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In Memory Of Ueda San

Ueda San of Sony

The funeral of Ueda San of Sony took place yesterday. Many of us have known him for many years. Some of us have known him for a little while. Others, perhaps, have only recently heard of him. 

One important thing to know about Ueda San is that he built the open source community in Japan alongside others such as Hashimoto San, Eto San, Shibata San and the rest of the “old guard.”

Building the open source community in Japan was not easy. Previously, companies operated in silos, and it was a radical idea to throw open the doors and allow engineers to mix and mingle. There was risk, there was fear, and there was the stubborn tide of habit. 

It takes an iron will to change an entire industry. Ueda San was extremely kind and gentle, but he would not yield on the importance of open collaboration. He knew the value it gave to people, to business and to society. Ueda San really believed in community and collaboration. He was tireless in promoting it, and he insisted that more and more people should be educated in its value. 

Ueda San was a key part of forming the OpenChain Japan community. He was also a key driver behind our early outcomes, including the exceptional Supplier Education Leaflet. His tireless encouragement of younger generations is an example we can all learn from.

It is because of Ueda San and his contemporaries that the OpenChain Japan Work Group exists. Instead of closing doors, our board members decided to create an environment of complete openness. We built this community to network people, to share knowledge, and to fundamentally improve how companies use open source. 

This is the difference between long term and short term thinking. By creating communities that freely welcome people, they can learn your values. They mirror your values. They multiply your effort. Then, together, you change far more than you could ever accomplish alone. 

And now? Now we have an environment in Japan where more and more companies are adopting standard processes around open source. We have more engineers and managers meeting, talking and learning. We are all in a better position to do more things. 

It is our responsibility to take that potential and apply it. It is also our responsibility to remember that the freedoms and advantages we enjoy come from the hard work of others. Without Ueda San spending thousands of hours advocating, perhaps there would be a much smaller community in Japan. 

Ueda San was a dreamer who actually created new realities. He was an artist, and he saw the world as far more than numbers. Indeed, Ueda San spent countless hours capturing the beauty of nature as a photographer. When I think of him, I think of how these values drove him, and changed us all for the better.

This is the final photograph Ueda San posted on Facebook before he died. A dragonfly. What a perfect metaphor for life and for friendship. A moment of beauty. A moment that passes. All we can do is appreciate it, and treasure the memories left behind. 

Sorry Ueda San. I stole this photo from your Facebook page without asking.
You can scold me later, when I join you.

— Shane Coughlan, OpenChain General Manager