I first used my computer when I was around 6 years old. It was my mother’s computer and the purpose of my use was to draw a digital picture by using game soft for children. When I turned to the age around 10, I started to play simulation game called “Sim Park”, which was a game to create your own virtual park. As my parents did not allow me to play with any kind of TV games, such as Super Famicom, Sim Park was the only digital game I could enjoy during my childhood. However, as the game was not connected to Internet or I was not competing against other players, things I could do was limited within the offline game soft. Therefore, my interest in computer game did not go further.
When I was 14 years old, my use of computer shifted from playing games to emailing and creating digital documents. As I had friends in the US, I exchanged emails with them. I also spent time in front of the computer in order to type a script for the theater play I was involved. In addition, I had a “digital information class” in my junior high school and learnt how to create website. Still at this point however, my use of computer was basically limited to the offline sphere and online activity was only the email exchange.
When I entered college, I started to use Internet for searching information online, mainly related to my study. I got my first lap-top computer at this time and also used it to write papers and create power points. I also created a SNS account called “mixi”, which is a Japanese version of Facebook, although I had never heard about Facebook at that time. It was not until I moved to Canada as an exchange student in 2006 that I started to use the real Facebook. Just after few days of my arriving in Canada, my Canadian roommate suggested me to sign up for Facebook. There was no language preference in Japanese on Facebook at that time, and non of my Japanese friend had Facebook account. I also started to use MSN messenger while I was in Canada, but I used it only to talk with my non-Japanese friends or Japanese friends who were also studying abroad. I remember that the instructions for the MSN messenger was all in English as well.
Recalling my use of SNS in the past, I think if I was not an English speaker, I would have less access to information online as the information provided in Japanese are limited and it is not common for most of the Japanese people to use English in every day life, including the digital world.
If Japan shared language with other countries and also engaged more in the development of the digital world, our access to the global information sphere would have been broader and deeper. In other words, Japan had lost many chances to bring in diversity in the digital world due to the language barrier, and perhaps due to the Silicon Valley’s white-centered environment which resulted in creating the “digital divide” (Nakamura, 2014). However, the “digital divide” that Japan experiences is not imposed by the isolation from the Internet access, but rather by actively isolating itself from the global world by creating “Japan(ese) only” digital devices, computer soft, and web application. We ironically call this isolated development of globally available product as “Galapagos syndrome” and this greatly impacted the quality and quantity of information that is accessible for me before I got familiar with using English in my daily life.
There is almost no single day I am not using Internet. Many of the online pages I use require me to sign up by providing my personal information, and I sign in to those pages every day. As Scholz (2013) states, I recognize that “We, the `users,` are sold as the product” as I get more emails and advertisements which I never requested. However, since I am not losing anything but just being annoyed by the unrequested emails and advertisements up until now, I have not cared too much about how to handle my information online to the unknown owners of the web page I signed up. Even if I delete my account from those web pages, I believe that the information I have already provided are stored for unlimited period of time and could be abused anytime. Thus, the extent to which I have control over my personal information has already been limited. I can still try not to disclose too much about my personal life, political opinion, and so on, but this does not help me from providing my privacy to the owner of the web page. It only helps me to prevent me from providing some personal information to the actual readers (of Facebook, mixi, or blogs etc.) who are also selling themselves as a “product” of the digital world, just as myself.