Batista R. Harahap

The Indonesian Digital Landscape From a Developer's Point of View

These past few months I had spent my days developing, I've been out from the digital community for quite a while. Only a few meetups with light discussions were my extracurricular activities, the rest was mostly spent learning on new platforms and new mindsets.

It's been more than a year since my first introduction to the digital community in Indonesia. StartupLokal was the first amongst many. Nowadays, I haven't attended the monthly meetups due to conflicting schedules. A few days ago I met some friends from the community and their first response was "Where the hell have I been?".

I really miss chatting, discussing and basically do anything and everything related with geekdom but I guess everyone has their own ways to express the geekness in ourselves. Some chooses to shine on the limelight, some do more codes than socializing vice versa, some doesn't really care too much about the art and invest their time in building business relationships and some are ignorant of what's going on to the point when somewhere along the way, a kickass product is created.

Well the digital landscape is home to a lot of personalities and different perspectives. It just shows how culturally vibrant Indonesia is. The fine line that connect us all is simply passion for what we do. A line that is fragile to say the least. I would feel that I am doing it all because it's just the very principle thing that defines me as a human being, it is my identity.

The things is, passion is just not enough for now. Indonesia need a bigger, larger and more dramatic kickstart in Its digital landscape. Something like what Remco wrote at SangatPedas.com here. I couldn't agree more with Remco on that matter. We need drama, if you ask me why, it's because our digital landscape identity is blurry at best.

Now I'm a firm believer of anything can happen at any time meaning that whatever I wrote here or whatever I've told someone offline could be proven as nothing more than rants. But that's just it, I say what I mean! Anyways, the digital landscape is maturing here in Indonesia. We see big names coming to Indonesia and also local corporations making the landscape more vast than it was. With that in mind we need to establish some common sense of INDONESIA.

I'm gonna do a cliche written as a case study below:

Soekarno is geek and has always been one since his first introduction to geekdom. He's been "Hello World"-ing since early in the days where floppy disks are integral part of a computer.   After he graduates from High School, he finds himself more and more intrigued by the art of "Hello World". He enrolled in a University where it is one of the best Computer Science learning facility in Indonesia or so what the general consensus says.   He was stressed! Until High School, he was forced to learn all the non sense he doesn't need while at University, the deja vu couldn't get any more clearer, same shit with different smell only more expensive than before.   So Soekarno told himself that it's another learning curve he just have to endure.   When he graduated and the title "Sarjana Komputer" was proudly entitled to his name, he started to look for a job only to find that he was just 1 of a million.   Soekarno finally got a job! He was happy and all smiles when he got accepted at a Multi National Company here in Jakarta. He thought, things will be different here, he's sure that being an MNC, the mindsets are more broad.   Suffice to say, he was disappointed yet again. Soekarno was considered as a "Tukang" or translating it plainly to English as a Handyman. Most colleagues will call him "Orang IT Gue" or again translating to "The IT Guy". He was proficient in programming but his job description was augmented to fix/crimp loose LAN cables and figuring out why the printer is not printing.

The case study above can and will happen to any developer anywhere in the world. But here in Indonesia it is more obvious and considered a norm in everyday professional lives. Well that's the risk of having a career in a service oriented industry. There's no one to blame here, it's just how it is here in Indonesia. Labor is cheap in Indonesia, what's happening is the effect.

This is why having an IDENTITY is as crucial as the art of developing itself. Big names that evolves as a startup initially are mostly founded by developers, developers who knew how valuable they are. Instead of trying to change the world, they changed their perspective towards themselves and the world.

I hope the case study above will never happen in startups here in Indonesia. As founders, you'd be amazed on how far someone will go if you inspire them enough and appreciate their values. For other types of companies, as the startups here in Indonesia is maturing, in the long run, I'm hopeful that the case study above will finally diminish itself.

As I wrote before, YOU ARE YOU'RE OWN STARTUP. Start it up by having a firm identity of who you are.

25 September 2011 by Batista Harahap on digital | digital landscape | geek | geekdom | indonesia | jakarta | landscape | mindset | startup | StartupLokal | stereotypes
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