不完全ニッポン-NASA Hackathon が示すヒントとは/Incomplete Japan: What the NASA Hackathon Suggests to Japanese Society (by Shunta)

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10/18/2015 by Shunta Muto

(English follows. 英語は日本語の後にあります。)

今年、Binnovative主催で行われたNASA International Space Apps Challenge。NASA から与えられた様々な課題に対し、27時間以内に解決案を見出すというハッカソンです。ハッカソンというものに参加したことがない僕は、果たして各チームが時間内に仕上げることができるのか、不安でした。イベント中はスタッフとして駆け回り、迎えた最終プレゼンテーション当日。とにかく驚きました。各チームが自分たちの作ったソフトウェアや試作品を披露しあうのですが、ユニークなアイディアが出るわ出るわ。会場の撮影を任されていた僕はビデオカメラ片手に、ただただ感動していました。





This year, Binnovative organized the NASA International Space Apps Challenge on April. In this global mass-collaborative event, participants spent 27 continuous hours solving challenges presented by NASA. Since it was my first time helping to organize the hackathon, I was worried that teams would not be able to finish their projects within the time limit. After bustling about for 27 hours, finally the time  came for final presentations by each team. Well, to put it simply, I was very, very impressed; not only because each team finished the project within the time limit, but also because of the unique and creative ideas produced by each team. Amazed by the original prototypes and software applications that each team presented, I could only stand still with a camcorder in my hand (recording was one of my tasks) and watch each presentation go by.

For many decades, Japan has not been recognized as an innovative country. During the post-war economic period, Japanese companies achieved great success by focusing on quality and perfection, over creativity. Today, businesses in Japan still cling to that model of success instead of embracing the new model of success in the global economy through innovative thinking. In a hopeless search for a “perfect” solution in a constantly transforming and accelerating world, society stands motionless and becomes bewildered by the enormous stream of information. Current Japanese youth generation is often bantered as “Satori Generation,” characterized by an absence of ambition and enthusiasm. Perhaps, hidden behind such generation is a society that rejects any risk or challenge to be taken, in a fear to give away “perfection” that Japan has aimed to build up to this day.

However, from my experience as a college student and working as staff at Binnovative, I am inspired to think; could this hackathon be a hint for the current Japanese society? During the hackathon, none of the teams were able to deliver a perfect solution for the challenge. Teams had technological challenges, as well as problems with the working environment.. The mixed team, composed of participants from Japan and Boston, had internet connection problems and had to overcome the 13-hour time difference between Boston and Tokyo venues. However, despite limited space, time, and resources, the team successfully produced an innovation at the end. Instead of holding the team back, these limits forced the participants to become proactive in taking challenges and risks, which ultimately led to unique and creative ideas. If the participants had insisted on pursuing an exact, “perfect” solution, the 27 hours would have passed without any progress. Hence, regardless of whether the project was 100% completed, participants seemed to have a great sense of accomplishment and confidence toward seemingly small innovations that they produced.

By facilitating the participants to become proactive in taking risks and challenges, the event represented a society that Binnovative aims to foster: society with people who constantly strive to invest in new and creative ideas, in an exchange for a satisfaction with a given solution: society that encourages and acknowledges those fearless people. You may say that such society is highly idealistic. However, wouldn’t you be excited to see such an “incomplete Japan”?