Why being an Asian open source programmer isn’t easy

Why being an Asian open source programmer isn’t easy
Gen Kanai

This year, LIFT will also organize an Asian edition of the conference. With the session ‘A Glimpse in Asia’, they wanted to warm up the current visitors for LIFT Asia-style. Gen Kanai, a business developer for Mozilla Asia and director of marketing and partner relations for Mozilla Japan, offered an overview of open source in Asia. According to Kanai, there’s a lot to win on the field of open source developing in Asia. He summed up the barriers for open source programmers in Asia:

  • Asians have a different style of communicating. They’re not comfortable with the direct way Western people confront each other. According to Kanai, Asians ‘might be intimidated’ when working with people from the West.
  • Open Source defacto language is English, so the hurdle for non-native speakers is higher. Also Asian people tend to create islands of groups, such as Mozillagumi.
  • In the US and Europe, most programmers work on open source projects after their daytime jobs. Most Asians however, don’t have any free time. Kanai points out that most developers in India work for Western companies and can’t choose how much work they accept.
  • Asian open source programmers need institutionalized support.

Despite all the barriers, Kanai urged the attendees to look beyond the stereotypes about Asia. “The continent has contributed to open source”, he said, “Yet we need to do more”. After this visionary speech he couldn’t resist the temptation of promoting Firefox: “Anybody who tells a friend about Firefox, helps the open source community. We can all affect the future of open source”. Next time keep the marketing talk to yourself Kanai, and the applause will be even louder.

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