Very interesting piece from the Baltimore Examiner.
Google is not the dominant search tool in South Korea. Apparently a local company called Naver which uses a collective knowledge, community-based question and answer service is. This is an interesting parallel to something like Wikipedia – and very clearly demonstrates the impact of local culture on the net usage patterns.
The Korean slice of the Web is relatively small compared to the English-language chunks of cyberspace. Koreans often come up short when trying to find information in their native tongue.
To remedy the situation, Naver – which is more like a Yahoo-esque portal than a mere search engine – came up with what it calls Knowledge iN, where users post questions that are answered by other users – creating a database that now totals more than 41.1 million entries. A search on the site brings up typical Web results along with the Knowledge iN database and news and blog sites.
“I don’t know whether they expected it before or not, but it was actually a very good match for Korean culture,” Wayne Lee, an analyst at Woori Securities, said of Naver’s service. “Korean netizens like to interact with other people, they want to answer questions, they want to reply.”
The most popular questions clicked on Naver’s site focus on love, dieting or eradicating computer viruses. The queries that have garnered the most answers range from how dinosaurs are named to getting rid of pimples, and even musings on why telephone poles are spaced 165 feet apart.
Google relies on its computers to troll the Web and see which sites are linked most often by other sites, creating a ranking system based on how often a page is referenced. Compared to Naver’s people-created database, Google doesn’t “have a system to combat that,” said Danny Sullivan, editor of industry newsletter Search Engine Watch.