The Brazilian wave

Aside from the hype and dearth of useful ideas, social software has exposed some interesting trends that I didn't know existed. I know I'm not alone in this, but I'm fascinated by a trend that has been going on for about a year and shows no signs of stopping: Brazilians are dominating social software networks.

I guess it makes sense when you think about it. They've got a country with fairly free laws that promote creativity. While they're generally poor on a per capita basis, they have the largest online population in South America.

Recently, Orkut put them neck and neck with Americans on the system and new language tools were added so you could basically cruise the site entirely within groups that posted in just Brazilian Portuguese, or just English. Fotolog had the famous case of Brazilian cam girls competing neck and neck with American photographers last summer. I suspect even with pricing changes at Fotolog, the Brazilians won out in terms of membership numbers since then. Ever since Globo's Blogger install launched a couple years ago, the service has skyrocketed in user numbers. This person claims Brazil is likely to be the second largest group of bloggers after Americans.

Thanks to the enthusiasm of Brazilian users and the democratic nature of these networks, you see Brazil outpacing the participation and number of Americans. The virtual world is relatively new and doesn't have many limitations beyond the obstacles of getting online in the first place, so the world is on an even playing field so to speak. I find it fascinating that in this new, more open, and more equal environment, Brazil is doing so well. I don't know what it means for the future of Brazil or America, both online and offline, but it's certainly an interesting trend worth watching.