His observation stemmed from how issues in the local blogosphere, such as the “Sarong Party Girl” issue in June and and “NKF incident” in July, made it as the most searched keywords on Technorati. Currently, the top 10 searches on Technorati includes “Daphne Teo” (#2) and “Dawn Yang” (#7), both of which are talk of the online town.
To clearly define what this phenomenon is, note that I refer to Singaporeans bloggers having stronger influence on Technorati over bloggers of other nationalities. This influence would be measured by the Technorati search ranking of an issue (by key words) and the length of time it stays on the charts (measured in days).
First, we have have an initial model that looks something like this:
Nationality of Blogger => Influence on Technorati Ranked Search (by rank & time)
The next order of the day would be to discover what makes this phenomenon the case. My initial impression is that the social structure of Singapore has strategic qualities which lend itself well to Media Literacy (See Wikipedia: Media Literacy). Where “Information Literacy” referred to the ability to find, comprehend (linguistically) and consume information for use, the term “Media Literacy” refers to the ability to produce, create and successfully communicate information in its various forms. This runs parallel with the produser philosophy and the new traditions highlighted in Tim O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 model.
Next, we have have an improved model that looks something like this:
Media Literacy of Blogger => Influence on Technorati Ranked Search (by rank & time)
At this junction, it would be superduper if we got more specifically with the characteristics of Singaporean society which supports “media literacy”. Here are a few off the top of my spikey head:
1. English Language Proficiency: Like it or not, the Internet is still American-centric, more so for cutting edge web development which tends to be communicated in English. That in itself excludes a large portion of the world (*though China bloggers seem to be the exception, see “smth” technorati tag).
2. Collective Society: Quoting individualist vs. collectivist attitudes as seen on Wikipedia, some psychologists define collectivism as a syndrome of attitudes and behaviors based on the belief that the basic unit of survival lies within a group, not the individual. Collectivists typically hold that that the “greater good” of the group, is more important than the good of any particular individual who is one part of that larger organism. Some collectivists argue that the individual incidentally serves his own interests by working for the benefit of the group. Asian societies are often classified as collectivist, though within nationality, there have been cases where there has been the other distinction. I am surmising that collectivist attitudes work best for the blogosphere, and may be one of the direct factors for local issues being ranked on Technorati.
3. Modern Education System: When I heard that schools were teaching Adobe Photoshop to Primary level kids, it harkened to me how technologically savvy our younger generation are. If we take into account the global digital divide, Singapore should be heads up against other countries. Once again, technical competence is part of Media Literacy, which would account for young bloggers being fluent with the mechanics of Technorati once they are exposed to it. A possible question would be: Are we truly Technorati-savvy? (Heck, if local schools were to encourage blogging from the outset, I bet Singapore would be hard to avoid in the global blogosphere!)
4. Economic Competitiveness: Singapore’s entire social system seems to be geared towards being economically competitive. Testiment to this can be seen in how the Singapore government places major bets on new industries, including Life Sciences such as stem-cell research and related work in bioinformatics. On a similar note, Singaporeans themselves might tend to be quick to identify new trends, including tools like Technorati, and be one of the earliest to capitalize on it (I need more references to back this). Both on a collective and individual level, Singaporeans seem to see Technorati as a competitive tool (by actively tagging their posts) versus other bloggers who may view it merely as a search tool. As James mentioned, I’d tend to agree that Singaporeans search Technorati a lot, but that’s not all… I believe there’s a recursive effect whereby Singaporeans would search for related blog posts, then in turn post their own under the same tags (more good stuff for irritating surveys!)
5. Size matters for Coordination: James was mystified as to why Singapore, being a small country of 4 million people (much less for those who blog), could register such an effect on Technorati. I’d say that size matters, but not for obvious reasons. Being collective and small, the Singapore blogosphere has the distinct advantage of being well coordinated. A tactical assault of searches on Technorati, tipped off by localized memes through the blogosphere and by Tomorrow.sg (a moderated blog aggregator which make the SG blogosphere easier to visualize), might explain the surge onto the Technorati charts. Metaphorically speaking, if we were a country of spammers, I can only imagine how we’d be filthy rich by now (not that I support it!).
Finally, we have model that looks something like this:
English Language Proficiency + Collective Society + Modern Education System + Economic Competitiveness + Size for coordination => Media Literacy of Blogger => Influence on Technorati Ranked Search (by rank & time)
By considering these five factors (and possibly more), we can somewhat see how Singaporean blogger might be different from the rest, and how this difference might account for their influence over Technorati. Granted this is my first draft on why I think this phenomenon exists, so please do share constructive criticism. Do you think this occurance is worth studying?
Possible dangers to research
There may be other obvious reasons for this occurance. The researcher’s hindsight bias may lead one to personally experience seeing this phenomenon when they could be common appearance elsewhere (just that we don’t look for those appearances).
Aside: What about alternatives search engines?
Besides comparing the level of influence by bloggers’ nationality, we could try comparing ranked searches on Technorati versus that on other blog search engines. The problem is that most other blog search engines don’t directly offer ranked searches, including Google Blog Search, PubSub, Blogdigger and Feedster. Only IceRocket Blog Topics seems to come close with their dynamic tag cloud. Also, we could try results from Technorati versus web pattern aggregators such as the Google Zeitgeist and Yahoo! Buzz Index. Incidentally there’s an international version of Google Zeitgeist, but it doesn’t include Singapore! To date, neither web pattern indexes seem to mention Singaporean issues as compared to international or American centric topics.