How much news and information do we miss out on because in the UK, and to an extent the USA, we primarily blog in English? There are 6 billion people on the planet, yet we are only looking at a tiny proportion of the views of and strategies for social media, because we are only studying English written blogs.
I fell upon a report at the weekend that said:
China now has more than 50 million bloggers as increasing numbers of people seek an outlet for their views, state press reported.
The group said there were 100 million blogs, or personal online journals, in China, meaning many people are keeping more than one.
“More and more Chinese want to express their own views about local and international events through the Internet,” Gao Lulin, the group’s deputy head, was quoted as saying.
50 million bloggers. Surely there will be more than the one who will be thinking along the the same lines as Neville Hobson, Chris Brogan et al? Not only are there Chinese bloggers, the Chinese government are letting them express their views (although to what extent we probably can’t measure). This is huge. It is the equivalent of a medieval trade route being developed for the first time, but instead of caravans full of spices or minerals, we have blogs full of ideas about conversations and communications.
Between 4-5% of India is online. This is a tiny percentage of the country’s population, but, this is from a population of 1.2 Billion, which equates to, if my maths is correct, about 60 million people online. That’s more than here in the UK. Again, there must be people blogging about social media that we haven’t started speaking with in the West.
So I did some hunting around and found three Social Media experts from India who (helpfully!) blog in English, and I urge you to take a few minutes to go and read their material:
Guarav says (and I apologise for the huge blockquote):
China and India are similar in several ways. In both countries, Internet penetration is low and Internet access is often shared. In both countries, mobile penetration is much deeper than Internet penetration and mobile phones are the only personal communications device for most people. Neither country has led the world in Internet or mobile innovation, but both countries have been quick to adopt international innovations into local clones. Internet users in both India and China have large social circles both online and offline and are heavy users of social media, possibly because of a strong early adopter bias. Both countries have vibrant blogging communities which have played a leading role in covering natural disasters, like the 2004 South East Asia Tsunami, the 2008 China earthquake and the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack. Both the Chinese and the Indian Internet communities have flirted with online activism but struggled to use social media for social change in any meaningful way.
However, China and India also have several importance differences related to Internet and mobile use. China has already reached the critical mass of Internet users to become an force to reckon with internationally, while India is still a marginal (but growing) presence on the Internet. China has one of the most repressive regimes and the most sophisticated Internet censorship infrastructure in the entire world whereas India has a vibrant democracy and the Indian Internet is mostly uncensored. Most of the content on the Chinese Internet is in Mandarin whereas the Internet in Indian is dominated by English language content. Helped by the language advantage and the Chinese government’s protectionist policies, Chinese Internet and web 2.0 companies have dominated their international counterparts, whereas most Indian Internet and web 2.0 companies suffer from a severe case of identity crisis.
I’d be interested to know what you think, and I’m sure Guarav would be too!