Monthly newsletter is out. This month’s message is short since there are so many links to photos of plum blossoms and castles and Tokyo!

buttondown.email/chadkoh/a…

Had this Korean roast today. Nice and light. Very smooth to drink! Had it at a small weekly pop-up. The owner travels lots and brings back all sorts of beans which he serves. Just spent 3 months in Sri Lanka, India & Nepal and has some assorted beans from there too. ☕️

Cup of coffee in front of a small bag of coffee with Korean writing on it

Networking our networks

People gathered in bar restaurant under some decorative scaffolding

The HN Tokyo Meetup. As one Kansai person told me: “I can tell it’s a meetup for people who are into frameworks.”

Last week I went up to Tokyo on my annual pilgrimage to meet with old friends and make new connections. I timed my trip to coincide with the monthly Hacker News Tokyo Meetup. These social events regularly see a hundred or so hackers, entrepreneurs, and tech enthusiasts of all kinds come out to drink and be merry. This month we were on the rooftop of the PARCO building in Shibuya. It was a bit windy but that rooftop is really gorgeous, offering excellent views of the city. Over the five hours I was there (including an after-party at a craft brewery around the corner) I met a ton of interesting people.

A small sample:

  • an Elixir programmer considering a side gig as a an artisinal cheesemaker
  • a death metal singer that flew from the US to make connections and try to get a job
  • a data analyst who made a “moneyball” database for Columbia Records for discovering hidden talent (I was finally able to learn from him exactly what an “A&R” is!)

It was a blast.

People listening to announcements, decorative scaffolding above

Community members gather to listen to announcements.

Engaging with a community of your peers is fun and rewarding. You never know who you will meet or what you will learn. And who knows what opportunities it might bring in the future?

I was a member of the HN Tokyo Slack community for 4 years before I even went to an event. In fact, I was introduced to it by a guy in the Fukuoka startup community. I am still in touch with those Fukuoka comrades… last year I was able to meet up with some at the Maker Faire in Kyoto. Nowadays I have been engaged with the the local Kansai HN and programmer community.

During the HN Tokyo event I introduced myself as a “diplomat from HN Kansai”. Many people came up to me afterwards, interested in hearing more about Kansai. I invited everyone to stop by our community meetups if they were ever in Osaka or Kyoto. I was even able to recommend places to visit in Fukuoka!

I enjoy going around to different communities and meeting people. As someone who has been between cultures (and locations!) for a long time, I suppose I also enjoy bridging different communities.

Back when I lived in the Okanagan every community had their “Geek Beers”-style of tech meetup. Working with friends in the neighbouring towns such as Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton, and Kamloops, we started an event where everyone in the region would congregate in one community. It was an annual summer event with a rotating host. We called it #megageekbeers. One year we even got corporate sponsorship to cover a bus to drive people to the next community over so they could arrive and get home safely!

I am still connected to the Kelowna and Vernon startup communities. We share job prospects, industry information, and memes 😜 through these networks across communities and now across borders.

Networking opportunities are super valuable at a personal level, whether for professional or fun reasons. We are all taught this early. But cross-community networking is how we can build movements. “Federation” has become a keyword in online social media the past couple of years. I think there is a huge opportunity to realize this concept IRL: let’s network our networks!

People giving announcements, decorative scaffolding above

Community members step up to the mic to deliver announcements.

Blue sky at the train station. Today in Osaka was warm with a perfect sky. Spring is coming! 🌱🌼🌸

The sign for Sakuranomiya Station with deep blue  cloudless sky above

Osaka Castle from Genpachi Bridge. In a couple of weeks all those trees will be pink with cherry blossoms 🌸🌸🌸

Photo from a bridge going over a river. Below are trees lining the river bank. They are bare with no leaves or blossoms…  yet. In the far distance is Osaka Castle

"we all can't be Buddhas"

I am posting this publicly so that I can reference it in links going forward. There might be a more common way to express this sentiment, this is just the way that I often do in conversation. It is something I came up with in discussing intentional communities with my wife a while back.

Oftentimes, communities will tear themselves apart simply over battles over who is “pure” enough to belong. We see this political infighting in all sorts of communities at all sorts of scales. The “narcissism of small differences”, right? Holding an unreasonably high bar of acceptance is completely counterproductive to building the kinds of broad-based movements that we need today in order to tackle the problems all of our societies face, whether at the international or local levels.

One of the great lessons of anarchism that I learned from David Graeber over the years is how to actually go about developing the vitally effective community characteristic of diversity: learning how to listen to and respect individuals, their choices, experiences, and opinions. We cannot let “intellectual purism” prevent us from building (or burning!) necessary bridges. That is not to say there isn’t a limit. The Paradox of Tolerance is also something we need to contend with. But in general, we should approach community building with a “Big Tent” attitude.

The Buddha was a perfectly enlightened being, a singular achievement. Yet the sangha, the Buddhist community, has survived for more than 2500 years.

We all can’t be Buddhas… but with the right attitude, there are plenty of other ways that we can participate, and be together as part of the community.


Footnote

At the end of my 1 year Upāsaka program, I was given the Pali name of Sanghapāla — “protector of the sangha” — so one could say I have a spiritual devotion to community-building! 😊

Just watched DUNE for the first time since the theatre. I think I like it a lot more on the second watch. It is actually really well put together, quick pace… Just all the slomo and prophesying slow it down. Looking forward to seeing the second part in the next couple of weeks.

I haven’t been sick for quite a while. So I suppose I should not feel so betrayed, so wronged for being sick on this long weekend 😷 But it still sucks 😞

Back in the big 大

Inside Osaka Stations curved ceiling

The HN Tokyo hntokyo.io meetup last night. About a 100 people on the PARCO rooftop in Shibuya. Gorgeous view. Tons of new friends made. The startup scene in Japan is so different compared to when I struggled in 2009-2010. Lots of interesting projects and successes!

People gathered in bar restaurant under some decorative scaffoldingPeople listening to announcements, decorative scaffolding abovePeople giving announcements, decorative scaffolding above

Today I met @jamesvandyne in person! He showed me around his lovely office and then we went for a taco lunch 😏

We had a fun conversation about working in green tech, his CMS project Tanzawa, and all the cool innovation happening now on open social. The web is getting weird again! 🤘🥳

James and Chad pose with Constantine, a 1.5m tall pink octopus plushie that is the mascot of octopus energyTwo plates with three tacos each. One is all chicken tacos and one is shrimp. No octopus

On the Shinkansen 🚅 bound for Tokyo. Meeting some old friends and new over the next few days as I do my annual working holiday in the big city. I am taking this time to do some strategy work, and also to attend the Hacker News Tokyo meetup for the first time. HMU if you see me there!

Good time connecting with the wider community of devs in Osaka. We talked about all sorts of topics including using CoPilot in multilingual environments. Then had a good hour of networking before heading back to the station and off for drinks and more conversation meetu.ps/e/MRJGJ/1…

Photo from the upper floor of JR Osaka station out of the north exit.

Enjoying @emilydingwrites@mastodon.world latest newsletter #MovableWorlds The writing is evocative and the accompanying little clips & photos really set the mood. It just makes me want to sit down and write! I wish my newsletter could be so well crafted… movableworlds.co/p/finding…

The Heritage Foundations playbook for a Republican 2025 presidency will throw gas on the #ClimateCrisis turning everything including dishwasher cycles into a Culture War. Just scan the headers on this review of the 900 page document 🤯

heatmap.news/politics/…

Listening to this podcast talking about using profilers to not only carbon-optimize your site, but also Linux, and your house 🏡 pca.st/episode/6…

GitHub's Innovation Graph

Rest of World has a piece on the fastest-growing countries for software development featuring GitHub’s Innovation graph. I got a peek at this last year at the GitHub booth at the IGF2023 in Kyoto. One of my favs is Economy collaborators which represents international collaboration on projects. It is the sum of git pushes sent from one country to another. This is some real CIA Factbook or Atlas of Economic Complexity-like stuff but for software development.

A circular chart showing country arcs on the outside with connective bands to other countries

Had a call with a friend I knew from Kyoto. We went to China together in 2004. I saw him once in Oakland in 2013. We occasionally have catchup calls, but have not met in person in a long time. I have a few friends like this. They are all great and I am lucky to have them. 🥰

Blue sky in Osaka

(We are here to see the plum blossoms, but they are not quite ready yet)

Osaka castle against a cloudless sky

Leopard print 🐆 on the subway doors is 💯 🎯 Osaka

Osaka Metro subway car doors open revealing the interior. The doors on the other side have a leopard print design