Making the move...
chipp at chipp.com
Fri Mar 17 21:05:47 CST 2006
I've probably logged over 30 trips to Japan since 1986. I once had the
good fortune to meet with a Dr. Sasaki, the father of computer science
in Japan for lunch. He was an original member of the ENIAC team here in
I mentioned to him that many years before, Japan had a reputation for
cheap products, then they proved it wrong by creating high-quality
products. I then mentioned the fact people said Japan couldn't create
steel, to which they ended up virtually owning the steel industry. I
furthered on with topics on consumer electronics, computers parts,
computers, cars, etc..each time with Japan ultimately proving to the
world their mastery of such industries.
Finally, I said, the current knock on Japan was they couldn't develop
software, and would they again prove the naysayer wrong? To my
astonishment, he answered 'NO', the naysayers were correct. Japan would
never be a great software development country. I asked him this 10 years
ago, and didn't believe his answer.
He gave 3 reasons for this:
1) The culture. Great software is typically created by a small group of
only a few developers-- not the Japanese way of throwing manpower at a
problem. Furthurmore, typcially good developers are not very social and
can be obstinate (duh!), which again flys against the culture. And, the
program all night when on a roll, then sleep all day type would never
fly in a Japanese corporation.
2) It is very difficult for startup companies to begin in Japan. There
are huge incorporation fees, plus it's almost impossible to go public,
so it's difficult to find investors, Because the 'equity' of a software
startup is not 'tangible', it's very difficult to get banks to become
involved, and a good banking relationship is very important to startups.
3) Lastly, the best computer languages were based in English, and very
different from the way Japanese read and write.
I imagine much of this has changed in the past 10 years or so since we
last talked, but I still believe many of his concerns have some
validity. Of course, as recently as a couple of years ago, I toured a
new CG Manga studio where people slept on the floor under the desks in
makeshift tent-beds and generally had a more 'western' feel like many
game studios do today.
Of course, as they say, the proof is in the pudding. And, we've yet to
see any big mainstream programs come out of Japan. But, there are some.
I believe Shade 3D is a Japanese program (Lynn, you may know about this?).
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