So yesterday's discussion with Hiroo Yamagata and Lawrence Lessig went well. It was a lot of fun and I think a constructive discussion. Hiroo was in good form. But he usually is... in person. ;-) He had written something negative about Mr. Ikeda in the afterward of translation of "The Future of Ideas" and had gotten in a dispute with Mr. Ikeda. He had just finished the battle and I guess they have both gotten over it now. Maybe Hiroo was just tired from that. I do generally agree with Hiroo's position, although maybe not the way he said it. I think Mr. Ikeda and others had inferred that Larry was against privacy policies. In a mailing list Mr. Ikeda had said that my efforts to stop the National ID were futile and that we didn't have any privacy anyway. The struggle for privacy is a struggle of data structures and can be achieved without destroying the end-to-end nature of the Net. It think it is simplistic to equate privacy with control of the Net. I just finished reading Hiroo's English translation of his afterward. It's quite good. He should post it on the Net.
Hiroo YamagataFreedom is supposed to be a good thing. People say Communism died and Freedom prospered, so freedom should be good. But when you ask these people to explain the actual benefits of freedom, hardly anyone can give you a meaningful answer. This isn't (necessarily) because they are stupid. It's because freedom itself doesn't do anything. Freedom is just an environment that allows you to do something.
We talked about the issues from the book and the Japan context. When is going to happen to physical layer, code layer and content layer in Japan?
Are the wires, the spectrum and fiber going to be opened up in Japan? It sure looks like we're headed that way. The government seems quite incapable of stopping the ADSL players from eating NTT's lunch and there is serious discussion of opening up the spectrum.
The code layer is a mess. I talked about the National ID and the fact that lack of understanding about the architecture of the Net is causing Japan to launch itself into a direction without much discussion about the policy of code. We talked about how many people talk about end-to-end, but don't really understand it's high level political ramifications. On the other hand, it's better to have people believing in it and writing code with that philosophy to fight off the circuit-heads who try to make the Network smart and make connections look like circuits. I think education and discussion about the political ramifications of architecture and code are essential, but having a lot of people educated with the right philosophy vis a vis network architecture, security, privacy, and free software (even if they don't understand all off the political issues) is better than nothing.
Content... We don't have MS or Hollywood and most patents and copyright extensions hurt Japan economically. It is very frustrating that Japan tries to "harmonize" with the US and doesn't realize that if they are going to give up something that is a net loss for Japan, they should negotiate for something in return. This is at the government level. At a more basic level, I think Japan should try to run an end-run around these guys with some new idea about how to deal with content. I guess the fact that Sony has a content business in the US and that big Japanese technology companies have "figured out" the patent thing puts these guys in a neutral to hostile position on this issue and doesn't help move this forward...
I gave a copy of Dogs and Demons to Hiroo who knows the construction industry well. It will be interesting to see what he thinks of it.
I think the Japanese are very non-active right now and has Hiroo points out in his afterward, Japan didn't have "the Framers" like Thomas Jefferson who "got it" to inspire the legal professionals to pound the table like Larry. I think it's going to take a lot of luck to get it right in Japan... but for better or for worse, the "other side" is not very smart either so we just MIGHT get lucky. Does this sound depressing?