The art of messaging

Sending email to your friend is to force the recipient to read the message. It works as long as there’s a trust friendship between sender and receiver, though I’d admit that not all such messages are comfortable in my experiences.

Likewise, posting a new journal post and letting your buddy know that I have posted something is to force your buddy to read that particular post, though the degree of expectation is now less. That is, sender now expects receiver to read the message to a lessor degree at SNS journal posting environment like MIXI than it is with email environment (as a receiver, when you’d ignore or forget to read that message, it is OK). It is really up to recipient whether or not to read that message. But there is still some degrees of expectation remain. I can know when you read that message, when I know that you read that message I get happy. Even more happier, when I got comment.

In Twitter/tumblr, that expectation is now shifted one step further. you don’t know whether or not the recipient read that message and hence you don’t even bother if they read it. That is the art of messaging in twitter/tumblr, where, by default, they don’t even have the comment function.

I forgot to add blogging but it should be positioned somewhere in between twitter/tumber and SNS journal.

Notice from Mixi (or, “How do we know we know each other?”)





Mixi says that my invitation function is currently disabled, notifying that they ban the act of inviting, in public, someone I don’t “know” such as in the bulletin board. In my previous post (a blog, that is), I showed how to set up a mixi account in a tutorial style but I didn’t say that I will send an invitation, even though many have asked me to do so.

I think It is at best ambiguous as to if I am the one who invited the person that I don’t know; and without defining the act of “knowing” means in this context (menshiki no nai or 面識のない in Japanese again still ambiguous even in its original language.) All I can say is many if not most online friends (i dare call so) are those I haven’t met in person. Especially in an ‘open is the new proprietary’ world, I think mixi should be more clear on this.

Update: I think the real question that MIXI should ask is how do we know we know each other? I bet a substantial portion of maimiku (buddy or friend by invitation or by authorization) don’t, in fact, know each other; yet, the meaning of “know” might vary among the users of that particular term.

Update2: I learned mixi joined openID project with a bunch of other prestigious internet players in Japan.  But not sure how they will solve the problem like this.

A blog is a home

to be sure, blog is personal as advocated by many such as dave winer. so i used to think Blog=Person. The notion of “home” and “away” applies here. On the other hand, the emerging messaging tools such as Twitter and Tumblr are making that notion irrelevant, where there is essentially no “home” or “away.” Thats why tumblr not having “comment” feature.

who is mixi id =1?

Interestingly, it is MIXI CTO and id=2 is its president . Obviously, the Word of Mouth (WOM) spread from these two guys, via invitation after invitation after invitation.

By the way, the face of mySpace Tom immediately becomes your friend upon signing up with mySpace:

While Mixi is by-invitation only and mySpace is free to join, seems the key persons at MIXI and mySpace are equally open and friendly to its members. It is interesting to see how mySpace will tailor its openness and friendliness to Japanese SNS market and generate WOM, when they will enter Japan’s SNS market (via Gen Kanai blog) this fall with the 50:50 partinership with softbank.

is the new way of launching?

Netscape by Jason Calacanis, the media coverage increases as it approaches to the launch time.

update: I haven’t used DIGG at least consciously in the past and so I have no idea if they are copying DIGG.  But it seems like fun.  Here is my profile:

The discussion goes on there: “AOL copies DIGG

BL Ochman provides an excellent analysis.

A VS’s Fred Wilson.

Even more inspiring by Jason himself.

What gyao doesn’t get is one of Japan fastest growing free of charge video streaming services, with a registered membership of 9.6 million+. Despite its self-proclaimed success, it, too, has the typical “directory” type user interface, akin to Yahoo’s. Might be comfortable to those who are accustomed to viewing TV by channel. At the same time, it will limit its growth in its own right. What a significant contrast to the user interface of YouTube.

Update: graph In addition, if they’d listen to what Joshusa Schachter preaches here (via himazu blog), would not have made it a mandatory for a new user to fill in all the profile information at the time of registration. It is a total waste of every opportunity; by no means worth the effort of anybody. But I understand a client generally likes it; but it is our job to convince the client not to pursue whatever won’t work. Note amazon would not ask any of these. Nor does flickr, nor does, dor does youtube, so on and so forth. It’s only tagging, not profiling.

YouTube contents are image-centric

Japan’s online research company NetRatings reports (via CNET Japan) that YouTube penetration in Japan is 5.2% which is almost close to that of US at 5.4% and that usage frequencies of 3.2 times and average viewing time of 32 min are both higher than those of the US.

If these statistics are correct (unbiased, I mean), it’s amazing! It’s amazing because most (many) Japanese I know still have a problem with English navigation and, once they know it is in English, they’d almost always stop navigating whatsoever and currently YouTube provides navigation only in English.

Why so ?

One explanation is that the videos in YouTube such as this might be quite image-centric and non verbo-centric and travel well across different languages and cultures. Nonetheless, YouTube has a very good navigation basically it’s only pressing the button, nothing verbal.

Another explanation is YouTube contains a lot of Japanese contents, which would become otherwise illegal/paid elsewhere. The Japanese viewers might think it worth breaking the language barriers.

NetRatings also notes a large number of traffic from mixi to YouTube and the introduction well given in Japanese before the viewer actually view the YouTube contents.

Anyway, I am really surprised at the statistics.

For your info, now at mixi, YouTube community has 6,363 members and Google Video has 139 members.

Update: Here is an HTML version of the original report in Japanese.

Update2: Interesting, below is the 45-day growth statistics of YouTube community vis-a-vis Google Video inside MIXI:

                 4/29                   6/15            %Growth

  YouTube    6,363               26,704          +320%

     GoogleVideo 139               141            +1.4%

MIXI account setup

Update^3: Sorry folks

Update^2: Someone, actually one of my maimiku, told me that such mobile mail address restriction applies only to IP address allocated to Japan. Hence no such restrictions to apply otherwise, it seems.

Update: For those who are getting an invitation, make sure you have a valid mobile mail account from one of those Japanese mobile carriers; notably, docomo, au, softbank, tsuka, willcom, etc. Now, mixi requires both your email account and your mobile mail account validated before they will issue a new mixi account. I know they are concerned about security; however, looking at the entire social media landscape from MySpace to facebook, which are getting open at least on the new member acquisition,

I think this move dismisses the potential of the Internet; that is, the potential being that location doesn’t matter and our hobby and interests (I have noted a lot of anime lovers overseas) distributed long tail across cultures around the globe. Mixi spread via word-of-mouth, viral, just like every other successful social media services. Did you know one of the fastest growing nations are China and India? Not Japan, whose population had just started to decline ahead of other advanced nations like Germany, Italy, US, or France. Now it in effect prevents folks overseas from signing up the new account. How sad.

An invitation letter..


The profile of the person who invites you..


Fill in your profile and apply. This screen shot is the old one. The new one requires your mobile phone mail address right after the PC (or mac) mail account. Both mail addresses will later be validated before activating the new mixi account. That almost means you need to be living in Japan and have a mobile phone with email enabled. Good luck.


Return to mixi tutorial . (for those who have joined mixi already.)

After you’ve set up your account, also refer to other operations:

sending a new message

receiving a new message.

creating ashiato cho in your diary

checking ashiato

disjoining Mixi


I prepared also the Tutorial Home at flickr:


A proposal for MIXI

Since I started reading Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble (not yet finished, because I am very slow), I have been wondering how a blog can be used as a corporate communication tool, especially as a customer contact center. One of the difficulties with using a blog is, however, that any visitors can be anonymous and the comments can be irresponsible. Yet I’ve seen many corporations hesitate to use direct conversation tools such as BBS, as their way to directly communicate with their customers. Historically the corporations have, then, preferred the dialogue to be offline rather than online, which is often public. The inquiries have been handled by telephone and kept private. But now with the ever growing blogosphere, that will be less and less the case as we’ve observed such claims brought up in the blogosphere and got public and largely visible like in the case for Dell made by Jeff Jarvis last summer. That means the corporations will be more and more required to publicly talk with customers online or the dialogue gets public even/especially when they don’t want to. If that’s hard to accomplish overnight, then why not try the somewhat interim solution?

Then I thought of MIXI, Japan’s orkut, which I believe can be modified for that purpose. For, at MIXI the contents are open only inside MIXI (yet quite high in reach), all the participants become member via invitation and identified to some extent, and less worry about unidentified or irresponsible comments. Therefore, the corporations can be more aggressive and honest in talking with the customers, while maintaining quite a high reach. Note, as of this writing, its cumulative membership is 3,360,970 (including withdrawals), representing, in terms of subscription, about 33% of Japan’s largest newspaper, Yomiuri Shinbun (=10,082,425 copies). Inside MIXI, fan communities are abundant and run by, of course, volunteers: YouTube (2,596), COACH (fashion accessories, 5,074), Nintendo DS (6,388), SKYPE (10,564), to give you a few example, note: the number inside () is membership.

Suppose if MIXI were to offer the corporate services such that the corporations officially can have the direct contact point with its customers (blog-alike posts and comments, akin to the personal diary it currently offers for conventional users for free of charge), while making posts and communities searchable via its internal search engine. Then, at a premium, it might even offer the service pretty much like Google’s adwords or overture listing ad, with the search results highlighted at the top of the page inside MIXI.

I believe then it, in a way, answers the scale issue of the social networking ad that Jason Calcanis raised (via MIT Advertising Lab)

The problem with event-marketing is, of course, that it is very expensive (think $100-1,000 a person) and you can only reach a small number of people at a time (think 100-1,000 people). Compare that to a TV commercial, radio ad, or Internet ad where you can reach someone for pennies a person–and millions of people at a time. Clearly the future of social networking is making online event marketing scale.


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Update: Thanks Ben for pointing me at the interesting article.