Friday, February 9, 2018

Google conducts KakaoTalk focused study on news and chat apps

Over on both their main blog and Korean blog, Google has put up the results of a survey looking at how news articles get spread and modified through chat apps. They looked at a few regions where people use chat apps for news more than traditional SNS, but focused especially on South Korea and KakaoTalk.

Park Sang-kyu (박상규) as highlighted in the report. Image: Google.

Park Sang-kyu (박상규) of SBS News and Channel A is highlighted in the report as a freelance journalist who has succeeded in crowdfunding his stories through personal connections with readers. Links for him: 박상규 기자의 '셜록' 프로젝트 | 스토리펀딩 | 스토리펀딩 and 백수 기자에서 10억 기자로

If you want to jump right to the good stuff, their report is available as PDFs in both English and Korean. I skimmed through the English version and looked for some good quotes to give you an idea.

On why they chose South Korea:
Our case study also gives a window into how chat apps are used for news in a low-trust environment.
South Korea is one of the world’s populations least trusting of news. Only 23 percent of Koreans trusted the news in 2017, the lowest of the 36 countries surveyed ... [with] widespread concern about the role information disorder within KakaoTalk specifically played in the political scandal and subsequent election. 

On how they conducted the survey:
... in-depth interviews with eight users ranging in age from 17 to 31, including a female high school student, a 20-year-old male serving his compulsory time in the Korean military, and a self-described “feminist citizen journalist.” ...  We also interviewed nine experts across journalism and technology in Korea, including a government spokesperson, a mentor to Korean media startups, an expert in AI policy in Korea and China, local journalists, and foreign correspondents. 

Mandatory analysis of "pali pali!":
Korea’s culture is built on efficiency and speed. “Pali pali”—a ubiquitous phrase that means “Hurry up!” or “Faster!”—has come to define the Korean way of life. Today’s youth have a sense of urgency that permeates all aspects of life ... a Korean university student told us that Koreans “do not tolerate slow transportation, long lines, and long articles.” 

On screenshots:
Screenshots are a favored medium for everything from organizing social meetups to submitting work to a boss. It’s common to share screenshots of calendars rather than text back and forth when scheduling study sessions or drinks. This practice has carried over to sharing news in KakaoTalk, with people circulating screenshots of articles or chats rather than links.

That last part is interesting. I hadn't thought about it, but it's true. Koreans do seem to prefer sending screenshots of news. I always assumed it evolved from memes, or else the pre-Unicode days. But there is something to be said about sending the raw info, free of links, load times, pages filled with advertisements, etc. Whereas I'd be more likely to copy/paste the text, they prefer screenshots.

I don't know how much we can glean from a survey of less than 50 people, and all people who already are deep in the KakaoTalk chat world. I mean most older guys I know still prefer a visit to Naver for news. This study is supposed to be "future" oriented though. It sort of reads like an advertisement for Google's products though. Their conclusion "solutions" all seem like increased use of apps, AI, translation bots, etc.

But what do I know. Here I am some guy passing on the news (with cherry-picked quotes) in his blog.

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