To Keras Creator François Chollet: Shall We Review Our History One More Time?

I really don’t want to get further involved with this, but it would appear that François Chollet still isn’t inclined to get his history straight. So let me make things clear here.

François Chollet

After something new is invented in the West, at first Japan ignores it. A few months later, “made in japan” clones appear, and previously existing Japanese products start to imitate the Western inventions: Niconico, Mixi. But the UX of these Japanese-made clones proves awful, and the Western originals become popular in Japan anyway: YouTube, FB

11:27 – May, 15 2017

First of all, nobody was ignoring YouTube or Facebook. The thing that delayed Facebook’s release in Japan was simply that only American college students could sign up. Haven’t you ever seen “The Social Network?”

Mixi has been around since before Facebook. Apparently it was inspired by Friendster:

However, from our perspective it looked like a revival of online communications like CompuServe and NIFTY-Serve. Google’s Orkut was the first Web-based SNS, with GREE as its dead copy. Orkut, which lacked community features, proved unpopular. Although Mixi (which did have community features for communication between personal computers) did take off, it fell on hard times not because of UX problems but because of mismanagement. It’s a complicated story that I won’t detail here, but would be glad to explain separately as desired. The point is that you can’t blame it on the user experience. Oh, and by the way, most Japanese college students aren’t using Facebook anymore.

François Chollet

The same is true for mobile phones. It took forever for the iPhone to take off, but now, all Japanese are using one. I suppose the same thing will happen with deep learning libraries.

11:33 – May 15, 2017

In the early 2000s, Japan’s mobile internet was the most developed anywhere in the world. In no way was the iPhone slow to take off in Japan. The very first iPhone wasn’t even sold in Japan, and yet iPhones were imported all the way from America. The iPod Touch was even jailbroke and its software used.

Apple contacted us directly to participate in its ecosystem as official app engineers. Please consider this video that I uploaded in 2007. It was featured in Engadget and Gizmodo and introduces an early game made for iPhone OS:

I still can’t say whether deep learning libraries will take off like the iPhone did. At least in its current incarnation, Distributed TensorFlow is not supposed to operate on supercomputers. Caffe2 and ChainerMN are, and are very easy for universities to use.

There’s even PyTorch. No matter what you use, if you accomplish your goal that should be good enough.

Microsoft just announced worldwide support for Chainer this week, and we don’t know yet how that will turn out.

As for me, I couldn’t care less who prevails. It just means that I’ll be able to use the best tool when a victor emerges.

François Chollet

That blog is something that should only shame the author, not me. He twists the original meaning of my tweets in his writing. I have never said or thought things like “Japanese people ‘only’ rip off the Western.” This is simply a personal opinion about recent web products.

13:50 – May 23, 2017

The subject of your first statement is “Japan.” So it is the same as insulting all of Japan, including Japanese people. If you aren’t skilled at the Japanese language, perhaps you should stop posting in Japanese.

It’s been ten years since the launch of Niconico. It’s telling that he considers ten years to be “recent.”

By the way, recent popular video services in China imitate Niconico…not YouTube. Why, you ask?

Because of a good UX.

Rather than a dull play function with a comments section that doesn’t synch up with the time code, it’s a far better user experience to have viewer comments anonymously superimposed in sync with a video.

If users are leaving Niconico for YouTube, normal people would think it’s because Niconico requires registration while YouTube doesn’t…not because of the UX itself.

Niconico doesn’t suddenly introduce ads you can’t skip the way that YouTube does. So which one really delivers a better user experience?

By the way, it was I who introduced Dwango’s Nobuo Kawakami to the research at Nagoya University’s Nagao Laboratory that helped inspire Niconico’s synchronized comment features. I was a member of Dwango at the time of its founding, and went from serving as Manager of the Advanced Contents Group to Vice President of Content Development.