As I have mentioned before, Japan is the “Twitter Nation.” In 5 short years, a fifth of the Japanese population were on Twitter, and as of October 2011, 14% of all tweets were in Japanese. That explains why the image above is so brightly lit within Japan – it’s a map of Twitter activity (i.e., the blue white dots denote locations of tweets). Twitter is such a popular part of the Japanese culture now that practically everyone in the young generations are using it. This explains why something as mundane as a movie on TV broke the previous record for tweets-per-second (TPS). You can also thank Japan for re-breaking that record 3 weeks later.
For people all over the world, Twitter crashed on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. When you actually look at the time it happened, it coincided with the Japanese timezone. I’m not sure how/when Twitter counts their TPS, but it seems as though they have a preliminary and a more properly-measured number. When “Castle in the Sky” (a Ghibli movie from 1986) ranked in 14,594 TPS, it took a few days before Twitter officially announced the actual number at 25,088 TPS. We don’t have any re-announced number from Twitter yet, but the preliminary TPS is over 14,595.
On New Year’s Day in Japan’s time, a staggering 16,197 TPS were recorded to have been sent, causing Twitter to crash for about an hour. No one could read or post any messages, and an error message of “Twitter is over capacity” was the only thing people could see on the website. I suppose that means there should have been more tweets sent, but I’m not sure. What I’m certain of, however, is that events like New Year’s see lots of activity from non-English speaking countries as well. Research from the Palo Alto Research Center from 2011 found that 39% of tweets were in Japanese, Portuguese, Indonesian, and Spanish.
The Daily Mail reports:
In Tokyo, people released helium balloons in front of the Tokyo Tower at midnight with notes attached listing their hopes for 2012.
Many wished for a better year, following the earthquake and tsunami of 2011. ‘I hope it will be a year full of smiles. For those who are crying now, I hope they’ll be smiling too,’ said 21-year-old Horie Soichiro.
Twitter actually helped people in Japan after the 3/11 disaster, so it’s more than just fun and games for users. But when it comes to regular usage, Japanese is a great language to do it in. For a look at why Japan loves Twitter so much, click on the excerpt below.
Why Japan Loves Twitter
MySpace never took off in Japan, though everyone was using basically the Japanese version of it, called Mixi. Facebook has gradually (more than the diagram above shows) been growing in popularity in Japan, and “The Social Network” debuting in January earlier this year certainly helped. But according to an article from TheNextWeb published in February this year also says it has merely 2 milion, compared to Mixi, which has 20 million users (according to the Japan times).
One of the important factors in Twitter’ popularity is the lack of clutter. Essentially, the more English there is (i.e., MySpace and facebook had far too much English text for Japanese people) the harder it is for Japanese people to use it. By the time Myspace and facebook were more user friendly for Japanese people, everyone already had Mixi. Twitter was simple enough (i.e., very little text) for it to catch on, and it was so different that it didn’t necessarily “compete” with Mixi. Twitter’s subsequent popularity lead Japanese to be the second language added to twitter menus, in 2008.
Another reason for Twitter’s rise was its anonymity. People using the popular forum “2-chan” (channel 2) really liked twitter (note: there has already been an English version of 2-chan, called 4-chan). 2-chan is a forum that keeps no logs, which means that every message said will be erased in a matter of days –perfect unaccountable anonymity. Twitter was a welcome addition at that point, presumably because not enough people knew about it to cause a fuss if something bad was said, and it was easily accessible for everyone to write. Essentially, 140 characters in Japanese is enough for a blog entry, and that’s kind of what it had become – micro-blogs.
While Twitter is enjoying huge success in Japan – seriously… 16000+ tweets every single second! – Facebook is gradually catching up, like it has done in practically every other country in the world. The two will soon likely go head to head in the social networking competition, and I can’t imagine who will come out on top.