OpenWeb.Asia (OWA) Workgroup is a network of premium blogs focus on Asian Web industry, this is the definition read from its web site. People in the blogosphere see OWA as a blog network similar to Alltop China; technical people link it with some technical terms such as OpenSocialas Google has launched OpenWebFoundation. We titled this workgroup OpenWeb and we hope we can bring more out of it.
Open is the trend of the Web
I probably have talked too much about the open platform recently. OpenWeb Foundation, an independent non-profit community dedicated to the development and protection of open, non-proprietary specifications for web technologies, was launched by Google in July one month after the announcement of OpenWeb.Asia . We were so excited to hear that because it proves OWA is doing the right thing. Although OWA is just a small group but it sees what those pioneers in web industry Google believe: the web is expected to be open. Industry leaders like Google drives the technology such as OpenSocial to make Open Web real, and hopefully OWA can help better localize these brilliant concept and technology into Asia.
[updates 19/08/08, apparently I made a mistake here, OpenWeb Foundation is Not launched by Google. The correction has been made, thanks a lot to Vivian.]
Open is to understand and learn from neighbor markets
You can simply buy a Eurostar train ticket in London and 3 hours later you can meet your partners in Paris, but traveling in Asia is not that easy. Do not forget you have to use English which is way different from Chinese, Japanese, Korean and so on to communicate with each other in Asia, therefore relying on English to precisely and fully deliver your service and ideas to another country is not easy. Back to the Internet business, it is not difficult for a good local startup in Europe to become a star having users from the entire Europe, but it seldom happens for a startup in Asia. The fact is that each local market in Asia is sort of ‘physically’ closed. Organizing a pan-Europe conference can be relatively easy, at least it can bring the audience from many different countries together without worrying too much about one big issue, the language barrier. The service and messages can be delivered all in English. The local markets in Asia countries is (or is potentially) huge (from my opinion, one market like China is even more complicated than the Europe), so usually it is not necessary for a startup to take the risk of exploring another unfamiliar market.
The ‘Open’ idea of OWA is also to encourage Asian local market to reach out and to establish an efficient channel to make sure the local noise can be heard by its neighbor industry. It is hard, but it worths trying. SNS is getting hot in China; mobile market is unbelievably fascinating in Japan; online game is originated from and still driven by Korea; India and Singapore could be easier entries for English-only service and Vietnam market is still quiet but it will be the hot battle field for some big names from CN,KR and JP when they are ready for expanding. Understanding and learning from your neighbors is so important, and at end of days, each market can benefit from the communications.
Open is to turn the concept into practice
OWA might look like some other blog aggregator site such as Alltop China, but helping the rest of world understand more about China or Asia is just the first and necessary step OWA is trying to make. Blogging about Asia web industry in English can bridge the gap between Asia market and western market, but it is very hard to eventually have influence on the local markets. In other words, OWA is not just a Blog Media, its members also include some great thinkers and entrepreneurs from Asia who can talk to the local markets directly and Practice the idea of open web. OWA is to convert ‘Open Web’ from an online term into offline activities and practice. This is the reason that Open Web Asia ’08 conference is organized and more events are being planned.
Not sure if above is good explanation of the OWA, but clearly, it is a good start and there is long way to go.