Welcome to our series of interviews with the people behind the OpenChain Project. While open source is mostly about software, and governance is mostly about licenses, it is also the story of thousands of individuals collaborating. We hope these interviews with inform and inspire our readers, and encourage more people to participate in open source and OpenChain.

Our eighth interview is with Zhong Ming (Chloe) from Huawei

You have been involved with technology for a while and you now have a leadership position in open source. Can you tell us a little about how you joined your company, why you are involved in technology development, and how you first discovered open source?

我在2004年加入华为,一直作为软件及系统工程师从事终端类产品的固件开发工作。当我加入到智能手机的开发团队时,开始接触到开源软件。

I started as Firmware and System Engineer Developer for terminal products in 2004 when I first joined Huawei. After I moved to the smartphone development team I started gaining exposure to open source software.

Your involvement in open source is very interesting. Software is behind most of our technology and open source is behind most of our software. However, in relative terms there are few coordinators or managers with significant experience of this approach to technology. How did you become a decision-maker in your company’s use of open source?

实际上我不是开源软件选择的决策者。选择什么开源软件依赖于产品需求。我所做的是帮助决策者选择正确的开源软件,确保来源可靠,合法合规,无网络安全风险,并正确履行开源软件义务。

At Huawei, I’m not a “decision-maker” to choose open source software (OSS). It’s always the products to define the selection criteria. What I am responsible is to help decision-makers making precise decisions, verify the original source reliability, identify hidden legal compliance problems and potential network security/safety risks, and fulfill the open source obligation correctly.

OpenChain is all about open source compliance in the supply chain. Our industry standard builds trust and our reference material helps companies build processes to meet the standard. Approaching this discussion for the first time can be a little intimidating. Most people are modest about their understanding of licenses or choosing the “best” approach to solve a business challenge. It may be a strong word to use, but often a certain sense of fear makes people hesitate. How did you learn to approach this issue with a positive and open mind?

开源软件的license的确有一点复杂。经常和有经验的人交流相关知识有助于很好的理解license。尽管我们的行业有所不同,但面临的挑战是相似的。OpenChain就是一个很好的社区。每个人都很友善。在这里大家可以互相交流开源遵从的方法并可以获取相关的标准指导和工具信息。  

Indeed, open source license is a little bit complicated. Frequently communicating with other people with open source experience is a good way to help understand the license well. Even we may from the different product fields, but we are facing similar challenges in open source compliance. OpenChain is a great community about open source compliance. Everyone in this community has been helpful and friendly. People can share their experience about the open source compliance and also get the guidelines and tools from other people in this community.

One thing the OpenChain Project is concerned with is diversity. Our project is developing a long-term industry standard and our strategic perspective is measured in many years or even decades. To access the potential in our community we need to make sure gender or personal choices never make people feel unwelcome or excluded. In some markets like China and Korea around half of the people we work with are female. In other markets, such as Japan and the United States, the percentage of women is far less. Have you faced challenges because of gender and how did you overcome them?

我在大学学习的是通信工程,对这个专业感兴趣的人以男生居多,所以班上只有六个女生。工作后我的同事也是男性居多。但实际上我从未遇到过性别相关的挑战,相反我认为女性工程师具有一定的优势。女性更善于沟通和协作。这在开源领域非常重要。

I majored in Telecommunication Engineering at university. This major is a popular choice among male students. There were only 6 female students including myself in my class. After graduation, most of the colleagues I have worked with were male. However, I have never been discriminated or excluded because of gender in my whole career. I think female engineers have great strength in many areas. Generally speaking, women are good in communication and cooperation. These qualities are very important in the open source field.

The next question is directly related to the last one. Because the OpenChain Project is concerned with diversity we must acknowledge that every part of our project needs to continually improve. Our social structures, our meeting formats, our processes to create or improve material. Everything needs to be considered to find any challenge to making people welcome and empowered. Can you assist us in this process with some suggestions for improvement?

每次参与OpenChain的活动,我都感受到了很友好的气氛,收获很大。OpenChain最近在亚太地区的发展也很好。而中国作为这一地区的中坚力量之一,是很多很多高科技公司的孵化地。但是目前中国参与的OpenChain项目的企业相对较少。我和同事分享我的经历之余,我也希望OpenChain项目可以被中国更多的软件开发人员认可并被推崇,同时希望在OpenChain的这些活动中,能够提供更多和中国相关的材料,希望语言障碍或者文化差异,不会成为中国的优秀人才在这个领域分享他们创新性思维和经验的障碍。

I’ve enjoyed every OpenChain meeting I have attended, particularly the friendly and inspiring atmosphere. Nowadays, OpenChain has been rapidly grown in Asian-Pacific region. China, as one of the leading country in this region, has been a giant incubation hub for high-tech companies. However, only few Chinese companies have been involved in OpenChain project. Having been actively sharing my experiences with my colleagues, I hope OpenChain project can be better recognized by more Chinese software developers and well advertised. Meanwhile, more Chinese relevant materials can be distributed at those events. I’m also hoping the language barriers or cultural differences won’t be an issues to stop excellent Chinese talents who work in this area to sharing their creative ideas and experiences in those events.

All around the developing world age is a topic. Our populations are getting older and the social distance between young and old people seems to be growing. People in their early twenties seem to have very little in common with people in their forties or fifties. Of course this is understandable and of course it has always existed between generations. However, in the context of open source, our population is aging too, with the average age of participants around 30~55. Maybe we have more older people than young people. Do you have any suggestions for how we can make young people interested and welcome in projects like OpenChain?

这个的确有一些困难。因为OpenChain这样的开源合规项目本质上是对既有协议的遵从,对于喜欢创新而非守旧的年轻人来说,这可能不是最有吸引力的项目。但是合规和创新并不一定不可共存。或许我们可以参考白帽子黑客的方式,在OpenChain项目中鼓励年轻人发现开源社区软件的合规遵从性隐患,从而使年轻人获取成就感。

Indeed, this is quite challenging. Given that the nature of OpenChain project is to mainly follow established protocols, it might not be the most attractive project to the younger generation who prefer creativity over compliance. However, being creative and being compliant are not always in conflict. Referencing the White Hat Hacker, those who will be engaged in the OpenChain project are encouraged to explore potential defects, propose their solutions, and gain reputations. 

There is a big difference between tactical activities that solve day-to-day problems and strategic activities that solve bigger challenges. OpenChain is basically focused on strategy. This means our participants think about the future and it means we also have to think about how many tactical actions can serve a strategic mission. People often ask how to do this and they often mention that it is hard to think strategically when many business metrics are based on quarterly activities. Do you have any suggestions based on your own experience?

可以通过各个本地工作组收集大家日常遇到的实际问题,然后分类汇总,再组织相关专题的在线讨论或专题研讨等,从而抽象出针对这类日常实际问题的通用解决方案,对某一类专题感兴趣的人们就可以在这些讨论组中分享他们的经验和策略。

Day-to-day questions and problems should be encouraged to submit to the local workgroups. These questions and problems can be centralized and classified base on the similarity and nature of the problems. Online discussion/seminar/local workshops can be hold to discuss the general solution of each category. People who are interested in certain categories can share their experiences and strategies in these events. 

We have asked many serious questions in this interview. Each of your answers is extremely valuable for our current and our future community. OpenChain is all about sharing knowledge and helping everyone do better. However, we are not only a dry, factual community. We also have many positive social relationships and there is a hope or a goal that OpenChain can be fun too. We are all together collaborating to solve interesting challenges. Do you have any tips for how people can come into a project like OpenChain and find the experience rewarding personally as well as in a business sense?

据我所知,和谐社区是建立在彼此平等、互相尊重、互相包容的基础之上。而OpenChain这个项目是希望来自不同背景的人能够具有开放的,批判性的,创新的思维,并且愿意自由交流。因为来自不同背景的参与者既可以发挥一技之长,也可以互相协作,所以这是一个大家可以互相学习并分享各种想法的很好的机会。

To the best of my understanding, a harmonic community is based on the equity of treatment, mutual respectfulness and extensive inclusivity. People from diverse background engaging in the OpenChain project are expected to be open-minded, thinking critically and creatively, and willing to communicate freely. As participants with diverse backgrounds are encouraged to work both individually and collaboratively, it is a great opportunity for everyone to learn from each other and share their ideas and thoughts. 

Finally, you have been so kind to answer these questions in English. However, the future of open source and OpenChain is not in English, but instead in communication from Mandarin to Hindi to German. The future is making sure people in each nation can work together freely. We already hold the local work group meetings in the local language but is there a way we can reduce language barriers even more?

2019年OpenChain在中国已经举办了两次本地的工作组会议,这是一个很好的开始。我希望后续能有更多中国本地的工程师或者相关领域的人参加此类活动,并希望将来能和其他地区的工作组有所互动。希望能再鼓励一些人开发一些AI的翻译工具或者帮助翻译一些相关材料,使的彼此可以互相启发,从而促进在开源领域有更多的合作和知识传递。

In 2019, two OpenChain local workgroup meetings have been hosted successfully in China. I think this is a great start. I hope more local engineers and people working in related fields can join this type of events and have more interactions with other workgroups in the future. People who are willing to contributing on the development of AI translation tools or translating the relevant materials should be awarded. Once people are inspired by other people’s work, more collaborations and knowledge transfer about open source will take place.

Thank you Chloe for your time and thoughts!