August 2003 Archives

Karl-Friedrich Lenz explains the new Japanese copyright law reform on Lenz blog.
Malach on #joiito was talking about surfing referral logs. I took a look at mine. It's pretty cool that I'm #1 when you google for "best headphones", but it's probably not such a good thing that I'm the 4th site when you google for "glock 23"...
Doc links to a "Girl Blog from Iraq", Baghdad Burning by Salam's friend Riverbend.
Washlets are the Japanese version of the bidet. They spray a jet of water that can be adjusted in pressure, angle, temperature. The fancy ones have motion sensors to open the seat and flush automatically. Some create a smell curtain with air jets and filters, others have remote controls, seat heaters, etc. They range in price from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. You really have to try one to understand the appeal, but having a focused warm jet of water is much different than a bidet. During a panel discussion the other day, professor Takeuchi explained that washlets have now reached a 50% market penetration in Japanese households. This is amazing really. So the question was, with all of the talk about culture being Japan's next big export, will washlets be the next big Japanese export? Toto, the Japanese toilet company has an English language page for their very simple washlet. Watch the video, it's great. Thanks for the link Boris!
Slashdot reports that AOL is blocking referrals from Live Journal. I agree with Mena on this. It's probably a mistake. Lets not get all excited until we know more...

There is some software called jIRC that appears to allow you to set up a java web applet that is serves as an IRC client. I'm behind a firewall and can't get to IRC. Any chance someone would install jIRC somewhere and point it at #joiito on freenode so I can get to the channel? I n.n.n.need my IRC fix.

NOW THAT'S, ER, CHUTZPAH: Christopher Hitchens is Fisking the Ten Commandments.
Frank Boosman also comments on the problem with the "Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me" commandment.

Like I keep saying, all of you "I only have one God, and my God is the best" people seem to be a bit insecure about your God. As Christopher Hitchens says, "The first four of the commandments have little to do with either law or morality, and the first three suggest a terrific insecurity on the part of the person supposedly issuing them."

As we Shintos like to say, you can put your god over there next to our other gods. While you're at it, why don't you get off your high horse and quit defining Good and Evil as Us and Them. ;-p

I'm off to Beppu for the HyperNetwork conference. Had dinner with Howard who's also going to be speaking. I will be co-moderating a panel on Blogging. I'll try to be on IRC during the conference. See you there.

Just a few minutes ago, I was on my vonage IP phone in my house in Tokyo sipping coffee in my air-conditioned living room listening to the birds outside. I called a friend in Virginia on his cell phone. It rang and dropped. He called me back on a land line. The Verison cell tower just went out in his area. As we were talking, his power went out. He had to switch to a phone that didn't use power. While we were talking, he did a clean shut-down of his computer and his UPS and went outside to see why his diesel backup generator didn't kick in. Then he went and started pulling out all of the oil lamps that he had just put away.

What's going on over there guys? Maybe the power companies and carriers should just step aside and let some new people run the critical infrastructure...

Although I can't say Japan is necessarily better, my phone still works and my air-conditioning is still working. ;-)

imajes has posted new stats for #joiito.

Mike Lea aka mazeone on #joiito took his own life on Friday. He worked at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. He recently started hanging out on #joiito and was a pretty active participant in our community. I think he spent more time on #unixpunx. The #unixpunx site says that Vixnix talked to his sister who said to pass this on:

Mike's sister
I wish I could tell you differently, but it is true. He has been very depressed for such a long time. I went down there and stayed with him last weekend and he was just miserable. He did it this past Friday night. He was ready to go. And he's at peace now. I wish I knew what to say. I know you all will miss him, and I know that his irc friends meant a lot to him and he enjoyed talking with you all. He kept trying to get me to go on and meet all the people he enjoyed so much. I'm so glad you all were there for him. I wish it wasn't true either. Feel free to forward this to his irc friends and know that my heart is with you all in missing his wit and him.
mazeone, may you rest in peace...


IBM has a very cool project called "History Flow" that visualizes the evolution of documents and the interactions of multiple collaborating authors. There are many interesting views. They are using wikis for this.

Thanks for the link Clay!

I was on the phone trying to consolidate two mileage accounts on the same airline. The operator needed the address, phone number and other details of the card I had registered in 1996. I had no idea. I started googling. Bits and pieces were all over the Net. I was able to "authenticate" my identity based on this info including my phone number in a mailing list post that I found. Where would I be without Google. On the other hand, I wonder if we have to think about better authentication for the post-Google era. Don't blog about your mother's maiden name or the name of your pet. ;-p
There's a lot of talk about LOAF these days on #joiito. It's getting pretty hard to keep track of all of these new acronyms. It seems to be an emerging standard, and there isn't much about it on the web yet. jibot on #joiito seems to know the most about it. The only reference I've seen on the web is on britta's blog.
Lawrence lessig
the extremists in power

According to the Post, Lois Boland, director of international relations for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, said "that open-source software runs counter to the mission of WIPO, which is to promote intellectual-property rights." As she is quoted as saying, "To hold a meeting which has as its purpose to disclaim or waive such rights seems to us to be contrary to the goals of WIPO."

If Lois Boland said this, then she should be asked to resign. The level of ignorance built into that statement is astonishing, and the idea that a government official of her level would be so ignorant is an embarrassment. First, and most obviously, open-source software is based in intellectual-property rights. It can't exist (and free software can't have its effect) without it.

People think that creative commons and free software are "anti-copyright". It's amazingly stupid. You can't have free software or "some rights reserved" without copyright. I wonder if people are truly stupid or whether there is some FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) machine running a "stupidity about copyright" process in the background...

Had a meeting today with Yoshiko Sakurai and and other members of the anti-Jyukinet (National ID) "movement" this morning. I have been working with Sakurai-san and this group since September 2001. A lot has happened since then. We first tried very hard get a moratorium on the deployment before operation began. We got a great deal of support, but in the end operation began. Several local governments and prefectures resisted on the basis that there was a clause that privacy must be assured and the privacy bill had not been passed. A very watered down and poorly written privacy bill was passed and several anti-Jyukinet local governments lead by Yokoyama decided to participate in Jyukinet with a opt-out clause. There are still some local governments which are resisting, but such resistance is getting more and more difficult. Although we were able to raise privacy concerns when we were at the peak of our rallying efforts, people clearly do not feel too strongly about privacy issues generally.

Today we discussed a new angle that appears to be more convincing to many local governments. The cost of deploying the system is very high considering limited benefits. Although the central government says that they only spent $400M or so, it appears that it really cost more like $700M. In addition, there is a fairly substantial burden on the local governments. Although we would like people to think of things in terms of social cost and privacy risk, the more simple message is whether it is worth spending all of this money on a system which is supposed to be used only for receiving local government services. This message may be easier to spread.

I am in a somewhat awkward position right now. After the deployment began, I realized that it would be difficult to stop the system. While Sakurai-san continues to protest Jyukinet quite vocally and support the few local governments who are opposed to Jyukinet, I have started working within the system trying to educate the bureaucrats and trying to head of any new projects that might increase the risk. I am meeting regularly with "both sides" trying to figure out the most effective way to reduce risk. It is important that Sakurai-san continue to be vocal so that people continue to pay attention to the issues, but God is in the details. I am becoming immersed and inundated with the details. For example, early on in the process, I told the central government that they needed to educate the vendors and the local governments about privacy. I was soon presented with an "opportunity" to lecture local governments and vendors about privacy. Thanks... It's becoming physically and mentally quite difficult to continue this effort since it has very little to do with my "day job", but it's also very difficult to disengage since there are so few of "us".

Someone please help me... I wish we had EPIC in Japan. OK I'll stop wining...

Kevin Marks blogs "How I emailed myself into a job and blogged my way out of it". I was trying to figure out whether I should write something objective and refer to my strength of weak ties post, but I'm not going to.

Kevin Marks, of MediAgora fame and a regular in #joiito is one of the most helpful and interesting people I've met recently. A lot of his job involved compiling huge pieces of code on slow machines so he would hang out and help people on #joiito. I feel a bit guilty because I think people on #joiito were a bit demanding of his time, myself included. I remember asking him to take care of my nephew and niece over iChat at 4 am in California while I did some cooking.

Anyway, I think this is a great loss to Apple, but may end up being a good thing for Kevin, MediAgora and the social software space. I am obviously talking to Kevin about "his next thing" but I encourage people who are looking for partners and are interested in someone who understands streaming media, alternative music distribution theories and social software to talk to Kevin. Now is your chance. (And if you come of with something cool to do, talk to me before you talk to any other venture capitalists. ;-) )

Yesterday, I gave a presentation about Creative Commons at a study group on copyright of which I am a member. The other members include the founding chairman, Hori-san of one of the largest talent management companies in Japan, Hori Productions, Professor Nakayama, the Tokyo University professor who invited Larry Lessig to Japan and one of the most influential copyright and constitutional law professors in Japan, Professor Iwamura, the former head of research and policy for the Bank of Japan and other professors and lawyers involved in copyright. I really like this study group because everyone is quite open-minded and frank and speaks from first-hand experience in court and law-writing.

Everyone "enjoyed" my presentation and I think everyone thought it was a "cool" idea. Here is some feedback that I got. (If you don't know about creative commons, go look at the web site.)

  • Japan does not have a notion of fair use. Instead of fair use, it is generally prohibited and specifically allowed by specific laws allowing quoting and so on. Generally speaking coypright is getting tougher in Japan.
    • Professor Nakayama gave the example of a tiny logo that showed up in the background of a commercial poster. He argued for something similar to fair use. The judge found the defendant not-guilty only because the image was so small, but didn't concede anything like fair use.
    • Recently a musician lost in the supreme court for a song that sounded very similar to another musician's song. This was the first case where popular music that "sounded like" someone else's was found to be a copyright violation.
  • There was some negative comments about the American use of "fair-use" because courts tended to dodge some clarity in defining copyright by saying, "it probably is something that violates copyright but is OK because of "fair-use".
  • Professor Iwamura asked whether "intent" was important. It seems that most of the cases, at least in Japan, were between people who were emotionally upset by violations rather than for financial reasons. If the emotional element (which is an important part of the derivative works issue) is key, isn't intent important. Professor Iwamura asked, half-jokingly, whether we would make a "unintended copying allowed" in the CC license. I do believe that intent will become more important as amateur photography and movie making becomes more common. Even today, there is a huge chilling effect on movie making because images in the background can cause copyright infringement. In the past there were cases where the Japanese courts ruled that images in backgrounds were OK, but no more. Anything in the background is still a copyright infringement. This will be a huge chilling effect on sharing home movies and home photos. The Japanese law does not allow intent to play any role in defining whether images in the background are an infringement.
  • Hori-san pointed out that many artists would love to have their works distributed freely until they become famous, but would like to take this right back after they can charge for it or after such rights become valuable. We discussed the possibility of moving stuff from the PD (Public Domain) back to ownership. We talked a bit about the founders rights in the US. I think we decided it would be difficult, but something worth considering in the context of versioning and other technical innovations.
  • We talked about MediAgora and other payment/pricing mechanisms. Professor Iwamura talked about the ability and the robustness of markets and the difficulty of markets where pricing was not stable, where the value of goods could suddenly disappear and pointed out some issues with the MediAgora model from on economists point of view, which frankly, I didn't understand. ;-)
  • Mr. Hori did think there were many artists who would be willing to use the Creative Commons license as part of promotion and that in fact, they do a similar kind of licensing for up-and-coming bands, but with a limited term. I explained that unlimited terms are important for derivative works.
  • I asked about the likelihood Japan would be supportive of Creative Commons. Although everyone liked the idea, they said that there are very few copyright related lawsuits in Japan and frankly, there probably wasn't as strong a need in Japan and we might have difficultly convincing people of the need initially.
  • They explained that there was no copyright related lobby in Japan and such lobbying tended to be counter-productive. Most issues were decided either by people like themselves or through new bills proposed by politicians, which was quite rare.
  • I described the "Reclaim the Public Domain" campaign and they all thought it was a "clever idea" but no one volunteered to champion such a bill in Japan.
  • Professor Nakayama felt that the "warranty" issue wasn't really an issue because people will sue who they want to sue and the warranty that you have the rights do not significantly increase the likelihood that you would be sued.

Today, I met with Kenji Yoshigo, the Vice President and Executive Director of Soka Gakkai Office of International Affairs. Soka Gakkai is a Buddhist sect which is one of the largest and most influential in Japan. One of the key things that sets it apart from other Buddhist sects is their active involvement in society including education, International relations and politics. They are the force behind the Komeito Party.

I had heard about Soka Gakkai from a variety of people, usually with negative connotations. Some people alluded to conspiracy, others refer to them like some sort of cult. The only real first hand negative interactions that I had heard of were interactions with overly enthusiastic members trying to recruit people. I had always been curious about the Soka Gakkai, but not curious enough to overcome the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and actually approach them.

Kana, a young woman who works for me is Soka Gakkai. I found out when I learned that she was marrying a staff member of the Komeito and I asked her whether she was Soka Gakkai. She is one of the hardest working people on our team and has a passion for justice that exceeds ones expectations. She invited me to give the toast at their wedding. At this wedding, they showed video messages from the young children she was mentoring, and I met many of the Soka Gakkai people she worked with. I was very impressed with how intelligent, aware of current issues, and friendly they were. The impression I got at the wedding changed my mental image of Soka Gakkai.

Early this year, Lou Marinoff, a well known philosopher who I had met several times in Davos visited Japan. He had been invited by Soka Gakkai. I had dinner with Lou and his Soka Gakkai host. Lou told me how impressed he was with their efforts and urged me to contact them and learn more about Soka Gokkai. I respect Lou's opinions greatly and he is quite knowledgeable and objective. His description of the variety of things Soka Gakkai was doing made me decide to try to contact Soka Gakkai to try to get a first hand impression.

After the dinner with Lou, I asked Kana if she would help me learn more about Soka Gakkai. It took a bit of scheduling, but she coordinated this meeting with Mr. Yoshigo.

I asked Yoshigo-san to explain Soka Gakkai to me. Soka Gakkai is Buddhist sect and their core principles are very much in tuned with the teachings of most Nichiren Buddhists. Soka Gakkai was originally set up as an educational institution and has worked very hard to try to make society a better place by actively participating in it, unlike many more "passive" sects. I think it is the active participation in politics that causes those in power to fear Soka Gakkai. Yoshigo-san said that they teach people to question authority, think for themselves and be very active. These are also my core principles. Although Soka Gakkai has a large organization with "management" he said that they do not control the thinking of their members and have quite a diverse group of people. They do not worship their founder, nor do they teach people to blindly follow.

Since I am quite curious about the definition of "evil", I asked Yoshigo-san what he thought was "evil". He said that in Soka Gakkai, they believed very strongly in life and believed that those who destroy life, either through murder or the destruction of humans rights were evil. In the same context, those who ruin their own lives were in a way, "evil". Killing human beings, especially in the name of religion, he believed was evil. This definition works for me.

He also said that Buddhist teachings say that 1/3 of the world will be "believers" or "followers of the path," 1/3 of the world will be people who will be supportive and part of the same community, and 1/3 of the world will be actively involved in trying to hurt or subvert "believers." According to these teachings, this was the proper "balance" and that trying to make the whole world peaceful or "converted" was not only impossible, but unnatural. So, although there are some overzealous young Soka Gakkai members who try to convert all of their friends, Yoshigo-san made no attempt to try to make me join and made it clear that Soka Gakkai is open to interaction and cooperation with everyone. In fact, the head of one of their schools is Muslim.

When I visited Koyasan, a monk told us that during the Meiji Restoration, the Japanese government visited most of the European countries in power those days and realized that they were able to use religion as part of the State and used it in war. Japan took the decentralized animist religion, Shinto, and centralized it under the Emperor. When Japan lost WWII, they lost their religion. Similarly, the student uprisings in the 60's and 70's were squashed. Images of young soldiers dying for their divine Emperor as well as the images of youths wearing helmets and fighting with the riot police are considered silly and quite unfashionable to youths in Japan today. Young people in Japan today believe that fighting for a cause, either religious or political, is stupid and un-cool. This lack of spiritualism and activism makes Soka Gakkai's role quite clear.

We talked about Japan. We agreed on nearly every point about the lack of democracy, the apathy among the people, the risk of a right-wing popular uprising, and other issues. We agreed that the notion of unquestioning dependence on authority is still prevalent in Japan and was the cause of much of the problems. We talked about how those in power abuse power and those who follow do not have the will to rise up. Having recently had more and more experience with those in power in Japan, I began to realize how dangerous the Soka Gakkai was to those in power.

It makes sense that those in power would spread FUD about Soka Gakkai and try to discredit their efforts. The more I listened, the more I saw how the negative image Japanese have of Soka Gakkai was part of the standard operating procedure of those in power. If you can't co-opt them, marginalize them in any way possible. Call them, lefties, freaks, extremists, a cult... what ever it takes. Being quite sensitive to how powerful the mass media FUD machine is these days, it was a great feeling to discover yet another mental stigma, planted in my head by "the machine" that I was able to yank out and make my mind more clear.

I have still only had one meeting with Yoshigo-san, but we spent nearly two hours and he answered every question I had directly and without hesitation. He said I could blog anything we talked about. He also agreed to be available if I had any further questions. Now I ask YOU -- Especially all of you who told me that I shouldn't even meet with them. What do you actually KNOW about Soka Gakkai and why do you think they are so weird/bad. Could it be that you are also just a subject of Japanese mass media FUD? If you have any questions for Soka Gakkai, please let me know. Obviously, this can not consume ALL of my time, but my intention is to try dispel some of the FUD and understand more clearly.

Today I went to see Governor Masuda of Iwate. Iwate is physically the largest prefecture in Japan. Iwate is also my "home town" where my mother's side of the family is buried. Our family house is there, the schools that my great grandmother and grandmother built, and our grave. I *think* we've been at the same grave for 14 generations. (I have to fact check this. I know it is between 14-17 generations.) The last time I visited my grave was to pour my mother's ashes into the grave. We pour the ashes on top of the ashes of our ancestors. You can see the hundreds of years of ashes when you move the stone. The generations of people buried under the stone are etched in the stone side by side. Looking at all of the names on the stones sort of puts my life into perspective. A blip in a lineage of rather interesting people.

After our family property was parceled out to the locals during the Meiji Restoration, our money poured into the war effort in WWII and our heirlooms "confiscated" by the occupation, our family became a "normal" family and the city erected a little stone plaque in front of our house saying, "the former Ito residence." As an Ito who still owns the house, that's a bit disturbing. All that remains are the schools that my feminist great grandmother started building. She build one of the first trade schools for women during the war and my grandmother built a nurse school. My uncle reminded me that I must some day take over the school. I decided it was time to meet the Governor.

Luckily, we have many mutual friends and Professor Takemura made an introduction. I visited the Governor today. I talked about Creative Commons, the Internet Archives and the Bookmobile. I explained that Professor Takemura and I have been trying to get support from some local governments and libraries to try to sponsor an effort in Japan. We talked a lot about the future of local governments.

Governor Masuda was sharp, motivated and obviously on top of things. He is also a good friend of Governor Domoto of Chiba, who I know well. After meeting Governor Domoto of Chiba, Governor Tanaka of Nagano and Governor Masuda of Iwate, I think that the Governors of the strong provinces in Japan should start taking more control from the central government. I realize there is still a lot of reform required to allow the local governments to take more control. They need to become more financially self-sufficient. From a political perspective, the Governors are so much more accountable and representative of the people that it's a pity they don't have more resources...

PS 6 hours in the train to go to a 45 minute meeting scheduled 3 months ago is UBER M-Time... ;-)

David Beckemeyer aka twostop, creator of the first hecklebot and regular on #joiito blogs the story of how his 12 year old arrived in JFK during the blackout and how the Net helped him coordinate the night's events.

Brendyn has created a page that lists the online/offline status from jibot as titles and links to all of the recent blog entries of the regulars on #joiito from their RSS feeds. Very cool!

Technical synopsis from Brendyn

M. S. Granovetter .The strength of weak ties : A network theory revisited. In Sociological Theory (1), 1983. is an important paper for understanding social software. Unfortunately, it's an academic paper and therefore NOT ONLINE. (I'll rant about that later). In the paper, Granovetter describes strong ties and weak ties. Strong ties are your family, friends and other people you have strong bonds to. Weak ties are relationships that transcend local relationship boundaries both socially and geographically. He writes about the importance of weak ties in the flow of information and does a study of job hunting and shows that jobs are more often found through weak ties than through strong ties. This obviously overlaps with the whole 6 degrees thing. I do believe there are some "nodes" but think that it is much more complex than a simple power law with a few number of local maximums.

After reading Shannon "Pet Rock Star" Campbell's piece on her quest for a job at a temp agency and the "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" page, I decided to look at all of "this stuff" from the perspective of jobs.

I was recently at an advisory board meeting for a trade school. We had just done a survey of employers asking for what they their primary criteria for choosing new employees was and it was overwhelmingly about execution and character and very little about skills. Skills, they said, could be taught later. I believe that "character" in the context of a job is your self-esteem and your passion for what you are doing.

What I would like to assert is that social software can help people with their self-esteem and can also help you find others who can find your assets and interests more valuable and place people in jobs where one can have "character". I wrote about this self-esteem thing earlier and in a trackback on that item, you can find a link to "Exhibit A". Boris writes first hand about the development of his self-esteem through blogs and IRC.

Shannon is a really interesting "case" for me. She is witty, has great character, is a brilliant musician, is a poster-child for the Creative Commons (I first heard of her when Larry Lessig was raving on about her over lunch), and she's worried about her interview at a temp agency in South Carolina. Something's wrong here. I know several other people on my IRC channel who are looking for jobs where they are surrounded geographically by people who don't understand or are unable to "leverage" the assets of that individual.

What I can see emerging is a way to amplify the strength of weak ties. (I knew this before, but it's becoming more crisp to me now.) IRC allows me to see the style and personality of many of the people online. Blogs help me see what their interests are and focus is. LinkedIn provides a professional context for referrals. I think that supporting the process of developing your assets and character and finding a job that best suits you will be one of the single most important benefits of social software. I know I've been ranting about Emergent Democracy and about level 2 and 3 in Maslow's hierarchy of Needs, but I just realized that social software may be most important in addressing level 1, finding the job that brings home the bacon. I know this is stupid of me and everyone is saying "doh" right now, but this, to me, is a big "ah ha".

I recently hired two people who were IRC regulars. I felt very comfortable after "getting to know them" over the last few months on IRC. Of course face to face meetings and interviews were essential, but the time spent with them on IRC really added to my ability to judge their character. I realize now that I am actively recruiting from my network of weak ties on the Net and also using the Net to meet interesting people to connect with others who might be good collaborators for those interesting people. The Net has always been a big part of my arsenal of networking tools, but I think it's reaching a whole new level.

Earlier I wrote about P-time. I'm now trying to see if I can create a work style around it. I am getting up at 5-6am, sitting in my living room with all of my IM buddy lists, IRC and mail tracking the presence of as many people as possible. I have iTunes and iChat Streaming Icon on and have applescripts letting people on iChat and IRC know what I'm listening to. I track UTC in my head and try to remember what time zone it is in the various countries and watch people wake up, go to eat, go to bed. I've started giving people my vonage phone number. I've started adding more people to LinkedIn and IM, trying to make contact with people I've lost touch with. Then, I sit around, chatting on IRC, reading email, blogging, until I see someone I need to talk to or a text conversation gets interesting enough to make a phone call, do a iChatAV video chat with or even rally a conference call around on the free conference call system, freeconference.com.

I am letting my thoughts wander, immersing myself in this spew of contextual information. It's a different mode, but it's very interestingly real time and multi-modal. I'm now trying to figure out whether I should have P-time days and M-time days, or split the day into different modes...

Got iChat Streaming Icon from Kuri yesterday. It is available on the Apple site. It streams live video of you as your iChat icon. Sooo cool. You can set refresh rates from .5 sec on up. I think it's basically just changing your icon image every frame. It slows the computer down a bit, but is really amazing. All of the images move in every window, even in the buddy list. Once all of your friends get it, you get the Brady Bunch thing happening in the buddy list.

I get to be Alice! ;-p

Seriously though... This suddenly adds a whole new dimensions to the presence discussion.

Software was written by Andreas Pardeike. Nice job!

The Economist
Blogging, to the horror of some, is trying to go commercial

Ur-bloggers, of course, are outraged by all this. “Tony doesn't understand what a blog is; he's the opposite of a blogger,” says David Winer, a fellow at Harvard Law School's Berkman Centre, founder of UserLand and one of the first and longest running bloggers around (his site is www.scripting.com ). The key attribute that makes a blog a blog and not some ordinary piece of web publishing is amateurism, says Mr Winer: if it is in any way edited, it is not a blog. From this, incidentally, Mr Winer extrapolates that blogging has “the potential for revolution,” democratising and liberating the world. Mr Perkins in turn feels, wearily, that he has heard such “religiously libertarian anarchists with ponytails screaming and yelling” before, in the early days of the internet. Like many in Silicon Valley nowadays, he is more interested in profits than revolutions—though that change, in its own way, is revolutionary.

The article is a bit simplistic, but does start the discussion about commercialization of weblogs. I personally think that Amazon.com and the referral thing is where the action is. Amazon will potentially benefit more than anyone from all of this since they are the closest to the point of sale and reviews are a great way to get people to buy. Reviews are much more integrated into blog content than adwords.

I'm sure everyone's already seen this, but I just woke up (6am here) to call a journalist in New York for an interview. He told me that there had been a blackout and he was walking from Manhattan to Brooklyn in flip-flops. He asked me to look on the web and tell him if there was any more news about whether it was a terrorist attack. I told him that it appears, according to CNN.com, that the affected area is wider than just New York, but that it was not a terrorist attack. We agreed to try to talk tomorrow.

I was in Tokyo in my underwear on a Vonage IP phone, reading news from the web to a journalist in New York on a cell phone. Rah rah Internet!

UPDATE: Joshua on #joiito is logged in from his office in Times Square. His building has backup power. Amazingly, the Internet seems mostly unaffected. It looks like data centers are starting to go down...

UPDATE 2: Just talked to the reporter, Jeff, who said that he had this conversation numerous times yesterday: "It wasn't a terrorist attack." "Why do you know?" "I was talking to someone in Tokyo." ;-)

This may be old news for many of you, but I just found out that John Poindexter, the mastermind behind the "Total Information Awareness" project in the US, tendered his resignation August 12.

John Poindexter’s whirlwind 20 months as head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s newly created Office of Information Awareness will end on Aug. 29, the day he will officially step down.

A PDF of his resignation letter on the Washington Post site.

Thanks to twostop on #joiito

Internet News
Report: ISPs Block 17 Percent of Legit E-mail By Brian Morrissey

Top Internet service providers blocked 17 percent of legitimate permission-based e-mail in the first half of the year, according to a report issued by Return Path.

via Scott Mace

I pronounce email officially broken. If 17 percent of legit email is being blocked by spam filters, it's not officially working. No wonder I'm using blogs, IRC and IM for my primary modes of connecting with important people these days.

I don't care what excuses people give. The people who made smtp should have thought more about host authentication and the people who made IPv4 should have made longer IP addresses. My guess is that there were people who were voicing concerns who had more vision.

I have a feeling we are going to be kicking ourselves in the same way when we realize we "forgot" to put privacy into ID systems.

In other "search news"...

Heard a rumor that Google Japan has moved into new digs in the posh Cerulian Tower with a Segway, massage chair, pool table, a lava lamp and everything. Congrats to all of the Infoseek Japan alum working at Google Japan. You've reached, "search nirvana". I'm a bit envious. ;-)

Mitch Kapor and Tim O'Reilly are among advisory board members of Nutch, a new open source search engine project which will try to:

  • fetch several billion pages per month
  • maintain an index of these pages
  • search that index up to 1000 times per second
  • provide very high quality search results
  • operate at minimal cost
Sounds good to me!

John Battelle at Business 2.0 says, "Watch Out, Google".

via Dave Winer at Scripting News.

Aaron Swartz@Google Weblog
Google now has a built in calculator that can tell you everything from 2+2 to speed of light in furlongs per fortnight to 2048 in binary.
Very cool!

Thanks for the link Alberto!

Adriaan aka ado of Kung-Log fame and Jim aka mmdc of "fawning parody" fame have joined the Neoteny team.

And, no, writing a parody of me will not guarantee you a job at Neoteny.

I heard my interview/talking head was just on CNN. Does anyone know where I can see it. ;-)

Thanks Gerfried!

Xeni's on NPR today talking about Friendster, LinkedIn and other social networking tools.

Here's the RealMedia stream.

I met Tony Laszlo today who pointed out an analysis on Isshoof an article by Governor Ishihara which appeared on the front page of the Sankei Shimbun (one of Japan's biggest newspapers) back in May. I didn't see it covered in any English media so I thought I'd point it out.

Ishihara has done some great things for Tokyo, but he is still publicly anti-foreigner in case you had any doubts. Can you imagine Mayor Bloomberg getting away with saying this on the front page of the New York Times? And the Sankei has more circulation than the NYT...

Like Don Park, this makes me want to apologize on behalf of my country.

Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara

"Japan - Defend your Internal Flank!" (Nihon yo - Uchinaru Bouei wo), a column by Tokyo Governor ISHIHARA Shintaro which appeared on the front page of the May 8, 2001 Sankei Shimbun

In due course, the perpetrators were captured, and, just as had been suspected, the crime was one of revenge among Chinese criminals. There is fear--and not without cause--that it will not be long before the entire nature of Japanese society itself will be altered by the spread of this type of crime that is indicative of the ethnic DNA [of the Chinese].

I've been drinking too much alcohol in the evenings and drinking too much Diet Coke during the day. Diet Coke is starting to taste weird and I'm having trouble moderating my alcohol consumption. I'm going to go off aspartame and alcohol for 1 week and try to turn alcohol on again in moderation after a week. I think this will make me feel happier and give me more energy. If this were a controlled experiment, I wouldn't do both at the same time, but I'm pretty sure that drinking myself asleep and jolting myself awake is not very good for me.

This is probably more information than anyone really wants about my life, but I figured that if I blog it, I'm more likely to keep this promise to myself. Oh, and anyone who seems me drinking Diet Coke or alcohol during the next week can slap me around with a trout.

On #joiito, JMendelson asked a question and I replied with a URL. Then:

Brendyn: that's a page slap
JMendelson: a what?
Brendyn: you were page slapped :)
I wonder if Brendyn coined this word. It's a funny word.

Since I blog just about anything important that I ever think of, I end up page slapping people a lot on IRC when they ask questions that I've already answered. I wonder if it's rude? I don't think so.

Don't you hate when the people who should most "get it" TOTALLY DON'T GET IT!

Neeru@Creative Commons
We would love to help you offer Creative Commons license to your users — it’s free, and a great way to make clear the rights and restrictions artists would like to offer their fans.
Legal Department@mp3.com
Nothing replaces the legal protections provided by registering a copyright with the US Copyright Office--most certainly not your “free license.”

This email is formal notice for you to cease and desist from further contacting our artists through our web site to solicit for your product/services, which are not sanctioned by us.

Legal Department
Music & Media
Vivendi Universal Net USA, Inc.

Some folks on #joiito turned me onto "streamripping". This is software that stores songs played on Internet radio stations as mp3's with meta data and everything. RadioLover is streamripping software for the Mac that lets you record multiple radio stations in parallel. You can drag and drop the songs into iTunes and sync to the iPod. The quality seems fine. I can listen to my favorite radio stations from all over the world when I'm walking in the park with my iPod. Is this illegal? It is SOOO useful it MUST be illegal. ;-p

UPDATE: For the record, I've just bought several albums on Apple's Music Store and Amazon that I didn't know about until I started messing around with RadioLover.


Funny. ;-)

Thanks Max!

Khalid on #joiito pointed me to the following article.

New Scientist
Email experiment confirms six degrees of separation

Despite enabling almost instantaneous global communication, email appears not to have made the world a more close-knit community.

It's an interesting article about how an email six degrees experiment shows we are no closer than when Milgram did his famous experiment in 1967. (Milgram did an experiment which resulted in the assertion that we are only six hops away from anyone else in the world.) I referred to Milgram's famous experiment in my Emergent Democracy paper. When the paper was being reviewed by Shumpei Kumon, he referred me to Six Degrees by Duncan J. Watts and pointed out to me that Watts writes about Judith Kleinfeld who found that Milgram's experiment was flawed. I removed the reference in my paper. Milgram's six degrees experiment is so widely referenced that it has become almost an urban legend, but it DID NOT show that the world was connected by six degrees, it just got us thinking about it. I think the phenomenon is real and the "small-world problem" is a very interesting field, but people should stop quoting the Milgram study as fact. The email experiment referred to in the article is being conducted by Duncan Watts as well and he has a web page with more info.

Duncan Watts
The Psychologist Judith Kleinfeld stumbled onto what nows seems like a classic instance of such misplaced faith while she was teaching her undergraduate psychology class. [...] Remember that Milgram started his chains with roughly three hundred people, all of whom were trying to get their letters to a single target in Boston. The story everyone tells has the three hundred people living in Omaha, but a closer look reveals that one hundred actually lived in Boston! Furthermore, of the almost two hundred in Nebraska, only one-half were randomly selected. [...] The other half were blue-chip stock investors, and the target, of course, was a stockbroker. The famous six degrees is an average over these three populations, and as you might expect, the number of degrees varies quite a bit between them, with the Boston natives and the stock investors managing to complete chains more successfully and with fewer links than the random Nebraska sample.

Remember also that the surprising finding about the small-world claim is that anyone can reach anyone--not just people in the same town or people with strong common interests, but anyone anywhere. So really the only population that satisfied, even remotely, the conditions of the hypothesis as it is usually stated (even by Milgram himself) was the ninety-six people picked out of the Nebraska mailing list. At this point the numbers starts to get disturbingly small: of ninety-six starting letters in that population, only eighteen reach the target.

When people talked about how you had to blog often to be popular, others would always talk about Larry Lessig who only updated his blog once a week or so. Recently, Larry's been writing almost every day. There goes THAT anomaly. ;-)

Thursday.8pm. August 14.2003

DECONversation / Maurice Benayoun and Steve Mann, moderated by Derrick de Kerckhove

Looks interesting. Someone go so we can heckle. ;-)

Steve Mann

Brainwave Building Blog

Deconism Gallery/Arts Complex was designed as a blog --- something we call "buildinglog" (which, like cyborglog, abbreviates to "glog").

We've all seen smart buildings, smart lightswitches, smart toilets, and intelligent user interfaces, but what happens when you have "smart people"? What happens when you wire up the "intelligence" onto people?

2003 August 14th and 15th we explore what happens when the intelligent building meets intelligent occupants.

The August 14th event will be an intellectual discussion about the relationship between cyborglogs and buildinglogs. Three panelists (Maurice Benayoun, Pierre Levy, Steve Mann), moderated by the Director of the Marshall McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, will enter an immersive multimedia space (a brainwave bath) while discussing the implications of thepost-cyborg age.

The August 15th event will be an actual collective (de)consciousness where the occupant-cyborgs interact with the building, to create an audiovisual experience from their brainwaves, as part of a brainwave (de)concert performed by jazz musicians Bryden Baird, James Fung, Dave Gouveia, Sandy Mamane, and Corey Manders.

I've been thinking a lot about my addiction to social software, business models and what this is all about. Frank has a great quote from Douglas Adams about small, green pieces of paper which is a really good place to start.

"Small, Green Pieces of Paper"

Douglas Adams
From the radio script for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western spiral arm of the galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this, at a distance of roughly ninety million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet, whose ape descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea. This planet has, or had, a problem, which was this. Most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small, green pieces of paper, which is odd, because on the whole, it wasn't the small, green pieces of paper which were unhappy. And so the problem remained, and lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches. Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake coming down from the trees in the first place, and some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no-one should ever have left the oceans. And then one day, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl, sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realised what it was that had been going wrong all this time and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no-one would have to get nalied to anything. Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone, the Earth was unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass and so the idea was lost forever.
This obviously has a lot to do with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
  1. Safety/security: out of danger
  2. Belonginess and Love: affiliate with others, be accepted
  3. Esteem: to achieve, be competent, gain approval and recognition
When people are struggling to survive and be safe they don't have much time to worry about #2 and #3. Now that part of the world is relatively safe and well fed, we're stuck trying to figure out #2 and #3. Listening to CDs, watching TV and playing video games helps you forget that no one loves you and that you have no self-esteem, but doesn't address the basic problems. I have a sense that blogging can help your self-esteem, help you find more people like yourself and increase your sense of belonging. Services like meetup can take this to the real world. I really think that we have the opportunity to address some of the basic problems in the human condition through the development of social software. I'm sure there is a business model in here somewhere, but I'm fascinated by the idea of technology helping people build self-esteem and communities. I know that we've had tools for awhile now and online communities are not a new thing, but I think the barrier to entry continues to decline and the tools keep getting better. I'm also quite interested in how this relates to mobile phones. hmm...

I was talking to Halley today about being cool. American's think they're pretty cool, but the Japanese are getting pretty cool these days too.

At the Japan dinner that I MC'ed this year, Tony Kobayashi, the former head of the Association of Corporate Executives talked about the Foreign Affairs article on Japan's Gross National Cool. Maybe Japan's coolness can save it. This was also the topic of the CNN interview that I did which should air any day now on CNN International when they find a boring day to fill. ;-p

Foreign Affairs
Japan’s Gross National Cool

Japan is reinventing superpower—again. Instead of collapsing beneath its widely reported political and economic misfortunes, Japan’s global cultural influence has quietly grown. From pop music to consumer electronics, architecture to fashion, and animation to cuisine, Japan looks more like a cultural superpower today than it did in the 1980s, when it was an economic one. But can Japan build on its mastery of medium to project an equally powerful national message?

We're having a contest to create a 2-minute moving image that describes Creative Commons' mission. First prize is a G5 Mac. More info on the CC blog.

Ever since I started IRC, I've noticed that I'm reading much less email, getting a lot less structured work done, but having a much better sense of what's going on in our "space" and able to tie a bunch of pieces together that weren't tied together before. I think some people mistake this type of contextual multi-tasking as some form of ADD. I think I'm switching from M-time to P-time. Edward Hall in Beyond Culture describes the difference between P-time and M-time.

Edward Hall
Monochronic time (M-time) and polychronic time (P-time) represent two variant solutions to the use of both time and space as organizing frames for activities. Space is included because the two systems (time and space) are funtionally interrelated. M-time emphasises schedules, segmentation and promptness. P-time systems are characterized by several things happening at once. [...] Americans overseas are psychologically stressed in many ways when confronted by P-time systems such as those in Latin America and the Middle East. [...] In a different context, the same patterns apply within governmental bureaucracies of Mediterranean countries: A cabinet officer, for instance, may have a large reception area outside his private office. There are almost always small groups waiting in this area, and these groups are visited by government officials, who move around the room conferring with each. Much of their business is transacted in public instead of having a series of private meetings in an inner office. [...] By scheduling, we compartmentalize; this makes it possible to concentrate on one thing at a time, but it also denies us context.
This is the experience I'm having. Blogs and supporting services like technorati and trackbacks make the publishing of blogs more and more like a conversation where one has to respond to blog posts in hours. For me, responding to blog posts directed at me is more important than email. What IRC and Chat have done is accelerated this even more but has added the ability to see the state of my various friends. Sleeping, waking up, in a meeting, on the phone. When I'm excited about something, I can quickly round up folks in IRC or find people who are available to process in real-time, what used to be scheduled and slower. I can talk to people while an idea is still fresh in my mind and jump from brainstorm to brainstorm. Also, this real-time element allows much richer emotional context. Hanging out on IRC exchanging simple state information like waking up and going to bed creates some sort of "we've hung out together" link between the participants. If you're having emotional issues, it's comforting to have the real time exchange of chat vs. the write and wait anxiety of email or blogging. IRC does have its emotionally tense moments, but I think the supportive elements outweight the grief.

Partially as an experiment, I've changed my mode of behavior. I rarely prioritize email. I sit on IRC and chat with my Vonage IP phone next to my computer. I wake up at 2 am. (Partially due to jet lag) I keep one eye on IRC while I go through RSS feeds. I check out new people who drop into IRC. I chat individually with interesting people and phone them as the discussion or the relationship develops. If I think someone would add value to a discussion, I track them down and drag them over to IRC or sometimes I am summoned to IRC (by Jeannie) when they need me there. I find that this P-time method allows me to have a much richer high context thought process involving more people. The problem is, it's hard to then get anything structured done. ;-)

I don't think, however, that this is totally without value as some people may think. I think the trick will be to balance structured time for execution with P-time to create context. IRC has been around a long time, but I am feeling more and more that the combination of IRC and other social software enhances greatly its value and is worth revisiting as a core component of our communication process.

I first heard about the Shure earphones from Barak and bought the e2c's. I blogged about it. With the help of Google, people interested in e2c's including Matt, who was the product manager for the e2c's found my blog entry. When the e5c's came out, I blogged about them too. Hundreds of comments later, both of these entries have become discussions including testimonials and lots and lots of answers from Matt replying to questions about the products and distribution. This human voice dialog is why I think blogging is so great for companies with great products.

Last week, I talked to Matt and Susan from Shure on the phone about experimenting with blogs. Matt's started a blog. Hopefully we can set up some combination of a wiki and a blog to help Shure reach out to us and for us to give them feedback.

I got a few very thoughtful emails from Megan about the anti-gay bandwagon and American politics today. First of all, I think it's sad seeing the Pope and American politicians taking positions against gay rights and I strongly believe in gay marriages.

Megan
One interesting point is that some of the discussion here in the US right now is about polling. Lots of people get so caught up in the polling --- yet, 35 years ago when it was still illegal for inter-racial couples to marry, the polls were 70%+ against allowing it. If we stuck with polling only, we would have no civil rights legislation, we'd still have racially segregated bathrooms, women wouldn't be able to vote, etc.

The 14th Amendment is clear --- equal protection under the law. No exceptions. Churches are not required to marry people they don't want to marry -- that's a religious event/ceremony, but a marriage license issued by the state is a contract. We have seen that churches sometimes take a while to get it right --- it took a rather long time to finally pardon Galileo. : ) If some of the churches need to take their time on this one, so be it... but the 14th Amendment requires equal protection under the law.

Most of the basis for anti-gay rhetoric is religious. In terms of Christian arguments, I think it's always interesting to look at what Christ actually said in the New Testament about Homosexuality. The interesting part is that, he really said nothing directly. Although he did say things like love your neighbor as yourself, get along with each other... : ) Some information on these topics:

Thomas Jefferson
Letter to George Washington, January 4, 1786: "This...plan"

I am certainly not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

The quote above is from one of the four inscriptions chiseled into the inside walls of the Jefferson Memorial.
Victor Hugo
An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.
The world is watching you America. Get it right. You've gotten it right in the past.

Thanks to Megan for the thoughts and the quotes.

TypePad has a very cool photo album style. Shelly explains how MT users can create similar photo albums.

I love my birthday roll. Because of my birthday bot, I know that today is Xeni, Jason and Reid's birthday. Imagine that. Three of my favorite people have the same birthday! I also love my birthday roll, because I can send personal email to people on their birthdays and spread my "pings" over the year instead of writing hundreds of Christmas cards. I should dump holiday gifts and cards all together and switch to birthdays.

Type Preview Release Launch

TypePad registration will open on Monday, August 4 at 11:59 pm (Pacific) as a Preview Release. Features will continue to be added and the system will still be considered to be under development, but the service will be open for any user to sign up.

TypePad Feature Chart

Glad to see Six Apart finally moved into an office and moved out of their apartment. In Japan, they call apartments apart. When we announced our investment in Six Apart to our investors, two of them asked if we were getting into real estate investments.

Also, Anil says I'm "consorting with the enemy"... Well, Anil, what's up with that T-Shirt?

Jeff Jarvis ratted on your T-Shirt. ;-)


Introvertster beta is up!
Via Xeni on boing boing

According to Mark, this place is an opinionated individual weblog which is blogging oriented and liberal, but not as blogging oriented or liberal as Joho the Blog. ;-)

Thanks for the link Rebecca!

I'm in SF for a brief visit. Posting pictures on TypePad photo album.

I met N. Scott Momaday, a Kiowa Indian who is a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and a scholar at Brainstorm last year. He left a great impression on me with his great stories. This year during the session on the Commons, we were all talking about the economics of who manages the commons. He said that language was a commons and that stories that have been passed down through generations lived in these commons. I had never thought of language itself as a commons, but it's a great example.

He also said that from a Native American perspective, land was a commons and language was a commons. Land was where we come from and return to. Language was where we lived. (He said it much more poetically than I can, but I can't remember exactly what he said.)

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