fun widget showing how many people are using social media in various countries
Forrester Research have just released (expensive) reports on how many people in the US and in some European and Asian countries are using social media. Forrester has their own classification of different kinds of users – “creators” actually upload their own content, “critics” rate or review other peoples’ content or contribute to wikis and discussion forums (which could be said to be creating, really), “collectors” tag content and use RSS, “joiners” are active on social network sites, “spectators” read, listen and watch user-generated content, and then there are the “inactive”, who, well, aren’t using social media at all. Their overall conclusions are that there are less and less “inactives” – but also that Europeans are adopting social media at a far slower rate than Americans. This widget’s kind of fun to play with to see the differences:
Why do you think Europeans are so much slower? Americans had a head start on access to technology, but surely that’s evening out by now? I actually think a major reason is Europe’s language barriers, that effectively slice Europe up into many very small media ecologies. With only 4.5 million people speaking Norwegian, the tipping point is hard to reach in Norwegian social media – although more and more people are certainly using social media here in Norway. We have very little or no contact with other European countries’ social media – barely even with Sweden and Denmark.
Another possibility is that Viviane Serfaty was right, and that blogging is a peculiarly American form, akin to the diary-writing of the Puritans. For the Puritans, Serfaty wrote, working through your everyday and religious doubts, feelings and choices by writing about them in a diary was an ethical necessity and very spiritual work. In Scandinavian Lutheran societies, on the other hand, the population was taught to read the bible but writing was seen as unnecessary for peasants. Further south, European Catholics had a more direct relationship with God, in spoken prayer and hail maries and penances. I don’t know enough about religion to know whether this is a completely tenable theory (I mused about it here, though, on page 7), but it’s an interesting thought. Serfaty was writing about blogging in particular, but perhaps one could look at all social media as similarly confessional and personal and so such cultural differences might continue to hold true?