Student Voices: The Other Side of Online Content

In Japan a major issue with the Internet is the availability of content. Japan is well known as a global leader in infrastructure and IT technology. Yet, the reason Japan is ranked so low in terms of usage and utilization is the lack of online content.

The big issue is now, how do we get content online? As with many difficult tasks, there is a chicken or the egg situation. Many disapprove of the government’s approach towards making more content on the Internet, but from what I see (a university student in Japan), there is also a lack of demand, or at least a demand for valuable content.

Recently, I have been actively taking part in startup workshops where we present our ideas and plans for new businesses. What I proposed was a platform to share and utilize health information in order to create a system of “preventive care” rather than “cure.” What I was met with was a reality check. Long story short, the panel of judges told me for the last 10 years somebody has been trying to do that and nobody has succeed, and neither will I.

Instead, the plan that won the contest was making a smart phone application that has a touch-based interactive girlfriend that calls your name, speaks to you, and reacts when you pet her.

In another event, I was surpassed by a mobile application that allows students attending universities in Kyoto to communicate so they can find other students who want to buy textbooks they have and do not need or vice versa. Oh, and did I mention that most of these ideas were presented by working adults?

If this is the future of Japanese business then honestly we will never have content. These ideas are not content generating platforms and on top of that only apply to a local audience. When will Japan be able to make a groundbreaking platform such as Google or Facebook? When will consumers start looking for things they want on the Internet, rather than local stores or markets? When will the private sector address the need and demand that we need content like music, movies, and other media to be on the cloud and utilized at not a local scale but a global scale? When will the concept of moving information to the cloud and generating Big Data not only stop at the services and entertainment industries but also to health, education, and government?

The Internet has brought new ways of living, new societal values, and new approaches to business and governance. Japanese government, business, and even citizens must approach the new platform Internet offers with a fresh perspective and change their ways from top to bottom in order to be successful in the new global economy. But as long as the private sector demands virtual girlfriends and other applications for the local market then this will be a hard challenge for both sectors to overcome.