Since I live in Japan and most people here read mostly Japanese, I've been trying to write in Japanese and read Japanese blogs. (Although I speak Japan fine, my reading and writing has never been that good.) I just spent the last few hours reading a bunch of articles and entries about myself and my friends that were quite negative. I'm pretty good at taking criticism and I actually believe that reading it is important for self-improvement. Having said that, it's quite tiring. Especially in Japanese.
One thing I've noticed is that people have more "local conversations" behind your back and tend to be a bit more personal and biting in their criticism than in the US. (Although it was sort of personal when Tim May came after me for being on a government crypto committee...) I wonder which is worse, getting really negative people writing comments in your blog, being ripped apart in a mailing list, or having to hunt down negative comments... Anyway, I blogged a rather negative comment I found by an intelligent sounding guy on my Japanese blog and pinged him for a response. Let's see if this turns into a mess. An experiment in the strength of weak ties... ;-p
What I am often criticized about is trying to "take all of the credit" or creating some sort of power structure or insider group. It's really frustrating because that's exactly what I am trying fight against. How do you try to evangelize when the people you are trying to reach react negatively towards people who get attention? It's quite a dilemma. This sort of thing does exist in the US, but I think to a lesser extent. For instance, I find that the Linux community in Japan is much more closed and populated by many people who pride themselves in how much they know, happy that so many people can't use Linux. I think there is much less evangelizing to the masses.
I wonder if this us/them closed mentality is what keeps Japanese from being more politically active. It reminds me again of Toshio Yamagishi's discussion about how Japanese come from a "closed" culture...