random thoughts on YAPC::Asia

YAPC::Asia 2010 is over. Well, it actually ended more than two weeks ago. It was fabulous as a whole. Larry's keynote was quite interesting. Jesse's was fabulous in many ways (including that nico-nico-ish twitter stream). Miyagawa-san's was moving. This year we also had a special session where Japanese perl mongers group leaders were invited to discuss issues and encourage people to join or start another. As a consequence, a few new perl mongers groups were born and some more may come. I'm really glad at that.

However, I sometimes felt sorry. YAPC::Asia is allegedly the largest YAPC with more than 500 attendees, but that's largely because Tokyo area is by far the largest metropolitan area with around 35 million people. Most of the attendees are Japanese. I don't have exact figure this year (as the organizers didn't use Act), but last year, only 22 people (of 539 registered people) were from abroad, and another dozen or so were (hopefully) English speaking people living in Japan (discerned by their name). As for talks, 23 (of 79 talks, including lightning ones and longer tutorials) were in English last year, 10? of 67 (plus several lightning talks) this year. For your information, 29 of 69 were English in 2008. 21 of 44 in 2007. 19 of 40 in 2006. Tendency is obvious.

I don't say this is completely a bad thing, as it denotes that YAPC::Asia has stimulated Japanese people quite impressively, at least in the Tokyo area, and several dozens of new speakers have been born. I even found several more people said they'd like to speak next year. That's really awesome.

But, too much Japanese talks started causing actual problems. This year we had no definite lunch time. You needed to go get some food outside the venue when you were hungry or maybe when there were no talks you really wanted to attend (the organizers didn't provide lunch this year). There were no English talks between 16:00 (day 1) or even 13:00 (day 2) and lightning talks (17:00), then dinner or closing. Actually some of the talks in-between had English slides to help them, but, oh well. You could chat. You could hack. You could walk around as weather was fine. Attending sessions is just a part of YAPC.

Lots of Japanese people take it for granted that YAPC::Asia will take place again in Tokyo (or at least in Japan) next year. I'm happy to believe Japan is one of the best places for YAPC (besides the natural language barrier (Japanese people are not so good at communicating in English), it is safe, has lots to see, has numbers of experienced and disciplined volunteers, to name a few). However, is it really good, especially for you in other areas of Asia, that YAPC::Asia will continue to be held in Japan for years to come? Isn't there anyone who wants to see YAPC::Asia in your area? A local Perl Workshop is sufficient for you? I wonder.


I will probably post more detailed thoughts on this on my own blog later, but a few nitpicks first:

It seems you suggest that the lack of lunch time (which I agree was not cool) is due to the fact that there are many more Japanese talks, but i see no links between them. It's just there were many *talks* accepted by organizers, not many *Japanese talks*.

In general, I take the increase of ratio on Japanese talks (against English talks) as a good thing.

As I haven't been to any YAPC, I would be glad to someday attend YAPC::Asia, anywhere. But Taiwan and Japan are ideal right now due to higher population of Perl programmers. In Indonesia the population currently is so low we can't even maintain a Perlmonks group meetup.

I know almost nothing about the various groups in Asia, so I decided to change that. I'm coming out to Tokyo in December just to visit the Pauleys and meet the Perl mongers. I'm a bit nervous: I'm a big city sort of person, but 35 million people?

I get in on the afternoon of December 5, will probably be completely dead for the rest of the day, then leave in the evening on December 10. Between then I have no plans yet.

For what it's worth, all those conferences that paid me (through teaching classes) to show up really paid for this too because it's all frequent flyer miles. :)

Next year, if the timing works out, I also want to go to YAPC::Asia, but one thing at a time.


Tokyo is indeed a packed city and the commuter train is one of the most ridiculous thing in the world, but if you compare it with places like Manhattan, it's not /that/ crazy.

The number 35 million people comes from the population of Greater Tokyo Area which (I think) is basically the combination of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama - much bigger than Tokyo metropolis itself.

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About Kenichi Ishigaki

user-pic a Japanese perl programmer/translator, aka charsbar