Mixi is a popular social-networking site (like Orkut or Friendster except that is doesn’t suck) that’s based here in Japan, though anybody anywhere can join it. (I think there are actually a significant number of people living outside of Japan who are using it.)
I think you can only join it by invitation from somebody who already belongs. And the interface is all in Japanese, so if you can’t read Japanese, it would probably be a bit tough to navigate through. But if you do join it and spend some time wandering around there, it can give you some insight into popular culture here.
There are currently more than 2.4 million registered accounts on Mixi. I can tell that because Mixi URLs for user profiles include a sequentially numbered ID that is unique to each user. And user number 1 is Ketama Batara, who I met before and who (I think) designed most of the Perl code that Mixi runs on.
User number 299825 is me, currently going by the handle/nickname バッドマザファカー.
By the way, Mixi lets you change your nickname whenever you want. It lets you do a lot of things that other social-networking sites don’t let you do. And it lets you do them well. For example, you can keep a diary/blog there (or if you have a blog elsewhere, just point it at the Atom (or RSS) feed for your blog), and you have a pane in your personal Mixi home page that shows links to all your friends’ blogs. And every time you update your own diary/blog, your Mixi friends will know, because a little link will show up there with the title.
Yeah, nothing particularly revolutionary there. It just works. Works well, works the way it should. Unlike the corresponding feature at, say Orkut. And unlike Orkut, Mixi is spam-free. I have never gotten spammed on Mixi. Yeah, I get unsolicited and perhaps unwelcome messages from other users at times — people I don’t know. But those are just peer-to-peer messages, not broadcast spam Orkut-style. (By the way, I wonder if by now, Orkut Buyukkokten is regretting naming Orkut after himself. I think that I might, if I were him.)
Anyway, another feature that works really well in Mixi is the “Community” feature. You can easily find and join communities, and create new ones of you want. Here is a list of some of the ones I’ve created there:
- 携帯フルブラウザ (keitai full browser)
- モジョ・ジョジョ (Mojo Jojo, from the Powerpuff Girls)
- 全日本酔払い連合 (All Japan Drunkard Association)
- トリニティー (Trinity, from the Matrix)
- ジャック・ブレル (Jacques Brel)
- パロアルト研究所 (XEROX PARC)
There are currently more than 500,000 registered Mixi communities (I know because they also have unique IDs in their URLs.)
Mixi is growing rapidly. I have heard that new users are currently joining Mixi at the rate of at least 10,000 each day, which, if it keeps up at that rate, will mean that it will have nearly 6 million users by the end of next year. I would not be surprised if the rate were to increase and the number of users ended up being quite a bit more than that by this time next year.