April 2006 Pangaea Newsletter


-News: The Foundation of Kyoto R&D Center
-News: The relocation of our Tokyo office
-General Report: March, 2006
-Yumi, Chief Executive Director's monthly note
-Toshi, Chief Technical Director's monthly note
-What's up in Pangaea's Playground? (Activity report)
-Pangaea Ring (Message from a Pangaean)

News- The Foundation of Kyoto R&D Center

NPO Pangaea Research and Development headquarter is relocated to Kyoto in April, 2006. Working hand-in-hand with the Language Grid Project, we will keep developing easy-to-use and enjoyable contents for the children in wider area of the world.

Our new office is located in the corner of Intercultural Collaboration Center (co-founded by NICT and Department of Social Informatics, Kyoto University) in Shijo Karasuma. Headed by Toshiyuki Takasaki, the Vice President of NPO Pangaea, Takekazu Hanada for the administrative affairs and Yoshitake Takamizawa for the design division will be staffed full-time.
This office will also function as our new activity branch. For those of you who could not participate in our activities held in Tokyo because of the distance, we hope to see you join us at our activities in Kyoto.

Cocon Karasuma Building 4F, Shijokarasuma-Sagaru, Shimogyo-ku,
Kyoto-city, Kyoto, 600-8411
TEL: +81-75-353-4419
FAX: +81-75-353-4182
Email: info*pangaean.org (Please change "*" to "@".)

* For more information on Language Grid Project

News- The Relocation of our Tokyo Office

Our Tokyo Office has relocated to below address on April 1, 2006. It is one minute walk from Tokyo Metro Nogizaka st.(Chiyoda line) and is a quiet and cozy space. Please stop by our new office when you come close by.

Rock 1st Building #301, 1-20-15, Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo,
TEL: +81-3-5775-7738
FAX: +81-3-5775-7671
Email: info*pangaean.org (Please change "*" to "@".)

General Report: March 2006

March 18 (Sat) The Simultaneous Activity held in Shibuya

24 children from 4 different elementary and junior high schools in Shibuya got together and held the simultaneous activity to wrap up for the school year end. The children saw the 'houses'and heard the 'voices'of the children in Seoul, Vienna and Nairobi, and sent out many picton-mails to them. At the activity, the children received their own'passport'and they took it home with the memory of 'bonds' they had gained by communicating with the other Pangaeans in the world, by exchanging messages and 'Friendsphoto' with them.

March 21 (Tue) Office get-together with the Pangaea Facilitators

Luncheon was held in Kanda inviting the volunteer staffs who articipate in Pangaea in various ways. This turned out to be a good opportunity to catch up with some of the staffs who we had not seen for a while, as well as to get to know better some of the staffs who joined Pangaea recently. We are planning to hold the get-together both in Tokyo and Kyoto regularly, broadening the network of Pangaea. We will notify you when the date is set for the next gathering. Hope to see you all there!

March 25 (Sat) Public Event 'Interactive Picture Book'

Our first public event was held at Suginami Animation Museum in Tokyo. The children were divided into 3 groups and each group created their own picture book by adding their illustration and new characters to the half-done picture book, 'Puff-puff Fluffy' by Mr. 326 (Mitsuru Nakamura), illustrator.

March 31 (Fri) Debut of PangaeaNet ver.0 & Relocation of our Tokyo Office

Divided into two groups, the R&D team making the final checks of the PangaeaNet ver. 0 and the relocation team, we had a very busy yet lively day. The R&D team members and the volunteer staffs all went out to a Korean restaurant for the wrap-up party. Good work everyone throughout this year!

Yumi's Monthly Note

It was the beginning of March when I got back to Japan from Kenya. Without taking much break, I have been making final checks for the PangaeaNet. The day to unveil the PangaeaNet is drawing near and near.

The number of Pangaea Houses on the net has grown exponentially after our activities held all over the world in February and March. At our school-yearend Pangaea activity held in Shibuya in March, we have released the Pangaea houses added by those children in Seoul, Vienna and Nairobi to the children in Shibuya so that they could send their picton-mails to Seoul, Vienna and Nairobi, to the children they liked.

At the beginning of the activity, we showed the children in Shibuya some photos from each city on a slide show. One of the participants was the elementary school boy whose first comment towards the children in Kenya was, 'kind of a little scary..' What he ended up doing was though, sending all his picton messages to one girl in Kenya. 'I am interested in getting to know you. Are you interested in getting to know me?' was one of his messages! After seeing her Pangaea house, hearing her voice, he seems to have become a big fan of her.

I was convinced of the value of PangaeaNet by the sight of the children trying to communicate with the other children jumping over the barrier so easily. All right, PangaeaNet!

Our 3 overseas branches have launched the Pangaea Activities with the help of the trained Pangaea facilitators who had participated in the workshop. Now the environment where the children can be 'bonded',across borders over the language and cultural barrier, is all set.

It is also the time for some of our Pangaea staffs to move on to the new stage. Ume-chan, who had helped our office as an intern has been accepted by Tufts University to study in Boston, USA. The mother (father?) of the PangaeaNet, Ko-taro will start working full time at an IT company starting this May. He has completed the mega task to give birth to the PangaeaNet. Our activity manager, Seiji-san will go back to his life as a freelancer after having completed creation of the general Pangaea activity scheme. His will be succeeded by our new staff Mari-chan. We had our wrap-up party on March 31 to celebrate the new beginning of each one of those staffs and to show our sincere appreciation to our Volunteer of the Year, Nisshi-(Nishiyama-kun) who has give us the most active contribution, by sending him a flower bouquet! We ate, drank, and laughed so much.. It was a happy and delightful day...

The Pangaea R&D team is relocated to Shijo Karasuma in Kyoto in April. The Intercultural Collaboration Center, co-founded by NICT and Department of Social Informatics, Kyoto university, has invited us to jointly proceed their research in the area of usability, so we made our decision. Our Tokyo Office is also relocated to Nogizaka, leaving the Kanda office where our friend Kazuhiko Nishi had rent us. The Pangaea activities in Suginami and Shibuya, Tokyo will be starting again for the new school year.

It has been 2 years since our activities in Shibuya has started. We hope to dearly raise the newly born PangaeaNet and the Pangaea activities, which we have been receiving solid response to, creating 'bonds' with people.

We hope you will give us your continuous support. Oh! I will be based in Tokyo.

Yumiko Mori

Toshi's monthly Note

The comfortable weather and blooming cherry blossoms signal the arrival of spring. In Japan, we have a proverb which represents the comfort of the spring- 'In the spring, one sleeps a sleep that knows no dawn.' Unlike the proverb, things have been quite hectic for me working on the activities, events held in Shibuya and Suginami branches, putting the final touches on PangaeaNet development, relocating of the Pangaea office. I myself will move to Kyoto.

I could make an unforgettable memory in Tokyo before moving to Kyoto in April. It was at the Shibuya activity when the children of each school got together at one place and saw the houses on the PangaeaNet drawn by the children in Seoul, Vienna and Nairobi. Those houses contain many gimmicks to let the children feel 'bonds', for example, the children are able to see the photo of the resident of the 'house', or they may hear the name of the resident of the 'house' by clicking the nameplate written in the native language of the resident. At the activity, the children in Shibuya enjoyed themselves looking at the houses and hearing the voices of the children in other parts of the world. Then, they sent many mails in Picton, pictograms that were originally developed by Pangaea, via Communicator. At the end of the activity, we took a group photo. I will take it with me as a precious treasure and display it on my desk in Kyoto.

The development of PangaeaNet is finally drawing to a close. I am now focusing on developing the remaining details, as well as working on the process called 'debugging'. It is a process to reduce defects in a computer program and it is a laborious work reducing all the small defects. All the staffs are working hard whenever and wherever they could.

The system that Pangaea is developing carries our strong 'wish. It is to let every child feel the personal 'bonds' with each other and to support them create the bright future of the world in spite of the savage news we hear all the time today.

The Kyoto R&D center that I mentioned at the beginning is going to produce easy-to-use and enjoyable contents for the children all over the world working hand-in-hand with a Language Grid Project which aims to improve the usability and accessibility of language services. I believe the establishment of the center is going to be a significant first step for the realization of our 'wish'.

I am now keeping myself busy developing the PangaeaNet in tandem with the preparation for the relocation of our office to Kyoto. The next newsletter will cover more detailed information on how our organization is going to function as well as the technical information on the Language Grid Project.

Toshiyuki Takasaki

What's up in Pangaea's Playground? (Activity Report by Seiji)

In March, we held activities in 2 different ways.

One was to personalize the interactive picture book by Mr. 326 at the Suginami Animation Museum. I was very anxious if things would go well because it was open to public, meaning some of the prospective participants had never heard of NPO Pangaea.

It soon turned out to be unnecessary precaution. Each participant was divided into 3 groups and they made a wonderful picture book of their own.

I was very glad that everyone cherished the precious moment and made an original book of their own even though most of the members met the others for the first time then.

The other one was the synchronous activity held in Shibuya.

The children who were rather boisterous in the beginning became silent when Mrs. Mori began talking about the children at the branches in Korea, Kenya and Australia. After that, they got glued in sending mails to their friends around the world using Picton.

We tried something new at this activity: a 'passport' and a 'Friendsphoto'.

The children tried this new tool, 'passport'for the first time. Their own house is printed on the front of the 'passport' and so it helps identify who they are. Also, it plays the role as a record of the names of the children and their countries that they have sent Picton-mails to.

Another new tool the children tried was a 'Friendsphoto', a print club sticker, taken in groups. They took and exchanged the photos with others and put them on cardboard for the photos. It was a great fuss. We, the staff, also took photos and exchanged them with the children. There were surely plenty of smiles.

I wish these photos would be a treasure for the children and a reminder of joyful memories when they see them at home.

I have a feeling that the key elements of Pangaea are now completed: The activity that lets children feel 'bonds' between the 'present moment' and themselves, the PangaeaNet that supports the children to create 'bonds' and plays the role as a 'recorder', and the 'passport' that lets children to store the 'memories' of 'bonds' they have created and experienced.

The world that these 3 strings weave will be what Pangaea is aiming for. It is my wish that you would keep watching over the world that these 3 strings would create.

Seiji Mukai

Pangaea Ring: Message from a Pangaean

Our guest for this month is Mr. Tomohiro Nishiyama, a technical facilitation volunteer at the Pangaea Activity.

Hello and how do you do. My name is Tomohiro Nishiyama.

I participate in Pangaea as a technical staff at the activities.

I first got to know Pangaea when Toshiyuki Takasaki, the Vice President of Pangaea, as well as my classmate from college invited me to the Pangaea activity. I remember feeling a little shy in participating the activity at first; however, it has been more than a year and a half since I got involved with Pangaea.

What I mainly do at the Pangaea activity as a technical staff, is to set up the PC equipments and to give technical support when using the PC at the activity.

Not only just sitting in front of the PC and working with it, but I also play with the children and enjoy myself creating the pieces of work together with them from time to time.

Looking at the children playing lively at the activity, I sometimes wish that I had Pangaea when I was small and that I could participate in it as a child myself.

The Pangaea activity is where I get to meet with the children and also it gives me the opportunity to meet with other Pangaea staffers from various corners of the society whom I would not have met if I had not been involved with Pangaea.

Pangaea has been growing and it is so much bigger than what it was when I first participated in the activity. I hope to stay a part of it and support Pangaea as much as possible.

Tomohiro Nishiyama