.S. educational system, especially group dynamic in classroom discussion. My classmates did enjoy participating in classroom activities. Especially, American students they felt free to express their thoughts in front of professors and colleagues. Nevertheless, it was clear that those international students (especially from those Asian students) were not confident to share their ideas in the classes.

Asian students generally tend to display reserved characteristics when voluntarily sharing thoughts in classroom, comparing to non-Asian students. Differences may exist in the preferences of students from diverse cultural backgrounds (Ramburuth & McCormick, 2001). In terms of Asian students, possible factors for such phenomenon include that 1) high parental expectation levels lead the Asian students to be more afraid of making errors than non-Asian students, and 2) Asian students are more adapted to teacher-centered classroom environment, in which they do not feel comfortable of liberally expressing and presenting their own opinions to other classmates. Such unbalanced participation level has been a critical problem in school setting, particularly among multi-cultural classrooms. In a nutshell, identify is the key reason leads Asian students not to feel comfortable to express their thoughts in front of others.

How can we help those students to be able to express themselves in front of others? Is there any alternative communication channel for them to express themselves without showing their identities?

This week readings about MUDs and digital literacies pointed out the opportunity to help those Asians students. Nevertheless, it needs more researches and experiments to put theory to practice.

Multi-User Domains, MUDs put people into virtual space in which they can navigate, converse and build. User’s identity on the computer is distributed presence of user. MUDs turn real life into another window of user’s identity. MUDs are powerful reflection of thinking about identity, and a set of ideas about postmodernism (Turkle, 1999).

In the article “Digital Literacies of the Cybergirl”, Thomas pointed out that girls could create their own cyberbodies, which allow them to explore, experience a senses of empowerment, and find new ways of reinventing themselves. They could have the command of the words, empower themselves in cyberspace (2004).

Imagine, if we can let those students feel free to express themselves without showing their identities in front of others in MUDs through digital literacy. It possibly changes their behaviors, makes them feel confident, and feels free to express their own thoughts. I see the potential of idea sharing in MUDs. If we can grow the concept of idea sharing in virtual world, then those students  would be able to express themselves freely in their real world as one of many windows of their lives.

Refereence:

Thomas, A. (2004). Digital Literacies of The Cybergirl. E-learning, 1(3), 358-382.

Turkle, S. (1999). Life on The Screen. New York: Touchstone. (Introduction: Identity in the Age of the Internet.

Ramburuth, P., & McCormick, J. (2001). Learning diversity in higher education: A comparative study of Asian international and Australian students. Higher Education, 42(3), 333-350.