Sunday Mar 14, 2010
Friday Jun 12, 2009
By jimgris on Jun 12, 2009
I've been thinking that it might be an interesting time to do a little kernel conference for OpenSolaris, Linux, and the BSDs right here in Tokyo. Get everyone together. See what happens. What the heck.
We could hold the event right at the Sun office on the 27th floor just like BarCamp back in May. We already hold the Tokyo Linux User Group meetings here and get about 40 people each time, we hold OpenSolaris meetings and get about 40 people (and about 100 for formal product launches), and BarCamp drew 100 people from multiple communities. That`s basically where I got the idea from -- and, of course, watching James C. McPherson put together his kernel conference in Australia. So, I wonder what would happen if we organized a day long conference specifically to bring together developers and community members from the key open source operating systems in an informal, un-conference format? I wonder what technology and community building bits we could all share together? I bet we could attract 150 top guys from Tokyo, and I bet we'd make quite an impression in the process. And I think there is more than enough talent right here to pull it off without having to call in people from the U.S. or Europe (although they'd certainly be welcome to come and participate, of course).
Just kicking this idea around ...
Monday Jan 05, 2009
By jimgris on Jan 05, 2009
Saturday Nov 08, 2008
Friday Oct 24, 2008
By jimgris on Oct 24, 2008
- Start: Just start. Decide that you want to
form a little group and get going. Keep it simple. Don't do too much planning initially. Just get
some guys and go to a local pub or coffee shop someplace and talk. That's a
user group. Remember, this is a social exercise first, technical one second. Just my
- Infrastructure: Eventually you should have some sort of
web presence to show your stuff and a mailing list to talk to people.
If you want this infrastructure on opensolaris.org, start here and we'll help you out. Or you can use Google/Yahoo if you like, and if
you have some gear you can always build and host your own site. Also, you can
leverage many of the social networking platforms out there, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning.
Many people feel that to have a user group and attract new people they need technical meetings with well-known speakers
right away and that these technical meetings have to occur every month. Why?
Why not every other month? Or once a quarter for tech meetings with
social meetings in between. Don't treat this as a job. Treat
this as fun. Technical meetings naturally grow over time to fulfill a
need, but you have to get together as people first to see what happens.
Who's working on what? Who knows who? Who wants to collaborate on some
has some lessons learned to share? Who else lives in the area?
Whatever. Don't force it. Talk on list and
meet casually till things click, and over time the need for technical meetings
will be obvious.
- Meeting Rooms: If your group does grow into having regular
meetings with presenters and demos and such, you'll need a room. Check with the local universities in your area first. But also talk to
the local tech companies. And maybe some members of your user group can
offer access to their company's offices on a rotating basis on the weekend. Ping Sun,
too, if we are around. We certainly have an interest in seeing
OpenSolaris User Groups thrive, and many groups are hosted at Sun
facilities worldwide anyway. And if you don't have any Sun employees in your
group, this is a good way to get them involved.
- Joint Meetings: As your own meetings mature and as you
reach out to other communities in your area, consider doing some joint
meetings. Get the BSD guys together for a joint OpenSolaris/BSD
session. Or an OpenSolaris/Linux meeting. Or go up the stack and talk
to application developers and web developers. There are many other user
groups and communities out there that you can hang out with to explore technical and
- Audio and Video: Some user groups I've been to or observed
in the OpenSolaris community are recording their meetings to audio
and/or video files for download. Others are streaming. Others offer
conference call numbers for live phone participation. These communication techniques are very
cool because they enable you to reach new people in your local area and
around the world. I live in Japan, but I've called into meetings in
China and the United States, and I've viewed online audio/video content
from India and Prague and elsewhere. All this brings up another point:
local user groups hanging out at local bar are now really international
communities. This was always true to a point, but with easy and
pervasive communication tools you are now local and global. That's cool.
- Size: Don't worry about growing big. Most user groups are
initiated and maintained by a pretty small number of people. That's ok.
Keep it small if you want. Or grow it large. There are no rules. You decide. But
don't feel you have to be this way or that way to be a user group. You
- Consistency: Although size is not that important,
consistency is probably a bigger deal. Try to keep conversations
flowing on list, and if you meet live, try to meet regularly. Some groups meeting monthly and others quarterly. You decide. The frequency of meetings is not as important as the consistency. Momentum
and predictability are important for establishing trust and helping
people get involved.
Try to encourage some diversity. Keep your
group open to everyone in the area. You never know who is connected to
there. Also, part of diversity is to reach out to other groups and
other communities. I'm an OpenSolaris guy, but the Tokyo Linux User
Group welcomed me to their meetings and on their list as soon as I
contacted them. I use Linux, too, but that's not the point. They are
open to everyone. And that's a big deal. This is open source. Be open. Same story with the Tokyo2Point0 community.
Design a t-shirt. A logo. Etc. People love to identify with something
bigger themselves, something doing good, something they love. Leverage this natural feeling
and promote an identity for your group. You don't have to be aggressive
about this, but just be aware that
over time your group will develop a culture. Let it emerge naturally.
- Photography: The camera is one of the
most powerful community-building devices I've ever experienced. It cuts
cleanly through tough culture and language barriers, and the vast
majority of people I've met love to see images of themselves hanging out with
others. I've met thousands of people by taking pictures. So, take pictures.
- Leadership: Although most people like keeping things as casual
and decentralized as possible, someone has to lead from time to time.
Book a meeting room at a university or local company. Send out notices.
Update web pages. Collect money at bars for drinks and food. These are
all activities that require assertions. As your group grows bigger, the
need for clearly identifiable leaders will grow as well. Do you want to
lead? And if you are leading, consider rotating leaders at some point. Give other people a chance.
- Money: Chip in some of your own cash, but don't go wild.
Over time as your group grows, maybe try to raise some money via
auctions. The Tokyo Linux User Group does a great job of this. Also,
poke the local tech companies for some sponsorship dollars. Hey, you
never know. Ask. Use the money for hosting services, trips to
conferences, t-shirts, or any other infrastructure costs. You're not running a business, though. You
don't need lots of money.
Saturday Oct 11, 2008
By jimgris on Oct 11, 2008
Since I have an interest in China, I talked a bit about the changes occurring in Chinese technology universities, and especially how students, professors, and administrators are now assertively engaging westerners in English. That was not necessarily true a few years ago in China, and it's not especially true in Japan today so it will be interesting to see where those trends lead in the future. A side note: when I'm in China I talk a lot about what the Japanese are doing to build community here and how they contribute to communities in Japan and around the world (their contributions are substantial but many times difficult to find at first). So the learning can go both ways since both sides have a great deal to offer.
At the event, we also talked
about different communication styles (face-to-face vs online)
among Japanese and American developers. Again, both sides could
do a bit more reaching out to each other in these areas. Americans tend
to be direct and Japanese tend to be indirect, and this very obvious
can lead to some rather interesting situations. Balance is critical. If
you have too many Japanese in a given situation, it's too far skewed to
the Japanese language and thought processes. The opposite is true, too.
you have too many Americans in the room there is too much English and
American thinking going on. You need both to balance things. You should
try to offer
enough communication channels for everyone to participate at some
level, while encouraging the bilingual people to serve as conversation
facilitators reaching out to both sides simultaneously. I think Tokyo2Point0 and the Tokyo Linux User Group
are good examples
of communities who recognize this issue and address it very well. I'm
sure there area
others, too. This is how I'd like to work with the OpenSolaris
community in Japan. If the community is built with an international
focus as its foundation, then it has a good shot at growing large and
Many opinions were shared on the panel and at the nomikai afterwards and they all had validity. No single person has all the answers covering such subtle issues like these, and there is lots of room for humility and opportunity to rule the day. I look forward to the next cross-cultural engineering event in Tokyo. We should meet quarterly to continue these conversations. All posts on cross-cultural engineering will be here.
Thanks to Toshiharu Harada, Edward Middleton, Gosuke Miyashita, Iwasa Takuma, Hiroumi Mitani, and Tomoyuki Sakurai for their participation at the event. And thanks to Shoji Haraguchi for snapping this image.
Friday Oct 10, 2008
By jimgris on Oct 10, 2008
tonight with the Tokyo Linux User Group.
There were guys there from 12 countries. Japan, Italy, Spain, Germany, UK, US, Argentina, Brazil, Korea, France, Iceland, Australia. And that's normal for this group. It's quite an international crowd, and to me that's part of what makes a healthy community. That's also why I like hanging out with these guys.
Tuesday Sep 30, 2008
By jimgris on Sep 30, 2008
On Oct 11th, I'll be at Pasona Tech in Tokyo participating on a panel about cross-cultural engineering.
Should be great fun and very educational as well. I love this topic and I live it every day. We'll explore how
language and cultural issues affect Japanese engineers as they
work and interact with other engineers from around the world. I'll be
talking about my experiences in Japan, China, and India in particular,
but I'll also probe some things I've learned from dealing with
developers across many language and cultural barriers in other regions
on the OpenSolaris project.
Jim Grisanzio 氏
原田 季栄 氏
Edward Middleton 氏
宮下 剛輔 氏
岩佐 琢磨 氏
櫻井 知之 氏
美谷 広海 氏
Saturday Sep 13, 2008
Thursday Jul 17, 2008
Saturday May 24, 2008
By jimgris on May 24, 2008
Friday Feb 15, 2008
By jimgris on Feb 15, 2008
Flickr images here.
Tuesday Aug 28, 2007
By jimgris on Aug 28, 2007
That would be nice, eh?
Tuesday Aug 07, 2007
Sunday May 28, 2006
By jimgris on May 28, 2006
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