This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

May 28, 2003

Speed Freaks on the Super Highway

The information super highway, the World Wide Web, attracts high school and university students in the United States like bees to honey. Some adults lament youth playing violent computer games and downloading copyrighted material, but there are benefits to internet access. However, American young people are mere beginners compared to their counterparts in the Republic of South Korea.

According to the investment bank, Morgan Stanley, in 2002, 68 percent of South Korean households were wired with broadband. Compare that figure to a paltry 15 percent in the United States and an even lower 8 percent in Western Europe and you can see the magnitude of the difference.

Many aspects of life in South Korea revolve around the Internet, however the system of dating is certainly one of the most interesting. Huge Internet cafes have eclipsed bars in their popularity. These well-lit electronic meeting places offer side-by-side seating where couples can get to know each other in public places, after they've met in numerous chat rooms. South Korea even supports a cable network that is 100 percent devoted to gaming and regularly televises matches and championships. The availability of broadband service is even used by landlords to rent apartments.

Population distribution contributes to development of the technology in South Korea. About 70 percent of the population of 46,844,000 lives in urban areas. South Korea has six "mega-cities" with over 1 million inhabitants each. The population of Seoul is over 10 million. This concentration of residents fostered the growth of wired forms of communication, social opportunities, and play.

Consider the implication of this phenomenon for the rest of the world. Currently, Korean telecommunication firms offer broadband services to over 90 percent of households. Remarkably, this development has taken place in just a few years. Though South Korea has a number of factors supporting this fast growth, other countries may soon offer similar access.

As technology is introduced and expanded in developing countries, imagine the possibilities. Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa-regions populated with youth who could make a dramatic difference with the learning and communications available on the information super highway.

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