• Date2013-05-30
  • Duration34:20
  • DescriptionNaoko is one of the Japanese translators of WordPress. She organises WordCamp Tokyo and is the author of a number of books about WordPress.
  • Tagsinternationalization, localization


Interviewer: I want to just first ask you about your background, what you were doing before you got involved with WordPress?#

Takano: In the beginning on 2003, I was working as a translator and I was interested in working in web design field but I was just playing around with some blogging software, I was just a personal blogger. That went on for couple of more years and because I was ... I knew some templating system at WordPress, I got some work from Japan. Actually, I was living in the Detroit area at the time, because I was able to read English documentation and I was ahead of blogging culture and technology, I was able to get some freelance jobs from Japan because in 2003 they were launching some local blogging hosting services, that was my entry into being able to become a web designer.#

Interviewer: Okay. You were doing web design as well translation?#

Takano: In the beginning, I just did translation in a unrelated industry. I was working for auto industry in Detroit. It had nothing to do with web but I have an interest in ... I did graphic designing in school, it's more of the print design side, but I always wanted to get job in web design. I was playing in my free time and [00:02:00] blogging was still early and I had more time in ... I didn't have setback of having to stick to old technology because I was on my own. That's when I found WordPress and actually switched from Movable Type. That was towards 2003. My first WordPress site was 2003, November 2003.#

Interviewer: Okay, what was that for? It was like your blog?#

Takano: That's mine. Yeah personal blog.#

Interviewer: Okay, is that the one you still have?#

Takano: Yeah, my domain changed but it's the same blog.#

Interviewer: Okay.#

Takano: Yeah and it's actually [00:02:51]. Yeah, that's the one I've been using.#

Interviewer: Where is it? Why did you move from Movable Type?#

Takano: I set it up because my ... I found a blogger that like to read and he was using Movable Type, I first try using Movable Type and I set it up in May 2003 first and then for a month or two, I've been blogging like once or twice a day. I had a bunch of posts which quickly made the site really slow to rebuild, so it starts to get frustrating in the first month or two. I'm like I need something else. I don't know much about Movable Type maybe I think it was on 2005 but early on I wasn't a web developer [00:04:00] either so I have less of understanding on how thing work and WordPress was really simple and easy to get into and fun. I've been playing around for maybe a couple of months and in November I made a switch.#

Interviewer: Okay, and do you remember how you found it?#

Takano: I think I found B2 for some reason first. I tried almost available free like PHP MySQL blogging system and the reason I chose WordPress it was easier to make my own theme.#

Interviewer: What was the theming system like then? Was it ... you just create a style sheet?#

Takano: Yeah, I think the index.php was still in the root and I only tweaked the CSS. and they used to have a CSS Contest for using index.php. I entered into both CSS Contests and first one I got the first place and the second one I got like a honorable mention something.#

Interviewer: Excellent. I have seen that list the style sheets were still online on Alex King's website.#

Takano: Yeah, and then I have an argument with well, not really an argument, but Kubrick's designer that like yours is really personal and not really generic something like that, like it's not good for anybody and I said, "Well, it can't be more expressive.√" I don't know, there were not many like female designer [00:06:00], a lot of with was really technical type of look and feel, maybe that's why it was picked, it was unusual.#

Interviewer: I'm going to have a look at it.#

Takano: Okay. I think I have that. That was when I started the English blog because I wanted to write things in English.#

Interviewer: Was it Pink Lilies?#

Takano: Yeah.#

Interviewer: There we go. I like it.#

Takano: Thank you, it kind of ... At the time everybody was using just CSS to make one, like all the WordPress with different. I guess it help me to not like the, I don't think I was really involved so much but I kept interest. At the time I was kind of still using it for my personal site and I wasn't really like contributing to the Japanese side either.#

Interviewer: What, when did you start getting more involved to the community?#

Takano: Since even 2003, there was this one guy I mentioned, his name is Otsukare [00:07:26] and he had his own website called WordPress Japan, it's probably didn't even exist anymore but at the time nobody was really like talking about trademark or anything and he had been distributing a fork of WordPress. Right now a localized version isn't really a fork, it's just a package with some modification but at the time he was [00:08:00], he actually forked it and changed a lot of internal text to make in Japanese. He started it I think in 2003 or 04, I'm not sure. Then I've kind of watch him do that in I think I only contributed in maybe some documentation and the forum on his website. That went on for maybe like five years him making his own Fork and but like toward the end he was getting overwhelmed because he wasn't really set up community contribution; it was his project and he controlled it a lot, but contributed a lot too, but when he get busy, things don't get updated and people are really getting frustrated because WordPress was getting popular in Japan too.#

Finally in 2008, in spring in 2008, he decided to disappear and he said like I'm ending this project because I can't keep up and that was when we some other people who been kind of around in our community decided to do it in a way that is more sustainable which is to set up and work with core rather than distribute a forked package.#

Interviewer: Did that prevent there from being an official translation in Japanese since there was this Fork? [00:10:00] Did people in Japan use the fork instead of WordPress?#

Takano: Myself, I've been WordPress core but a lot of people used his version for a long time I think until, his version was called WordPress ME, WordPress Multilingual Edition [00:10:21], and there were like I even wrote books about that package because that is more localized than at the time, because I guess core had some kinks about than didn't fully translate everything. But there is another guy which is, Kuraishi San [00:10:46], which is a guy I linked, the Code Poet guy, that got interviewed. He had a plugin that fixes some of the issues with the Core with Multibyte. We decided to use that plugin and try to fix things that is problem with the Core or at least work with it instead of ignoring the Core and just doing the Fork.#

Interviewer: What were the problems with Core?#

Takano: Well, I shouldn't say problem but I guess inconvenience with multibyte users which is like things like if you upload like a file that has a Japanese file name, doesn't display correctly. Anything that is not affecting anybody else but maybe Japanese, Korean, Chinese users. [00:12:00]#

Interviewer: Sorry, carry on.#

Takano: So Kuraishi 00:12:08] decided to fix it at the plugin which is this one ... I think, he says he doesn't write in English, that he wouldn't get questions from people who is don't really understand Japanese because it's really for Japanese users. Yeah, sometimes there is global detects and for e-mails and search, things like that, just kinks I guess.#

Interviewer: Are they still problems or have they been fixed?#

Takano: They are ... Yeah, we still need plugin and there are reasons that they can't or they don't fix because if they fix it, it's going to affect other users like say, Word Count, they can't be doing, the Core doesn't want to decide between like making it correct for Japanese but not correct for Chinese, things like that, it's fine like I think we have more control this way as Japanese package team. He can fix what needs to be fixed, that is fine. I think we don't want to go ... I don't want to go and problem is more like kind of like we just use this to observe the difference.#

Interviewer: That is interesting. I didn't know about this plugin.#

Takano: Yeah, it's not like a major thing. [00:14:00] Let's say Excerpt has like uses the word count system in the Core, so if they don't use this plugin, I think only Roman characters are counted. So Japanese has no spaces in between. It kind of goes on even there is like more than 20 characters or something like that.#

Interviewer: Okay, and then ... in WordPress 1.2, they introduce the gettext functionality. How come people decided to use the Fork rather than using gettext? Was it because of the sorts of issues or was it just because the Fork was already established?#

Takano: I think I linked the forum post. The user, Otsukare [00:14:54] from. He actually get made the gettext conversion on his Fork and said, "I want Core to take this√" kind of thing.√" I want Core to merge this and use it.√" He initiated that change, that changing 1.2 and it was pretty much like he ... I posted it. I helped him post it and then Matt and Ryan Boren came in and said, "Great. Let's do this.√" They thought it was a good idea to internationalize it in the beginning. I think the reason he kept the forked version was that until like recently, there is other things that couldn't be translated. Like things that happened before gettext, like [00:16:00] error message from the database, something like when you see "we can't connect to database√". You will see that error message, things like that wasn't going through WordPress, he had to manually translate them, so and I think in part he wanted to keep his version because he has his own theme in it and it was a Fork. He just like to set it up that way. He kept it and there was another group of people who were making just [inaudible] files for the Core. Those are the people who took over and working with me to run That was ... I think that that was happening on like 2006 maybe. There were two kind of strings of translation efforts in Japanese.#

Interviewer: One of the things I read on the form posts around that time was that before WordPress 1.2 came out, people were using another method to translate WordPress. I can't really figure out what they were doing. I know the files hosted on the Wiki but the gettext stuff haven't been integrated in Core yet. Do you remember what they were doing?#

Takano: I am not familiar with that, maybe the were just actually changing the core files or maybe, because ... at the time since there is not gettext, if you just override English messages, that would show up. [00:18:00] I'm guessing that but I am not certain but yeah, I think that ... At the time like changing core wasn't as prohibited. It's possible, but I think in the beginning the Japanese vision three language characters codes which is like not UTF8, but WordPress started to support more things like UTF8 and we didn't have general issues with the Core. I think before then we have, it was written base on English conversion. I think there was some issues like pingbacks and garbled text in pingbacks if you had any multibyte characters and something like that.#

Interviewer: Do you remember what sort of impact the internationalization of Core had on the global community? Did you see a lot of more people translating it? Was there more international users?#

Takano: Yeah, I think so. I mean, like in Japan, I don't think it would have been this popular if there hadn't been this effort especially, and even before it was internationalized there is some users from outside of US. I think we saw that early on that WordPress is really [00:20:00] an open source projects that is spread across the world. I think that encouraged us to part of the project, not just kind of crying that, we want this and we want that and it's like I thought they took it in very quickly that I felt really good about contributing. Yeah, I think ... there are other open source project that ignore or don't pay much attention to like internationalization. They don't do well, in Japan especially.#

Interviewer: Can you think of any?#

Takano: WordCamp too, especially. I think the effort to promote WordCamp outside the US really helped in Japan too.#

Interviewer: WordPress is big in Japan?#

Takano: Yeah, I think so. We just had the 10th year anniversary party in Tokyo about 250 people came, and we do WordCamps also like Southern people come in Tokyo, so it was amazing.#

Interviewer: I would definitely come. I've always wanted to visit Japan.#

Takano: It's coming up in September. When is your book due?#

Interviewer: We are working on it. We are going to release it serially. I hope it will be releasing like a chapter every month.#

Takano: Okay, it's going to be e-book or ...#

Interviewer: Yeah, it's going to e-book.#

Takano: Okay, and then like free and the downloadable ...#

Interviewer: Yeah, I think it will free. We might put it on Amazon and so we haven't really decided yet [00:22:00], kind of working that out.#

Takano: Maybe in the future, we can try to translate some of it because like in the anniversary party, I here that, I'm doing it for like ten years but there are a lot of new users who don't have any background and it's good to know there'll be an official book or documentation that make sure everything is straight. I know it's hard to translate the whole thing but maybe part of it.#

Interviewer: Some of the early stuff particularly on the early history of WordPress might be really useful. I'd love to make it out there one day. That would be at my top list of WordCamp even though I don't understand anything.#

Takano: It will be really fun, and so Matt came in 2009, that was the year he was touring around like we no longer have like any response even though we have like two or three WordCamps in Japan a year. He was like, maybe if I am not busy but it never happens since then. Yeah, it was good that he was able to come at the time that he showed that a lot of users that kind of encouragement to be part of it.#

Interviewer: Yeah. Well, I'm sure there is other people who would come to out there, including me.#

Takano: Yeah, I think ... I always invite a lot of Automatticians or like at least few to speak or help. This year, I'll probably have two or three people but I don't know maybe from that old team, I'd really love to have people, maybe we can do donations or maybe [00:24:00] raise some money to and bring people to speak and that will be great too.#

Interviewer: Yeah, I'll mention it to the other .org team.#

Takano: I mean, I really think it's like because we've been having free WordCamps in Tokyo because it got to the point that rather than like collecting few like maybe 20 or $30, it's easier to just let everybody in for free and collect from sponsors because we have lots of help help, but maybe if we really want to say like, "Hey, invite more people this year.√" Maybe collect money from people who are coming, We can do that and I don't know maybe something more like WordCamp Asia type of thing, we discuss that too maybe.#

Interviewer: A bit like WordCamp Europe?#

Takano: Yeah, I want to see what. Are you going to that?#

Interviewer: I'm organizing it.#

Takano: Okay. Yeah, I want to see how that goes and because I think we came up with the WordCamp Asia idea in the past and I go to different WordCamp in Asia and people are like, it sounds like a good idea but it's always like but you know we don't know if it's going to be good or we have resources but now that Europe is doing it and if it goes well, maybe there's more interest.#

Interviewer: Yeah, and we'd be happy to like give you any help or anything after we have done ours.#

Takano: Yeah, I want to see that success [00:25:43]. That's easier to invite people from around the world rather than just having it in Japan.#

Interviewer: Yeah. [00:26:00] I was going to say, what are the competitors to WordPress in Japan?#

Takano: In Japan, Movable Type [00:26:10] has been very popular until maybe like three or four ... two or three years ago, and they actually, Six apart, has an office in Tokyo, I don't know how many employees anymore but I think they have more employees in Tokyo than in US now. Since then had marketing effort and just people working fulltime. They've been doing well and I think just recentlyWordPress took off maybe three years. I don't personally don't see them as well computer but I just wanted to give you a background. I think people were like Japanese people have shifted to like Twitter and Facebook and also we have a bunch of local blogging services like but local in Japanese hosting services. They also have a bunch of people working on it. It's really hard to do anything I'm employed to work at Automattic but I'm the only in Japan doing any kind of promotion, but as far as CMS goes, it's probably the most powerful, I don't see anything as big as WordPress right now in Japan in terms of free open source software. I think my [00:28:00] personal thing is that I think that either people are going to blog or people are going to do social media instead like Twitter or Facebook, whatever.#

Those are more of competitor internet taking people attention. I guess were best need to evolve into something that can compete with it to grab people's attention, but it takes good content and good website site. Nothing we can do quickly but a lot of people are really passionate of WordPress here, even though it might take time, I want to see that happen.#

Interviewer: When did you join Automattic?#

Takano: I joined in 2009, that was after Matt came to WordCamp Tokyo, and the reason I did WordCamps in Japan was that I went to WordCamp San Francisco in 2007. I was still in the US and I flew from Detroit to San Francisco and just wanted to see people that I knew in real life and I went up to Matt and ask what can I do to help WordPress from Japan or from Japanese Community and he said, "You should do a WordCamp.√", and I didn't do it that year but I did WordCamp in Japan next year in 2008 but funny thing is I haven't been living in Japan for a long time. I've been working with everybody online for the WordPress [00:30:00] translation and documentation team#

I organise my WordCamps from Detroit for three years I mean, but I went to every WordCamp except for one that happen in Japan because earlier I was going back to just visit my family and do a visit to another city [00:30:25] and after I joined Automattic, they sent me there.#

Interviewer: Do you live in Japan now?#

Takano: Yeah, I live in Japan in 2011. Yeah, the first like eight years since I found WordPress, I've been living in the US, but which is interesting and great because I've been doing the same thing even though I changed my country of residence.#

Interviewer: Yeah. Did you ... Once you started building sort of themes and stuff let's say 2003-2004, did you move in to being a freelance web designer or did you stay in the translation job until you were hired in Automattic?#

Takano: I actually did freelancing in ... I did work for a company, a local company which is advertising agency and I did some WordPress stuff but I was mostly doing projcet work. I think because of the ... some of the open source things they have online and the blog led me to my job [00:32:00] then and I stayed for less than two years and I did freelance. When I was hired at Automatic that was [inaudible 00:32:08].#

Interviewer: Right, okay. You are the only person at Automattic in Japan, is that right?#

Takano: Yes, right now but there are two Japanese people and one is Takashi and he's in England.#

Interviewer: Of course, I've met Takashi.#

Takano: Yeah. And Michael Pick, you must know him too?#

Interviewer: Yes.#

Takano: He used to be in Japan and we were in Japan for maybe like one year for the same time but I was in Tokyo and he was in Hokaido and he moved to England last summer.#

Interviewer: Yes, he is in Edinburgh.#

Takano: Yeah, it was funny like there used to be one time, I was in US, I'm Japanese, Takashi's Japanese and he is in England and Michael is British and he is in Japan. Now, no more stray.#

Interviewer: Is there other people from Automattic in other parts of Asia?#

Takano: Right now, there are a couple of people from India, I have to check. Philip Arthur Moore [00:33:25], he's the premium theme team lead. He is doing Hanoi, Vietnam, but he is moving to San Francisco I think. Not in this area, there is nobody in Korea, nobody in China right now. Some people in now and there is a new guy in Thailand and yeah but he is [00:34:00] American born and he moved to Thailand.#

Interviewer: Okay.#

Takano: Hopefully they'll be more.#

Interviewer: Well, it's been great to speak to you. Thank you for taking some time.#

Takano: Thank you.#