Sunday May 11, 2008

Immigration a Key to Innovation

Great article in Newsweek from Fareed Zakaria -- The Rise of the Rest -- about how large chunks of the world are dramatically improving and growing significantly in an era of ever reducing violence. Finally. A positive view of globalization, and one distinctly lacking all the fear about the US falling to second class (or even third class) economic status (which is nothing more than propaganda). The gloom-and-doomers and isolationists in the US are an obviously and obnoxiously vocal minority, and they will miss this positive view because it's actually based on embracing the entire world with that nasty word -- immigration. Zakaria says that "the potential for a new burst of American productivity depends not on our education system or R&D spending, but on our immigration policies. If these people are allowed and encouraged to stay, then innovation will happen here. If they leave, they'll take it with them." 

Avoiding Competition

You catch that Fortune article -- You have 7 years to learn Mandarin -- about China surpassing the United States economically in seven years? Whether it's seven years or fifty doesn't really matter, I suppose, since people will be arguing about how to measure this for a while. And the measurements themselves are changing, it seems. How convenient. Whatever. I think it's cool either way because it offers new opportunities, and that´s what I´m after. In fact, aside from the word freedom, I can´t think of another word that describes Americans better than the word opportunity. Can you?

But Fortune seems defensive. We are supposed to "worry" about this, and we are told that American individuals "can avoid competition with Chinese workers by doing place-based work, which ranges in value from highly skilled (emergency-room surgery) to menial (pouring concrete). But the many people who do information-based work, which is most subject to competition, will have to get dramatically better to be worth what they cost. For government leaders: Improve U.S. education above all."

The first part of that paragraph is ridiculous. You can't "avoid competition" in a global economy, and I´m not "worrying" at all. Why not embrace the change as an opportunity? In fact, wouldn't be cool to live in China for a bit to check all this out first hand? Wouldn´t it be cool to learn some Chinese and interact with Chinese from their perspective for a while? I don´t see very many people in the US thinking this way about the rise of China (and India, for that matter, and some other emerging markets around the world, too). In fact, Sin-Yaw Wang has it right when he comments about the Fortune piece: "The new generation of business leaders, now in their 20s or 40s, must learn to do business in China and with Chinese. 7 years is not that long to master a language, especially when one is not even trying." I agree. And I´m reading this view (the not trying bit) over and over again. It´s defensive. Oh, well. I suppose that´s an opportunity for those who see it differently, right?

Thursday May 08, 2008

OpenSolaris 2008.05 Opens in China

Nice to see OpenSolaris 2008.05 already moving in China. Two blogs from Sun's Qingye John Jiang: OpenSolaris 2008.05 in Retrospect (see Chinese version here) and Photos from the Installfest (in Chinese and English). If you are familiar with the OpenSolaris activities in China, you know that it has been an utterly amazing year there -- especially on universities. But now that Indiana is out there as a product, I have a feeling that the China OpenSolaris community is going to actually increase its growth rate. Also, the OpenSolaris community in China is now directly interacting with the community in the U.S., Europe, and India and people all over the are noticing this development. A quote from John's blog: "20 years ago, there were less than 50 universities in China that had a computer science department, while this number exceeds 800 in 2008."

Thursday May 01, 2008

Crazy English in China

Fascinating piece about this guy Li Yang teaching "Crazy English" to huge crowds of people in China. His technique is rather unique, but I can see how it may have significant benefits for anyone learning another language as an adult. The larger language issue in China, though, is illustrated by this utterly amazing quote from the article: "Linguists estimate the number of Chinese now studying or speaking English at between two hundred million and three hundred and fifty million, a figure that’s on the order of the population of the United States." Just think about that. Just think about how that changes things in the future with language barriers beginning to melt away and what means for global communications and global economics. Also, Ampontan has a detailed analysis of the article that's well worth reading and adds some interesting context from Japan.

Monday Apr 14, 2008

New OpenSolaris Images from China

I can't keep up with all this stuff, so I just point to whatever I can when I can. Check out Fiona Duan's flickr photostream for some new images of various OpenSolaris events at Chinese universities. Lots of Beijing OpenSolaris User Group activity, too. Great to see the community thriving in China.

Friday Feb 22, 2008

Campus Ambassadors in Japan

It was great to meet the three Campus Ambassadors in Japan yesterday -- Heejoung Park, Takahiro Machino, Hiroya Susuki. I'm going to be getting more involved with various education programs around OpenSolaris in China, India, and Japan. Should be fun. I've been on OpenSolaris for four years, and I've worked on many aspects of the project. But working with students is the most rewarding by far. Looking forward to doing more in this area.

Wednesday Feb 13, 2008

New Advocacy Core Contributors from China

Great to have two new Core Contributors from China in the Advocacy CG -- Joey Guo and John Jiang -- here and here. We need more Core Contributors leading user groups and other community development programs in emerging markets, and we also need to connect those leaders back to the main community. We are making progress.

Thursday Feb 07, 2008

China in Japan

I had a lovely dinner tonight with Akira and Ayako from the Sun Japan office and Sin-Yaw Wang and his wife, I-Woan Lee, from China. Sin-Yaw, who is a vice president in engineering and site lead for Sun China ERI, was visiting today to meet with the engineering teams in Tokyo. Great day. Amazing dinner.


Friday Feb 01, 2008

New OpenSolaris Curriculum in India

[ug-bosug] Introductory OpenSolaris Curriculum: Here is an OpenSolaris student curriculum just emerging from training sessions in India a few weeks ago. What's cool is that although the material is specifically written and compiled for Indian students, there is actually a connection to documentation written by professors in China. 

Sun Growing in Asia

Sun Micro's Asia brightens amid U.S. gloom: Sun is growing -- and hiring -- in rapidly expanding markets in Asia.

Tuesday Jan 29, 2008

China and Korea Coming to Japan

Chinese flock to Japan in tourism boom: "The number of Chinese visitors to Japan exceeded the number of Americans for the first time in 2007, data published on Monday showed, highlighting a boom in regional tourism fuelled by Asia’s growing wealth ...  South Koreans remained the most numerous visitors at 2.6m, up 22 per cent from 2006, followed by Taiwanese at 1.39m. Mainland Chinese were third, followed by visitors from the US, Hong Kong and Australia." -- Financial Times

Cool. The more diversity here the better.

Wednesday Jan 16, 2008

Mega UG Meeting in China

The OpenSolaris Community in China may have broken a record here -- BJOSUG, 10JAN08: OpenSolaris, xVM, and ZFS -- where 160 people turned out for a user group meeting in Beijing. Really cool. Our numbers are growing. And its excellent to see the OpenSolaris Community in China collaborating with the Linux Community.

Monday Jan 14, 2008

A Closed Network

Decline in Japanese students abroad cause for concern -- "As the number of Japanese students in the United States decreases, the number of Chinese, South Korean and Indian students is surging." -- Kyodo News

This article articulates a trend that can only lead to one result: the further isolation of a closed network.

Sunday Jan 13, 2008

China and India Pressing Japan

Losing an Edge, Japanese Envy India’s Schools -- "While China has stirred more concern here as a political and economic challenger, India has emerged as the country to beat in a more benign rivalry over education. In part, this reflects China’s image in Japan as a cheap manufacturer and technological imitator. But India’s success in software development, Internet businesses and knowledge-intensive industries in which Japan has failed to make inroads has set off more than a tinge of envy." -- New York Times

Very interesting article about many Japanese coming to grips with the reality that China and India are moving much, much faster, and leaving Japan behind. To compete in the future -- a global future -- Japanese education will have to change rather significantly. This piece focuses on Indian education techniques in Japan. English, computers, math, and science are big parts of it, too. Japan is absolutely a country that loves fads. But I hope this is not a fad. The more diversity and global awareness here the better.

Saturday Jan 12, 2008

New Car in India

Could India`s new car represent a disruptive innovation? Tata Nano - world's cheapest new car is unveiled in India. Cheap. Good mileage. Introduced into an utterly gigantic market hungry to industrialize. Can foreign car companies match this? But I wonder if the world has enough oil for every person in India (and China, for that matter) to own a car. The west is probably not a very good example of resource allocation in this instance. The west is also probably not in a very good position to preach about this, too.

Monday Jan 07, 2008

Japan and Friedman`s Globalization 3.0

After thinking more about this conversation on globalization, I re-read Tom Friedman`s The World is Flat over the winter break. The book is out in paperback, of course, and Friedman calls this updated and expanded version "3.0" in the introduction. It`s about 650 pages, but it`s a really quick read. Especially the second time around. Friedman tells lots of excellent stories that take you right along on his own personal journey around the world. There is a lot of talk of China and India, of course, but Japan comes up from time to time, too. And that`s what hit me this time around. Japan.

Some brief background first. Friedman breaks down the history of globalization into to three gigantic meta categories -- countries, companies, and individuals. Basically, globalization 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0. And we are just now entering 3.0, the era of individual globalization, where everyone who has access to technology (that`s Friedman`s "flat-world platform") has to compete with everyone else in the world who has access to technology. Now, it took 500 years of globalization to get here, but that`s where we find ourselves now. And I think the key point to the book is that globalization 3.0 is very, very different from globalization 1.0 and 2.0 because 3.0 is based on, in part, the individual. That`s where Japan comes on.

Although Japan comes up from time to time while Friedman discusses globalization 2.0, I could find very few (if any, actually) references to Japan and globalization 3.0. Friedman goes to great lengths to talk about how individuals can compete in the new flat world, but that discussion seemed to be focused primarily on the United States and Western Europe and the emerging markets in Eastern Europe, India, and China. That`s when it hit me that Japan seems vulnerable under Friedman`s theory since Japan is not based on the concept of the "individual" at all and it`s certainly not an emerging market. It`s all about "groups" here, and individuality is somewhat rare among the average Japanese -- certainly among the millions of workers that make up corporate Japan in and around Tokyo. I didn`t think about this when I read the book the first time since I hadn`t lived in Japan yet. It`s obvious now, though.

So, can Japan, which is famous for its vertically integrated corporations (the exact opposite from Friedman`s open and horizontally flat world), compete in globalization 3.0? How would "groups" of people even recognize this as a problem? And how would these groups of people transform Japan`s various corporate global supply chains into an economy that recognizes individual global competition? This is not as great a problem for the west since most western cultures are based much more on the concept of individuality -- especially the United States. Friedman hints at this cultural issue when he quotes various Chinese leaders who recognize this very problem in China. China (and Korea, for that matter) shares with Japan some of these East Asian characteristics of groups. But China seems to be changing specifically to compete on all levels -- country, company, and individual. That third part is most fascinating here in East Asia. Will China pull it off? Will Japan recognize the issue and engage down at that level?

Some Friedman flat world videos here at MIT and here on Charlie Rose and here at the NYT.

Friday Dec 28, 2007

Stiglitz and Friedman on Globalization

Here's an interesting conversation between Thomas Friedman, Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times, and Joseph E. Stiglitz, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics, discussing globalization -- Transcript: A TimesSelect/TimesTalks Event on Globalization. It's from April of 2006, but it hardly feels dated at all. The entire word is discussed, of course, and it's fascinating. But I think India and China probably grab the lion's share of air time.

At one point in the conversation, Friedman talks about getting three things right -- education, infrastructure, governance -- in the context of how some countries are modernization and globalizing more effectively than others. From Friedman:

"China and India, China in particular, actually increased the pace of its reform in a lot of those areas. So Mexico went from being right on our border to a thousand miles away, and China went from being thousands of miles away in some ways to right on our border. But -- And I’ll just finish this one point because this is important. People have to make choices. Governments have to make choices. Priorities. Look at India. Today they’re about, I think, 70,000-80,000 Indian foreign students in the United States. There are roughly a similar amount from China. I think there are about 10,000 from Mexico. Those are also choices societies are making in terms of how to get educated, what language to learn and how to become a competitor and a collaborator on this platform. So you have to -- Development is a choice. It’s not some inevitable thing. You have to choose to bring your infrastructure, your education and your governance to the level where you can access this whole new technology platform."

They are obviously talking about why Mexico has not fully realized the benefits articulated by proponents of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). And although that issue is certainly complex, what shoots out at me is actually a country not mentioned in this 15,000 word conversation: Japan. Why is Japan not mentioned in the context of globalization? I think it has a lot to do with the quote I cite from Friedman: choices. Both government and individual. Now, many would argue that what India and China are experiencing is simply the result of their economies rapidly growing due to modernization and that Japan is already a mature market. Heck, many at Sun make that argument to me when I bring this up. Sorry. I don't buy it. That's only a small part of the issue. The biggest part is attitude. China and India want to globalize. You can read it in their political rhetorical can you can hear it and see it where you go there. Japan, on the other hand, shows little interest in globalizing compared to some of its biggest neighbors in Asia. Also, the "mature market" bit falls apart when you look at the United States the last two decades. To say that mature markets can't grow and change and continually modernize is just wrong. It's all comes down to attitude. Well, ok, it's more complex that than, of course, but that's where it starts.

Anyway, check out Stiglitz and Friedman. Very interesting stuff. Extremely complex, though. Can you predict where things will go? I can't. It's very cool working at a global company right at the foot of two massively emerging markets, though. There is such huge potential throughout all of the Asia Pacific region. 

Wednesday Dec 19, 2007

Japanese Innovation

Gen Kanai comments on a recent Newsweek piece -- Why Apple Isn't Japanese. Gen's take is certainly interesting and, sadly, pretty tough to argue with.

The article is pretty critical. The bits I found most interesting were the language and culture issues, since I experience those walls every day. They are so much bigger than anyone on the outside realizes, and I think they go a long way to explaining Japan's lack of growth in certain global markets.

The article also states that Japan will have to compete with new sources of innovation in the future: "Over the next century, disruptive innovations won't be coming only from countries like the United States. They'll also be emerging from dynamic, hungry, rising economies that offer plenty of room for risk-taking, flights of fancy and cross-border synthesis." Although these sources are not directly stated, it's clear that the nations are primarily China and India, which are both embracing capitalism and globalization at blindingly fast rates, and both don't seem to struggle with the language and culture issues like Japan does.

Now, I've been told that these observations represent the distinction between emerging markets and mature markets. But I no longer buy it. Too much of that article describes my direct experience, so I no longer accept the excuses. But will Japan eventually react and change? Are the Japanese hungry enough to compete in a global economy? I actually think they will react and compete. And in ways that may surprise many of their critics. That's the cool thing about innovation and market disruptions. They cycle. When you are disrupted, that sets up the perfect circumstance to innovate do some disrupting yourself.

Monday Dec 17, 2007

Bangalore, Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai

I've been thinking a lot about the four cities I visited in the last couple of months for Sun Tech Days China and FOSS.IN -- Bangalore, Beijing, Nanjing, and Shanghai. There are many differences, of course, since these cities live in two vastly different countries here in Asia. But there are also some key items that are identical. The OpenSolaris communities in those cities are young and active and reaching out to the rest of the world, and their perspective is overwhelmingly positive. And the same can be said for the Sun engineering teams participating in community building activities there. Such a breath of fresh air. And such a privilege to be working with these guys.

Sunday Dec 16, 2007

China and India

"I don't think Americans have any idea about the scale of the shift going on in China and India." -- Robyn Meredith, author of The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China, and What It Means for All of Us. Interesting discussion about globalization, democracy, communism, capitalism, developing markets, and politics. 

Monday Nov 19, 2007

Language, Culture, Community, China

Check out Stephen Walli's online presentation for the China FOO event in Beijing -- My China FOO Presentation 一起建桥梁. Very impressive. He talks in English (well, Canadian English) and Chinese. I agree with Walli's opinions on language, culture, trust, and community. In his talk he tells the story about the China Open Source Summit he ran in Beijing (here, here, here), and he gives a real quick sense of how he dealt with contracts and trust in a new way. I can only imagine doing what he did, my goodness. I used to run a construction business in New York, and my customer and partner interactions were based largely on handshake. You get used to it. But at least I had the same language and culture on which to base the darn experience. Stephen did it across a rather gigantic language and cultural divide. It all worked out well in the end, and it wasn't quite a handshake but it was pretty close.

So, could the power of community be used to transcend some of these obvious language and cultural barriers? I don't know. I go back and forth on this. Language and culture are so critical to a functioning community and the understanding of even the most basic assumptions. And although open source communities are surely growing in a variety of languages and cultures, that's not the hard part. The hard part is linking the communities across their natural barriers and communicating with understanding. That's where all the good stuff happens.

Thursday Nov 15, 2007


I'm getting involved in Sun's China engineering operations. This is very cool. I met some of Amiram Hayardeny's team today in a conference call as well as when I was in China for Tech Days a couple of weeks ago. Sun is investing heavily in China, so there are many opportunities to participate, and I intend to make it a significant part of my job -- probably the majority of my job, actually. First I have to get to know these guys and their projects and then figure out what's inside Sun and outside on OpenSolaris. I hope to offer some project management support and community building services as we open our engineering. The China OpenSolaris Community has such potential to generate global leaders, and it will be exciting to be involved in that development. I'll be traveling more to China as a result, and I'm thinking of leaving Japan and moving to China in the future. That's long term, though. Much to do in the mean time.

Sunday Nov 04, 2007


We just topped 80,000 registrations on this weekend. Not bad considering we had about 20,000 this time last year. A meaningless metric? Perhaps. But there are still 80,000 people on the site, and there were zero in June of 2005 when we started this project. Sun Tech Days in Shanghai and Beijing bumped us over the top during the last two weeks with about 600 people. Each Tech Days event includes three days of Solaris and OpenSolaris sessions among many Java and NetBeans sessions. Next up is Tokyo this week. See you there.

Saturday Nov 03, 2007

OpenSolaris Day Beijing

Here are some pics from OpenSolaris Day in Beijing. It was a long day, but we had a nice turnout on a Saturday with about 180 people. It was great to see the Beijing OpenSolaris User Group for the final session, and it was great fun giving away the Ultra20 to Baojian Chang, a kernel developer in Beijing.

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All pics from OpenSolaris in China here.

Tuesday Oct 30, 2007

Intel OpenSolaris Engineering in Beijing

I went along with Jim Hughes, Kathy Jenks, and John Jiang to meet Intel's OpenSolaris engineering team in Beijing yesterday. These guys are part of Intel's team in Shanghai working on the OpenSolaris project. I met Gerry Liu, Kan Liang, Tony Su, and Zhong Hui. Great to associate names with faces as we explore OpenSolaris on Intel.

Intel Beijing Intel Beijing

Intel Beijing Intel Beijing

Saturday Oct 27, 2007

OpenSolaris University World Tour: Nanjing

Today we went to Nanjing University for a really cool time with over 400 university students. Lots of conversations about OpenSolaris technology, community-building, and Project Indiana. And a bunch of Chinese conversation that passed right over my head.

Special thanks to John Jiang for running this event today. John had quite a problem on his hands last night. He got a call over dinner alerting him that the event was over booked by 200 students! Nice problem to have, eh? Anyway, some quick -- and resourceful -- thinking and he found a second venue. Then he split up our team so we could cover two locations, so we ended up engaging more than 600 students in total today. Wild. The scale of the OpenSolaris operation here is impressive the say the very least.

A couple of things blew me away about today: the students really asked some advanced questions about OpenSolaris, which means they are starting to understand things in depth and that means the information is starting to resonate. Also, they were very animated and interactive as well. The language barriers are still there, but on this trip I've really started to see significant improvement. Also, many students stopped me in the hall after my talk and asked how they can participate and contribute. Their boldness and excitement is palpable, and it's very encouraging. Also cool to see is John's Java application enabling the audience to give live feedback using their cell phones with the data displayed on the screen, which, of course, generates a lot of active participation (and shouting and laughter, too).

Below are some images from the Nanjing event with presentations from Sin-Yaw Wang, John Jiang, Liang Ye, and me as well as the ACM/ICPC programming contest event earlier in the day.

OpenSolaris University Tour

OpenSolaris University Tour OpenSolaris University Tour

OpenSolaris University Tour OpenSolaris University Tour

OpenSolaris University Tour OpenSolaris University Tour

OpenSolaris University Tour OpenSolaris University Tour

OpenSolaris University Tour OpenSolaris University Tour

OpenSolaris University Tour OpenSolaris University Tour

OpenSolaris University Tour OpenSolaris University Tour

OpenSolaris University Tour OpenSolaris University Tour

OpenSolaris University Tour OpenSolaris University Tour

OpenSolaris University Tour OpenSolaris University Tour

OpenSolaris University Tour OpenSolaris University Tour

OpenSolaris in Beijing, Shanghai, and Nanjing on Flickr.

Friday Oct 26, 2007

OpenSolaris Day Shanghai

Some shots from OpenSolaris Day in Shanghai yesterday. Special congrats to Kevin Wu for winning the Ultra20 computer at the end of the day. It was a long day but great fun. I presented an overview of OpenSolaris and we had talks from Scott Tracy, Leland Chen, Eric Yu, Max Zhen, Jarrett Lu, Xinfeng Liu, and the Shanghai OpenSolaris User Group.

OpenSolaris Shanghai OpenSolaris Shanghai

OpenSolaris Shanghai OpenSolaris Shanghai

OpenSolaris Shanghai OpenSolaris Shanghai

OpenSolaris Shanghai OpenSolaris Shanghai

OpenSolaris Shanghai OpenSolaris Shanghai

OpenSolaris Shanghai OpenSolaris Shanghai

OpenSolaris Shanghai OpenSolaris Shanghai

OpenSolaris Shanghai
OpenSolaris Shanghai

OpenSolaris Days at Shanghai, Nanjing, and Beijing 2007. Photo set on Flickr.

Thursday Oct 25, 2007

Intel OpenSolaris Engineering in Shanghai

The Intel OpenSolaris engineering team treated me to a nice dinner tonight in Shanghai. It was such a pleasure hanging out with these guys. We had some great conversations about OpenSolaris and how to work more effectively in the open around the world. Some of the engineers have a lot of experience in the Linux community, so I expect they'll be able to help us in some areas as they simultaneously all become experts in OpenSolais kernel development. Oh, and if you forget your root password on your laptop (like I did), there's no better place to have dinner, that's for sure.

So, anyway, meet the Intel OpenSolaris engineering team in Shanghai: Allen Lu, Aubrey Li, Chen Zhihui, Li Ting, Borun Fu, Eric Guo, Frank Zhang, Ma Ling, Frank Wang.

Intel Shanghai Intel Shanghai

Intel Shanghai Intel Shanghai

Intel Shanghai Intel Shanghai

Intel Shanghai Intel Shanghai

Intel Shanghai Intel Shanghai

Intel Shanghai Intel Shanghai

Intel Shanghai Intel Shanghai

Intel Shanghai Intel Shanghai

Intel Shanghai Intel Shanghai

Intel OpenSolaris team on Flickr. 

Wednesday Oct 24, 2007

Tim Bray at Tech Days

Tim Bray talking Web 2.0 at Tech Days this morning.

Tim Bray Tim Bray

Tech Dinner

A nice little tech dinner with the Tech Days team last night.

Tech Dinner Tech Dinner



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