One of the toughest challenges among people interested in Haiku is the lack of accurate information about the project, as well as documentation. This is particularly bad for people outside of the English-speaking world. There are initiatives within the Haiku Project to rectify this situation, and we are already seeing these efforts gradually coming to fruition. For example, a new Haiku website is now being worked on, which is designed to provide more and better information, and to make Haiku more accessible to more potential contributors.
Presently, programmers interested in Haiku mostly rely on existing documentation for BeOS. Over the years, a community driven knowledge base in the form of guides, wikis, forums and other online venues has been forming to make up for the lack of bibliography. One such community-driven initiative in Japan is the translation of the "Programming the Be Operating System" book by Dan Parks Sydow, a project that was undertaken by the JPBE.net User Group. There are also initiatives such as the haikudocs.org site, generously hosted by Axzel Marin (SiCuTDeUx) of Venezuela, that is designed to cater to the non-English speaking community; this site hosts wikis in Spanish and Japanese with community contributed content. Many others such places exist on the web.
But while all of the above are positive events, I strongly feel that the time has come to take the Haiku Project to the next level, and make it a force that encourages, mentors and supports all community efforts, and funnels its energy in one direction: the growth of the Haiku community. As a volunteer-based open source project, we cannot tell people what to do. But if we want to inspire more people to contribute their time and effort to the project, we do have to begin to convey a clear and compelling message of what inspires us and what our goals are, and also give an image of unity and coherence.
The new marketing communications (marcom) team that I have been tasked with leading will attempt to make its contributions to the above goals. However, no single team (or single individual, for that matter) can make a meaningful difference alone. This needs to be a team effort. There has to be a team spirit among the individuals, and also coordination between the various teams, as well as with the admins. In other words, we have to work together for our common goal. This is how we can achieve the conviction that will help us stay focused and motivated on reaching on our goals, both on the short and the long term.
The marcom team will kick off with Jason Grenier and myself as starting members, and we will be reporting to Michael Phipps. We do not claim to know it all, and will be receptive to down-to-earth suggestions. When an idea can contribute to the advancement of the project and is viable, we will look into implementing it. Better yet, if you have a marketing-oriented mind, feel like you want to make your contribution to Haiku, and have some time and lots of will, please contact us by sending an email to the main Haiku mailing list, or to me personally at koki [at] digintrans.com. There is a lot to do, and we could certainly use some help.
Always remember: we are all in this together. :-)
On a side note, I would like to share with you something that recently happened in Japan and that gives me a great sense of satisfaction. Shin-ya Koga, author of "Art of BeOS Programming", a book that was published about 8 years ago in Japan (this is in Japanese, in spite of the English title), has generously agreed to making his book available on the web. After being out of print for quite a while, both the author and the publisher have recently agreed to open source the book, and it is now available on the web for the benefit of all Japanese programmers. To Koga-san for his graciousness, and to SoftBank Publishing for letting this happen, a big ARIGATO in capital letters!
Next time I will write about the upcoming Haiku conference, WalterCon 2006. You will hear from me soon.