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I read an article a couple of years ago in which a Japanese executive explained why he thought software engineering wasn’t popular in Japan. “A samurai would never write software,” he said. The idea was that Monozukuri, or the proud Japanese tradition of making things, wasn’t as relevant when it came to creating relative intangibles like software and services.

Japan’s math and science curriculum is the envy of the world, but it suffers from a shortage of high-skill young computer science professionals. The truth is, you can’t produce great hardware without great software. And you can’t produce great software without great programmers.

So I’m proud to be in Tokyo today to announce that we’re donating 5,000 Raspberry Pi to reach out to 25,000 students—and partnering with CANVAS to help teachers teach their students using the credit-card-sized mini-PC.
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Joost Poolman Simons's profile photoDerek Hohls's profile photoRhix Rojas's profile photoMatthew Hudson's profile photo
50 comments
 
Ah but samurais did write beautiful poetry! Surely a connection could be made to software from there...
 
This will surely be appreciated.
I think the deeper problem is that software engineering is just not a highly valued  skill set here, and the pay grade is set accordingly. 
 
"A samurai would never write software..."
Good. How 'bout the ninja? :-D 
 
It is a language issue.  Software is in English. For them it is very tough.
 
Great news, Google are developing a great and positive future for the planet. More education please!
 
I am hoping to use Raspberry Pi devices to teach Linux and eventually branch this to programming. I love seeing efforts like this in Japan to bring about our next inventors and creators.
 
I really wish I could be a software engineer, but I can't afford to go to college. Send a Raspberry Pi my way? Lol
 
+Jesus Otero Thankfully the need to go to college to become an excellent programmer is minimal these days. All of the tools necessary to program are free today, after the initial investment in a computer (any computer will do, as much of the art of programming is creating something out of nothing). Thanks to online materials such as MIT's OpenCourseWare, you can learn from the best for free--the critical investment is the time and effort expended on your part. Frankly, even in college, I saw others get far less out of the experience than I did because it is all about what you put into the process. I also found that most of my learning came outside the classroom, through work on open source and independent projects.
 
Samurai wrote haiku. It works on most 4-bit processors.
 
Why didn't you donate computer science textbooks?
 
No need for textbooks anymore. Tutorials and educational materials can be loaded onto the raspberry pi, and it's just not possible to program a static, unchanging book...
 
+Martin Andersson Boy are you right there.  I make as much money teaching ABCs to kids as Japanese web developers make.  Granted, I am very good at ABCs...
 
The Ruby on rails language came from Japan.
 
Well +Gordon Danford, kids and ABCs are important to. I don't see anything wrong with teachers being paid at levels similar to web developers.  But perhaps that's just me.
 
[99.99% joking conspiracy theory] Eric is employed by the US Government to use Google to balance China's rapid growing force from the ground up by technologically allying with other countries, which may make the world a more peaceful and sustainable place.
 
What a waste. Japan can afford their own tech, why weren't these donated to schools or the less fortunate at home (or abroad)?
 
+Martin Andersson  I agree with you there, kids and ABCs are important.  Full time career track licensed teachers are paid quite well here in Japan.  Unfortunately that's not the kind of teacher I am.

Most foreign "english teachers" here work on yearly contracts for a fixed rate that varies very little from town to town and region to region.  Not bad, but no real avenue for improvement. 

From what I see of jobs in the development field, it looks very similar.  Maybe that's just the way development jobs are...hired on for a project at a fixed rate then cut loose when the project is done. 

Lord knows skilled developers are needed here tho...have you looked at a Japanese website recently? 
 
It's a nice gesture, really.  But you're really just throwing hardware at a software problem.  Why not offer Google sponsored coding contests in Japanese? Or offer added benefits for GSoC participants from Japan? This seems like the equivalent of taking out an ad in the newspaper in terms of cost and effectiveness.
 
Good initiative. However, I preferred that you donate these devices to talented engineering students in third world countries to inspire them and to increase technology ownership in poor countries.
 
It sounds a little bit strange to donate some $50-ish devices to Japan, one of the top economies in the world (3rd or 4th, depending on the way you measure it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Japan). I believe it would be more appropriate to donate them to developing countries...
Also, I doubt there's a shortage of software companies and developers in Japan, it's just a different vision (for example, there's Tose - a quite big software developer nobody heard of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tose_Co.,_Ltd. ).
 
+Imed Romdhani I believe that most engineering student, including in 3rd world country, already has a PC. I think this aimed to younger people like hi-school student or younger.

Or maybe engineering student in some country is not at University. I don't know if ther are.
 
This is exactly why I'm not getting a ps4 first. Maybe if they would of partnered with Google somehow and put a version of android on there. +Eric Schmidt that could of been googles serious push into serious gaming. Then again I'm sure you have plans for the Q but it probably is the same as apples plan for the apple TV. Gaming on them will probably just be mobile games still. I hope both companies learned from cheap android console makers. If the Q is that expensive again, it should at least be better than a Wii U
 
Samurai may not write software, but Otakus do. That's why Japan has a massive gaming industry.
 
What Japan lacks might not be the device, Japanese could buy, or even produce for their own, devices for learning programming. They lack teachers teaching programming, I guess.

Giving away RPi helps simplifying studying programming. You don't need to prepare the environment for each PC, RPi (with Google Coder) could do everything needed. What's really needed is a monitor, a mouse, a keyboard, and maybe an internet connection.

For the 3rd world countries, I think, giving away RPi is not enough. They don't have the needed hardware to uses with it. Instead of RPi, I think Chromebook is more suitable to the task. I don't know if there's an IDE to support learning on ChromeOS or not BTW.

I'd love to see this happens in my home country (Thailand) as well. I'd even volunteer myself in teaching people on programming (although I might be a bad teacher lol). 
 
Love how the Japanese have these great words to describe more than just the meaning of a word, but it also expressing the thoughts, culture, believes and philosophy behind it. It's a shame that the English language doesn't have these types of words.
 
Would be great to be able to enrol on a Raspberry Pi evening class 
 
Joost, can you give an example of a Japanese word that does that? 
 
Sadly, XP is a common sight in Japan... 
 
The fact that Microsoft is ending support of XP is the problem, not that people are still using it.
 
The day after support drops will surely be a security nightmare.
 
It's a little bit like magic yes. They're called 0 day exploits. Various people will have an inventory of vulnerabilities that they won't use just yet because MS will patch them straight away. Until support is dropped that is.
 
+Peter da Silva ....well no, that would be the precise problem.. People in Japan are just not interested on seeing what may be new or what may be cutting edge. Everything, is satisfactory, as it is. (Is there something wrong with this? Not completely. however it answers the original post, Japan itself and people, it`s not a computing hub of some sorts.) ...People over there are not on the screen 24/7 like most of the americas are. It`s not an interest, or something that captures their minds completely.
 
Most of the Japanese contribution to the Xperia is hardware which Japan excels at. The software is mostly provided by non-Japanese contributors to Android.
p3rrypm
 
+Jesus Otero Yeah but, you can afford a Raspberry Pi!  The whole kit is like $65 in the US at any Radio Shack!
 
Such an analog mindset.  The Koreans, on the other hand, have a long history of scholarship, sitting around and doing nothing but writing things that were not even in their native language (Classical Chinese).  I predict they will be better coders than the Japanese.
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