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Q&A with Eiji Kitamura

Developer Advocate at Google

I'm Eiji Kitamura, a Developer Advocate at Google working on Chrome/Web and identity from Tokyo, Japan. My major contributions to web development are for example: Flexbox Please!, a research on browser storage, Web Components articles and videos. I work for Google over 5 years now.

How did you get started as developer advocate? What is a turning point in your professional career?

I once was a musician back in younger days, until I started working on web development. A project called "Nooper" I was involved hinted me the future where people communicate each other online using universal identity across multiple domains. That was my very first motivation to devote into the web.

Shortly after that, there arose Web 2.0 and my ambition got more realistic. At the time I was working in one of the largest portal site in Japan and thought: what if we build common user profiles that work across services and people can share information each other? I couldn't stop thinking about that.

And Facebook came up with the concept of social platform. That struck me. I decided to start working on OpenSocial which was a counter project against Facebook that was also a social platform enabler and aligned to the lines of what I was thinking. And that resulted in the very first OpenSocial product in Japan.

During the whole process, I learnt tons of things around OpenSocial, identity, security and open technologies. So I started to share those information by blogging, organizing events and hackathons, speaking at conferences etc. That lead me to join Google in 2010 to continue those effort as a Developer Advocate after I became a Google API Expert of OpenSocial (It's now called Google Developers Experts which was initiated in Japan back then and I was an early member).

What is your ideal work environment? Do you work in your office all day long or prefer to mix a few activities?

I like working in office. While my company allows me a flexible work style and actually spends sometimes working from home, I realised working in office is least destracting and most productive.

Also, communicating over any kind of media such as email, chat, or even video conference could never be better than the ones in person. One reason being working at a universal company like Google, I must interact with people from different timezones, different continents and different caltural backgrounds and in a second language. That lead me to strongly believe that 10 minutes chat in person gives me far more understanding of what a person saids than exchanging 1,000 emails. That's why I like working in office.

What software and hardware do you use for your work?

I like using Mac. My current main machine is MacPro, and MacBookPro is a secondary machine while I'm working from home. But I recently purchased a Chromebook Flip personally and love it so much. It's so handy and flexible.

I use Atom as my primary text editor after a few years of moving back and forth with SublimeText 3. My admiring non-web apps are Alfred and 1Password. I can't live without them.

Where does your inspiration come from? (Do you believe in 'inspiration' at all)?

Yes, I do believe inspiration and I think it's super important. Inspiration comes from aspiration of any kind. Thanks to my working environment, my employer allows me to spend 20% of my time anything I want, which gives me a chance to relax and think about new things and a time to examine the idea. Working as planned is always important, but you can never exceed that without having extra time to add something more to it. My 20% allows me to spawn something I've never think of before.

Who are the people you admire most and why?

Yoichiro Tanaka who is the architect of LINE (Japan's dominant messaging service) developer platform and was my OpenSocial buddy. He recently wrote a few apps that help Chromebook mount remote file servers such as Dropbox, One Drive, Windows FS, etc all by himself. He is technically sophisticated yet good personality and a good husband/father.