Academic journal article Global Media Journal

The Implications of the Formation of Local Networks in the Global Online Knowledge Network: Case Study of South Korea

Academic journal article Global Media Journal

The Implications of the Formation of Local Networks in the Global Online Knowledge Network: Case Study of South Korea

Article excerpt


This study, conceptualizing a search engine as an online knowledge network, examines how a local network is formed in the presence of a global online knowledge network. The network literature has explained how a larger network gets larger and becomes dominant, but fails to explain the prevalence of small, local networks over the global network, which is found in some countries. This is especially true in South Korea, where the market share of the global online knowledge network is the lowest in the world. Conducting a case study of Korea, the present research attempts to explore the chasm between the network literature and the reality from the perspective of network and content.

Key words: knowledge, network, global, local, content, creation, presentation, first-mover advantage, Google, NHN

I. Introduction

In our time, one of the most common ways to obtain knowledge is to access online databases through search engines. Search engines can be defined as online knowledge networks where nodes such as individuals, organizations, information and data are linked together. Except for a few countries, such as China and South Korea, the world is now dominated by a single knowledge network, Google.

The worldwide dominance of Google within a short period of time became possible because of the innate characteristics of the network that allow large networks to get larger. With its superior search technology, Google possesses the largest number of links to Web pages and can update online content far more easily than smaller search engines in the face of the exponential growth of the Web. Moreover, economies of scale and network externalities encourage Google to incur less cost and generate more benefits for users. Propelled by the richer-get-richer effect of the network, Google has became the global knowledge network.

However, the network literature fails to explain how a local knowledge network can survive and even prevail over the global knowledge network which has strong advantages due to its large network size. Based on this question, the present research attempts to explain the dominance of a local search engine through a case study of South Korea, where Google's share of search queries is the lowest in the world.

This study starts by conceptualizing a knowledge network and defining a search engine as a knowledge network. Then, the worldwide dominance of Google is explained in line with the network literature. Next, the case of South Korea is introduced and the success of NHN, the most popular search engine in Korea, is examined from the perspectives of network and content.

II. The Conceptualization of a Knowledge Network and a Search Engine as a Knowledge Network

The definition of knowledge differs as each discipline attempts to address different research questions and is highly contentious to define directly and definitely. The present research follows Spender's (1996) conceptualization of knowledge from the standpoint of organizational perspectives in order to focus on the dynamics of the individual's institutional context. Though Spender developed his definition of knowledge based on knowledge management within a firm, his matrix of knowledge is useful to explain how knowledge is situated and interacted on the Web, a virtual organization. Spender classified knowledge according to individual/social and explicit/implicit categories into four types: conscious, objectified, automatic, and collective knowledge (see Table 1). Conscious knowledge is "facts, concepts, and frameworks that can be stored and retrieved from memory or personal records" and automatic knowledge is "theoretical and practical knowledge of people and the performance of different kinds of artistic, athletic, or technical skills" (Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998). Objectified knowledge is "the shared corpus of knowledge" (Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998) and is regarded as "the most advanced form of knowledge" (Boisot, 1995; citing in Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998) which can be science or established standards and practices such as patents and registered designs (Spender, 1996). …

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