Some Last Thoughts

Hmmm… well, where to begin.  Hmm… hmmm… alright, I can’t seem to think of anything, so lets do this.  I have this handy grading sheet that’s just been emailed to me.

So, as a bit of my thought process here, I’m going to go over my general thoughts for each bit of it.

Article Analysis:

Well, I did get them done. Several of them rather quickly at the end, I’ll admit. If some other student in Tech 621 reads this blog at a later time, I’ll tell you this: Don’t procrastinate! I’d suggest working your article analysis hand in hand with your lit review. It consolidates your thoughts on it rather nicely. Unfortunately for me, I ended up somewhat sidestepping it by having research I was already familiar with for my lit review (as I was initially doing my final project for the class in such a way that it’d dovetail into my thesis). Instead, I find myself haring off in a completely different direction with my final project, leaving me having to redo my lit review at the last minute.

So yeah. Don’t do that.  Do your article analysis right along with your lit review.  It’ll a) get your AAs done nice and early and b) get you started on your lit review.  Both good things.

Reading Blogs: 

Was a bit tricky for me. See, I don’t usually read blogs that much. When I do read them, they’re usually blogs along the lines of Blogsuki, Kurogane, Random Curiosity – anime blogs that help me keep track of what other anime viewers watch so I can get a feel for which shows are good every new anime season.  At the same time, not exactly something that I feel up to posting about on here.  The closest I came was the discussion of quality in translation, where I linked to Amaterasu’s blog.   Plus, by the end of the semester, I’d completely forgotten that we were supposed to be writing about what we read in blogs here and in Twitter.  So, oops there.

Students – remember to write about that sort of thing!

Writing a Blog:

Well, the main problem that I had here was just never really having something I wanted to write about… that felt appropriate to class.  I could rant for ages on games, anime, class, ect., yet one of the first things we were told in class is to keep our blogs professional.  And truth be told, I started writing out a few posts… yet I ended up not posting them up, due to me feeling that they just weren’t appropriate for class.  Ultimately, I think I did at least a decent amount of posting on the blog… heavens knows the posts themselves tended to be rather long-winded.  Like this one will be, most likely.  But, that said, trying to keep things professional stymied me, as at heart I’m not exactly a formal, professional kind of guy.  This is added to by the fact that I’m posting on here under my real name.  I think I would’ve been better off having a blog, under one of my usernames, that I could (ironically) be more myself with, where I could freely express any opinion on anything that I wanted without having to worry about a prospective employer seeing it sometime down the road.

This said, I do have some new appreciation for why people do write blogs.  At the start of the class, I had more or less two views of blogs – one where the blog writer essentially uses their blog as a diary, and one where the blog writer uses their blog as a means to review something.  The first thing I realized was that I was rather wrong, after I thought about it for awhile when I started browsing around on blogs toward the beginning of the semester.  There are a lot more types of blogs than I realized – so many that I’m not even going to try listing them.  The second thing I didn’t realize, and now do, is exactly why people write blogs.  For one, they provide a means to get your opinion across – if you feel strongly about something (like I do about quality in translation), then not only does it provide a means for you to voice your opinion, it also means that someone, somewhere in the vast web of the Internet might stumble across your blog and, lo and behold, agree with you.  It was rather odd to find an except from my blog on someone else’s, but it was also rather gratifying, so cheers, SJC Translations.  Glad to know someone’s listening… in Paris?  Really?  Well, unsurprising I suppose that they noticed me, as they too are advocates of Quality in Translation.  Apparently there’s an actual internet campaign for it.  The main goal pretty much matches what I was commenting on.

See businesses!  I’m not the only one.  Seriously people.  Quality!  It’s not that much to ask for!

Commenting on Blogs:

This proved a bit tricky for me.  See, I’m fine with commenting on blogs… but only if I feel like I actually have something to say.  If I have an opinion or a thought on a blog post, I’ll post it up.  However, if I read a blog post and mentally I was going ‘eh…’ then I wouldn’t post a comment.  So, with that in mind…

Do you want to get comments on your blog?  Try this

1) If you’re going to post thoughts on academic papers, put more of your own thoughts into your blog and less of the paper’s.  If I want to know the paper’s thoughts, I’ll just read the paper itself!  So for that Article Analysis stuff?  Remember that last ‘analysis’ section at the end?  That should be bigger than any other section in the post, in my opinion.  Unless, of course, you’re insane like me and have a tendency to summarize the findings of entire articles… but I digress.

2) If you’re going to post about something, post about something interesting.  Maybe even thought provoking.  It’s great to post about the ball game, but you’re not going to get that much in the way of commentary from anyone who has absolutely no interest in whatever game it might be.  If I’m remembering correctly, I think the most comments I’ve gotten on my blog was when I published my ‘other research interests’ blog on how I thought it might be possible that spatial ability could tie into martial arts.  Don’t be afraid to air some personal opinions out there, for that matter – though keep in mind that people in a potential position of power over you (and I’m not talking about the prof) may eventually read your blog.  If you put out some personal opinions, you should be ready to face any consequences that come your way.

3) If you’re going to post your blog, you’ve got two ways of doing it.  You can either make the post long, but interesting, or short but sweet (and preferably still interesting).  If you write a long and boring post, no one’s going to get to the end to comment!  They’ll just move on in search of more interesting posts.

— For that matter, I’ll apologize – some of my posts, I’ll admit I do feel are a bit dry and longwinded – if you made your way through them, then thank you for tolerating it.

tl;dr is an acronym you may come across, incidentally – ‘too long; didn’t read’.  A savvy poster will post it at the bottom saying ‘tl;dr version – short summary of post’ that’ll explain what the post is about so someone who just briefly skims to the bottom will know what it’s about before buckling down and reading the wall of text.


Well, I will say this much for Twitter.  At the very least, I do have more respect for it.  Going into the class, I was much of the same opinion as at least one of my fellow students – that it was nothing more than a glorified status update.  Now that I’ve a) used it more and b) seen what it’s capable of, I have a lot more respect for it.

I do, however, reaaaally.  Reaaaally.   Reaaaaally.  Dislike trying to use Twitter to coordinate a group project on short notice.  For a long-term project, sure.  Perfectly fine.  But trying to put something together on short notice without using email to convey large sums of information, where you know for certain the other party has certainly received it (and presumably read it)… just no comparison.

For me, Twitter’s greatest strength is also it’s greatest weakness.  That 140 character limit.  That character limit drove me insane a time or two, because I couldn’t think of a way to post up everything I wanted to say in one tweet that should actually fit the character limit.  It doesn’t help that I’ve quite literally trained myself to be averse to typing using any sort of internet shorthand that might’ve shortened my tweets, though I definitely did use quite a… bit.  Heh.  It definitely helps to have a URL shortener.

I’d say that Twitter’s greatest use, at least for me, was as a source of information.  For instance, I’ve been keeping tabs on the Game of Thrones TV series (having read all the books and played the card game… extensively, back when it was still good).  Lo and behold, there’s a Game of Thrones TV series Twitter account.  I started following it, and I ended up getting inside scoops on new things for the series right as it was being posted up.  Instead of having to check several different sites, I could just follow the URL’s they posted up on Twitter and I could keep track of everything as it happened.

Still though, I did have a problem with following people.  See, in order to follow people, I had to find some interesting people to follow.  I refused to just randomly follow someone willy nilly just to inflate my Twitter account.  I wanted to find people that I’d actually be interested in with regards to their tweets.  I did manage to find a few – for instance, two of my favorite authors post every so often on Twitter (Brandon Sanderson and Jim Butcher).  I was actually looking at Twitter one night and saw right when Jim Butcher posted that he’d just finished – completely finished – writing Ghost Story, the next Dresden Files book.

… incidentally, if you haven’t read that series, read it.  It doesn’t matter if you’re not into fantasy books – I’ve yet to meet a single person who hasn’t loved that series.

Likewise, since I don’t tend to follow that many people, that had the side effect that not all that many people followed me, in turn.  So ultimately, I have rather less followers/followees on my Twitter account that perhaps I should have by the end of the class, but I’ll say this much – those I chose to follow, I really actually pay attention to.  Aside from DepressedDarth, who’s there more for random comedic Star Wars tweets.

Overall (tl;dr version)

I do have a new respect for social media.  I can’t see myself actively blogging or Twittering, but in absolute truth it’s because I have a different outlet for the energies that those normally involve, which is forums.

If you go over to The Sluggite Zone, you’ll see that it’s a forum for the popular webcomic Sluggy Freelance.  While getting access to the forums will cost you a post and a haiku, you’ll find that it’d quite the nifty place to hang out.  I always found it to be so, at the least.  I’m over there all the time, chatting in GC, running games in FRPG, playing in WGARs, or arguing in POOP.  I’ve been posting there for… sheesh.  Almost 7 years now, closing in on over 6,000 posts, not counting the ones I had before the switch to the newest version of the forums.  Look for the Don Quixote XKCD avatar and the quote from Man of La Mancha – that’ll be me.  Ruan.  You’ll also find me over at the Privateer Press Circle Orboros forums (same username), updating my FAQ and talking about Warmachine and Hordes.

I use the Sluggy forum to post up my thoughts and comments – comments that others reserve for blogs or Twitter.  While I might not be completely up on social immersion in blogs or Twitter, you can trust me on this one… I’m certainly immersed and entrenched over in the Zone.  I think I just in general prefer the style of threaded conversations where there’s a community of good people that I’ve grown to know over the years, where I know for a fact that my voice will be heard and my thoughts will be commented on by people who know me.

On the other hand, if I really went at it with this blog, or with Twitter, I’m fairly sure that I could establish such a community here, in the comments, or on Twitter with my followers and followees.  Really, what it all comes down to with social immersion, is time.  Time spent immersing yourself – not really in social media, per se.  Rather instead, immersing yourself in social media and finding a community – because when all is said and done, it’s not social media that’s important.  It’s the people that use it.  When you’re immersing yourself in social media for the class, don’t look at it as a homework assignment.  Look at it instead as a chance to meet new people in new places.  Especially Twitter.  Espeeeeecially Twitter.  You’d be amazed at some of the random Tweets I’ve seen…

Alright, I’ve gone on long enough with this.  For those who’ve read this entire post, cheers – have an eCookie.  For those who’ve only read this little tl;dr version at the end… well you’re not getting anything unless you go back up to the top and read the entire thing.  And then you can have an eCookie.

Thanks all for reading,

Andrew T. Allen



A collection of my comments for the class, from most recent to least recent:

This Blog:

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What is Twitter, a Social Media or a News Media?

Kwak, H., Lee, C., Moon, S., and Park, H. (2010) What is Twitter, a Social Network or a News Media?. Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on World Wide Web (WWW ’10). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 591-600. DOI=10.1145/1772690.1772751


How are people connected on Twitter?  Who are the most influential people?  What do people talk about?  How does information defuse via retweets?


Use of the Twitter API to crawl for data from June 6-July 31, 2009, collecting profiles of users during this time as well as following trending topics.  Any user profile that mentioned a trending topic had additional data collection lasting until September 24, 2009.

# of user profiles gathered:  41.7 million.

Gathering of trending topics: gathered top 10 trending #topics every 5 minutes, ultimately gathering 4,262 topics and their corresponding tweets.

They used the Clean Tweets filter to help with the removal of any spam tweets.  106 million individual tweets collected.

Main Findings:

There are only 40 users who have more than a million followers – these are generally celebrities or mass media sources.

The amount of followers generally match the amount of followees.  There is, however, a glitch in the data where Twitter once only allowed people to follow up to 2000 people – this limit no longer exists, but the repercussions of it are still there in the data.

Number of Tweets vs. Number of Followers: 

Average number of tweets to followers remains relatively the same as number of tweets increases from 10-1000 tweets.  It does, however, grow by an order of magnitude by x > 5000.


77.9% of pairs are connected one way (follow, followee).  Only 22.1% are reciprocated or, as the study calls them, ‘r-friends’.

67.6% of Twitter users are not followed by anyone they are following in Twitter.  The researchers suggest that these people are using Twitter as an information source rather than a social networking site.

Degree of Separation:

According to Stanley Milgram’s ‘six degrees of separation’ experiment, any two people can be connected within six hops of one another.  Research has shown that such degree of separation on social networks tends to be low – for instance, the MSN Messenger network has a degree of seperation of 6 at the median.

The difference with Twitter, the researchers contend, is that unlike MSN Messenger, the relationships one has on Twitter does not necessarily need to be reciprocal.  As such, the researchers expected that Twitter would have a longer path – more of a degree of separation – than other social networksInterestingly, the researchers were incorrect.  Their study showed that the degree of separation in Twitter was actually shorter – at an average path length of 4.12.  They also note that any information takes 5 or fewer hops to disseminate between 93.5% of user pairs – less than other social networks.


The definition of homophily is that ‘a contact between similar people occurs at a higher rate than among dissimilar people.’

Their study suggests that Twitter users who have reciprocal relations fewer than 2,000 are likely to be geographically close (in this case, they define ‘geographically close’ as in the same time zone).  They also observed that users with 1,000 or less followers are likely to be geographically close to their ‘r-friends’ and share a similar popularity with their ‘r-friends’.

In essence, Twitter does show some evidence of homophily, particularly between reciprocated pairs, or ‘r-friends’.

Comparing Twitter Trends with Other Media:

Comparison of Twitter Trends with Google Trends: only 3.6% of Twitter Trends existed in the Google Trends.  Most of those generally had to do with real world events, celebrities, or movies.  Each day, 95% of topics are new on Google.  In Twitter, only 72%.  The researchers suggest that the use of retweets, replies, and mentions are likely keeping trending topics active longer on Twitter.

They also took a subset of Twitter Trends that matched up to CNN Headline News topics to see who broke the news first.  More than half the time CNN Headline News got there first, however, Twitter tended to break the news faster on events that were live broadcast in nature, such as a sports broadcast or an accident.

User Participation in Trending Topics:

Out of 41 million users, some 8,262,545 people participated in trending topics.  Some 15% of users participated in more than 10 topics during four months.

In the case of trends, the researchers find that core members generate tweets about a topic for a period of time, with an influx of new people coming at the onset of the trend and then less and less new people talking about it over time.

Active Periods of Trends:

A trending topic, according to the researcher, is considered inactive if there has been no tweet on it for a 24 hour period.  Most topics (73%) have a single active period, 15% have two, and 5% have 3.  Very few have more than three active periods where the topic would pick up, drop, pickup, and drop in trends.

Most active periods (31%) lasted a mere day.  Only 7% of periods lasted longer than 10 days.  According to their research, the longest topic that stayed active was ‘big brother’, which stayed active for 76 days.

Impact of Retweet:

Large number of one or two-hop chains of retweet trees, where the retweet only got that far.  There were occasions of ‘repetitive’ retweets, where someone retweeted the same thing multiple times.  There were also ‘cross-retweet’, where users would retweet one another. Still, there are some retweets that did take off. Below, the researchers show how retweets ‘treed’ outwards.

According to the researchers, no tree goes beyond 11 hops. Most retweets have less than 6 hops.


There’s a lot of good information and statistics in this article that really spells out how certain things work in Twitter.  I did find it interesting that so relatively few interactions on Twitter are reciprocal relations.  Then again, my personal experience thus far, as the nature of the class has demanded, that most of the people I currently follow I have a reciprocal relationship with due to needing a base of people to talk with about the class.

Of particular note for me, with my research, was the discussion of active trends.  By their definition, an active trend ‘expires’ when a day has gone by with no tweets using that particular trend.  They noted that most trends last a matter of days.  This is particularly interesting for me as my trend for #Libya has remained an active trend for the entire month – as the study above stated, there was a large amount of tweets as a core group was established, and then the number of tweets has fallen and fallen… yet apparently that core group is still tweeting about #Libya, as the amount of Tweets has yet to go down to zero for a 24 hour period.  This suggests that something such as the military intervention in #Libya, and the Libyan Civil War, which generates additional news and information on a constant basis as international forces engage in the no-fly zone and other measures, may prevent the trend from becoming inactive, instead allowing it to function as a sort of news media source as well as a means for people to voice their opinion on the intervention in Libya.

Social Networks that Matter: Twitter Under the Microscope

Huberman, B., Romero, D. & Wu, F.  (2008) Social Networks that Matter: Twitter Under the Microscope . Available at SSRN:


A study on the social interactions on Twitter, and the underlying social network behind it all.  Specifically, they were looking at how relevant ‘friends’ are to someone’s social network on Twitter, and are attempting to find a way to aid in deciding how active a Twitter user is.


Data Set: 

309,740 users, who on average posted 255 posts, had 85 followers,and followed 80 other users.   Of 309,740 users, only 211,024 posted twice. We call them the active users. Active users averaged out to having been using Twitter for 206 days.

Twitter Friend

They defined a Twitter ‘friend’ as someone a user has directed at least two posts to (using the @username function).  Using this, they sought to compare amount of followers and followees vs. ‘friends’.

Main Findings:

Number of Posts vs. Number of Followers: 

Number of posts increases only up to a point, then it stays the same.

Number of Posts vs. Number of Friends: 

Number of posts increases as number of friends increase, with no sign of stopping its’ upward climb.  This suggests the more friends one has, the more posting a user will do.

Amount of Friends vs. Followees: 

Friends/Followees = 10% or less of those people follow are actual ‘friends’.  Even though initially the amount of ‘friends’ increase as followees increase, eventually the number of friends plateaus out and stays constant.

Going by the last two conclusions, what seems the most likely scenario is that someone will join Twitter.  They will get up to a certain amount of friends, and increase on Twitter posts accordingly, until they reach a saturation point of friends, at which point the number of posts will likely end up more constant as well.

In essence, the research suggests that there are two types of networks.  There’s the dense network of followers and followees, and there is also the smaller network of ‘friends’ which interact with one another on Twitter on a constant basis.


Once again, I’m strongly reminded of strong/weak ties.  In essence, the ‘strong’ ties in Twitter are what this research article would call ‘friends’ – those who actively converse with one another using the @username function in Twitter.  The ‘weak’ ties in Twitter are followers and followees that a user does not actively converse with.  This essentially matches the general idea of strong and weak ties.  Strong ties are meant to be close friends, people that you know and talk with on a regular basis.  On the other hand, weak ties are people that you generally do not know well, but have some means of contact with – enough so that they may potentially be used as resources, or ‘social capital’.  If what this article seems to be suggesting is true, Twitter can be used as a means to build both strong and weak ties to an online community.

There’s a research idea right there… see if one could tie the theory of strong/weak ties into Twitter.  Judging from these last two articles, I would certainly say it seems a strong possibility.

Why We Twitter: Understanding Microblogging Usage and Communities

Finin, T., Java, A., Song, X., & Tseng, B.. 2007. Why we twitter: understanding microblogging usage and communities. In Proceedings of the 9th WebKDD and 1st SNA-KDD 2007 workshop on Web mining and social network analysis (WebKDD/SNA-KDD ’07). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 56-65. DOI=10.1145/1348549.1348556


This research article’s goal was to illustrate the reason where and why people use Twitter.  What do they primarily tweet about?  What are their intentions in using Twitter?  Where are they tweeting from?


The researchers in this article monitored Twitter’s public updates for two months, getting updates throughout every 30 seconds.  In the end, their dataset included 1,348,543 posts from 76,177 users.

They used the Twitter API to monitor the ‘social network’ of users, examining how each set of ‘friends’ on Twitter.  They had 87,897 nodes with829,053 friend relations between them.

For each user, they took their profile information and mapped them geographically as well.

Main Findings:

Possibly the best aspects of this research come from their figures and graphics, such as this:

Twitter Communities

Here we have an example of how two Twitter communities connect to one another.  Proponents of the theory of weak/strong tie communities are probably perking up at this graphic – it looks quite similar to graphics describing such communities that we examined earlier in the semester.  In this case, we have two ‘friends’ who connect two Twitter communities together.

Geographical Data:

They also delve into the spread of Twitter geographically, as 39k of 76k users from their sample had locations in their profile that enabled them to point out their respective latitude and longitude coordinates. They put these coordinates on a world map, seen below…

Finally, what was their findings with regards to the reason why people use Twitter?

People use Twitter for:

Daily Chatter: People talking about their daily routine and what they are doing. Most common use of Twitter.

Conversation: @(Username) conversations between Twitter users. Roughly 1/8 of posts, with 21% of users doing it.

Sharing Information/URLs: 13% of posts contained some form of URL, usually using a shortener such as TinyURL or

Reporting News: News and comments on current events. Some automated RSS feed into Twitter posts as well.

Types of Twitter Users:

Information Source: Someone who has a large number of followers, who may or may not post frequently. Some of these users are, in fact, automated tools posting news. People follow this user because their posts contain valuable information.

Friends: Friends, family, co-workers.  Essentially, the average user.

Information Seeker:  Someone who follows a large number of people, but is not followed back in turn.  He or she may not post regularly, but that person is getting a steady flow of information from the people he or she follows.


This article was probably the most interesting due to its’ graphics.  The one on Twitter community connections (as seen above) definitely reminds me of the strong/weak ties bonds between communities.  The geographic distribution data is interesting as well, as unlike blogging or Facebook, Twitter doesn’t have as many alternative social media sites that do what it can do.  My work in Radian 6 for the project has shown that there are users in many different countries, who speak in different languages, that all use Twitter.  As seen above, the primary users of Twitter fall under the area of the North America, Europe, and East Asia (particularly Japan).

With regards to my own research into how Twitter users are talking about #Libya from country to country, the important information in this article comes more from the types of Twitter users, and what those users use Twitter for.  The ones I am looking for in my research are those that are reporting news and sharing information, and in particular the users that are commenting on those pieces of information.  Can Twitter be used to gauge sentiment toward those pieces of information?  How does it trend over time?

Other Research Interests

As I’ve talked more or less entirely on what revolves around my thesis topic (culture and it’s impact on how people perceive the web) or on the social internet, I may have given the impression that those are the only topics I am interested in researching.  This isn’t exactly true.

One of my other interests is in spatial ability.  Strangely enough, I became interested in spatial ability through martial arts.  So what does spatial ability have to do with martial arts?

I hold a 1st degree black belt (decided) in Songahm Taekwondo.  As my master once said, there is one main thing that separates a white belt (a beginner) from a black belt.  That is ‘control’.  There is a reason why students are not allowed to spar (fight another student) until later belts – it takes a certain amount of time before the body itself learns control to the point that it becomes ingrained into your techniques.  Trust me, as someone who’s taught white belts before, it can at times be a painful experience.  When fighting someone who has control, you know that they could kick you right in the head, but you also know that they can regulate the power of the kick so that you will not be badly injured.  When teaching a white belt, on the other hand, there is no such assurance.  You hold out the pad for them to kick in front of you, but you have to be ready to dodge – they don’t have control, so if you are not careful there’s a chance that they will miss the pad and that full force kick will hit you instead.

So what has this to do with spatial ability?  Simple.  It has to do with that very control.  It is my belief that in addition to training one’s body, martial arts training also aids in training a person’s spatial ability.  One of the aspects of spatial ability is orientation, and knowing precisely where your own body is with regards to other things in the room.  That’s exactly one of the things that someone has to learn in martial arts.

Ever heard of a term called proprioception?

Do a little experiment for me.  It goes a little something like this:

1.  Close your eyes.

2.  Hold your right hand in front of you at some distance.

3.  Point at it with your left hand.

The experiment seems somewhat silly until you think about it.  Your eyes are closed, so you cannot see your hand.  Obviously, you cannot hear it, smell it, taste it – in theory, using the normal five senses, you have no way to tell exactly where your hand is, and you certainly shouldn’t be able to point at it.

The truth of the matter is that there’s an additional sense – this is that term I noted before.  It is called proprioception.  It is your inherent ability to be able to tell where your body is, how much effort it took to move this body part.  This is another aspect found in martial arts – in a way, you are also training this sense.  You are ingraining techniques into your body, so that when you execute them, this sense of proprioception is telling you ‘ah, yes, you did that one right’.

Now, from what I have seen, there has been little research on how martial arts impacts spatial ability or proprioception.  It is my belief that the longer someone studies martial arts, the stronger both their sense of proprioception becomes, and the stronger their spatial orientation becomes.  Therefore, at some point I would like to run a study – find a martial arts school of students willing to subject themselves to tests.  There would be one of two ways to test this – either take a group of white belts, and test them every time they gain a new belt – a longitudinal study that would take years – or, alternatively, simply test each individual belt level.  I would not be surprised if there was improvement every new belt level.

Color Culture

Culture and color: Sacred green, lucky pink? Futurist, ISSN 0016-3317, Jul/Aug97, Vol. 31, Issue 4.

The Importance of Color in Culture

Colors do have an important place in cultures. They may be integral to the national identity of the culture – as an American what red, white, and blue means to them and they will quite likely say something about their country. Likewise, colors may be associated with certain festivals. Christmas colors, for example, are red and green. How far does this cultural color identity extend?

The importance of color is something that the marketing world knows very well. An article in the Futurist (1997) commented that “a product with the wrong color may not only fail in a particular country, it may even offend entire cultures.” The article talks about a US company who attempted to sell chewing gum in China in a green wrapper. Sales were poor at first, then the company changes the wrapper to pink. Sales increased, and the company learned the power of color in culture.  Why did the sales increase? According to the Futurist article (1997), green is a sacred color in China. This is something that may be important to keep in mind, as the same article goes on to describe several other differences – green is also a sacred color in some Islamic cultures, so a company selling green toilet seats might be seen as sacrilegious. Japanese consumers see black scooters as sleak and stylish, yet Indian consumers have an adverse reaction since India’s culture has a strong ‘death’ association with the color black. In Chinese culture, the color white is the color of mourning, so a Chinese woman would not be wearing white at a wedding, unlike an American wedding, where the bride is almost surely to be wearing white.

It is, today, generally accepted that when marketing to a target culture, a business should always keep in mind the meanings of colors to that culture.  However, there are still businesses out that either do not realize it, or ignore it… and in some cases, they may luck out and choose the right color scheme by accident.  In other cases, however, their product may do horribly, and they might never realize why.

So, as I believe I may have said once, and I’ll repeat it again – whenever a business designs something for a culture, do your research.  Figure out what works with that culture and what does not.  Else, that business may pay the price… literally.