I’m pretty sure I promised two links for you in relation to Yehyun’s discussion. One of them was on how Korea ended up dependent on ActiveX controls for its online commerce. That story is very clearly explained — and accurate, as far as I’ve discovered — on this page.
Here’s more information (from about a year ago) on attempts to make ActiveX work in Google’s new(ish) browser, Chrome… specifically so Koreans can use it. There’s also information on a Professor named Kichang Kim who’s trying to force the Korean government to catch up with the standards and protocols of the rest of the planet’s internet. And here’s an entry about Korea’s continuing dependency on IE6, on a blog all about IT and the web in Korea — and its relationship with the rest of the internet.
On a tangent, but it’s an interesting one, Brian Deutsch blogged here about what happened when the Korean government created a website “for foreigners” but followed the very limited and behind-the-times web standards (IE6, Windows only, etc.) common to Korea. And here’s an interesting report about how the Internet developed in Korea in the first place!
I can’t recall what the other topic I promised to give you links about was, but I’ll offer this one to you: Manybooks.net is a website where, at the present moment, over 27,000 ebooks can be gotten for free — legally, because they have been released under a Creative Commons License, or are in the Public Domain.
By the way, Manybooks.net is far from the only site like this. Project Gutenbeg probably started the whole trend — digitizing books in the Public Domain — and now there are many similar sites offering eBooks in many formats for free.
For example, a book by another Gordon Sellar is available on Manybooks.net. It’s from the 1800s and, no, I don’t think he and I are related (though you never know). In any case, the book is available in a wide variety of standardized formats — 20 of them, if you include a few specific version of PDF. This website gives these books away. If this is possible, I’m sure Korean eBook publishing needn’t require the development of a whole new eBook format. At most, it might take some modification of an existing format to display Korean text properly.
Manybooks and and other sources of free reading material are likely to be important to the development of the eBook hardware business, just as Napster and other file-sharing services that facilitated illegal MP3 downloading were important for the development of the MP3 player business.
So… perhaps what Koreans need to do to get an eBook business started is to start a few websites where free eBooks (in the public domain) are encoded and offered in standardized formats… and make those formats so popular that, finally, eBook hardware makers will have to simply include those formats among the ones readable by their hardware?
If they don’t, then alternative software will be developed and made cheaply or freely available in the iTunes App Store, allowing people to skip buying the Korean eBook reader hardware and opt for something a little more open-standards based.
In other words, by stalling, Korean book companies may well be damaging or even destroying their chances of developing a dedicated eBook hardware market… and even destroying the chances of a legal eBook trade in Korea for the foreseeable future!
See below for the revised course schedule, which I just posted earlier today! (Including the film we’ll be discussing in class on Tuesday!)