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Twitter users in Japan have generated some of the biggest traffic spikes in the microblogging service's five-year history. Now a new study may help explain Twitter's growing popularity in Japan - the short, 140-character tweets may have struck a deep cultural chord because of structural similarities to the country's traditional, emotive haiku poetry.


 
 
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Despite only being in closed beta testing at the moment, Google's new social-network service, Google+, is rapidly proving to be huge, with more than 10 million users joining since it was announced on June 28. And thanks to their international connections, Net-savvy Japanese too were soon getting invitations to join "circles," which is how the service organizes members. Within a day or two of invitations being sent out, I observed a lot of Japanese users joining — with a speed much faster than when social-networking services like Orkut, Mixi, Gree, Twitter and Facebook launched.


 
 
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Inspired by a desire to help victims of Japan's deadly earthquake, a group of bloggers and writers have come together through the Internet to create a book of stories about the disaster. The result, "Quakebook", is a moving collection of photos, memories and reflections about the massive tremor and monster tsunami that demonstrates the power of the web to unite people around the world in times of tragedy. 


 
 
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Panic over the radiation from the quake-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan is sparking a sudden surge in sales of iodine pills around the world -- even as health experts warn that the pills may be of little use. Since word emerged that Japan has begun distributing potassium iodide tablets to residents near the Fukushima facility, other global regions have noted a spike in sales of the pills.


 
 
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Last year marked a breakthrough for Twitter in Japan. The microblogging service rapidly expanded from near obscurity to near ubiquity, creating a phenomenon that fascinated local media and critics. Last summer during soccer’s World Cup, for example, the Japanese set a global record at the time of 3,283 tweets per second for the most-ever chirps per second; and Japan broke its own record just after midnight on New Year’s Eve with all the “happy new year” tweets.