Reader Phillip Torrone recently made a trip to Japan and got some serious hang time in Akihabara, Tokyo's electronics district, where he ran across this place here:
If you don't read Japanese, the web site doesn't explain much. But a English placard in the store does the job nicely (the text is transcribed from one of Phillip's photos):
The Linux Cafe Story
Linux Cafe is a joint project bringing together industry, government, academia and local people. Linux Cafe was started by a group of Linux related companies and realized with the cooperation of Chiyoda ward, universities and trading associations in the Akihabara area.
Linux Cafe is a focus point for new development within the city, a suggested model for the revitalization of industry and a platform for cross-sector, cross-cultural collaboration.
Linux Cafe is a meeting place for anyone who wishes to stop by. Born of open source culture, it is a space for learning and for play, a base for the dissemination of information related to development of ideas for new lifestyles.
Our greatest hope is that Linux Cafe will become a place from which creativity and entertainment flow, giving rise to new stories.
Linux Cafe Founding Committee 3rd December 2001
David Sifry, co-founder of LinuxCare and Sputnik, lived in Japan for many years and knows the language well. He adds this:
I've met with some of the people responsible for setting this up. They also are offering free 802.11b access within (and nearby) the cafe, as well as free classes on Linux and other OSS technologies.
Good bunch of folks. And considering the cost of Akihabara real estate, it's gotta be costing a reasonable amount of money.
By the way, the Zaurus is historically much more popular in Japan than in the US.
This was consistent with Phillip's experience He writes:
There were also some other Linux goodies in Japan. The new Sharp Zaurus units were all over the stores with pretty high billing in terms of placement and sales folks pushing them. There were smaller ones, bigger ones and ones with cameras--nothing like that in the US (yet).
On the other hand, the only PDA I saw anyone actually using in the entire country (I looked all the time among the millions of people we saw on the trains) was a Zaurus. It's not really a PDA culture.
So the next time you're in Akihabara (especially if you're packing your Zaurus), you might want to be on the lookout for this sign:
Doc Searls is senior editor of Linux Journal.
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