OO-Con: Cultural Colonization

The first day has gone by, and a rather productive day it was.

The CEO of Redflag Linux held a keynote that was quite interesting and contained a couple of great points to think of: Why do we western software producers think that just slapping a translation on top of a product makes it perfectly suitable for the whole world?

In China they have a different culture with fundamental different approaches on how to solve problems and how to work with tools and each other. But corporations like Microsoft (he used that example, as he was speaking of the Office market, but later widened the blame to all kinds of software) simply ignore the traditions that exist everywhere and force users (by their sheer market power) to accept the western way of life. He specifically used the example of text-layouting, text processing and text-display to shed some light on how our system differs from theirs. Although most of his points sounded simple and easy to ignore, the sum of all of them forms a huge mass of annoyance.

And I think our tools are following the same trail. For the reporting engine I know that we do not support anything else than the Latin writing system (if other systems work, then this is just by accident). But for anything more arcane than the obvious, we cant even tell whether there would be an issue – as we simply dont know and never cared to ask.

Heck, we should go for it. BO, Cognos and Co are ignoring a huge market (not just China, but also India,whole Asia, the Arabic states, in fact: Everything except Europe and Northern America).

OK, they are not rich (yet), but a Penny is a Penny no matter whether you collected it from a poor or a rich men. But as there are more poor than rich people, collecting Pennies from them should give a better harvest ;). Or as the Redflag CEO put it: In China there a arbout 1.2 billion people without computer knowledge now. But they will catch up, and the decision of whether they get colonized by wester products or use own local products is made today.

We as Pentaho can help them to make the right decision, against the classical vendors to a great OpenSource product that does not limit their freedoms. But for that, we have to activate the potential in our local partners, who know their local cultures and encourage them to create not just translations, but a product that reflects the local culture of their own people.

P.S: While speaking about local culture. I’m down here without a working power supply – the cable is gone and after a whole day of desperate search, I’m convinced that there is not a single shop that sells a plain cable. So I’m running out of power – there is now 2 hours left in the battery and hopefully I will have enough electricity left tomorrow to return here (and to read mails. Argh, being offline makes me feel so 20th century).

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About Thomas

After working as all-hands guy and lead developer on Pentaho Reporting for over an decade, I have learned a thing or two about report generation, layouting and general BI practices. I have witnessed the remarkable growth of Pentaho Reporting from a small niche product to a enterprise class Business Intelligence product. This blog documents my own perspective on Pentaho Reporting's development process and our our steps towards upcoming releases.