the floss history in japan: an ethnographic approach
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The FLOSS History in Japan: An Ethnographic Approach
Jun Iio, Chuo UniversityMasayuki Hatta, Surugadai UniversityKo Kazaana, Cyboze Inc.
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Background● 'The FLOSS stories in Japan' project
– started in the late 2013– Objectives:
● to compile oral histories on the free/libre/open-source software (FLOSS) into a record
● The year 2013 is the memorial year– 30th anniversary of the foundation of Japan
Unix Society (JUS)– 20th anniversary of the programming language
Ruby, which was created by Hiroyuki Matz
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The FLOSS history project● Problem:
– engineers engaged in the early development inthe FLOSS field in Japan are getting older.
– we don't have enough information betweenthe late 1980s and the early 2000s, incomparison with recent information archived inthe Internet.
● Our mission:– to keep records on the dark era by interviews
with elderly engineers and researchersworking on FLOSS in Japan.
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Similar Projects● Kilnam et al., “Korean Internet History
Project”● “The Internet History Project”
– http://www.nethistory.com/● J. Ryan, “A History of the Internet and the
Digital Future”● R. H. Zakon, “Hobbes' internet timeline”● Japan Network Information Center, “The
History of the Internet in Japan”
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Methodology of the survey1. Important technologies which were
developed intensively by Japanese OSScommunities in the 90s were listed.
2. In each category, several key personswere nominated as candidate forinterviewee.
3. After the interviews, two or three hours ofinterview minutes are typed out. Theanalyze of these records reveals thehistory of the OSS activities in the 90s.
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Some findings● Trends of 90s’ Linux and BSD (in Japan)
– from several interviews with engineers fromBSD side and Linux side
– interviews made clear the differences betweenthe growth of Linux community and *BSD(Free/Net/OpenBSD) community
– Linux community:● lead by engineers in IT industries● a kind of “grass-roots-basis” growth
– BSD community:● lead by researchers and traditional Unix engineers
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Some findings (cont'd)● A hidden impact of “Sigma Project”
– Sigma project has been considered failed.– However, the project fostered a lot of
engineers and researchers in the FLOSS field.
– GWM:● Window Manager
– Wnn:● Japanese character input method engine
– GWM and Wnn were supported by some grantfrom Sigma Project
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Conclusions● The interim report of the project is
presented. – Several findings which had not yet unveiled
previously were disclosed from our survey.● The project does not only focus on the
FLOSS operating systems.– Currently, the project members are collecting
oral histories from key persons who areactively commit- ting their efforts in Japanesecommunities of several major FLOSS projects.
● Additional interviews have to be conductedas the future work.