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On the Japanese MK calendars
Some thoughts about the tradition of MK advent calendars in the Japanese DIY keyboard community. As the 0th day post of the first KBD.NEWS Advent Calendar.
Published November 30, 2022
In my recent editorials I teased a new seasonal series starting off tomorrow: the KBD.NEWS Advent Calendar. This is the first time I've been organizing such an event, however, the format is nothing new.
It's a popular custom in Japan, and I've been a big fan of these events since I was introduced to them by my followers on Twitter.
I was curious how and when this tradition of the Japanese mechanical keyboard community started so I did a little research.
I tried to reach out to some of the organizers without much success – well, as you will see, being an organizer is not that big deal, it involves merely the setting up of the calendar on one of the dedicated sites for these kind of scheduled posts.
I haven't received much feedback so most of the info below is the result of some googling, and @hasumikin pointed me to an interview with three devs of Qiita and Adventar, the online services making these calendars possible and easy to set up for even uninitiated folks.
So fellow Japanese freaks, feel free to correct me and extend this post with your thoughts.
What the heck is a MK advent calendar?!
Traditionally, it's a series of longer format posts written by revered members of the community, who write tutorials, introduce their projects in details, or simply sum up their whole year in the hobby. Well, any hobby or field of life. This is not restricted to mechanical keyboards.
You simply enter the title and url of your post, and it's revealed on the day it's scheduled for.
(And if I have to explain what an advent calendar in general is, it's a calendar that is used to count the days until Christmas.)
Actual MK calendars of 2022
You can find this year's related Adventar calendars here and here.
And there's one on Qiita full of empty slots, if you'd like to contribute: here.
These posts will be revealed one by one daily, starting tomorrow! However, since many write-ups present valuable content, some of them becoming reference materials for years, it's worth to check out previous calendars as well.
But before that, lets take a quick look at how this phenomenon took off in Japan.
How this phenomenon took off
According to the research of Jun Owada, who was briefly involved in the development of Adventar, the roots of the modern day custom can be traced back to 2000 and to the 2000 Pearl Advent Calendar. The first Japanese one was in 2008.
However, just like many things in life, the format took off when the basic infrastructure was born which allowed for less tech-savvy people to contribute. In Japan, these services are Qiita and Adventar.
Launched in 2011, the Qiita Advent Calendar is available for a limited time from December 1st to 25th every year. It's a seasonal feature of Qiita – a Japanese company and "study management platform".
Another service called Adventar started around the same time, in 2012. As of my understanding, this one is preferred by the local MK scene.
In contrast to many earlier initiatives, these two were dedicated services.
I'm sure there are many similar web services all over the world, but the awareness may be lower, and I'm not sure we can talk about a calendar culture similar to that in Japan.
Regardless, these services only offer the easy-to-use environment, the real deal is the actual content and how various communities can fill this empty shell with quality posts.
Lets list some calendars of the past. Actually, all the calendars I could find with my limited means of doing searches in Japanese. ;)
In 2021, there were at least five calendars I know of: Yoichiro Tanaka (@yoichiro) organized some (here, here, here), with KEEB_PD having another one, just like hasumikin.
(When all the 24 slots of a calendar are filled up, the organizer can start the next one.)
There were two calendars by youon_ep (here and here).
youon_ep had two calendars in 2019 as well: here & here.
In 2018, youon_ep started three calendars: here, here and here;
In 2017, takedahachio had a calendar, which is the earliest MK calendar I know of: https://adventar.org/calendars/2114
Feel free to point me to some others I missed. And also to check out some of the posts which, given they were written by some of the all-stars of the scene, are often awesome.
(Of course there are many related calendars about typing, hacking, and about gadgets where you can stumble upon keyboards.)
Finally, here is the first KBD.NEWS Advent Calendar:
Stay tuned, and feel free to check back regularly in the next couple of days.
Published on Wed 30th Nov 2022. Featured in KBD #105.
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