Cover Story

These days, it is very easy to find friends using Cyworld’s mini-homepage or Naver’s blog. Many people, including me, write their diaries and put photos on a mini-homepage or blog almost every day. They can communicate with their friends through these contents. However, many people just use a mini-homepage or blog as a means to communicate with their friends or for fun or to kill time. Do you know blogs and blogs’ surprising functions?

Blog is a compound word of “web” and “log.” This word was first used in America in 1997. Ordinary people not only upload their diaries, columns, and articles but also publish and broadcast individually on blogs. In other words, it is an individual medium. The words blog and “column services” were used in Korea starting on Freechal, an Internet portal site, five years ago. “Column services” are the function that if one person uploads his or her column and data on Freechal, people who join Freechal can receive mail about the column and data. As the days went by, more and more functions were added to column services. Freechal offered users five megabytes including a free board by a new name, “Mini- Homepage.”

At that time, the birth of a new site, Cyworld, brought the mini-homepage boom to Korea. Cyworld offers users mini-homepages and has developed by adding blog services and personal networking. Because Freechal changed to a pay site, many users moved from Freechal to Cyworld, and Cyworld has gained tremendous popularity. In addition, the birth of Naver’s blog also has helped blogs’ boom, so new words were born in Korea like blogger (blog user) and cyjil (Cyworld mini-homepage addict).

However, many people don’t know the difference between an individual homepage and a blog. The big difference is the link network. People who use individual homepages have to register their homepages on a search site, and then many users can come to their homepages.

However, blogs have a link system, a trackback function that links a blog to other blogs. Bloggers can communicate with other bloggers by using the trackback function effectively. For example, let us suppose that you want to upload a cake recipe on your blog and see the cake recipes of other bloggers. You find a cake recipe on A’s blog, and you copy the cake recipe’s address and attach the address to your blog by clicking trackback. Then, A’s address and reply are attached automatically to your blog. If some bloggers who visit your blog click the reply, they can visit A’s blog directly. Like this, trackback helps bloggers to communicate and share information about interesting parts.

Various functions in blogs help to make networking among bloggers easy. In addition, there is also a function to develop the potential power within blogs. The function is scrap. People who live in the twenty first century’s information society have to work hard to have their own special information and knowledge. If you use a blog, how do you make your own knowledge and information? The key is the scrap function. In the past, if you wanted to move writing on another individual homepage to your homepage, you had to copy the writing.

However, it infringes the original writer’s copyright. In the case of a blog, however, you can move other bloggers’ writing or information to your blog just by clicking scrap. If blogger A clicks scrap about your recipe, your name and address are left on A’s blog. Scrap protects writers’ copyright and moves one blogger’s information to other bloggers quickly. In addition, scrap is a new PR means to advertise your own information or knowledge to other bloggers.

The bloggers Hong Eun-kyung (ID genius girl) and Yoon Myung-jin (ID kimchi salad) are representative bloggers who show their own information or knowledge on blogs by using not only the scrap function but also blogs’ various advantages. In July 2004, Hong Eun-kyung started her blog “Genius Girl’s Kitchen Story” for various cooking recipes and housekeeping know-how.

She published a cookbook in March 2006 and appeared on television thanks to her blog. She said, “Every day I spend a very busy time as a housewife. I don’t want to waste time, so I started the blog as a means to show my busy time cooking and housekeeping. Because I have frankly written my story, for example, cooking, housekeeping and child rearing, I think many bloggers, including housewives, sympathize with my story. Many housewives take an interest in my blog, so I try to reflect what people visiting my blog want in my cooking.” Yoon Myung-jin (ID kimchi salad) is also a very famous blogger for the art of green tea. He makes various things using green tea, and people call his work art of green tea. He also published a pictorial essay Finger Tells Pictures. Yoon said the big reason to use blog is there are many bloggers on on-line portal sites.

If he opens his work off-line, only a few people visit his exhibition. However, he uploaded his works to a blog and many bloggers have visited his blog. On-line, it is easier to gather people than off-line. In addition, he said, “What is more, I feel blogs’ strong points when I see many replies about my works because blogs have a feedback function. When I published my book and my green tea work appeared on television, I’ll never forget the pleasure at that time. My dream is fulfilled by my blog. The blog is a very dear thing like oxygen for me.”

What do KMU students think of blogs and mini-homepages? The Gazette asked 200 KMU students several questions about blogs and mini-homepages.

1. Have you ever used Cyworld’s mini-homepage or Naver’s blog?
a. Yes 97% b. No 3%

2. Why do you use mini-homepages or blogs?
a. To communicate with friends 74%
b. To upload photos and movies including me and my friends 15%
c. To study and share what I’m interested in with other people 2.5%
d. To use mini homepages or blogs only as my private place 8.5%

3. What are mini-homepages or blogs’ side effects?
a. Spending too money and time decorating mini-homepages or blogs 52.5%
b. Taking my private information 17.5%
c. Copying my contents without my permission 12.5%
d. Uploading advertisements I don’t want 15%
e. Other 2.5%

4. Off-line, have you ever met people who made friends on your mini-homepage or blog?
a. Yes 28.5% b. No 71.5%

5. What new function do you think that mini-homepages or blogs should have?
Most students want new functions such as free icons, video chat, and message services like Nate.

Almost all Keimyung students have used Cyworld’s mini-homepage or Naver’s blog. Half of the students answered that the worst side effect of blogs is spending too much money and time decorating.

People who use mini-homepages and blogs spend time and money using blogs, and it is spreading in our society. Many people upload new contents on their blogs or mini- homepages every day, but the contents are very private stories. Of course, these contents are very important and precious for some people. However, if most people use blogs or mini- homepages like this, it brings other wasteful problems. Whenever A takes a picture, A uploads the new photo to a mini-homepage, and then checks the replies about the photo and contents. If there are few replies and visitors on A’s mini-homepage, A will decorate the mini-homepage to gather many people. A starts to buy many items, for example, music, styles of lettering, and new styles of mini room. Moreover, whenever A has spare time, A kills time by checking the mini-homepage.

Actually, there are many people like A around us. They don’t hesitate to spend time and money because of their mini-homepages or blogs. They even judge other mini-homepages or blogs only by the number of visitors. More and more people devote themselves to decorating their mini-homepages or blogs in order not to fall behind others. People’s conduct toward mini-homepages or blogs brings a propensity for pretentiousness, consumption, and generalization of individualism. What is more serious, these tendencies have spread to very young children. Young children have to have various relationships in real life, but they are losing this valuable experience because of mini-homepages or blogs. They even come to believe that the numbers of friends who visit their mini-homepages or blogs are more important than off-line friendships, so the chances to meet friends off-line decrease.

Like the questionnaire’s results, blogs have many problems, and most people have experienced these side effects. However, blogs’ functions are upgraded every day. Now blogs are becoming a necessary thing to communicate with people. Recently, many people make User Created Contents (UCC) and then upload the UCCs on their blogs or mini- homepages. In addition, Cyworld’s mini-homepage and Naver’s blog have new versions. They prepare more and more upgraded functions. Like Hong Eun-kyung and Yoon Myung-jin, you can express yourself and exchange your own knowledge or information with other bloggers.

You can create something new through your blog. Blogs can be an effective means of communication or can be an obstacle which hinders serious communication. It is decided by the users’ attitude. We are living in the twenty-first century digital and information society, and blogs can be a new method to express your own information creatively. I’m sure that blogs have the possibility to be a new medium for better communication among people.