September 2002 Archives

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I had asked Gosuke to ghost write a short article for the Tokyo Shimbun (newspaper) based on a discussion with me. It was about the problems with the National ID. (I DID review it.) Then, I was asked to write an blurb in a book about the National ID so I asked Gosuke to add some more of my thoughts to the aritcle and we gave it to the publisher. Before I knew it, with the mere contribution of a 2 page ghost-written article, I was the co-author of the book, my name on the front of the book as if I had done something important. Luckily, the co-author is Yoshiko Sakurai who I respect deepy. All of the royalties go to the protest movement. So, I guess some people are trying to make sure I don't look too co-opted by the government. ;-)

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I'm blogging this a bit late, but Marko, Ilkka, Shu and Martti from Nokia Ventures Organization visited last week. We talked about the future. Their mission is to do a lot of long term thinking about Nokia. I blabbed about blogs, privacy and all of the other things I love. Howard was the one that got us hooked up. Marko worked on setting up Aula, a project in Finland that I love. I had met Jryi and some others from Aula when they visited Tokyo and have been a fan ever since. Aula is this great space in Finland that is kind of a new space/community/incubator... You should go look at their site to learn more.


Marko Ahtisaari was born in Helsinki, Finland and grew up in Helsinki, Dar es Salaam and New York. He studied economics, philosophy and music at Columbia University in the City of New York where he subsequently lectured in logic, philosophy of economics and the history of thought. He went on to be the leader of the mobile practice at the design consultancy Satama Interactive. Currently Marko works in the Nokia Ventures Organization. In the in-between moments he makes music.

Tallking to Marko reminded me of talking to Jyri which involved getting really excited and a feeling sorry that we ran out of time. Marko's team at Nokia gets to do some really long term thinking and we all agreed blogs on mobile phones made sense.

I tried to get them to increase priority on privacy.

Marko Ahtisaari

I suppose public persons, whether by choice or accident, don’t have the luxury of the distinction between what Joi Ito calls entifying and identifying (following Roger Clarke). Talking to Joi has convinced me to start thinking harder about privacy.

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Today will probably be Kara, Megan and Louie's last night in Tokyo. They invited me out to dinner. We ate at the Monsoon Cafe in Asabu Jyuban that is owned by Global Dining. Jun is on the board of Global Dining and Hasegawa-san, an amazing guy that I truely respect runs Global Dining...

Kawashima-san from the Japan Society (they sponsored Kara's trip), Megan's friend Takemura-san (an architect), Brett from AOL and Neerja Neeraj, the CEO of imaHima joined as well. I had been hearing about Neerja Neeraj from Howard and others and it was great to finally meet him. He was an extremely friendly and straight forward guy. I'm going to see if he can help me get this blog mobile phone enabled...

Brett knows Howard and Justin... What an extremely small world...

Neerja did the IM for i-mode for AOL and it launches the day after tomorrow. I saw a demo. It looks REALLY cool. It's probably the first real IM running on i-mode.

Jane wrote in the last item about self-censorship. Well, this morning I had a good chance to test it out.

I had added a comment to the last entry about a wild night last night. It had some pretty graphic stuff like Takemoto-san giving Jun a big kiss, and was a BIT too much, so I deleted it.

Obviously I was more drunk than I thought. It had the tell-tale bad spelling. Some of the worst emails I've ever sent were sent when I had had too much to drink. The REALLY SCARY thing is that you can really think you are sober when you writing these stupid things. Last night I remember thinking about whether it was appropriate and trying to figure out how drunk I was. Well, whatever I thought, I was wrong. ;-o

So now I've just discovered another interesting thing about blogs. Unless someone copies and saves or crawles and caches your entry, you have a little time to delete it before it becomes final. This is better than email where once you hit send, it's sent.

So, I apologize to anyone who read my last comment and thought it was in bad taste. On the other hand, I apologize to those who didn't read it and are now wondering what it said. ;-)

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This is a real picture from the guest information book in the room. "It's a great pleasure to stay with us." Ya... right.

We arrived last night at Maholova Minds to have a weekend off-site about "the space." Chris and Barak flew in from the US. Michiel, our intern from Hitotsubashi was coordinating the event with Barak. I was in Europe when they were deciding the place, so while it is not my fault, I am also not blaming anyone in particular since I said I this place sounded fine. We are in a hotel sort of place dedicated to off-sites called Maholova Minds in Miura beach near Tokyo. It was a sweaty train ride Friday night through rush hour Tokyo with our bags. It was kind of raining as we left Tokyo on the subway and it was still raining an hour and a half later when we dragged our bags up a hill from the train station to Maholova Minds.

We arrived around 11pm and the place was dark. Barak asked where all of the bowing Japanese service people were. I noticed a sign in front of the plastic flowers at the entrance and it said, "Dear Customers, please don't touch the flowers." The bath was about to close and the vending machines about to be turned off. When I arrived in my room, there was a smell... part mold, part... sweat or something. The carpet was so dirty, spilling stuff on it was doing it a favor. There was a sign on the wall that said, don't touch the poison on the balcony which was there to kill the pigeons. When Mizuka asked me over the phone whether it was the worst place I have ever stayed... I had to think about it, but I couldn't remember anywhere worse. Anyway...

The bed was tilted and small and had down pillows which I am allergic to, but I fell asleep anyway. I was sleeping restlessly because I had left the curtains open and it was starting to get light. Then I had a very strange dream...

I was at some nice conference, but the facilities were a bit dumpy. I was supposed to teach a session on leadership where I had a bunch of GLT's and the leadership course was to teach them how to drive race cars and to race on a circuit. We finally made it on to the circuit where there were a bunch of F-1's and mechanics. There was one mechanic/co-driver with each car and they were preparing the cars. It was so noisy that I couldn't talk so I took the team to another building (scene keeps getting dumpier) and I explain all of the details. The turns, controlling the car, etc. When I get back to the circuit, the drivers and the person in charge of coordinating the event with me is gone. They had gone home for the day without confirming with me. I get REALLY mad at the guy who is still there and tells me this, but then I refrain myelf from killing the messenger. I storm out of the building slamming the door, telling everyone that I quit. My reason is simply that I can't stand the disorganization and their wasting my time and the time of my GLT's who were so looking forward to racing today. As I was storming out, Klaus Schwab came and talked to me. He said he understood why I was upset and apologized. I said it wasn't his fault... then I woke up.

What a weird dream. I was a bit dissappointed at Michiel and others for the disorganization yesterday. Michiel and others had also been discussing with me what they thought were some vision/leadership/management issues at Neoteny. (Partially the reason I was organizing the off-site.) I was also a bit disappointed by the leadership session at the GLT Summit (mostly because I was expecting so much...). I had been invited to the Kuala Lumpur Asian World Economic Forum meeting to be a discussion leader, but when I noticed that I wasn't in the printed program and I realized that I had a TON of work to catch up on in Tokyo, I cancelled my participating in the KL meeting and was feeling a bit guilty since I had told Klaus Schwab I would be there. I had heard a rumor that one of the organizers of the World Economic Forum events was leaving. This place is dumpy and moldy which was probably adding to my suppressed anxiety. Also, as I was dragging our bags up the hill through the rain, I had wished I had driven in my car instead of chosen to take the train. All of these rather random anxieties got rolled up into this strange dream. I wonder if I always have these weird anxiety wrap-up dreams, but just don't remember. Blogging about this feels even stranger sort of hanging my anxieties up in public to dry. On the other hand, Justin writes about EVERYTHING. Even his swollen penis. [This link contains graphic images for mature audiences only. Some readers have expressed concern and have been offended by the content. I will keep the link here, because it does make my point. I don't think Justin is particularly embarassed by the pictures, although his girlfriend Jane seems a bit disturbed by them. I would be too if I was Justin's girlfriend.] But, I probably shouldn't compare myself with or try to be like Justin. He's quite unique. Anyway, I'll see what I think about this after breakfast and coffee.

Disclaimer: I just woke up and I am still only half-awake, but I decided to write this before I forgot this dream, which I tend to do once I am fully awake. On the other hand, I often think that thoughts that I have when I am half-asleep are stupid once I am fully awake. I apologize, if this is a stupid entry. My new attempt at dream blogging...

airstation.jpg Cool! I was officially recognized as a "Japanese digital entrepreneur/venture capitalist" by Esther Dyson! Saw this article today for the first time. (Thanks Frank!) This about the Fortune Brainstorming Conference I blogged about. I brought everyone the MELCO Airstation. It is the smallest 802.11b access point that I know of. Recently, all port-a-demo pitches in Japan of network technologies involve one of these little guys.

Esther Dyson - NYT Syndicate

The Wi-Fi Warrior
by Esther Dyson
distributed by the New York Times Syndicate - August 07, 2002

excerpt

THANKS FOR HELPING

The system worked flawlessly for me, but somehow Farber was having trouble with it. Gage decided to "help" him. As you might expect, it was only after Gage stopped "helping" that Farber got his laptop working, and everyone was happy. (Sorry, John!)

Once online, Farber told our story to Joichi Ito, a Japanese digital entrepreneur/venture capitalist who was joining us in Aspen for the second conference, a far bigger affair. Ito promised to bring some Japanese access points, much smaller ones, costing only about $150 each from a company called Melco.

But the drama wasn't over. Now we had to persuade the organizers of the next event to keep the line alive (at $500 per day). The normal price at home would be no more than about $50 per month.

Somehow we succeeded. Gage brought his AirPort back and the next conference was fully wired -- at least in the hotel basement.

Finally, for a third conference, at the Aspen Institute, I found yet another unused DSL line. This time, I had my own device -- one of Melco's Buffalo AirStations that Ito had brought. It came in a nice box, covered in Japanese documentation that I couldn't read, and weighed only about 6 ounces, just a third of the AirPort's weight.

So I've been helping Justin try to get his Journalist Visa for Japan. I wrote a letter and helped him get one which got taken away the when he left Japan last time. Now he is applying for another one and I've written another letter.

Justin Hall

Update: They asked my sponsor, Joichi Ito, to call (because he is Japanese, he might "understand the nuance" they suggested). He did, from Europe. Nice of him. He reports, "They didn't ask me anything, but told me that the Tokyo office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was reviewing your case and that they would then consult the MOJ. That's all they said. They said this is not necessarily standard procedure, but also not uncommon. Maybe the "nuance" they wanted to convey was that they are wrapped up in a bureaucratic mess..."

He needed to come to Tokyo for the game show so he snuck back in. (I don't actually know if he did anything illegal, but it sounds sneaky.) He posted it his sneaking on his web page. In wonder if immigration reads his page. Hmm... I wonder if they read my blog. ;-)
Justin Hall

I had half a breath held at immigration but my two-day-old passport was free of incriminiating stamps or damamge and so I was permitted to enter Japan without a second glance. Adventure can be created by concern, my worry that I was bound to be kept back. So having that relieved made me nearly ecstatic, restraining a loud yell in the airport.

Immigration is the most aweful thing that I ever have to deal with in my life. It impacts taxes, travel and basic human dignity. You have no rights, they don't tell you anything and basically sucks. Anything not to have to deal with immigration is great. That's what is wonderful about traveling in Europe. I RARELY have to every show my passport and have never had a bad experience.
As we all know, the US is terrible. They throw people into little cells and strip search people regularly. At least Justin is unlikely to have that done to him in Japan. (Even if they do see his picture on his site and keep an eye out for him the next time he comes through Narita...)

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Another one from BoingBoing

I truely love the OED and this new edition sounds cool. "bunny-hugger" in the OED is really something I must ponder tonight. I'm going to go to amazon now to buy this...

AskOxford.com
The essence of the Oxford English Dictionary

2002 is indeed an auspicious year. It is the first year that can celebrate a World Cup, a Royal Jubilee, and a new edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. In terms of frequency, a new Shorter comes between the other two events: it is almost ten years since the previous edition, and this is only the fifth edition of a book that was first published in 1933.

People often point out that 'Shorter' is a strange title for a two volume work. Of course it's only 'Short' when compared to the twenty volumes of the full Oxford English Dictionary. Although one tenth the size of the OED, it manages to include around one third of its content: it aims to include all words used in English since 1700, as well as everything in Shakespeare, the Authorized Version of the Bible, the poetry of Milton, and Spenser's Faerie Queene. As a historical dictionary, it includes obsolete words if they are used by major authors and earlier meanings where they explain the development of a word. More than ten centuries of English are covered here, from the Old English period to the 21st century.

Some 3,500 new entries have been added to the fifth edition. Asylum seeker, economic migrant, bed-blocking, and stakeholder pension reflect the serious side of life; bunny-hugger (a conservationist or animal lover), chick flick (a film appealing to women), gearhead (a car enthusiast), and Grinch (a spoilsport or killjoy) are entries in a more light-hearted vein. Several entries are testaments to the popularity of science fiction, among them Tardis from the TV series Doctor Who, Jedi from Star Wars, and Klingon from Star Trek.

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Now I'm sitting on a panel sponsored by the government about security. The panel is focused on the security of government networks. I am sitting on the far left and the guy in favor of the national ID is sitting on the far left. I just talked about the importance of privacy and the fact that privacy is different from security. I talked about how privacy is not only a right of citizens, but a necessary element for demcracy. I talked about how the OECD guidelines for privacy were written before the Internet and that we needed to look at the future. I talked about Roger Clarke's distinction between entity and identity and the fact that Privacy Enhancing Technologies can make the same networks much more robust from a privacy perspective and that this was a different way of thinking about architecture than just security...

Chris Goggans (aka Erik Bloodaxe) spoke yesterday. I wish I could have heard him. I heard it was a good talk. He is the one that got me invited to this panel. Pretty funny. One of the most famous hackers from American invites me to a government sponsored panel in Japan...

The mic cables look shielded... I wonder if I can stay connected even when I talked on the mic...

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So here I am sitting in the "Research and Development Venture Project Team" worrying about my Foma card intefering with the microphone again... They call it a team since it probably seems more "venture-like" than a "committee" but it is in fact a government committee. I THINK that this committee was mostly initiated through meetings that I had with the Minister of Education, Science and Technology Koji Omi after I gave a talk at the committee on business, academic and government cooperation. It was a very "high level" committee and I thought that it wasn't practical enough. Minister Omi eventually dissolved the former committee and worked with us to set up a new one. This committee was set up to involve more people actually involved in trying to promote high tech ventures. Minister Omi is one of the smartest and most serious about learning of the senior politicians I know. He actually listens to people like me and acts on what he learns from such meetings. I was able to have some influence over the selection of the committee members and invited David Milstein of Fidelity Ventures and Date-san who is working on university incubation. I think we have a good group.

The committee is a 3rd tier committee which is above a "study group" but below an inquiry committee, so the output from this study group should have some teeth. (The consumer inquiry committee I am on is one tier above, but the police committee on malicious programs I am on is one tier below. This is the minimum level to get air conditioning in the government building. ;-p ) I think it was the most influential committee we could make and still include people like Date-san who are actually doing new stuff.

Found this on David Farber's IP

This is crazy, but very typical. Japanese schools have banned home pages of students because of "privacy concerns"... I guess students will be banned from using blogs in order to protect them from themselves... ;-p

Leoville
Use a blog, go to jail?

One of the Leoville Town Square regulars, BEACHTechie, aka Sam, is a high school student in Virginia Beach, VA. He recently got busted by the school administration for blogging, of all things. They seem to think blogging from school is a violation of their acceptable use policies. Perhaps it is. Sammy will be blogging from home from now on. But it seems to me that instead of discouraging blogging they should encourage each student to create one. After all, most writing classes encourage their students to keep journals, and that's exactly what a blog is.

I've posted a message of support in Sam's blog, http://www.sammydman.com. I hope the school reads it.

Ignorance breeds fear. This is why I consider it so important to educate everyone on the value of computers and the Internet. I hope his school's administrators take the time to learn about blogging. I think they'll see that it's no threat.

I'm sure most of you have seen this, but here is an easy way to sign a petition or take more action to help save Anima Lawal.

Amnesty International [UK] Merton Group

Amina Lawal - Another woman facing death by stoning

Back in October 2001, 35-year old Safiya Hussaini was condemned to death, by stoning, for allegedly committing adultery. International outcry led by Amnesty International ( the Merton Amnesty Group campaigned for Safiya - see campaign archive) helped save her life; she was acquitted on technical grounds by an appeal court.

Now 30-year old Amina Lawal (right)faces the same death sentence. Amina Lawal was sentenced to death by stoning by a Regional Court in Katsina State, Nigeria for having a child outside marriage. Her sentence was announced on 23 March 2002, three days before the day of Safiya's acquittal.

Sakiyama-san is a co-founder of the Japan chapter of CPSR and one of the few privacy activists in Japan. He mentioned this issue at the last CPSR meeting, and I've been meaning to look into it. The perp of this whole thing, the Electronic Network Consortium, merged with the Internet Association of Japan (IAJ). I WAS a Councilor of the Internet Association Japan and was on their web page the when I check at the CPSR meeting, but I just checked and noticed that I am no longer on their web page. Hmm... I was going to threaten to quit if they didn't do something about this, but maybe I have already been fired. (or maybe I quit and didn't know it) In that case, threatening to quit is a pretty idle threat. ;-)

In any case, I will call the IAJ and let them know that I think this censorware project is a BAD IDEA and the way that they have been dealing with the criticism is also pretty poor.

Nobuo Sakiyama

Censorware funded by the Japanese Government

Recently, censorware - content filtering software becomes widely used in Japan, particularly on schools, offices, and public libraries. There are already many criticisms against censorware, so I don't repeat the same discussion.

Here in Japan, several commercial censorware products developed in the U.S. are localized and used, but in this article, I focus on a censorware product funded by the Japanese Government. That censorware is developed by an auxiliary organization of the Government and funded by the Government, and its rating database is operated by another industry-based organization which represents Internet Industry in Japan, and the operation business is fully funded by the Government. The feature of the censorware lacks transparency, and the operating organization plainly ignores the accountability. In this August, I released a tool which decrypts the rating labels in the censorware right after the release of the new version of the censorware, because its license did not prohibit reverse-engineering. Now a minor-upgraded version of the censorware was released. That is not compatible with the previous version, and the new license prohibits not only reverse-engineering but also any criticism against the product.

The government-funded censorware project does prohibit criticism by users of the product! So I decided to write a whole story in my poor English.

I found a new form of parody of 419 Fraud letters ("Nigerian Money Laundry Scam") on BoingBoing. Here are excerpts from two. (Click the links to see the entire documents.) The first one is Dick Cheney and the second one is Mrs. GW Bush.


To: Abba_Abacha@aol.ng
From: dick_cheney@whitehouse.gov
Subject: Please help

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am Mr Dick Cheney a special adviser on Petroleum and economic matters to the Head of State of The United States of America. Because of my strategic position in the former Government, and also being a close confidant of the Head of State, I was able to acquire personally, the Sum of $25,000,000,000.00USD (twenty-five billion United States Dollars) presently lodged in some offshore sham bank owned by his brother Neil.



From: laura419@hotmail.com
To: clc@brainslug.org
Subject: REQUEST FOR CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS TRANSACTION

ATTN: President/CEO

I am the widow of the late President George W. Bush of the United States of America. I am writing you this letter in confidence regarding my current circumstances.

I escaped the United States ahead of death squads with my husband and two children Jenna and Frank, moving first to England and then, when my husband's political enemies took power there, to Austria. All of our wealth, obtained legitimately through baseball, oil drilling and insider trading, was seized by the new government of the USA under the despotic regime of (Dr.) Noam Chomsky, except for the contents of a few Swiss bank accounts. These bank accounts, which contain social security lock-box funds and the bulk of the 2001 budget surplus, could not be accessed by me or my children, due to agreements made between the socialist government of the USA and Swiss bank regulators. They seized our ranch in Crawford, Texas and now use it to teach homosexualist propaganda to schoolchildren.

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Oki Matsumoto and I, with the help of Ichikawa-san of Keio University prepared a bunch of slides about what was wrong with Japan. Since I was bouncing around Europe having fun, I made Oki bring the printed slides to Geneva. Thanks Oki! We stuck the slides up on panels to make a booth for the Expo Bazaar during the GLT summit. We made 5-10 minute presentations to GLT's as the passed through the both and got feedback from them. I will post the presentation slides later, but the jist of our presentation was...

Japan was in trouble and needed reform, but because of the cost to the global economy of executing these reforms, it was very difficult. Also, the problems in Japan are rather well hidden and complex we tried to explain these issues. We focused on three points. Democracy, Diversity and Markets. Japan does not have any of these working well.

Diversity was necessary for markets and democracy and diversity included changing the educational system to allow a variety of respectable career paths including risk taking paths. The media needed to be more open and free to allow diversity of opinion.

Democracy required a more fair election system. It required a judiciary to help check the legislature.

Markets were important to reallocate resources. We needed a strong organization like the SEC to enforce rules in the markets. We needed corporate governance to create financial transparency.

We needed a lot of things. Yu Serizawa took notes of the session and I typed them up in random order. We will organized these notes and output them more formally after discussion with the rest of the Blueprint for Japan 2020 team in Tokyo, but for your reference, I will post the notes here as is.

Here is the powerpoint presentation of the slides for our booth.

Do we use the word revolution?

Minimize the risk of the revolution by having a blueprint

Democracy, Diversity and Market Driven

Q - Expectation for changes were high when Koizumi was elected, but did cause reform?

A - He set the mood and the atmosphere but he did not implement is not here to cause revolution.

Q - Is it going to take another 15 years?

A - Act now for the future.

A - Tipping point. It doesn't look like it's changing, but maybe we are closing on the tipping. What are the points of the disequilibrium that is pushing us to the tipping point?

Once we empower people, we may be surprised by the support from the public.

Q - How do we engage the young people who are in the end the stakeholders of the future? They will be the people leading and paying for the pension. Are they aware of the potential problems we are creating for them?

A - Media reform and education

A - Empowering

Q - Are the Japanese happy? We are rich and we work hard, but are we happy?

A - Our major problem is elders is they say, "you are demanding too much. Look at how far we have come since 1945." We would like to compare ourselves to the rest of the world, not our past.

A - We think we are rich, but we aren't. We are funding the $8t balance sheet debt.

Government is borrowing money from younger generation. They are insolvent.

Maybe get TV or newspaper to do poll of people about issues

Cause enforcement through SEC and Judiciary

Q - What happened 10 years ago?

A - Plaza Accord was US policy to force Japan to switch gears from high intensity growth and cause the bubble and the collapse (We've been driving on first gear for too long and Americans decided to wake us up in brutal way) Inability of commercial bankers and the process of using land as primary asset for loans and very little direct investment.

A - Around '85 shifting from land to building value. (For instance earthquake proof buildings)

Q - Can the global economy afford our reform?

2 Tier Society and lack of respect for entrepreneurs and risk adverse environment

All or nothing "shoganai" approach - introducing values that more commonly accepted

Q - Is the Japanese B/S really worse than the US?

In the end the government tapping on the private savings is a voluntary taxation and common in other countries

Q - Do Japanese really care about democracy?

Japan is an obedient society and system build to be controlled first by the Emperor and then the occupation so now no one is driving?

Too much democracy makes low GDP - See Latin America - maybe it worked until the global forces were open to Japan

Government served a purpose at the beginning but system failed to reinvest ourselves in the '70's

We should have known? Maybe US should have done something better than the Plaza According?

Q - What is your top priority? Is it fixing the capital markets? Is it increasing the inflow of capital? You can't change everything, but changing the capital markets is feasible, but so start there.

Comment from us - Japan isn't hooked in with the out side world.

The Japanese are not integrating with the external world from the perspective of free trade and media. Maybe Japanese language foreign media. Try to increase the engagement of Japan.

Fundamental problem that the structure does not allow change. Can we bypass by empowering individuals? (See Nagano-ken) Use ID to do polls?

Japan is a fake democracy with socialist culture. A true democracy would allow diversity of opinions, not the collusion between government and media. Government is not making policy but just allocating resources.

Yu - Collusion between all sort of other groups.

Q - What if there are no longer any resources to be allocated? What does the government do then?

Making a new post-industrial Japan. We need to dump manufacturing and shift to services, IT and Bio. How do we fix low productivity sectors?

Education needs to change to help allocation human resources to post-industrial Japan.

We need the "foam" like the backward high jump. What enables this change?

Q - Japanese recognize entrepreneurship in foreigners…

A - Japanese are partial to foreigners and keep the engagement partial

Need to open up to the world

Q - Need to be more confident in the world

A - How do you produce more confident people

A - Need to shift away from brand name and cause self-esteem - education and societal values - tend to rely on big names instead of something new - exclusive and not inclusive society

Wake up on reality of immigration - need to wake an integrate them

Are we happy or are we unhappy - figures and reports. 50% of people are unhappy with their jobs. Why can't we express the unhappiness

Double income had to be applied to agriculture so we allow subsidies which are anomalies. Japanese story is all about anomalies.

Can the world afford real change in Japan.

It is so complicated and so intricate. Where is the tipping point?

Japan Inc. doesn't work except for industries that aren't regulated.

Some things are changing. More entrepreneurs…

It's not true that people are not interested in Japan. For instance, pop culture…

No longer an economic argument

Stunned by the ignorance by outsiders on Japan

System locked into equilibrium. Can't get out of it... Diversity is push it.

Pressure points, where?

Is it a leadership issue?

Can we make the pain of not-changing bigger than the pain of change?

What are the gains of changing, not-changing. Acknowledgement of the present problems. Reckoning.

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Just finished an intense weekend in Geneva at the Global Leaders for Tomorrow Summit 2002. This was one of the best conferences I've ever attended. The Global Leaders of Tomorrow is a group of 100 or so people under the age of 37 that are chosen by the World Economic Forum every year. Then for 3 years or so, these leaders attend an annual meeting in September in Geneva and a meeting at Davos during the WEF Annual Meeting. By the time you "graduate" you end up with quite an interesting network of friends. The group is very diverse. There are probably around 40% women and 40% non-business people. Geographically, members are from everywhere. Afghanistan, Africa, Arab countries, Europe, Asia, Australia, etc. We have some rather important government officials as well as successful business people. It really shows how young people are able to rise much more quickly in other countries than in Japan. This year, the only two members from Japan were me and Oki Matsumoto. I think there are more Turkish women who are members than Japanese... This is the first year I attended the summit. The meeting at the Davos annual meeting was less focused because the WEF Annual meeting was going on at the same time. Since this summit is just for the GLT's it was much friendlier and more focused.

Also, the meeting took place in the headquarters of the World Economic Forum. The location was beautiful. It is situated on the lake across from the WTO and the UN. The building was a very nice design. According to the staff, the cost of the office is still less than the average office cost in Geneva.

This year, Oki and I were in charge of setting up a booth called "Blueprint for Tomorrow's Japan Task Force" and I was the Rapporteur for the brainstorming session called "Rebuilding Modern Politics: Can the System Fix Itself?". I originally thought that the rapporteur was the facilitator. I thought that rapping was like... you know. rapping... Anyway, I found out later that the Rapporteur was supposed to listen, take notes and write a report! I quit college because I hated taking notes and writing reports...

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As the rapporteur of this session, I was supposed to take notes on a brainstorming session facilitated by Ted Halstead, President and CEO of the New American Foundation, a think tank, and Philippa K. Malmgren, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, National Economic Council, USA. There were about 11 other participants. The description of the topic was:

Public interest continues to wane in almost every industrialized democratic country. What needs to change in terms of political priorities, accountability, ideology, organization and leadership in most democracies? Will the next generation of leaders be able to reverse the trend from within existing political frameworks?

The discussion went all over the place with a variety of plans like creating an international organization to consult to new democracies and a variety of ways to wake up the voters and chase away the bad politicians. With the help of everyone, I tried to boil the discussion down into some concrete issues and things that we might be able to do to address these issues.

Here is a draft version of my report that I submitted to the World Economic Forum. I think and edited version of this will end up in the briefing package for the participants of the forum next year.

Different problems in different countries

There are "mature democracies", "emerging democracies", and "waiting democracies" in the world. Each country has a variety of problems and there is no single "plan" to "fix" every democracy. Too much focus on the GDP can undermine a country's democracy. Too much focus on the democratic process can undermine the economic development of a democracy.

There are issues common to most democracies and some practical initiatives to address these issues.

Issues faced by most democracies regardless of the stage of the democracy

Control of agenda by extremists

In most democracies, for a variety of reasons, extremists have control of political agendas.

In the United States, the two party system and the ability of extremists in the parties, the religious right in the Republican Party and the minorities in the Democratic Party are able to exercise power through the ability to mobilize people while the moderates are not active and don't vote.

The referendum process in California that was initiated in part to try to bypass the extremist in the legislature has ended up being used primarily by the extremists.

In them Middle East, the extremists have taken charge of the agenda on both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides.

Lack of choice of politicians

The two party system and the electoral system in the United States does not give people a choice of alternative politicians.

The inability to displace incumbent politicians and the unwillingness of politicians to allow succession in other countries limit the choice of politicians.

Most politicians are professional politicians and it is difficult for new politicians to enter the process.

Lack of participation and apathy by young adults and moderates

Young adults and moderates do not vote in most countries.

In the US, polls show that most young people are independent, neither Democrat or Republican.

Lack of ideology in politics

Most politicians lack ideology and are focused on special interests and the interest of powerful extremists. There are few politicians willing to risk their political careers for strong policy or ideological views.

Initiatives to address issues

Better legislature

We must improve the quality and the behavior of politicians.

Encourage more politicians willing to risk their careers for ideologies and policies

There are several ways to encourage politicians to risk their careers for ideologies and policies and to encourage people willing to take these risks to become politicians.

We must encourage more non-professional politicians to become politicians or join public services.

There are several specific policies that would help.

Pay politicians more money

Currently, the cost of campaigning and the low financial incentives for politicians and public servants hinder people without the sufficient financial resources from become involved in politics. In addition, the funding requirements cause politicians to rely on funding from special interest groups.

Change election system

The election systems in many countries make it difficult for independent or new politicians to be elected. The "winner takes all" electoral college in the US forces a choice between the two parties and independents cause votes to be distributed between similar candidates diminishing their ability to win.

In other countries such as Japan, the numbers of seats in the proportional system is not balanced and cause certain regions to be unfairly represented.

"Instant run-off"

The "Instant run-off" system which has been enacted in California allow voters to vote for several candidate in order of priority so that votes from candidates which can not win can be diverted to the second choice candidates improving their chances of winning creating a more fair outcome.

Mandatory voting

Several countries have implemented successful mandatory voting. Mandatory voting will cause the moderate and the young to vote diminishing the ability of the extremists to control the election process.

Bypassing legislature

In many cases, it is impossible for politicians to resist the extremist forces and it is necessary to bypass the legislature and empower the people to organize and affect policy directly.

Technologies and methods to empower people

New technologies provide access to information and ability for the people to be empowered to learn and organize themselves into forces to back policies.

In the Middle East, The Peaceworks Network has reached people directly through multiple media forms and polled them on political issues providing a public view of the opinions of the public. These views of the public provide feedback to the public and also legitimize the moderate position of the public. This can provide politicians hampered by hardliners a position of strength when taking the moderate stance.

Media is essential component for empowering individuals

The media is an essential element in inclusion of the public in the political process and in empowering the public to take action. Liberating the media in a nation is essential, but the practical methods for such liberation is unique in each country.

Howard just opened him weblog about Smartmobs. Cool!

Smartmobs
A Website and Weblog about Topics and Issues discussed in the book Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution by Howard Rheingold

Smart mobs emerge when communication and computing technologies amplify human talents for cooperation. The impacts of smart mob technology already appear to be both beneficial and destructive.

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found this in Marc Canter's Blog


Memories of General Magic
A long time ago I offered to develop for a hot startup called General Magic. I was going to do the work for free. I wanted to explore a new platform. They turned me down, saying they already had enough developers. Yesterday they announced they are shutting down the company. Now no one knows if one developer's software would have made the difference, but it's been known for a long time that exclusive platforms die and inclusive ones have a chance. It's why the Mac worked and Lisa didn't. If you're lucky enough to get a gazillion dollars invested behind your ideas, never say no to a developer. They might have the next VisiCalc, Lotus 1-2-3, PageMaker or Mosaic.


I myself (I was still kind of famous then) was sent to talk to Steve Perlman - who has gone on to prove that he's quite a case unto himself - about Telescript 2.0 and the future of multimedia and General Magic. Basically Steve would have nothing to do with me. He wouldn't even answer my phone calls. Oh well.

I remember when Megan Smith who was working at General Magic took me to see Marc Porat. I was really excited about General Magic and tried to find some way to work with them since they had some licensees in Japan, and I had actually given a high level presentation to NTT about General Magic before their deal with them... Marc seemed very uninterested in seeing me and told me he didn't need any help.

There were so many people who were excited about General Magic and there were really a lot of cool people working there. It's really too bad they weren't more open technically and socially.

first sighted on BoingBoing posted by Cory

Reuters on MSNBC

Happy Meals, Pentiums coming to video game world

Detailed terms of EA’s multimillion-dollar deal were not available but it will allow Intel’s familiar jingle, its product logo, and computers using its Pentium 4 processor to appear in the game.

Players in the game also will be able to buy a McDonald’s kiosk and sell the company’s branded food products, earning ”simoleans,” the game’s currency. Eating that food will also improve their standing within the game.


I remember when I was on the Sega "dream team" to think about how to set up the network for the Dreamcast, (I guess that was a bad dream...) I was pushing very hard to get product placement inside of the games. We tested things like sending objects such as a Christmas tree into Sonic the Hedgehog. Everyone always comes up with the idea of product placement in games in the desire to get advertising revenues, but this Sims Online deal seems to have been executed elegantly and it sounds just great. Hats off to the EA team for this. The integration into the game sounds cool too.

Product placement in movies has been going on for a long time and movies like Wayne's World did a great job of making fun of it...

martinboat_thumb.jpg joimizleer_thumb.jpg
Martin is a fellow World Economic Forum Global Leaders For Tomorrow member, but I didn't talk to talk to him face to face first. We hit up an email conversation after he made some interesting comments on my speech for the Trilarteral Commission. Martin is a serial entprepreneur who is more excited about starting new companies than running them after they are set up. He is on his 4th successful company. I guess you could call PSINet Japan, Digital Garage, Infoseek Japan and now Neoteny 3 successes and working on the next one for me too. We talked about how similar we were. When I realized that he a billionaire at one time and now a multi-hundred millionaire, I decided we weren't THAT similar. ;-p He also spends more time on public service (he is the only foreign board member of the Clinton Foundation among other things...) and spends a lot more time flying and sailing around having fun than me, but has managed to be much more successful than me. Go figure. We discussed hard work. He said that he knows many people who work hard and make a lot of money, but he doesn't work THAT hard, but has managed to make a lot of money. If I could choose, I would choose his style.

I had asked him for a good place to visit in Europe between my speech at Ars Electronica in Linz and the GLT summit in Geneva. He said that I should stay at his place in Menorca. Little did I realize what he was offering me.

Well, you've read my report on Menorca. I didn't want to disclose too much about Martin until I asked his permission to blog about him. He bought the Menorcan farm a year ago and hired Manolo who worked on the farm before the last owner let it fall apart. Manolo is working very hard to restore the orchards, houses, etc. The main house overlooking the sea should all be done in April and should be totally amazing. We stayed in the first house to be restored.

Martin decided to pop down to Menorca from Geneva to have lunch with us on one of his 4 planes. It was a Lear Jet... He took us out on his boat which is the dingy for the BIG boat he has. We cruised around the bay in Mahon. We jumped into the sea and swam around a bit. I didn't have a swim suit so I jumped in in my underwear. It was amazing weather and felt SOO good.

We showered and had a great lunch. We decided to join Martin in his jet and fly to Madrid with him today and leave with him to the GLT summit in Geneva on Friday. Sounded much better than the Lufthansa HUB-a-thon. Walking through the Menorcan airport with a nylon bag with wet clothes in it wearing shorts and getting onto a private plane was a bit weird, but we landed at a military base near Madrid with his bodyguard/driver, Felix, waiting for us who zipped us away to his house and later to a hotel. So, here I am. A few hours ago, I was combating catapillars and now I am sitting in the Inter-Continental. (room service just arrived.) And there is an E-E-E-thernet port in front of me but I have NO ETHERNET CABLE. HOW STUPID of me! I dialed Earthlink, but I couldn't log in. Luckily, GPRS is now working and it is a bit faster than on Menorca, but I want my 56K. I chatted with Earthlink support on the Net, which was VERY cool until they couldn't figure out my problem. Then it wasn't so cool anymore...

So anyway... there is definitely the prestige of having boats and planes and farms, but the geek factor of owning 4 planes and piloting yourself, the freedom cruising around in your own boats and planes, the geek factor of restoring a 200+ year old farm and the lifestyle of doing public service while being a serial entrepreneur and still being free was a true inspiration for me...

John Markoff quoted me in his New York Times article (thanks John!) on the lawsuit between Shuji Nakamura and the company he was working for when he did the research on and filed the patents for the blue LED. This is a landmark suit for Japan and should have some interesting reprecussions in the relationship between Japanese corporations and its researchers.

The New York Times
A Rebel in Japan Is Hailed as an Innovator in U.S. By JOHN MARKOFF

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 17 — Ordered to stop the scientific research he thought extremely promising, Shuji Nakamura hid the work from his superiors at a Japanese chemical company. He secretly obtained patents in the company's name.

Dr. Nakamura's mission paid off: his inventions revolutionized the world of consumer electronics. One helped make possible an array of products, from flat-panel computer screens to video billboards to long-lasting, efficient flashlights. Another will make it possible to store 5 to 10 movies on a single DVD-like disk.

Dr. Nakamura has been celebrated in the United States as an innovative pioneer. But in Japan he is more controversial. After it was clear his inventions would make a lot of money, his bosses took them to market without additional compensation for him. So Dr. Nakamura sued the company, claiming that the patents were a result of his efforts and he should receive royalties.


Joi's quote in the NYT

"This will teach researchers and companies alike to negotiate and make explicit rights and compensation in advance," said Joichi Ito, president and chief executive of Neoteny Company, a Japanese investment firm. "This is great because it will help force technical people to think about business and companies to think about incentives."

Generally researchers in Japan think that business (some call it the "money game") is dirty and I think the thought of suing a company or fighting for compensation is a bit beneath some researchers... Many researchers feel that the lack of compensation is a tradeoff for getting to do what they want without having to worry about business. This is changing. Companies are pushing researchers to think about returns and many there is general support to spin ventures out of universities and corporate research labs. The rights and the compensation are very unclear at this point and this case should push the debate forward...

laundry_mid.jpg
The weather is very interesting here. It is SO hot in the sun today, but SO cool in the shade. There is a nice breeze, it is dry and the sky is blue.

There is also a lot of TIME today. (On the old English language MacOS, when you rolled over the QuickTime icon in the control panels folder, the balloon help would say something like, "Time: a dimension which moves constantly from the past to the future." or something like that.) When you have a lot of time and a lot of sun, it is amazing how interesting and fun it is to do laundry and dry it in the sun.

I wonder if it is the combination of the heat and the time, but the caterpillars move REALLY fast here. Caterpillars are the only thing in the world I am really afraid of. The white cat (the one sitting in the shade in the picture) is playing with a big fat caterpillar and has lots of green caterpillar puss on its face and is now walking towards me. Ack!
Menorcan physics and Menorcan psychology. I am confronted with a combination of some of the most pleasant sensations as well as confronted with some of my most horrid childhood (caterpillars) and adulthood (connectivity deprivation) fears.
(The cat is licking the puss off of its paws and face.)

Earlier, I was talking on my "handy phone" (They call cell phones "handy phones" in Europe. They used to call them that in Japan, but recently they refer to them by their Japanese name keitai denwa.) on the roof of one of the buildings staring over the rolling hills under the blazing sun talking to Jun who is in Tokyo. We were talking about an investment opportunity. We were doing business. I wonder if there is a way to spend more time sitting on roofs under the sun in the breeze instead of sitting in muggy offices with neckties on.

I am wondering about a lot of things sitting here in Menorca. I wonder if it is like a dream and I will forget it all or it will be irrelevant when I return to Japan. I wonder if blogging it will help me remember like the people with Alzheimer's who blog.

Mizuka just swatted a pair of mating flies and they are now sitting on the floor nearly-dead, locked in a deadly love position. The ants quickly surround the half-dead lovers and begin to drag them away...

I'm going to write about setting up GPRS in Menorca because:

1) The line is so slow I can't read other people's blogs or my mail easily for new things.

2) I have nothing else to write about really...

3) This MAY come in handy for someone who is struggling like me.

First, a disclaimer. I still don't understand GPRS and my conclusions below are based on trial and error and deduction. I may be complete wrong about some things.

First of all, GPRS roaming basically doesn't work in most places. Also, most support people don't know what you are talking about.

Second... Most phones act like they know what they are talking about or that they work properly, but they don't.

GPRS is different from using a GSM phone as a modem. It is a separate data network. Each carrier has their own "APN" which I guess stands for "Access Point Number" or something. The APN format is something like "airtelnet.es" for the Vodafone network in Spain. Now the APN in the APN field on the phone will be set for its WAP connection. IE airtelwap.es. This is the wrong APN. So just copying the fields from the phone settings to the computer DOESN'T WORK.

In addition to the APN, you will probably need an ID/PASSWORD. T-MOBILE told me that I didn't need one, but it didn't work without one so far. I had to call Vodafone to get one. I got one, but it didn't work. I called John who gave me his. He said that he had tested mutiple people using it at the same time and it was OK and that the SIM card holder was billed anyway so it wasn't any skin off his back. So... WHY THE HELL TO THEY HAVE THESE ID/PASSWORDS? Anyway, they will probably start blocking multiple log ins just like we did in the ISP business. So... you should probably get your own ID/PASSWORD if you need one and can figure out how to get once, it is totally NON-OBVIOUS. I had to call 3 support people before someone even told me they could give me one and that I needed one.

Also, default setting for my Nokia was "*99#" to access the GPRS network. Well in Spain, it is "*99***1#" Don't get that wrong. Since "*99#" is the default, I have to change the dialup settings for GPRS EVERY TIME I start up the computer. But that's OK. Since at least IT WORKS.

I am using a Nokia D211 which is a nifty little PCMCIA card. It does 802.11b, GSM SMS, GSM Modem and GPRS. It was a pain to set up and is a bit funky because the drivers run deeper than your user login so you get asked for the PIN before you log in and sometimes have trouble shutting it down, but it is generally OK.

I also have a Sony-Ericsson T68i which should do bluetooth with my Viao, but I couldn't get the settings on the unit set up correctly either in Austria or Spain. The bluetooth interface program on the C1MRX Viao called "blue space" also sucks. It looks nice, but I have NO IDEA what is going on with all the little sounds and icons. If you want to see an example of a completely "I thought cool design meant cool user experience" interface, buy a Viao and try to get bluetooth working.

I have a Siemens MT50 from Austria and a Seimens S45 from Spain. They both work fine in WAP GPRS mode with their original SIM cards in them. In fact, the Austrian one even roams properly in Spain. It is just impossible for me to figure out how to get the settings OUT OF these little things and into my computer. Also, I have yet to find any way to connect them to a computer other than IR or serial. Unfortunately, my Viao has neither.

I have a Swisscom SIM that Zai got me that I couldn't figure out how to get support for. I have a T-Mobile Austrian SIM which Thomas got me. It seems to have great roaming rates and the phone is content to roam automatically, but the support people had no idea how to get the thing working in another device.

I have a Vodafone Spain SIM Eva/Martin got me and came inside of the Siemens S45. Other than the fact that the only English speaking support person goes on Siesta on Saturdays and for some reason didn't get my id/password registered properly, she was the most knowledgable support person I talked to. It was the only SIM card that ended up working, but maybe that's because I'm in Spain...

You must also beware of phones that are locked in to a specific network. You need to buy one that is open if you want to move sim chips around different phones. My Austrian Siemens phone was open, the Spanish Vodafone Siemens seems closed and the Sony-Ericsson is supposed to be open...

So, blow by blow, here is what happens.

0) You turn on computer
1) Nokia D211 asks for PIN (for your SIM card)
2) Nokia D211 asks for Profile. (The Austrian T-Mobile support person tried to convince us that the name of the settings profile was relevant. Probably total bullshit.) Profile includes "GPRS ONLY" and settings including mainly the APN or Access Point Number. "airtelnet.es" in my case. (Extracted from Vodafone support)
3) Log into Windows XP
4) Nokia D211 says "Searching for Network" then "Ready for GPRS Activation"
5) Go to (again, this is at least true in Spain) network connections and you will find that Nokia has installed a "GPRS" dialup settings entry. Go in there and change the "*99#" to a "*99***1#" Also, if this is your first time, put in an id/password that you get from Vodafone support or from a friend.
6) Turn off anything that conflicts with your serial port for your Nokia Card. (My blue space program hogs serial ports and conflicted, so "see you later blue space...")
7) Open the Nokia D211 Manager program and click on Activate.
8) The familiar dialup connection dialog box opens. Click dial. It should dial, log in, and you should be online.
9) The manager program is very cool. It graphs GPRS strength and Data Rate.

I have found that Even with a GRPS Strength at 100% I can only get to a max of 30% of the data rate with an average data rate of less than 10kbits/s. So maybe it is the IP Network and not the GPRS network that is to blame...

Also, all of the settings that I talked about configuring in the computer have to be set in the AT commands on a phone that does the talking for you like the other Nokia phones. So, for instance, to set up a Nokia phone for talking on the Spanish Vodafone network, you would tell it something like:
t+cgdcont=1,"IP","airtelnet.es","",00
Also, you will have to set DNS manually, which is 212.73.32.3 and 212.73.32.67

Something like that... ;-p

I've uploaded some photos of Menorca. I put them on photos.yahoo.com because their multi-photo upload feature is GREAT when you have a flakey, slow line.

So I'm standing in on the bed sticking my head out of the North facing window with my Vaio sitting on the window. This sort of works. I wonder what I am doing though. I feel like an alchoholic trying desperately to get drunk off of a wimpy drink through a straw or something. This narrowband experience must be some kind of punishment for having such a heavy index page on my blog. Or maybe it is to prove to me how addicted I am to connectivity... Anyway...

Menorca is beautiful and amazing. It is a little island in the Mediterranean and is part of Spain. Martin has a huge farm with several houses on it. He is letting us stay in one of the houses that was recently restored. The room I am in was originally built in 1770. It is all stone with whitewashed walls. The house is amazingly cool while it is sunny and warm outside. On the farm are sheep, cats, mules and horses. Manolo, who doesn't speak English is showing us everything. It is quite an experience getting the history of Menorca by scribbling stuff in the dirt with a stick and waving our arms. He is working on the restoration. He knows everything about the land and brings us everything from cactus fruit to fresh shrimp. I cooked spaghetti and sautéed the shrimp last night. Mmmm... The restaurants on in the harbors have great seafood as well.

Everything is slow and I'm getting a chance to sleep 10 hours a day. I just discovered that with everything moving so slowly and with a good night's sleep, the book on the history of Japanese politics that I can never concentrate on is suddenly easy to read and exciting. I've also found myself reading faster than I usually do. Or maybe it just feels faster.

Anyway, this is the first long vacation away from civilization... since... ever.

Actually, this is pretty civilized. I guess it just feels pretty "natural" since I've never stayed on a farm before.

logoars.GIFI was interviewed yesterday by NHK to talk about the Net category winners and the jury process this year. I talked about how in the early days, we approached the category from a media theory perspective. Derrick deKerkhove and Mitsuhiro Takemura were both on the first jury and they are both very media theory oriented. The jury, over the last seven years has swung around a bit, but we had always tried to look beyond the interface to find the "webness" or the community beyond. We always used to look at flashFlash animation sites as superficial and thin.

At this year's jury meeting, I said something about flashFlash being superficial, Joshua got really mad and argued that flash could do everything Java could do but better. He said that flash talked xml and could be used to do just about everything. He said that it got a bad rap because people thought it was a design tool developed by Macromedia. He said that he hated "old school" guys like me that kept the Net from moving on and getting to the next level. I have to admit, I underestimated flash, but Joshua's religious ferver was also pretty interesting. Joshua won last year with his site, Praystation, which is an amazing flashFlash site that makes flashFlash examples available and has lots and lots of great examples of how to make flashFlash do cool things.

Later, at the ORF studios, I saw Joshua "the first guy to ever call Joi Ito 'old school'" Davis. He was nice and acted almost like he felt sorry about being mean to me. Maybe it's because he's coming to Tokyo next month. ;-p Anyway, I like Joshua and he really opened my eyes to flash so now I'm anxious to learn flash. I told him that I was having difficulty figuring out how to get started with flash and that I wanted to have someone help me build a flash interface to blogs. He said he would help. Cool.

So, to get back to the NHK interview. I told them that we are now seeing artists drawn into the expressive flexibility of flashFlash, finding that they can dig into content using xml and other tools and that there is a meeting of the political, "old school" Internet and design people causing greats sites like They Rule and projects like Carnivore to be born.

blogproject_thumb.jpg

Ars Electronica 2002 Program

Plug-In VII: Global Conflicts - Local Networks
Rüdiger Wischenbart / A, Joichi Ito / J, Alex Galloway / USA, Derrick de Kerckhove / CDN, Lori Wallach / USA
Brucknerhaus, 12.9.02, 10:30 - 13:30

The Internet utopias have evaporated into the reality of our society. Nevertheless, there is evidence of the political power that actively network-linked communities can bring to bear ... not perfect, but a good start.

Suhair Mohamed Khair Al-Zahabi/Qatar. Journalist, Al-Jazeera.
Lori Wallach/USA. Director of Public Citizens’s Global Trade Watch.
Joichi Ito/J.
Alex Galloway/USA. Member of Rhizome.org.
Rüdiger Wischenbart/A/D. Journalist and consultant.


Interesting panel. I was going to talk mostly about privacy, identity and community, but I ended up spending most of my time talking about my blog. I forgot to say a few things I was meaning to say, but we only had 30 minutes for the initial presentation so I had to fit a lot in...

I talked about Lessig and Code and how code is law and architecture is politics. I talked about Roger Clarke's notions on how identity and entity are different and that an architecture that allows us to keep our identities separate from our entities would be a good thing. I discussed how privacy underpins democracy and that we need to work hard to create architectures that protect our privacy. Then I showed everyone my blog and showed how the architecture of blogs was inside out. You went to get information from individual blogs that were connected. You didn't need to segregate, filter or blog since it you were pulling, not being pushed to (except for my update spam) and since you weren't stuck in a tiny common space, people weren't forced to confront each other...

It was interesting meeting someone from the Al-Jazeera. The questions and dialog inevitably drifted towards Osama Bin Laden and Islam. I got to quote the King of Jordan and sound a bit educated about the Middle East. ;-p

squarebanner_thumb.jpgI've put some photos from Linz on Yahoo Photos. In wonder if this is the best photo site. Branding works. The first place I went to look for a photo album online was photos.yahoo.com and there it was. Right now I am using an OSX server and we can't seem to get perl module installed to let me do thumbnails in Movable Type. Also, doing titles and captions was a pain so I wanted to try an album site. On the other hand the photo titles and the layout in Yahoo Photos seems to suck as well. Maybe I haven't figure it out properly... Anyway, here are the photos:

Linz Fall 2002

Dan Gillmor
Music Industry's Death Wish

Dan Bricklin has looked closely at the numbers in the music industry, and suggests that the record companies are killing themselves by stamping out music downloads. He makes a compelling case in this essay.

His bottom line: "Given the slight dip in CD sales despite so many reasons for there to be a much larger drop, it seems that the effect of downloading, burning, and sharing is one of the few bright lights helping the music industry with their most loyal customers. Perhaps the real reason for some of the drop in sales was the shutdown of Napster and other crackdowns by the music industry."

I don't expect the music companies to pay attention to inconvenient facts. That would be out of character.


Interesting perspective. I am feeling very sick of the music industry. They can keep Britney Spears and their lawyers. I actually have really cut back on buying CD's generally. When I see a CD, I see don't an artist selling music, I see an enslaved artist boxed up in a the shrinkwrap of a industry trying to protect itself by choking the customers and the artists that it is meant to be serving.

No, now I get my musical kicks from open air concerts, ring tones in on my cell phone and cool flash sites like Joe Sparks and his Radiskull and Devil Doll.

Do I need the record industry to enjoy music? Hell no.

One interesting thing to note is that the karaoke industry used midi files to play back music on synthesizers inside of karaoke machines. This lead to a huge industry of midi files. They decided to do a flat fee payment system to simply the billing for the little bars that played the music. Then, when ring tones became popular for cell phones, they used the same flat fee model to license the music. THAT is why ring tones are a huge money making business in Japan. Simple billing, cheap billing and no record companies.

(Apologies to my record company exec friends and to my friends who sell CD's... but you guys suck these days.)

So I'm in my hotel room using an analog dialup connection to an Austrian Earthlink POP that is flakey. I've got a Sony-Ericsson phone that isn't doing gprs properly and I've got a Siemens phone that whose gprs is working, but I don't have the right cable. My VPN client isn't working so I can't read my email... I have connectivity blues... I've taken a lot of pictures and have a lot of blog material, but with the tiny screen on my Sony C1MRX and this tiny pipe... blogging is a totally different experience. Anyway, these are all excuses for why I haven't written much the last few days. Anyway, it's been hectic. So IF I can get gprs working in Menorca, I should have a whole week of relaxing island peace where I can blog to my heart's content and catch up a bit. If I don't, I'll be on the beach trying to forget about my blog... Eve is supposed to be arranging a gprs phone that works in Menorca, so I'm crossing my fingers.

Sorry for this boring blog entry. It is my obligatory, "I'm still alive" entry.

In case you missed this in my Toshio Yamagishi entry...

There is an interesting discussion going on in a Yahoo Group called Decentraliation. Rich Persaud made an interesting comment. I responded. People asked me to post Toshio Yamagishi's paper so I got permission and here it is.

Toshio Yamagishi

Dear Joi,
I have sent the paper out for review--it will take some time for the
paper to get published. Yes, I'm happy that it is widely distributed.
You may do whatever you want to do with the paper.
Best regards,
Toshio

Improving the Lemons Market with a Reputation System: An Experimental Study of Internet Auctioning by Toshio Yamagishi

I'm sorry if this is redundant, but I wanted to sort out this thread and make sure people saw Toshio Yamagishi's paper which is great.

Mizuka and I will be leaving in 8 hours for the airport to go to Europe. We'll be going first to Linz, Austria where I will be giving a talk at the Prix Ars Electronica on Identity and Privacy in a Globalized Community. We'll be staying at the Wolfinger on the main square and I know already they don't have modular phone jacks in the room. So unless I wake up early tomorrow morning, my next blog will probably be from the Ars Electronica Center in Linz.

After Linz, we'll be going to one of Martin's houses on his farm on the Island of Menorca. Here I will challenge a GPRS connection. I'll be on Menorca for a week.

After that, we'll go to Geneva where I will be attending the World Economic Forum Global Leaders for Tomorrow Summit. This year I am co-hosting the Blueprint for Japan 2020 booth with Oki and will be a rapporteur for the "Rebuilding Modern Politics: Can the System Fix Itself?" topic during the brainstorming session.

I won't be back in Tokyo until the 24th. So, if I'm lucky with my connectivity, I'll be blogging some European action... See you in Linz.

--
morning 9/11/2002

I'm leaving in 10 minutes...

Oh, that's right. It's September 11 and I'm flying... I forgot. I wonder if security will be tight? I wonder if I should pack my Cipro that I bought online at http://www.pharmagroup.com/. I remember it was interesting watching the prices go up-up-up day by day after the Antrax incident.

If I die, this will be the last thing I ever write/wrote... That's depressing.

Found this on BoingBoing.
In an interview on Slashdot, Larry Wall, the legendary inventor of Perl is interviewed and asked about God.

Larry Wall

You can't please God the way Enoch did without some faith, because those who come to God must (minimally) believe that:

A) God exists, and
B) God is good to people who really look for him.

That's it. The "good news" is so simple that a child can understand it, and so deep that a philosopher can't.

Now, it appears that you're willing to admit the possibility of bit A being a 1, so you're almost halfway there. Or maybe you're a quarter way there on average, if it's a qubit that's still flopping around like Shoedinger's Cat. You're the observer there, not me--unless of course you're dead. :-)

A lot of folks get hung up at point B for various reasons, some logical and some moral, but mostly because of Shroedinger again. People are almost afraid to observe the B qubit because they don't want the wave function to collapse either to a 0 or a 1, since both choices are deemed unpalatable. A lot of people who claim to be agnostics don't take the position so much because they don't know, but because they don't want to know, sometimes desperately so.

Because if it turns out to be a 0, then we really are the slaves of our selfish genes, and there's no basis for morality other than various forms of tribalism.

And because if it turns out to be a 1, then you have swallow a whole bunch of flim-flam that goes with it. Or do you?


See that's the problem with the "one God" and the "me and God" religions. They are way too complicated.

Buddhists... If Mind -> 0 Then You -> 1
Much easier.
Think of your spirit as the wave and your body as the particle. Then Spirit = Body*C^2 (I guess that would mean that fat people have more spirit... hmm...)

It all gets a bit more complicated when you start dancing around doing energy conversion like Tai Chi. See the Dancing Wu Li Masters which talks about Tai Chi and quantum physics.

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Hirata turned me on to the EnvironMission site.

EnvironMission

EnviroMission owns the exclusive licence to German designed Solar Tower technology in Australia. Our first project will focus on developing this revolutionary technology into the world’s first large-scale solar thermal power station capable of generating enough electricity to supply 200,000 typical Australian homes.

The technology involves a huge solar heater with a tower that takes the hot air and pulls it up through the tower and spins turbines. This SO sci-fi sexy and SO Australia... The tower will be the, "largest engineered structure ever proposed for construction."

There is a flash animation of how the technology works. The company is already trading on the Australian stock exchange. They have built a prototype.

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What a suprise... After meeting with Oki and a Keio student to work on the "Blueprint for Japan 2020," I had to go home alone. I walked toward Akasaka station rather hungry and saw the sushi shop on the corner next to Tully's and across the street from Starbucks that seemed a bit too mass production for me, but it was Sunday night so I couldn't be choosey and I went in and sat at the counter.

A familiar face! It was Ito-san from Koh-sushi. Koh-sushi was a fairly well known sushi shop in Shibuya that closed years ago. There was a talkative Philippino there named Eddie that I remember well. Anyway, Ito-san remembered Mizuka and me. We talked about Eddie who had gone back to the Philippines and was running a Japanese restaurant and how he had to come back to Tokyo to work to make some money to make ends meet. Eddie had worked at Umaisushikan, but the mass production was too much for him.

Umaisushikan is a large place and Ito-san (pictured above) is the manager. Actually, the sushi is great. I've been walking past this place for 3 years and had only been inside once briefly. Well, now that I know Ito-san is there, I will go more often. It is a low cost and high quality place. It is large enough so I don't mind introducing it on this blog. ;-)

P.S. I don't know if this is the right reading for the name...

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Mizuka, Kara, Megan, Louie and I went to the Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade today. It was quite a turnout with probably over a thousand people or so. There were drag queens, gay rugby guys and a pretty wide variety of others. It was a well organized march through Shibuya and around Yoyogi Park. It was a bit strange because they didn't stop the traffic and split the parade up into 13 paradelets each led by a car/float of some sort. Not as much punch as a full on marching parade, but pretty interesting and fun none the less. It was the first Gay and Lesbian Parade I had ever been to.

Megan and Kara said that it didn't compare to the parades in San Francisco, but it was better than they expected. Gay pride and gay rights are apparently at very different levels in different countries. In some countries, being gay is a capital crime and in other countries gay couples can get married. Japan is fairly open to gays I think, but there are no provisions that I know of support gay rights specifically. It is probably a lot like feminism in Japan. Mimi's theory is that since there is less violence against women, the feminist movement in Japan doesn't get as much backing as the movement in the US. Similarly, there are probably much fewer hate crimes against gay people and they are accepted as part of the culture.

But what do I know. I'm not an expert. It is interesting though. Megan says that probably 5%-10% of the world is gay.

We also saw DJ Patrick and I got to introduce him to Megan, which I had been hoping to do for a long time...

We walked around Harajuku afterwards and had Chinese tea at the new place at Ometesando crossing. It is affiliated with Yu-Cha up the hill. Yu-Cha is really nice generally, but they add that stuck up Japanese attitude into the tea ceremony and make what should be a more casual experience a very stuffy one. When Megan was trying to take a picture of Mizuka playing with Louie, they made a big stink that they didn't let people take pictures in the store...

Chinese tea should be more fun...

stewart.jpgStewart Alsop (who I met recently at the Fortune Brainstorm 2002) writes in his column in Fortune Magazine about GoodContacts.

When Barak was visiting a few weeks ago, he was raving about it as well. GoodContacts is basically a contact management package that talks to Outlook or Act! and spams them with email and asks people to update their info. The good thing about GoodContacts is that they don't keep your contact list, they just enable you to spam from your computer. That's why I thought about using it until I realized I would have to switch to Outlook. (and why I am still drooling) It is viral, useful and cool. It triggered a "flashbulb moment" for Stewart.

Stewart Alsop

And that leads me to the flashbulb. Imagine that we all have one phone number and one e-mail address that knows where we are. Imagine that the network keeps track of our location and our personal data, and automatically updates anyone who might be interested. Imagine that we don't have to think about whether the right phone number or address is stored in the network or our PC or our PDA or our phone. Imagine that all these little details of personal life are just handled. Yeah, yeah, I'm dreaming. But if that stuff happens, it will start with dumb little programs like GoodContacts. That's enlightening.

boldface added by Joi for emphasis

I have great respect for Stewart and all this SOUNDS good, but the lightbulb that flashed for me was. OUTLOOK? PERSONAL DATA? Ack! I would like something with similar functionality. It would be great, but I still can't imagine using a Microsoft product for contact management considering all of the security and privacy problems they have. I also would HATE for all of this information to ever end up not being local. Be careful when you ask "the network" to do stuff for you. I envision something similar, but a much different architecture.

Think IM buddy lists. Everyone should be able to have identities that are separate from their "entities". (see my paper about for more thoughts about this) You should be able to have multiple identities for the various roles. Each identity would be attached to different attributes such as memberships, age, corporate roles, or writing pseudonyms. Locally, you would be able to attach current information such as shipping address, home address, current phone, voicemailbox, etc. to each of the identities, being able to manage which identity was "active" or capable of routing to you at any given time. At work you would want your personal phone calls screened, your business contacts on. At home, you could reverse them.

Managing our identities and personal information in this age of privacy destruction will be essential. I truely believe that privacy underpins democracy and that "viral" solutions that give people like Microsoft or their software, access to our contact info should be watched carefully. Peer to peer, multi-vendor, multi-id, hash/digital signature based connectivity is much more interesting for me.

But maybe Stewart was going to get to the architecture next. I think it's a great idea, but the architecture discussion has to happen NOW.

schwarz4.jpgI had breakfast on Monday with a entertainment lawyer who used to book a lot of these expensive Japanese ads using foreign talent. She said it has decreased significantly due to lower budgets and lower popularity of foreign talent in Japan. So these clips on Japander.com are probably going to end up as priceless gems, a genre that died with the Japanese bubble.


Japander.com hosts video clips of American stars who have advertised in Japan, from Brat Pitt to Stevie Wonder, with Luc Besson and Harrison Ford thrown in between. Some of the clips are amusing to watch for American audiences, presumedly because most of these folks wouldn't advertise consumer products in the United States. While the content might be funny, the site has a strong derisive tone: "Japander: a western star who uses his or her fame to make large sums of money in a short time by advertising products in Japan that they would probably never use." Somehow it's hypocritical for these stars to shill for Japanese consumer products, as though American stars who advertise in the United States always use what they promote? Either way, many of these clips show funny sides of familiar stars. Quicktime required.
One of my favorite commercials ever is Arnold Schwarzenegger in Arinamin V's commercial. He is playing mah-jong with important guests. He does a huge faux paux by winning the round when he should have let the guests win. His boss scolds him. Then he sneaks off to a corner, drinks the special drink while the customer is telling his boss the deal is off. Suddenly, as the drink takes effect, Arnold is transformed into a glittering entertainer and the guest is showered with mah-jong score counting stick and everyone is shouting and cheering. A MUST SEE. Here it is. (Or click the image...)

I had lunch with Megan, Kara and their 3 month old son Louie yesterday. Kara was invited to Japan by the Japan Society on the U.S.-Japan Foundation Media Fellows Program. Steven Levy, one of my favorite journalists was also recently here on this program. This is a great program since I get the benefit of all of these great journalists hanging around Tokyo in rotation, especially since even the New York Times thinks people are losing interesting in Japan. (As Tokyo Loses Luster, Foreign Media Move On Thanks for the link Justin.) (Can't find the article right now...)

I think I may have met Kara before, but we never really had a chance to talk. Kara reports on Silicon Valley for The Wall Street Journal. I've known Megan since she worked at Apple a LONG TIME AGO. I THINK we met through Jeffrey Shapard or someone else when we were trying to get a demo together for SOMETHING in Japan. (As I have written before, my memory sucks...) Anyway, Megan is one of the most intelligent, happy and nice people I know... in fact that most people know. But you all know that. She knows EVERYONE.

Megan was designated as a Technology Pioneer in 2002 by the World Economic Forum so I see her at the World Economic Forum events regularly. Megan helped us when we were trying to get Magic Box Productions going. She's also been great in introducing me to interesting folks. After Apple, she went to General Magic where I think she was the chief engineer or something. After that, she went and started PlanetOut which has become the largest gay/lesbian site in the world. Megan is now Vice-Chairman of PlanetOut.

So we hung out and talked and it was great fun. I always talk too fast and too much when I get excited. We all kept interrupting each other, but for some reason it worked out OK and I think we got a lot of talking done. Kara, Megan and I talked a lot about where we thought things were going. We talked about my blog, Japanese companies, OTHER PEOPLE ;-), and technology. Kara was great because she knew so much about everything and pushed me to be more concrete about what I was saying. She also didn't hesitate to roll her eyes when I said something that didn't make sense. I had been wondering who could deserve to be Megan Smith's partner, but Kara definitely passes. Louie was really cute and didn't cry once. He gave me his meishi and it had his email address on it. He laughed at me a lot. I couldn't tell whether he liked me or thought I looked stupid.

I'm really glad they're in town and I'm sorry I'm going to miss most of their trip since I'm leaving for Europe with Mizuka on September 11. (And no, I didn't get a discount airfare.) Mizuka and I will be joining them tomorrow to go see the Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade 2002. (entry in PlanetOut | their web page) Hopefully, I'll have some pictures later from there.

The picture is from the shoene (Cool Suit) Page.hadasemisleev.jpgYesterday was probably one of the hottest most uncomfortable days I've ever had from a fashion perspective. We were all wearing suits and ties from 9am to 8pm sitting in the same room of a Japanese government building with the themostat set at the official 28 degrees (which is 82 degrees fahrenheit) for government buildings. This energy saving policy is a good thing from a tax paper perspective, but pretty tough for someone like me who isn't used to it. This policy prompted a whole line of energy saving suits. Former Prime Minister Hata is show here on the "cool suit" page with his short sleeve shoene suit which I hear he still wears.

Also, the New York Times reports: The Nation: Pressed for Success; When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Put On Suits

At the meeting yesterday, I complained about the heat as well as the fact that we all were wearing neckties. One of the older men said, "I can't focus without my necktie on." Another guy said, "it doesn't feel like you're working when you don't have a tie on."

Well. TOUGH. I'm wearing shorts and a short sleeve shirt today. I'm not tucking my shirt in either. So for those of you people who are offended by my fashion today, too bad!

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Mizuka was eating dinner at Yanai-san's house after her MagLev ride so I went there and borrowed their shower to wash away the Kasumigaseki sweat. Then Mizuka and Makiko-san told me about their ride. They got to go 451 km/hr. Aparently the German MagLev only goes 400km/hr. The Japanese MagLev has gone a max 554 km/hr with someone in it. Anyway, it sounds pretty cool to me. They said that there was a boarding plank like boarding an airplane and the door slid open up. They also said it rattled more than they though it would. On the other hand, it was FAST and FUN. I wish I were there...

The Japan Times Online
Japanese workers least loyal to firms, survey discovers

LONDON (Kyodo) Japanese corporate workers harbor the lowest level of loyalty toward their employers among the world's 10 major economies, according to a British survey released Tuesday.

Only 50 percent of Japanese respondents to the survey, which features the views of 362,950 employees, said they would wish to stay with their current firm or would recommend it as a good place to work.

Researchers attributed the findings to a "Westernization" of Japanese attitudes toward the workplace and the nation's stagnant economy.

Japan's figures rated poorly when compared with the results from Brazil (79 percent), Spain (76 percent), Germany (74 percent), Canada (73 percent), Italy (70 percent), the United States (67 percent), France (67 percent), Britain (59 percent) and China (57 percent).

I heard this sort of thing from Hirata who read it in a report from Mexico. I think it is true. It is counter-intuitive, but I think it really shows that the social fabric of Japan has broken down and that much of what we believe about Japan is wrong.

I think that if we can take this shift and convert it to the "wind of change" that Jane referred to, we might be able to change Japan more easily that most people think...

Hirata and I will be spending the day at Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry (METI) judging the business plans of dozens of high tech venture business plans from university/industry programs. The TLO/venture program is part of a huge METI project to try to get ventures to grow from universities. The problem, after reading most of the plans, is that just giving money to these guys will not a venture business make... I am worried that this is going to be a huge waste of tax money... I think it is OK to fund basic research with government money, but this faux VC style investing from the government is pretty strange. We are juding life science, energy, IT, chemical and other types of technology. I have no idea how to judge any thing other than the IT and energy plans. They've asked me to judge the "business" side of the plan and they have other people focused on the technology. It's pretty strange/impossible to judge the business without knowing the technology. For instance, "XX will make the XX process XX more efficient and therefore will revolutionize the XX market." If this is true, SURE, it's sounds like a great business. If it isn't true, no chance. With IT I have a very good idea of the market size and the feasibility of technologies, but in life sciences... no way.

Anyway, I don't want to bash this program too much yet until we have the first meeting today, but I'm definitely going to voice my opinion before we start into the detail. We will be allocating millions of dollars (billions or hundred millions of yen) today so I feel quite responsible. Luckily I don't know anyone on the list of people who applied for grants/funding so at least I don't feel conflicted...

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I suck at squash, but I still like to play. I played squash with Yuichi and Shane this morning from 6:30am. It took me only 13 minutes where it usually sometimes takes up to an hour. Just driving to the gym is worth getting up early for. I really suck at squash, but I beat Shane 2 out of 3 today. I only sometimes beat Shane, but this is the first time I won more matches than him. I've never beat Yuichi who is really good.

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Mainichi Interactive
TEPCO lied over cracks at nuke plants Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) repeatedly lied when the government questioned the firm about cracks at its nuclear power plants, sources said Tuesday.
Mainichi Interactive
Heads to roll over reactor cracks Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) president and chairman are set to resign over the covered up of cracks at three nuclear power plants, sources said Saturday.
I heard a rumor which I will investigate that 10100 people knew and covered it up. The person who blew the whistle was an American. There was a new law in place that was create to encourage whistle blowing in the nuclear industry by protecting whistle blowers from being fired or treated unfairly. Even so, the Japanese didn't talk.

I argue often that with the National ID and even more profiling, whistle blowing will become even more risky for the individual and will probably have such a strong chilling effect that it won't be an effective method. I think we should include a provision to allow pseudonymous or anonymous whistle blowing. Also, the information about whistle blowers should be more explicitly protected. Japanese are ALWAYS leaking this kind of information to the press and industry from the government...

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This is the first meeting of the overview committee of the National ID system. The press were ALL here and I got a lot of TV cameras in my face. I guess I'm going to end up on the evening news. I wonder what the comments will be.

Ishii Takemocho-sensei, a good friend and an very honest person was chosen as the chair. I'm going to go and see him soon. Kazuhisa Ogawa, the military analyst who I also respect highly for his outspoken and thoughtful style is also on the committee.

I pushed very hard to have this committee as open as possible and they agreed and announced that all of the minutes and the agendas will be posted on the web page and that they will have a press briefing after every meeting. I guess this is OK. Having the press actually in the meetings would be difficult to manage. Also, I got approval to blog freely. ;-) So here I am...

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Mainichi Interactive
Tanaka reelected Nagano gov.

NAGANO -- Former Nagano Gov. Yasuo Tanaka, who lost his position in July after the prefectural assembly adopted a no-confidence motion against him, was reelected in Sunday's gubernatorial race, according to early vote counting.

Today I sent Tanaka-san a Doraemon Telegram congratulating him on winning the election. The telegram comes stuck in the head of a stuffed Doraemon doll under the whirly thing on his head.
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Anyway, after writing the rather pitiful introverted item about conspiracies, I realized that I was a wimp. Tanaka-san became governor, fought against the whole prefectural assembly about stopping wasteful public works funding of dams. He ran for governor again after the no-confidence vote and got reelected again to continue to fight. It was the first time in the history of Japan, I heard, that a no-confidence vote occurred for policy reasons and not a scandal. I wonder what the prefectural assembly is going to do now that it is so obvious the people are against them and their pork barrel politics ways. So, I should remember Mahatma Gandhi and remember that determination and stubbornness go a long way. Although Tanaka-san is not a Gandhi, he is one of the most stubborn people I know and completely impossible to co-opt. I don't think ANYONE questions that point, although people question other things about him. I should probably stop worrying about what people think and worry about sticking to my principles and being a little more stubborn.

Tanaka-san and I were plotting some great stuff to do with IT policy in Nagano so hopefully this stuff with the dams will settle down and we can get to work turning Nagano into IT-stupidity-free prefecture. It will be a pleasure working with someone with the balls to force change.

As a child, I really liked stories. I read all of Robert Anton Wilson's books and HOPED that the stories were true. Stories like the fact that the number 23 was magic and that Timothy Leary had been contacted by aliens -- The Starseed Transmissions. When I met Timothy Leary on my 24th birthday, he told me that the stuff about the number 23 along with the story about the aliens was not true. It was a joke. The more I talked to him, the more I realized that most of the stuff that Robert Anton Wilson had written was a joke with a sprinkle of reality to make it interesting.

For awhile, I still believed that sneaky powerful people must control this world. I tried to meet many of them to find out if they did. I found out that the chairman of NHK (Japan's public broadcasting network) had a lot of power over politicians, but that they had enough power over him to oust him when they decided they didn't like him. I met people who didn't seem powerful who were and people who were supposed to be powerful who weren't. So, although I discovered a web of power brokers and power that flowed between them, I still haven't found anything really "sneaky" or mysterious. The more I meet people and slowly become part of my own little network of power, I realize that power and money follow fundamentally simple rules. One of my good friends and my roommate in college, Peter Chiang told me a saying that his father told him. "Money is lonely. It likes to go where other money is."

So although life and the distribution of power and wealth are not "fair," I think that most conspiracy theories are rather interesting, but wrong. The members of the Trilateral Commission do wield a lot of power, but they are not consciously "conspiring" in a "sneaky" way. Most of them are fairly good people trying to fulfill their fiduciary responsibility which ends up causing harm to other people in some cases. Having said that, there are MANY networks of power that are not obvious and insiders do have an unfair advantage. Once you are aware of these networks though, they are rather logical and predictable to a certain extent. So as I slowly cross the line from radical outsider to a virus fighting an immune response within, I find myself becoming somewhat self-conscious of inevitably being labeled an "insider" or becoming the target of a conspiracy theory and losing what little public support I have.

I guess blogging and disclosure will help. I will also have to learn how to ignore some hatred from people I don't know. I already seem to have people who hate me, even though I have tried not to do things where I piss people off unnecessarily. The worst is being hated by people you don't know. One fellow who we were trying to work with said he didn't like me and couldn't work with me. When our guys asked him to meet me before making up his mind, he said he didn't want to meet me... I was rather hurt for a moment, but then I decided, "his loss." ;-) Anyway, I should probably stop thinking about what people are thinking of me.

It will be interesting to see what happens when the conspiracy theorists meet their targets in the network of blogs. I think blogs humanizes the people blogging. It also exposes interesting networks of relationships that can help create credibility. Obviously, if the target of your conspiracy theory turns out to be a respected friend of someone you respect, your thoughts may be swayed. I am also interested in whether this growing web of trust can create some sort of alternative back channel network to alleviate some of the hatred and conflict in the world... or whether blogs will fuel more noise. It really helps leverage the "strength of weak ties" if used properly though...

I first saw this on Marc Canter's page, but he got it from Doc Searls Weblog who got it from Wesley Felter on Hack the Planet 2.0 who saw it on cnet.

Doc Searls

Jabber hits critical PR mass, interop finally hits IM
News.com: Out with AOL, in with Jabber. It had to happen eventually. Now it has. The non-interoperative closed doors on IM systems from AOL, MSN and Yahoo are now fated to open. The sooner those companies realize this is a Good Thing that their customers have always wanted, they better off they'll be. Apple shoud take the lead in opening up IM, as it has with so many other standards (USB, SCSI, FireWire, wi-fi and now Rendezvous).
The company's new iChat already makes some use of the Jabber IM protocol. I suspect the only reason iChat is closed (except to AIM) is due to some contractual agreement with AOL. But that also puts Apple in a unique position to tell AOL the gig is up.

Marc Canter
DUUUUUUUUDE! Apple's new iChat IS AIM. It's licensed technology. That's the only way Apple can link into the AIM universe. That's what AOL announced is their inter-op strategy -let others license THEIR engine. So - no - I don't think you'll see little Stevie taking any leadership steps here.........

And BTW - it should be noted that the ONLY way to get Renezvous to work is to open it up. It wouldn't do much - if all it did was configure Apple products - right? Apple is using Open Source as a puppet to achieve their own ends. Whenever Apple does something good is more by strategical manipulation that anything else.

So I heard from a VERY reliable source that ICQ does not really mind people plugging into their network. For instance there is a client called trilian that lets you: "Communicate with Flexibility and Style. Trillian is everything you need for instant messaging. Connect to ICQ®, AOL Instant Messenger(SM), MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger and IRC in a single, sleek and slim interface."

So I agree that Jabber seems cool and maybe the next big thing, but what do I do with all of my old buddy lists? Also, if you're going to make me switch again, I'd like IP telephony seamlessly built into IM so that I don't have to have a phone number any more. It's stupid that the government in Japan allocates phone number when all you really need is a buddy list and an IM account.

I have to figure out a cooler way of formating quotes from various people... How's this?

So I'm starting to understand a bit about "blog rolling". I first saw the term in the sidebar of Dan Gillmor's blog. It's the list of blogs that you read often and link to from your page. I found a cool tool called Blogrolling. It does various things all at once. You can create a sidebar in IE (Mac and PC) that lists the blogs in your blog roll. You can create php, javascript or rss code in your web page so that your blog roll shows up on your web page. Because it uses style sheets, it integrates seamlessly into the page. (See the blog roll on this page. It is created dynamically from blogrolling.com. Links that say "fresh" before them have been update in the last 24hrs.) Pretty cool idea. I've also been experimenting with several RSS readers, but haven't found one that I like. I think this idea of having a list of news feeds/blogs that you can read seamlessly and then being able to share these links is obviously the right idea. I guess the question is, is it easier to do it in the browser, in an opencola sort of p2p environment or in some dedicated RSS reader... I like this blog rolling idea because it shares your blog roll to people outside of your "network", people who don't have special software (like opencola) and to people who haven't been "turned on" to RSS and blogging yet...

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