Hello, Yoshimasa here. I am sure many of you are already aware of this, but OSS (open-source software) offers a great base to start a community, and for lots of OSS, like Python, PHP, and WordPress, you do not need any permission from the software creators or management groups to do so. I cannot speak for other countries, but there are a lot of OSS communities in Japan. Each major open-source software and programming language, including Python, PHP, Linux, and WordPress, has over 50 dedicated groups here, based in every prefecture and region of Japan, and each has its own management rules and runs its own events and parties. Most are free to join, and so offer excellent networking environments.
Of course, OSS is not the only focus for community building; there are communities of Japanese people overseas, for example. A community can grow any time several people share a given goal and can work and get together to achieve that goal, which is of course how OSS communities first started. Word is that Japan’s OSS communities started with Linux. Around 30 years ago, some people in Japan began to hear about an OSS overseas called Linux. Since there was very little information about it in Japanese at the time, people began forming groups all over Japan to share Linux information from overseas. At their peak, there were over 60 such in Japan. In those communities, we would sit around staring at our monitors and trying out different Linux settings. After the meetings, we would go out to dinner and talk about Linux over drinks.
If there are any people around you also interested in working in Japan, or wanting to learn the same OSS, it might be a good idea to build your own community. I myself have done so several times, and I have to say it was always a great idea. It is such a simple thing to do, but many people do not even try. There are often no restrictions on building your own OSS community, and that freedom is one of the best points of OSS. However, if you do decide to start your own, it is a good idea to approach the software creators or management groups.
In the past, when I started my own PHP, Ruby on Rails, and Python communities, I contacted the management groups and existing communities about it. I remember how honored I was when I got a response from Rasmus Lerdorf, co-author of PHP. I have also developed a strong relationship with the Python Software Foundation, and now we sponsor a yearly PSF event where PSF members offer speeches, and write articles about it.
Members of each community not only work together, but from their very start, communities can communicate with each other, and getting approval can lead to ongoing cooperation. Members of large OSS management organizations are actually quite busy, so you might not always get a response, but if the purpose of the new community is well-thought-out and meaningful for the greater community, your chances are probably fairly good.
If you are considering founding your own group, why not start off with a greeting to the original foundation or community? Then once you get it built up, the things you can accomplish will grow as it does. The communities I started around PHP, Ruby on Rails, and Python now offer certification exams, and we distribute around 1,000 textbooks every year to those who are getting started studying. I think our activities have helped the increase of OSS adoption, if even just a little, and they have also helped us create new connections and networks. OSS use spreads by word of mouth, as people talk and work together, and that is part of what makes it so fascinating. If you find yourself interested in OSS, then please do give community building a try yourself.
And with that, let’s call it a day.