Recently in Introspective Category

Wkd
D5 was fun. I felt almost "back in the swing of things" talking to all of the entrepreneurs, VCs, headhunters, corp dev guys, and BigCo CEOs. I still have a really hard time feeling comfortable schmoozing at cocktail parties and left most of them early. I think I'm fundamentally shy. My lack of focus and the subsequent difficulty in answering the question, "So! What do YOU do?" probably makes it worse.

I'm getting better at taking photos of celebrities, but I still have a hard time going up and saying "hi!" to people without an introduction. I should probably learn to get over that.

On the other hand, taking photos at conferences has added a new angle for me recently. I found that many people that I was meeting or able to otherwise "shoot" didn't have readily available CC'ed photos of them on the Net. This caused the photos of many people with Wikipedia articles to have lousy photos or no photos. Wikipedians have posted a Jane Metcalfe photo (Poor quality - I should shoot a new one...), my Vint Cerf photos, my Steve Russell and my Spacewar photo on Wikipedia. That gave me the idea to post other photos that I have of people with Wikipedia articles myself. So far I've done Mimi, Scott, Rob Pardo, Tom Chilton, Walt Mossberg, Pierre Omidyar, John Markoff, Cornelius and possibility some others that I have missed.

This has driven me to a sense of mission to liberate photos of "notable" for people to use on Wikipedia and other sites. This new "mission" makes me attend more conference sessions, which in the end, usually turn out to be worth it - compared to being lazy and sitting in my room online or something.

I learned a lot and met a bunch of people who I'm glad to have met. It makes me realize that I'd probably get a lot more work done if I live out here in California. On the other hand, I miss my compost and my garden and am anxious to get back home. I guess this identity stretching lifestyle is probably the right balance for my spiritual ADD, but I'm not sure it's really the best configuration long term...

This used to be quite common in Japan. In Japan, if you were left handed, they would make you do everything with your right hand anyway. They would "fix" you. This happened to me. I'm pretty sure I'm a Lefty. I throw, kick and do most physical things with my left hand, but I write, cut and do other "formal" things with my right hand. I think this may be part of the reason that I have messy handwriting. As for as I can tell, while my brain may be "damaged" by this, I can, for the most part, function normally.

As part of my exploration into the "Right Brain", I've become more curious about what the effect of forcing lefties to be righties is. I've heard a number of "stories" about what this does to you, but I haven't read anything rigorous or academic. The problem is, I don't even know what to search for. It's a hard Google query to form.

Also, is there any easy way to tell if your right brain/left brain functions are reversed?

I just arrived in San Francisco from Tokyo. My room's not ready at the hotel and there were various complications, but I'm really happy and calm. I feel almost like I do when I'm meditating. I don't know if it's the drawing, all of the reading/talking about Kriya Yoga and Buddhism or just the great weather, but I can't really imagine anything that would stress me out right now.

/me knocks on wood

On the other hand, I better not jinx myself. I'm SURE there are things that could happen right now that would stress me out. Ha!

Also, apologies to my SF friends, but I'm in town for less than one day this trip and won't have much chill-out time. I have to go back to Tokyo tomorrow morning.

From Thich Nhat Hanh

in, out
deep, slow
calm, ease
smile, release
present moment, wonderful moment

I'm about half-way through The Heart of Buddha's Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh who wrote the book The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh that I wrote about a little while ago. So far it's a wonderful book that describes Buddhism broadly but also brings it down to earth very specifically.

The chapter on "Right Speech" starts with this description of Right Speech.

Forth Mindfulness Training
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am determined to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain and will not criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I am determined to make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
I don't think anyone should be forced to follow this code and I'm not suggesting that it become a bloggers code or anything. I just find that it resonates with my personal philosophy that is evolving over time.

In this context, I now regret the tone in which I wrote the whiny post about the W Hotel not wanting to store a bike for me. I was frustrated and annoyed and wrote something that was probably somewhat cruel considering no one was really at fault. After I posted that note, I sent the link to the W. I got a call from someone responsible there who apologized to me. I realized that I really didn't need an apology and what I really wanted was for them to try to improve generally if possible. I really didn't feel good having made someone feel bad, but since I wrote that post in a somewhat cruel way, it probably did make people feel bad.

Anyway, I'm not trying to become a buddhist monk or anything, but possibly because of my new rather non-violent diet, I'm feeling more and more at peace and less and less happy about any cruelty or un-mindful actions on my part and regret silly things like that whiny post.

Drawing on the Artist Within
When I was in the Bay Area last week, I visited Howard Rheingold and went for walk with him and Pearl. (More photos: 1 | 2)

We were talking about meditation and other related activities. Howard recommended drawing as another relaxing and mind expanding activity. I told Howard that I had no talent and that drawing was one thing I would never be good at. Howard smirked and explained that there really wasn't much talent necessary for basic drawing and that he thought I would enjoy it.

I was skeptical but Howard gave me his copy of Drawing on the Artist Within by Betty Edwards from his library and I lugged the huge hardcover book onto the plane and read it. I was prepared to be surprised, but I was more surprised than I imagined I could be.

Betty Edwards starts out explaining that drawing is like reading and writing for the right hemisphere of the brain. The right brain deals with spacial and relationship oriented things and is good at dealing with chaos and complexity. She explains that people who are "not good at drawing" typically have strong left brain tendencies which often prevents the right brain from taking charge of drawing.

The right brain likes order and abstraction and parses everything you see into symbols. For instance, instead of seeing small person, medium sized person, large person, if the people are framed correctly, you will see person (far away), person (medium distance), person (close) and parse the different sizes as distances rather than three separate sized people. This is useful when you are trying to assess a visual image in a left brain sort of way. However, when you are trying to draw an image or notice differences or details, your left brain can get in the way.

When you are trying to draw a human figure, for instance, you will often draw a round head, eyes, hands, feet, etc. Each component will look like some abstraction of that part of the body. In fact, depending on the direction from which you are viewing that part of the body or person, the shape of each of those elements are infinitely different. When your left brain is in charge you label each element, for instance, "that's an eye" and draw what your left brain thinks of as an eye element instead of what you actually see. That's how people like me end up with child-like drawings.

She gives an example of an American flag hanging on the wall. The first week, her students draw things that looks like parallelograms with straight bars. The next week she tells them to notice that the bars cross each other in real life at angles. The students then draw a slightly more realistic flag with folds/waves. The next week she tells them to notice that the bars are different widths and the stars are each a different shape. This is paradoxical to the left brain since it is imagining the symbolic view of each element. In fact, when you look at a flag hanging on the wall and the image is flattened onto a 2D view like a drawing, all of the elements turn into different shapes.

She gives the reader a number of techniques to "trick" the left brain into letting go - drawing very fast, drawing very slow or drawing an image that is upside down. She presents exercises that show how easy it is to dramatically improve your drawing by just getting your left brain to let go so that your right brain can see things as they are and not abstracted.

The right brain is a very important partner in problem solving and thinking and your left brain and right brain already have a lot of back and forth. Your right brain deals with most of the complexity of driving while your left brain thinks of something else or remembers directions. Your left brain collects information and your right brain then "incubates" the idea tossing it back sometime in the future to your left brain as an "aha!"

Edwards hypothesizes convincingly that drawing is a great way to talk to your right brain and more directly bring your right brain into a "conversation" of conscious problem solving. I thought about drawing in the context of meditation which is also a lot about getting the left brain to "go away" or "shut up". Since reading the book on the plane, I have been scribbling sketches in my notebook. I continue to be surprised at this newly discovered ability that has been hidden for 40 years. Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

I'm not sure yet whether I'm going to share any of my "artwork" with the public, but I am surely going to begin drawing as a way of thinking about things and spending time. I have a feeling that it will also help me communicate graphically and may even improve my sense of direction. ;-)

I'm REALLY excited about discovering a key to a door I shut way back in elementary school and I think this new hobby will work well in my "new lifestyle". If you've every thought, "I'm not good at drawing," I highly recommend and urge you read this book and reconsider. Also, if you recommend any other books or resources along these lines, I'd appreciate any pointers.

Morning yard
I am reading The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who wrote the book as a letter to a fellow monk when he was in exile during the difficult years in Vietnam. The book was recommended to me by Howard Rheingold. I'm still reading the book, but it is a wonderful little book about why and how we meditate.

There is one interaction at the beginning of the book between the monk and a man eating a tangerine. The monk tells the man to focus on the tangerine segment that is in his mouth rather than focus on the next one before. I think this mode of focusing our attention on future rather than the present is a very common "affliction" of our times. I think that Continuous Partial Attention that I've blogged about is also another example of this "not really here" syndrome.

It also reminds me of a story that I often share. I arrived at a Tai Chi lesson once and everyone was bustling and sort of in a hurry. My Tai Chi teacher explained that one definition of "the end" or "our goal" is when we die. He mused how much of a hurry we were all in to get to the next thing. He suggested that we spend too much time worrying about being more efficient and quick and that maybe the most "efficient" thing to do was just to die right now. In fact, most of us probably don't want to die just yet and all the stuff in between is can be viewed as an inefficient path to our death.

So much of our life is focused on making things more efficient and efficiently efficient that we might spend our whole lives shaving a yak. In fact, I think we probably need less efficiency and more meaning. On the other hand, if you're happy shaving yaks or hacking code, I think that can be meaning. I think the trouble is for people who aren't happy because it's just not efficient or perfect enough. There are always little things, little people, little events that "ruin" the moment, the day, our lives. Our days end up as a endless series of annoying events.

One things about meditation and going "meta" is that even some of the most annoying things become cute, quaint, funny and irrelevant, if not enjoyable.

This morning was a particularly beautiful morning with the chirping nightingales and the morning dew. As usual, our two dogs came running over to me and licked me and barked and tried very hard to prevent me from meditating. Then Mizuka's mom heard the dogs bothering me and actually increased the distraction by whispering very loud to the dogs trying to get them off of me.

For a moment, I got a pang of discomfort. It was the feeling of despair, the feeling of trying to blame someone else for my failure to meditate. It had the feel of minor displaced aggression - the tendency for primates to lash out and bite the nearest creature for a pain from an unrelated source such as an electric shock or a stubbed toe. However, I identified this simple and base reaction and laughed at myself and my human condition.

I remembered the monk writing about how it was easier to practice meditation at home than in a pagoda. The challenge comes when trying to be focused and mindful in the presence of distractions. If we want to practice and learn meditation, it was important to challenge ourselves. As I laughed and enjoyed this "human moment" I thought about the book again and this blog post started to come to mind. Then I realized that it was you, my friends on the Internet, who were now getting in the way of my meditation. At that moment, I promised to write this blog post after I had finished my meditation and my chores and that I didn't need to figure it out right then. With that promise, I stopped thinking about this blog, the Internet and the book. After that, I slipped into a nice space.

So here we are. I've completed the promise to myself. I was "there then" and I am "here now". ;-) This post reads a bit like the ramblings of some new age hippy. My apologies. It's a bit weirder than I would normally post, but I figure I should probably be respectful to the spirit of the promise with the "meditation me" so that I'll continue to trust my requests for deferred yak shaving during my meditation.

I feel like this tree - lots of branches that are heavy and overextended.
Base of the plum tree

I wish I felt more like this rock.
Saturated Rock

I've been spending a lot of time reading about, thinking about, and practicing my meditation. If I have time, I can spend hours just sitting there. I'm enjoying solitude more than I've ever enjoyed it before. In fact, I've never enjoyed solitude. Not only did I enjoy the company of other people, I craved and needed it. I have observed that a lot of active CEO types have a similar kind of obsession that allows them to invest more than average amounts of energy into communities including their companies and their partners - afraid to spend a minute of their waking time not interacting with other people. I think this obsession with trying not to be lonely has also fueled a lot of my interest in social software and online games.

So, while I don't know how long this interest in meditation and solitude will last, for the moment it looks like my "loneliness problem" is not a problem. In fact, for the moment, I'm perfectly happy being alone.

I wonder what this means? I wonder if I'll plop out of sight like some puppet that lost it's puppeteer...

Probably not, but it is something that I was thinking about today as I considered how much I enjoyed the 1.5 hour train ride into the city today from my home in Chiba... I suppose the fact that I'm blogging this shows that I'm not really "cured" of my obsession with the social...

I just read through my daily dose of blogs in my aggregator and scanned the email from people asking / telling me to blog stuff. I realized that there are a great number of things that I would have posted to my blog a year ago, but I won't now. I have argued a number of times that this is my blog and if you don't like it don't read it. However, as I read criticisms in the comments and on other blogs about what I write, I have become increasingly sensitive about what I say here. The criticism is often valid. "Check your facts before you post." "Read before you write." "Don't be so self-obsessed." "That was stupid." "The tone of your post was offensive to me." "So this guy posts every time he's 'off' to somewhere new. Is he boasting about his travel?" I know it shouldn't, but these voices yap at me in my head and cause a kind of chilling effect. I fear that my jokes will be misinterpreted and the irony lost. I fear that someone will take offense. I fear that a post will sound boastful.

Of course, this is just a rehash of an old discussion of collapsing contexts, but I find myself struggling with this bloggers block more and more these days. I find myself hanging out on the IRC channel chatting about things that in the past I would be blogging about. I definitely feel like my blog is going edgy to broad and boring.

What do you think? (And to be clear, I'm not fishing for compliments here.) Do you think I should post silly and sometimes no-so-well-developed posts or do you think this rigor of taking more responsibility and being more politically correct is a good thing? In a way, this bloggers block could be viewed as a developing bloggers ethic in my head and something normal and good.

I was spending part of my mind thinking about my talk next week in Australia in Melbourne for the Alfred Deakin Innovation Lectures. The topic of the talk was "The Creative Commons: intellectual property & public broadcasting & opportunities for common sense & public good". I was looking at Larry's schedule to try to see when I might be able to talk to him about some ideas and I noticed that he was scheduled to be in Australia too. Then I realized that he was speaking at the same conference. I looked at the site and realized that we were speaking... TOGETHER. So if Larry is the domain, I'm the sub-domain. He's my inspiration and his talks are the Queen's English to my Engrish. With respect to my talks about Creative Commons, what often happens is that people end up getting me when they can't get Larry. For this reason, my standard CC talk is a remix of what Larry says. (Although I have contributed thoughts and material back to the source as any good open source participant.) So now I'm at the same time thrilled to see Larry to do something together, but suddenly in the awkward position of having to jam with someone who plays the same instrument... better. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the experience and I'm sure we'll be fine but I sure hope we end up being better than the sum of the parts.

UPDATE: Larry tells me that the organizers claim I suggested that we be on a panel together. I probably did. I discussed the talk with Jonathan Mills the Director last year and I probably forgot. Oops. Sorry.

This week is a national holiday for Japan and I am home trying to "rest". I was hoping to recover from jet lag, exercise, catch up on some reading... and install Tiger.

Once I installed Tiger, I decided to take my increasingly complicated schedule and put it into iCal. iCal allows you to enter your time zone so your meeting are synchronized globally. Many of the regular meetings that I had been missing because I wasn't tracking properly now fell neatly into place in absolute time with iCal's pretty sophisticated repeating meeting mode. Obviously, I'm not the first person to have to work with people in multiple time zones but with the low cost of VoIP and my instinct to try to fit everything in, I just realized that iCal created a time-zone agnostic view of what I should be doing and it's quite distressing. No matter what time zone I flip to, I have things scattered throughout the day and night almost every single day. I just realized that I have jet lag even though I'm staying in one place.

Rereading my post, I realize this probably sounds pretty stupid, but somehow it took iCal and this time zone feature for me to realize what a mess I'm in. Eek.

Yesterday evening, Marko and I ran the closing session for Doors of Perception in India. Frankly, it was an amazing conference. There were minor logistical gripes like no wifi in the conference center (my excuse for not blogging for the last few days), but it was really incredible. Hats off to the whole team that pulled this together. Presentations ranged from self-organizing networks of manufacturers in slums to alternative currencies to the latest things going on on the web.

In the wrap-up session, I talked a lot about role of the open Internet in allowing bottom-up innovation and edge-inward work. I talked about the barriers created by monopolies. I said that it was the role of government to break up these monopolies and that we couldn't do it alone. I also talked about how Creative Commons was for providing choice and that we weren't saying that tradition media or content production models should go away.

Later, an elderly man stood up and said that all knowledge should be available to everyone and that he didn't think we should compromise on the copyright issues. He then said that the people are ready to fight and march in the streets and turn over the monopolies and we didn't need to sit around and wait for government. It turns out he used to live with Mahatma Gandhi's at his Ashram.

I felt a sudden pain. I realized that I was compromising and in fact evening softening my words assuming that the video of my presentation might end up on the Internet and that I would have to defend any hardline positions I took. I remember watching the movie about Gandhi (Irony alert. It was a Hollywood movie.) and thinking about the power of sticking to your principles and how this purity can move nations without violence or compromise and questioning myself and my methods.

I have always viewed my role as a sort of ambassador or bridge between groups to help provide a dialog. In talks to telephone operators or other somewhat old-school companies, I talk about their "challenges". To left-wing artists, I talk about the tyranny of the monopolies. The irony is that the recent trend of people posting audio or video files of my speeches online has made it difficult for me to maintain this split-personality / facade. I think it's a good thing that these things go online, but it reminds me a bit of politicians being criticized for what they have said at parties or "among friends"... or the Enron telephone calls. I have always encouraged this and poked fun myself. Being on the receiving end of this chilling effect is interesting. The core message I deliver doesn't change but delivery is slightly dampened.

I haven't been "outed" yet and I'm sure most people would understand what I was saying in the context in which my talks are delivered, but I sometimes say things that I'm sure I would say differently on my blog. In my mind, this is translated to words the audience understands in their frameworks in order to be constructive, but in a sense I'm being a bit dishonest. I also pull back on the "radical" throttle when I think it is going to offend my audience so much they will reject everything I say. Having said that, I've had a number of people get really upset. One publisher in Finland called my presentation about Creative Commons "disgusting".

My blog is probably the most "balanced" version of my position so just imagine that I'm slight more radical when I'm talking to the radicals and slightly more "soft" when I'm talking to conservatives. But my question is, am I compromising by adapting my words for the audience and where is the line beyond which I am not adapting words, but changing my position? What would Gandhi do? I suppose everyone does this to a certain extent but I was suddenly conscious of this gap last night.

UPDATE: Related post. "What would GW do?"

A few weeks ago, there was an article in Scientific American "debunking" the myth of self-esteem. I've never been to therapy in the US so I don't have first hand experience, but my good friend John Vasconcellos is one of the founders of the movement and my impressions about the movement from him were that it was important and useful. John told me that he thought the definition that they used in the article was different from the one he was using. He said he would get back to me on his thoughts on the article. I found a thread on MetaFilter about this article so I participated in a discussion there. I was still having trouble thinking through the issue, so I turned to one of my favorite moral guides, Reverend AKMA. I decided to record the call and post it here in case anyone is interested in our chat. (37 min 33 MB mp3)

I think the net-net is that overvaluing or undervaluing yourself is bad. Ways to help people swung too far in either direction are good. The US probably suffers differently, than say Japan, because I think more people in Japan get self-esteem from craft or professionalism compared to the US where I believe self-esteem is more highly linked to money. Creating enclaves of people or communities to help people feel happy about their success measured by different parameters is a good thing and something the Net might be good for.

UPDATE 2: Audio available in a variety of formats on Archive.org.

It's 6AM Christmas morning in Japan right now. Today I'm reflecting on the past year and thinking about the future and I'm thinking about Global Voices. Hopefully most of you are with your family with some time to relax, think about priorities and reflect. I'm sure there are a lot of TV shows about "Peace on earth, goodwill to men," and you've probably sent and received a lot of UNICEF Christmas cards. You should be in the perfect mood to think about Global Voices. In the past, we had to rely on TV shows to try to feel empathy for people in other countries and organizations such as UNICEF to try to give our support to humanitarian efforts. These were and are noble efforts. However, at our fingertips, we have the ability to reach out and speak to, build bridges with and interact with those people we have been "wishing well" to in the abstract for all of these years. We have a long way to go before we are able to hear the voices of everyone on earth, but I believe that providing voices and building bridges is essential for the World Peace we all wish for.

We have changed the "Global Voices Manifesto" to "Global Voices Covenant 0.2". We have edited it for awhile on the wiki, but this version is frozen.

I'm not normally a very religious person, but I feel pretty religious about this.

Global Voices Covenant 0.2
We believe in free speech: in protecting the right to speak -- and the right to listen. We believe in universal access to the tools of speech.

To that end, we want to enable everyone who wants to speak to have the means to speak -- and everyone who wants to hear that speech, the means to listen to it.

Thanks to new tools, speech need no longer be controlled by those who own the means of publishing and distribution, or by governments that would restrict thought and communication. Now, anyone can wield the power of the press. Everyone can tell their stories to the world.

We want to build bridges across the gulfs of culture and language that divide people, so as to understand each other more fully. We want to work together more effectively, and act more powerfully.

We believe in the power of direct connection. The bond between individuals from different worlds is personal, political and powerful. We believe conversation across boundaries is essential to a future that is free, fair, prosperous and sustainable - for all citizens of this planet.

While we continue to work and speak as individuals, we also want to identify and promote our shared interests and goals. We pledge to respect, assist, teach, learn from, and listen to one other.

We are Global Voices.

We're trying to translated it into other languages. If you have some time over the holidays and feel like helping out, please jump in. You can come to the #globalvoices IRC channel on Freenode or just go to the wiki and add a translation there. Any of language links in red have not been done yet. You can also edit one that has been translated if you find any errors or to go the "talk" section of that wiki page to talk about the translation.

Please take a look at the Global Voices blog. We're looking for additional people and projects to hook up with so let us know if you can contribute to Global Voices or have a project that could tie in with Global Voices.

PS I'm not sending any Christmas or New Years cards this year because I don't want to kill any more trees (and I'm lazy). I'm not sending email greetings because mass mailings are becoming indistinguishable from spam. Instead, I offer this blog entry. For the more personal touch, I'm relying on my birthday reminder to remind me to say hi to my friends in a way that distributes the work across the year.

UPDATE: Says _sj_ our translation expert. "Translate a few lines or a paragraph or put up a bad translation and leave a note above it saying it is incomplete."

Seth blogs about the top 1,000 things for a 13 year old third grader to learn. I agree with him. The most important thing I learned in school was how to touch type.

UPDATE: Thanks to Liz for pointing out that Seth said 3rd graders, not 13 year olds. Sorry!

UPDATE 2: Ado says that Seth's post originally said 13 year old...

Japanese and the Finnish tend to pronounce things rather monotonously or accent the first syllable. I find that the American's tend emphasize the second syllable. In notice this in particular with three syllable words like Nokia or Joichi. The American's say no-KEEE-ah (mp3) or Jo-WEEE-chee. In Japanese, it's JOH-ichi and the Finnish say NOH-kee-ah (mp3). One of the reasons I shortened my name to Joi from Joichi was that I didn't like the sound of the second syllable accent. For some reason the second syllable accent sounds less respectful for formal... Like Run DMC's "My Adidas!" Am I being weird? I'm not a linguist or anything and this is just a totally random, personal, emotional observation. Am I besting culturally intolerant?

I used to give a lot of talks to Japanese audiences, but have recently been spending more time speaking overseas and writing on my blog. Kenta in my office suggested that I accept the occasional talk in Japan to keep in touch with the Japanese audience. I accepted a talk at the Japan Information Technology Services Industry Association (JISA) annual conference. As I was preparing my presentation yesterday, I tried to imagine my audience and I realized that I had "lost it". It was almost impossible for me to imagine what they wanted to hear, or what they would understand. They had allotted me 70 minutes and the last slot so I had plenty of time.

I tried to explain very clearly with examples where I thought things were going. I showed blogging, Technorati, Wikipedia, last.fm, Creative Commons and talked about the future of the music, telecom, and copyright. I could see a few people understood what I was talking about, but there were several hundred people who were politely attentive, but didn't seem to be smiling.

Later, at the party, one of the younger members told me that most of the people in the association still programmed on mainframe computers in COBOL and viewed the primary disruptive threat as low cost outsourcing to Asia. They didn't really use the Internet yet. Oops. I guess I missed my target. Sorry! That's what happens when I stick my head out of the echo chamber. I guess I should probably do it a bit more so I remind myself that social software is not really "here" yet. For some people, the Internet is barely here...

I had a breakfast meeting with Professor Hirotaka Takeuchi about my doctorate program and I was taking notes in my moleskine notebook. I was jotting down just names and keywords and I think the professor thought it was a bit odd. I realized that taking notes with the intention of googling everything later is very different than taking complete notes. I had never noticed that I had started doing this.

I'm posting this because I've often been asked if I am offended by the word "Jap". The answer is, yes. I am.

'Jap Road' to Get Name Change

BEAUMONT, Texas (Reuters) - A decade-long fight over a quiet country lane called "Jap Road" ended on Monday when local officials voted to change the racially charged name.

[...]

"It's our history, it's our heritage. I can remember when it was a dirt road, now it's being portrayed as a racial divide between us and the Japanese-Americans," Earl Callahan, born and raised on Jap Road, told the commissioners.

[...]

"People believe in this country that we're a bunch of racists. There's not a soul here that would call anybody a Jap," he said.

First of all, I still hear people using the word "Jap" and can't imagine that "not a soul" in Beaumont would use the word "Jap". I for one am glad there is no longer a street in Beaumont, Texas called "Jap Road" named after a Japanese. I was often called a Jap when I was growing up in Michigan and it was usually accompanied by emotional and sometimes physical abuse. This childhood experience probably created a very negative association in my brain, and I assume that many Japanese-Americans have had a similar experience to me.

Now, even when they are referring to the "Jewish American Princess" I still wince when I hear the word Jap. It's hardwired in my brain. So that's why when I hear:

But road resident Jason Marshburn, 31, disagreed.

"It feels like we're in the middle of a George Orwell novel. It's like me suing Keebler or Nabisco because the word 'cracker' is offensive to us white people," he said.

I think he's missing the point. If the word "cracker" made him wince when he heard it, it would be a parallel, but I can't imagine anyone in the US getting flashbacks to abuse when they hear the word "cracker".

Via KS

Boing Boing
Do IT workers dream of electric sheep? This hilarious site compiles the nightmares and dreams of coders.
One of the scariest nightmares I've had in the past decade or so was about me being stuck in a Nethack dungeon. Everything was green on black (I'd been playing on a Facit VT100-clone) and in 7-bit ASCII. I distinctly remember being chased by a lower-case x, scared out of my wits and at the same time feeling ashamed of being such a wimp that a mere grid bug was a threat.
I have a lot of weird dreams. Sometimes I'm a contract that's being negotiated. Sometimes, I see everything in gritty black and white.

A: How many people with ADD does it take to change a light-bulb?
B: I don't know? How many?
A: Want to go to the movies?

Since I quit drinking, I've been doing a lot of talking and reading about addiction and the psychology of obsession. One path of inquiry lead me to the notion that obsessive compulsive disorder was often behind addictive behavior and that replacing one type of obsessive behavior with another wasn't a "cure" for the "disease". They seem to have a name for just about every kind of behavior, and interestingly enough, a medical "cure" for such diseases. I've been trying to face my demons and banish them so I can lead a more simple and fulfilling life.

Recently, someone told me that psychiatry was the only area of medicine where doctors "voted" to determine what sorts of behavior were considered diseases and should be treated. The assertion was that the drug companies created incentives for doctors to classify behaviors which had medical methods of neutralization as diseases. Many of these behaviors, my friend asserted, were natural human behaviors that some people had and didn't require a cure.

Now I'm back to trying to figure out what parts of my personality I should change and what parts of my personality are actually features and not bugs. Of course the first step is to know yourself and identify the demons and quirks. Most personality traits have benefits and drawbacks and designing your life to maximize the benefits and minimize the liabilities is probably a good thing.

Today, I had dinner with David Smith who has ADD. I think his ADD is worse than mine. We talked about a mutual friend who has, as David puts it, "terminal ADD". We talked about the hyper-focus that ADD provides and ways that you can use ADD to do things many people can't do. Harnessing ADD, rather than neutralizing it has interesting benefits. We talked about how modern society has allowed many people, who might have been dysfunctional in the past, to make valuable contributions to society. It's interesting how labels and the notion of disease can cause people to blame these things for their problems instead of trying to figure out how to turn these bugs into features. I realize that some people really do have diseases and I'm not trying to belittle their struggle. What I'm saying is that before we label ourselves and start taking therapy and drugs we ought to think about how all of these elements interact to create the human being that we are and place this in the unique context that each of us are in.

danah's always talking about privilege and I've started to think about this more consciously than before. Just about everyone here in Davos is privileged. Some have been born into privilege and some have gained it through their work. Some people carry their privilege well, others don't. There are people who seem to gloat in and flaunt their privilege, constantly bragging and doing the nudge-nudge-wink-wink. Others carry it naturally. Others seem to feel bad or strange having been chosen to be among the privileged. Some seem to guiltily enjoy the privilege.

Some seem to believe that the privilege they have comes with the responsibility to use it to help others, while others seem to think that privilege is something they deserve to use for their own personal gain.

It's interesting to watch. I wish I could do a survey of all of the people here and ask questions like, "Do you think you deserve the privilege you have, and why?" "What do you intend to do with the privilege and do you think you owe it to the world to focus your energies on helping those without privilege?" Then there are deeper questions about whether people are helping underprivileged people to gain more recognition, out of guilt, out of love, out of a sense of responsibility or some other reason.

I haven't attended any of the philanthropy sessions, but maybe that's what they talk about.

I personally think I deserve some of the privilege that I've gained, but that there are many who don't have as much privilege as I do who deserve it more. I think I owe a lot of my privilege to where I was born, the way my mother raised me, the people I've met and an odd combination of networking skills. I do feel extremely responsible for using the privilege that I currently have to solve as many of the world's problems as possible. I continue to remind myself that the particular serious of events that have put me in the position that I am in has more to do with the people around me than anything else and I owe it to them to carry this privilege well.

Many people seem to think I'm a woman because my name is rather gender neutral if not feminine. I am a short, straight, 37-year-old, Japanese guy who lives in Japan. I've noticed some people are very careful not to reveal their gender on their blogs. Others are clear. Others probably fake it. I'm sure danah can give us a list of people for whom it is much more complicated than "are your male or female." Anyway, I suppose I should make it more clear, but where? Picture in my "about section"?

UPDATE: I just posted a picture. I hope this helps. I just realized how few pictures I have of myself...

I disagree somewhat with Adina. I think that traffic is similar to attention. Attention is not the same as power or money, but it is sought after in the same way and in some ways is something that money can't buy and is actually more valuable and difficult to gain. Having said that, it's not about the traffic. Just like it's not about money, or attention. Money, attention and traffic do not, at the end of the day, make you happy. It is associated with privilege and power. I've met many people who have privilege and power (and money and attention and traffic) who are not happy. One of the problems with happiness through score cards is that it's like playing a video game. It's quite an empty happiness that is similar to the empty happiness of fulfilling a craving or an obsession. Most (not all) of the extremely wealthy people I know are obsessed with money and think about it all the time. If you're smart and you are obsessed with money, you can usually become wealthy. Most of the happy people I know are not obsessed with money. Most of them think about money just enough so that they don't have to worry about money. But money's nice to have, just like power is nice to have. But more than enough is often too much. Once you have too much money, power or attention you become obsessed and the fear of losing it alone can make you unhappy. Money, power and attention are addictive and dangerous.

I don't talk about these things very often because speaking from a position of privilege, it's not very convincing, but most of my power, attention, money and other "assets" are a result of my obsessions. These obsessions drive me to focus in excess. I am now exploring my obsessions. I wonder what this is going to do to me. Obsession is a demon which can help you gain many things, but has many corrosive side effects and in the end often leads you away from happiness. I wonder what I would be like without my obsessions?

Come to think of it, this is a corollary to one of my favorite truisms: We judge ourselves by our intensions and others by their actions.
Yup.

Actually, I guess the technical term is, "yo duuuude."

Well maybe those days are over, but there's one thing for sure - Joi will have a drink - again.  Maybe on New Year's Eve - maybe 20 years from now - but once an addict, always an addict.  I mean that in a nice way.

We can try and intellectualize our way out of our problems, manipulating our actions and behavior to suit our health - mental, physcial or economic - but you'll always go back to being - just you. 

I would beg to differ on this point Marc. Since I announced that I would stop drinking, I've been contacted by a lot of people who have chosen to stop drinking and that was the end of that. I realize that it's quite difficult and you can't go back to NOT being addicted, but that doesn't mean you have to end up drinking again or that you don't have a choice.

As for:

Marc Canter
So as Joi dumbs down his persona, going for only the lowest denominator, he'll still pick his battles, stand his ground and make his point on all the right issues.  But he'll be doing that less and less.
I'm not sure I'd use the phrase "dumb down"... I'm not dumbing myself down for my blog, just performing for a more public audience. It's not about "smart/dumb". In fact, I'd suggest that I'm having to be a lot smarter in some ways and am filtering crap that only my close friends would let me get a way with.

Anyway, I know you didn't mean any disrespect Marc. I just want to clarify my position on these two points.

I've had blogger's block lately. As more people read my blog, I realize that I am writing for larger and larger audience. Just about every time I post something, I get thoughtful comments and email from a variety of perspectives. I realize that post early/post often is probably the best policy for blogging, but the rigor in which entries are discussed and the increasing percentage of people who I meet who have read my blog cause me to try to blog about things which are interesting yet not likely to cause me to spend a lot of time defending myself. The fact is, I'm becoming more and more conservative about what I blog.

danah boyd often talks about the collapsing of the facets of our identity. (As I continue to collapse her context by linking to her constantly.) She quotes an article about "Mom Finds Out About Blog". This relates to Erving Goffman's "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" where he talks about how we perform differently to different audiences presenting different facets of our identity. The problem with many blogs is that the audience includes so many different communities of people that it collapses the facets of one's identity and requires you to choose a rather shallow facet which becomes your public identity. For instance, I know that people in the US State Department, friends from my Chicago DJ days, my employees, my family, thoughtful conservatives from Texas, cypherpunk friends, foreign intelligence officers, Japanese business associates and close friends all read my blog occasionally. In real life, I present a very different facet of my identity to these different communities, but on my blog I have to imagine how all of them will react as a craft these entries. None of them get the depth that I am able to present when I am performing for them directly. So, although I am exposing many personal thoughts such as my decision to quit drinking, the depth of my identity is becoming shallow because the context is collapsed. Most of the truly thoughtful comments I have received about my drinking have been in email and IM and I am sure my blog will not help me discover my inner goofball.

Halley writes about intimacy. What does it mean? I think intimacy relates to the Robin Dunbar's magic number 150. At this moment there are 87 people hanging out on #joiito and 216 people in my instant messenger buddy list (some are the same people). On the other hand, I have 490 connections in LinkedIn, have 510 phone numbers in my cell phone and get about 1000 new years cards. On my blog, I get about 13,000 unique sessions (30,000 page views) per day. Today, I attended a fund-raising meeting for a non-profit, and a political campaigner said that generally, one was expected to have to shake 50,000 hands to get elected.

Ross Mayfield broke the networks down into political, social and creative at 1000's, 150 and 12, but my feeling is that the political layer is 10's of thousands and next layer is business at 500 and social at 150 and creative at 12. This is not scientific, but just my personal observation. If this is true, this blog is approaching the political layer which explains why I feel that I get more business done on LinkedIn, but I feel much more candid and happy on IRC and Chat and why I still really love dinner conversations most of all. I think that if you can manage the audience size and composition on your blog, you can tune it to any of these layers. Mena often talks about how blogs are more about normal people blogging with their friends than about pundits competing against the media. I would agree and think this may be more rewarding at an emotional level than taking your blog to the political level. What you have to be careful of is that you never know when you might suddenly become popular or when your mom might drop into your blog and your context will collapse around you. Managing your audience and the facets of your identity is a very difficult thing and navigating this has and always will be one of our biggest challenges both in the real world and online.

Blogging about not being able to blog...

So far so good...

I haven't had a drink since I quit drinking. It may just be the novelty, but I'm enjoying myself greatly. I slept 10 hours last night (the most I can remember sleeping in years), I feel great and interestingly I don't feel and physiological withdrawals. I have the momentary, "boy, I need a drink" at the beginning of dinner, but once I get over that, I seem to be fine. Maybe it's that I'm surrounded by interesting people. Also, I realize that I can now work productively after dinner and my conversations during dinner are lucid and more intelligent. Anyway, I know that the "when you least expect it, expect it" rule applies here, but I think I'm off to a good start thanks to all of your support. Thanks everyone.

PS If anyone catches me staring longly at a bottle of wine, feel free to smack me.

I've been trying to "cut back" on my drinking, but it doesn't work. I got drunk last night and I regret it. So, I've quit drinking. If you're my friend please be supportive and don't offer me alcohol please.

Thank you.

UPDATE: We have set up a group blog called "We Quit Drinking". Please take a look.

This relates to my last post. In an email exchange, someone mentioned that their friend switched to broken English when speaking to their foreign friends. When asked why, she replied that otherwise they would think she was elitist.

I find that my English language accent is SO affected by who I'm talking to that it's embarrassing and I'm self-conscious about it. I sometimes try to resist it, but it happens. I see other people doing this too, but I find mine particularly bad. It is obviously happening in my sub-conscious, but it might have something to do with the "girls playing dumb" thing.

Cory just had the best day of his writing career. danah was a "giddy little girl" yesterday. I get vicariously giddy when my friends are giddy on a good day. As Cory points out, his day was the best day "so far". That's key. Wouldn't it suck if you started your life with the best day ever and it kept getting worse? Much better to start with the bad days and have each day get better.

Does this mean that people who are born into luxury have a harder time having a good life than someone who starts out below average and ends up developing a great life? I guess it depends on what makes you happy.

The mundane parameters of my life (money, attention, health...) are cycling like crazy, but I definitely feel like my life continues to get better. I would say that the primary source of happiness for me is the quality of the human beings I get to spend time with. Although many of my favorite people have passed away, I think I am hanging out with more interesting people today than any other point in my life.

So in the spirit of the weird American holiday thank you. All of you.

I'm chatting with Loic right now. Loic has a very distinct French accent. I hear his voice in my head. I've always had a problem reading and I think it's because I tend to hear text rather than read it directly. The interesting thing is that when I know the voice of the author, I hear the author's voice. The voice can cause a very emotional reaction. The other day, when I was reading an email, I got so excited I even noticed a taste. It was a kind of email induced synesthesia.

With iChat, maybe because of the real-time nature and the icon/face, the voice seems much more clear.

Am I crazy?

Many of the old men I know are cranky. They are often cranky because they've been fighting long battles. Battles about technology, battles about politics, battles about education, all kind of battles. Most old men have their hot buttons that trigger a rush of memories of these battles. When most old men talk to each other, they sense these hot buttons and generally avoid each other's hot buttons. The rule about avoiding religion and politics as dinner topics comes from the fact that there are many hot buttons in these areas.

Last night I was one of these cranky old men. We were talking about terrorism and profiling. I am a veteran of many battles on privacy and security. I didn't realize how much of a cranky old man I'd become until a friend of mine last night kept pushing that hot button with the opinion that profiling was a good thing and that a few false positives were worth the cost to protect America. I got completely emotional and ruined the tone of the friendly dinner conversation. The problem with a dinner conversation is usually there is some alcohol involved which clouds memory (access to facts stored in cranky old brain) and logical thinking, and you can't page slap people with your previous arguments. As a cranky old man last night I realized how difficult it was for me to have casual conversation about a hot button topic and how difficult it was to have a rigorous discussion about complicated topics when I didn't have access to a method of providing context. I felt like I was just beating my chest to show I felt strongly about the issue...

I think this issue of having difficulty engaging in a discussion with someone on a topic you understand well where you have a strong opinion is an issue that many academics face. This forces them to climb their ivory towers and engage in esoteric debates in an esoteric language with their peers and not reach down to the average person. This is also why many academics avoid publishing in popular media.

I wonder if there is a solution to this problem. I think layers of blogs is one thing that helps. I consult with a number of academic sources to come up with my somewhat simplistic assertions about certain issues. Others write about it even more casually on their blogs. If things are attributed correctly, one can usually drill down to the source (although many academics sources are still not online). Sometimes it works the other way around. I write about something casually and accidentally trigger a bunch of hot buttons which ends up providing more context and rigor.

The scary thing is, I can see myself starting to want to only have discussions with people where we read each other's blogs, a sort of blogademic.

Spent part of the day at Disney Sea with Mizuka for her birthday. There were lots of lines and lots of crowds. When we encountered crowds I realized that my behavior was a bit different than most of the people, but obviously not unique. I would avoid crowds and try to go in the opposite direction of crowds. If I noticed I was near the front of a crowd or ahead of a crowd, I would accelerate and try to stay ahead. Otherwise I would change course or go the other direction. If there were lines, I would choose the shortest one.

I saw some people doing exactly the opposite. Even though there were ticket windows open, they would go to where people were lined up. If there was a crowd, it often attracted more people. Even if people were ahead of the pack, they walked slowly and were engulfed by the crowd.

I think investing and business development is a bit like a theme park where new rides are opening and various things changing, with the crowds rushing from one area to another. I think you should focus on trying to find cool things to do in less crowded spaces. Don't be worried because there's no one there yet. You should try to stay ahead of the crowd if the crowd is headed in the same direction. If you see the crowd coming your way, get your business done quickly.

The social software space is starting to feel a bit crowded. ;-) I think we're still near the head of the crowd, but pretty soon it's going to feel like a crowded Disneyland ride I think... This doesn't mean I'm going to start running in the opposite direction, but there are lots of things we need to do before the follow-the-pack'ers all arrive.

I had a weird dream last night. I had a dream that I was spinning records and I had a little chart. On one axis was the record label and on the other was the record player. When ever I played a record, I had to check the label and cross it with the record player to know what the right speed setting for the record was. In real life, I remember being annoyed when records didn't have 45 rpm or 33 rpm on their labels when I was a DJ.

Anyway, a few observations. I'm totally losing it because I remember thinking in the dream, "oh, I should blog this..." Which, I think, is a bad sign. This dream was probably partially triggered by my discussion with James Seng yesterday about identifier standards (which I will blog about later when I understand exactly what we talked about) and partially triggered by thoughts about CSS incompatibilities when trying to redesign my blog. (Which luckily Boris is handling for me right now.) The little chart I had in the dream reminded me of the CSS/browser support charts in the O'Reilly CSS Pocket Reference.

Anyway, isn't it great when we have standards that work and really ugly when we have bad standards or no standards at all? I'm not trying to take a political stand here, just observing and paying homage the the necessity of good standards.

Introspective note to self follows...

I spent the day before yesterday with Jim and Boris talking about everything. About life and world views. The world is in an important transition, the Net is in an important transition and my life is in transition. The venture market is turning from a buyer's market to a seller's market. I'm moving from Tokyo to a home in Chiba with no city water, city sewage or gas. I'm in a point in my life where I am thinking deeply about what I really want to do, how I want to live my life and what matters to me. The discussion with Jim and Boris was really helpful.

Later, I talked to Sarah, who is a lawyer, but also someone who is studying Sufism. She pushed back on my model and presented an amazingly thoughtful view on giving and receiving.

I went to bed early and woke up at midnight. It reminded me of Bill Murray in Lost in Translation. I turned on my computer and tried to connect to the Internet through the hotel network and I got the message, "Sorry! Internet service is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later."

I sat in bed thinking... Then I remembered the DVD of My Dinner with Andre that Jim had given me, so I popped it into the Powerbook. Amazing. It was an inspiring movie about a dinner conversation about life and being alive.

And here I am. Thoughts swirling in my mind. Completely disconnected. Thinking about myself, my family, my friends, democracy, the world, and the laws of physics. Thinking about ethics, virtue, love, responsibility and life.

Memories that are triggered:

My Tai Ji teacher Chungliang Al Huang asking us why we're all in such a hurry. Why we love efficiently and speed so much. If the end of the game is death, the most efficient thing to do is die. The point is to live.

"...and look at your house. You would see what an alien from another planet would see. You would see that you're living in the home of an insane robot." - Timothy Leary

I don't want to be an insane robot...

It's amazing how highly contextual thoughts become when you think without goals. How everything you hear seems to fit into your model yet pull things apart. I'm not going to try to explain what I'm thinking and I'm not sure if I'm going to post this entry. This is really a note to myself to remember this moment.

To make my point here, I have first admit that I often go to the Technorati top 100 page to see where my blog is ranked. I admit that it goes against my negative feelings about the power law, etc. and is a bit self-absorbed.

Anyway, when Technorati added Live Journal and surged in indexed blogs, my ranking dropped enormously and I was barely still on the list. Lately, I've slowly crawled back up. Recently I've been neck to neck with a blog called ":: i don't give a shit what you think :: ". It felt weird seeing, "I don't give a shit what you think Joi Ito's Web." ;-) I just noticed that I finally passed it. The funny thing about this list is that I seem to have (in my mind) a relationship to blogs close to me in ranking. I tend to read them to see who they are. I see some blogs slip down the list, and some others shoot up. I try to find what causes their rise and fall by looking at their Technorati cosmos.

Am I weird?

As I was taking a shower this morning I did a self-analysis of my morning process which seems to be standardizing for the moment.

I become aware around 2am and start getting the feeling that something important might be going on that I'm missing. I crawl out of bed between 3am-4am, turn on my computer, go make coffee, and sit down, still a bit groggy. I startup email and NewNewsWire. I scan my inbox quickly for any urgent business email and take care of that while NetNewsWire is getting my RSS feeds. Then I go to the folder containing email from MT and read my trackbacks and comments on my blog. I respond to anything urgent there. Then flip over to NetNewsWire and scan the Technorati feed of new inbounds to my blog and read most of them. I comment on people's blogs where I can. Then I startup iChat and MSN Messenger to see if anyone needs me urgently. Then I chat and go through as many of the 150 RSS feeds as I can. I have the feeds ordered in different folders based on the order I want to read them. I open anything I might want to blog about into browser windows as I go through the feeds. Then I open IRC and see if anything important is going on in that community. Then I multi-task email, blogging, chat and RSS feeds until it's time to take a shower and go to work. Inevitably I think of something to blog while I'm taking a shower and end up here... a bit late for work, but trying to get the blog entry out. (And this inevitably ends up in a poorly written entry.)

I used to use the post to blog feature on NetNewsWire, but I've switched entirely to Kung-Log and copy paste from browsers because this seems to give me more control and context.

It feels like a big sync every morning. Then throughout the day, emails to my cell phone, quick hits of IRC, iChat, email and RSS keep me syched. If the morning sync fails, I find myself unable to keep up during the day...

I'd be interested to hear the way other people manage their blogging. I've watched over Cory's shoulder once and THAT was amazing...

When I was in New York, I met Britt Blaser and Josh Koenig. They came to the Six Apart meeting. They are both working on the Dean campaign and it was great talking to them. I had seen both of their names online and I tried to store their faces in the approximate location in my brain of where I thought I had remembered seeing them online. Then when I was reading an entry on Britt's blog about how much fun they were all having working on the campaign, I clicked thru to Josh and remembered Josh was Outlandish Josh. I was on the phone with David Kirkpatrick of Fortune yesterday so Fortune magazine was fresh in my mind. I remembered that I met someone at the Fortune conference in Aspen who was a "friend of Josh, Outlandish Josh." A few more synapses fired and now Josh has unique spot in my brain. The problem is, I remember people mostly by their first name and there are also Josh and Josh. There are way too many Daves and surely a lot of Ross's. Lots of neuronal name space collisions. On IRC people naturally pick nicknames so there are no name collisions and I find it convenient to remember and refer to people by their IRC nicknames. (Although it's a pain when they contain non alpha-numeric characters.)

I wonder if there is any way for social software to help me remember people and keep them sorted and in context in my brain... Maybe photo albums, my own blog and links to other blogs is maybe the best way. I wonder if I should make a search engine for my own blog instead of using Google so I can sort comments by person and display inbound and outbound links, link to Technorati ID's and other cool things. Maybe I can get Jibot to help...

The second workshop I attended was "The Creative Edge: How Do You Maintain it?" run by Miha Pogacnik, the Cultural Ambassador for The Republic of Slovenia. Miha, violin in hand, deconstructed a Bach Fugue passage by passage. He explained the musical elements and got us to really hear each transition. Then he created a narrative while scribbling on paper the image. It started with a tough command/control image (teenage feelings), pressure, dropping out, networking and communicating, love, chaos (middle age crisis), breaking through, questioning, returning to identity, rising up and finally rebirth and integration. It was really beautiful. I'd never had music deconstructed, much less such a wonderful narrative. I'll never listen to Bach or any other classical music piece in the same way.

I found that these images of the various phases were very useful in thinking about the transitions in my life. The idea of chaos, breaking away, questioning and returning back to my identity resonated with me a great deal. This process also reminded me of Chungliang Al Huang's Tai Ji class that I took where he helped us understand how there were a variety of types of energy and learning how to move between and transform the variety of energies helped you build your own energy and identity.

Good stuff.

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...

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.

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...

A very obvious thing that I keep forgetting. Blogging standards are not nearly as important as AIDS, global warming, peace in the Middle East and poverty. Having said that understanding blogging does have a lot to do with my perspective on the commons, democracy and the future of media. Debates on the web about details and going to conferences with lots of bloggers can lead to a narrowing of perspective. Conferences like Brainstorm where 9 out of 10 people ask me, "what's blogging?" is essential for me to keep my perspective. ;-)

Halley suggested that we all need a day of silence to hear our own voice. I'm going to be on a plane for most of it, but I'm going silent in a few hours for 24 hours. No email, no blogging, nothing. Just a gray marble stone to keep me company. Halley has begun her silence already. When I come out silence hopefully I'll have something interesting to share. ;-)

After reading the last post to Halley, acrobat asked if I was an alpha male. I don't think so. But I'll ask Halley. He asked me if I had take the Myers-Briggs test. I hadn't heard of it. It's very cool. I'm an ENFP. Hmm...

Halley of Halley's Comment, author of "How to Become an Alpha Male" is going to be in DC for Supernova and we're finally going to get to meet. We have some mutual friends like Dave and Gnome-Girl. I read Halley's blog, but I rarely link to it because she writes about all of the things I tend to avoid writing about these days. She writes about emotions. She writes about men. She writes about dating. Yesterday she wrote about me, and now I'm going to try to write back. ;-)

First of all, anyone who hasn't read "How to Become an Alpha Male", must. When I read it, I started reading it with "academic curiosity" but ended up learning a lot and reflecting on my past, present and future.

So Halley, I don't know many alpha males, but I know a lot of alpha females. In some ways my childhood was the reverse of yours. You grew up with an alpha male dad. I grew up with an alpha female mom. My name, Ito is my mother's name that I took when my parents divorced so that my mother could pursue her career. My mother's side of my family has had a female head of the family for just about as long as anyone can remember. There is a jinx that every other generation, there is no male head and the male is brought in from the outside. My great grandmother was a well known feminist and built the first trade school for girls in Iwate during the war. My grandmother was also a tough women. She stood up to the US soldiers who used our home as the local HQ and told us a story of how she had her men saw off half of a building that protruded into our property because the building owner thought he could take advantage of us because our grandfather had died. My mother was also tough. She had tuberculosis as a child which she caught from my sick grandfather and spent most of her childhood in a wheelchair. When we were very young, she got cancer and I remember being told several times as a child that she was going to pass away soon. She was always in and out of hospitals, but she managed to survive until we were grown up and passed away after asking us if it was OK if she could go now. She was a housewife until she was 35 or so, then joined the company my father was working at. She became head of personnel, VP of International, president of the Japan subsidiary, left to become the US rep of NHK (Japan's public broadcasting company) and grew to become a fairly influential "player" until the cancer finally took over.

During high school we lived in a big house in Tokyo. I was the only male. My mother, my aunt, my sister, our secretary, her sister, our dog were all female. When our dog had 8 puppies, they of course were also all female. They were all also "tougher" than me. ;-) Most of my friends in high school were girls.

But let me talk about my ego. I was born in Japan, but I moved to the US when I was 2 or 3 years old. (I don't remember.) When my father got a job at ECD in Troy, Michigan, where we lived until I was 13, I was the first Japanese kid in a school full of catholics. We lived in a school district that overlapped with an area of Michigan that had a bunch of trailer parks. Nothing against trailer parks, but back in the 70's, people were losing jobs because of Japanese cars and most of these bitter people ended up in trailer parks and their kids ended up in my school. My mother's love and our family friends were the only thing that kept my fragile ego alive. I was regularly beaten up by guys, tripped in the hall by girls, taunted, called "colored" and generally made to feel miserable.

When I moved to Tokyo with my mother my third year in Jr. high school, I was in heaven. I finally realized that being Japanese wasn't that bad. I found that I could melt in with the Japanese, but could hang out with the American's too. Being bilingual and looking Japanese I could get the best of both worlds. I kissed my first girl, had my first date and started going to night clubs. High school was even better. It made up for a lot of lost time in ego building, but I was still very insecure.

University in the US was tough. I dropped out twice and ended up as a DJ at Limelight in Chicago. The streets of Chicago rebuilt an important part of my ego. I became part of a great community of extremely diverse people who loved each other and supported each other through really tough times. It was when AIDS was hitting the scene and helping and being helped built my faith in people.

After that, I watched my mother slowly and painfully die. Then I watched my mentors, Dr. Fukui, Tim Leary, John Lilly, Chairman Shima of NHK, and others all die. For awhile, I had at least one death close to me every year. I realized that a lot of my confidence was still propped up by my mother and later my mentors who assured me that I was fine and that didn't have to worry about it. Now I was on my own. I realize now that it wasn't until the death of my mother that I really started to develop my sense of responsibility that would eventually get me over my self-pity that had haunted me since my childhood in Michigan.

I'm still a bit insecure, but secure enough to not let it show too often. My ego is a bit slapped together, but it's stable enough so I don't have to actively work on it anymore. My sense of responsibility showed up late, but probably overshot a bit and now I feel responsible for everything and everyone. I just lost 14 kgs, I probably have a drinking problem, I am in a happy and stable relationship, just bought a house in the countryside where I will move in the fall and will see you in DC on Monday!

PS Thanks for triggering this gush of memories Halley. It was fun to write. Apologies to anyone who finds this [insert negative word here]. Now back to regularly scheduled programming...

As a Quaker, I wonder if you're allowed to think about hard-on's in church and joke about people's deaths on your blog. Or maybe being an A-List blogger forces you to resort to deadpan humor to tighten up your style. ;-|

Doc Searls
Other dead Atkins headlines  
 
I'm still on the Atkins diet. Dr. Atkins isn't , of course. I mentioned that a couple days ago under the headline Ultimate Diet . Since then I've regretted not using either of two other headlines that came to mind at the time:

100% weight loss
 
Dead weight

Anyway, both Doc and I are on the Atkins Diet which is basically a low-carb diet. Many people swear by it, but many people continue to warn me against it. It's too bad that Dr. Atkins died, but at least he died of an injury and not of something that could be tied to the Atkins diet.

Reid and I were talking about humility and how most truly confident and capable people are usually pretty humble. We talked about how even a few self-defacing comments can go a long way and making you look pretty smart. So here's the paradox. When you know that I know this and I say something self-defacingself-effacing, it can look stupid if it is intentional and not sincerely. So how do you know when someone is sincerely humble, or just acting humble. Or does it even matter? I guess acting humble insincerely is still better than being arrogant and having to prove yourself at someone's expense. Being humble naturally is probably the coolest, but it isn't just a matter of trying. Kind of like trying REALLY hard to meditate doesn't help you meditate. ;-)

So, Friendster testimonials. Friendster is yet another site that is a networking site, which if it didn't ask you whether you had an open marriage when you signed up, wouldn't seem so much like a dating site. Anyway, Friendster has a feature which allows you to write testimonials about each other. I have received two. Frank and Liz wrote REALLY nice things about me. I assume they are sincere since they are sincere people. I am going to write something nice about them back since I like them both A LOT. But... what if someone writes something nice about me even though they don't really mean it. I will feel guilted into possibly writing something nice about them back. If I don't I look like a jerk. If I do, I could look like fake.

I think that as we design tools for social networking, some of these nuances are going to become important. Different circles have different cultures. Some people thrive on ego and put-downs. Some people thrive on humility. How does this affect the design of the tools...

joibeer.jpgYesterday, I officially weighed in at our gym with witnesses and I came in at 67.3kg with my clothes on. My target was 68.5kg so I cleared it comfortably. (Again, flashbacks from my wrestling days.) I had challenged myself to stop drinking alcohol completely until I reach the target weight. I was off of alcohol for exactly 2 weeks. It was a good experience. I lost a lot of weight, found out that I was an alcoholic (addicted to alcohol) and that alcohol was lowering my productivity and my general emotional quality. This was probably because I was drinking too much. I had a beer last night, which tasted REALLY good. I also had sake, a double Jack Daniel's on the rocks and another beer. Although this was not much considering my former average daily intake, I got a headache. Maybe my body is trying to tell me something...

I also called Yuichi, my Fat Club partner to tell him that I had won and that he is my new chauffeur. He promised to find a suitable outfit to wear during his day as my chauffeur. We also agreed to do another challenge, since he still wants some incentive to continue his program.

Anyway, it was a good test of my will and a lot of fun. It's probably not for everyone, but competing with someone and blogging about it was a good way to push myself to lose weight.

So I went on a walk as Dave Winer suggested. Then, I called Yuichi, my fat club partner and we decided to play squash and have a weigh-in. We played squash for an hour. I hadn't exercised for a month when I went to the gym yesterday and I was pretty much a mess today. I totally suck at squash anyway, but I was obliterated today. The only thing I have ever been good at is wrestling. I was wearing my Polar heart monitor and noticed that my heart rate went up to 194bpm at one point. Probably a bit too high...

Anyway, I was confident that I had lost some weight since the last weigh-in so I drank a lot of water. Yuichi on the other hand didn't drink any. I wanted to trick him into thinking I was still way out of range so he would slack off. Then, with my new no-alcohol, walking-every-day regime, I could increase my rate of weight loss and beat him easily. ;-)

The weigh-in reminded me of wrestling where we had to weigh in before each match. The biggest difference is that I weigh 17kg more than I did when I was at my peak in wrestling... Anyway, he was still 4kg away from his target and I was 3kg away. We may be at this for awhile...

I've been trying to lose weight and set a target weight. I made a bet with Yuichi. Whoever hits their target first wins. The loser has to be a chauffer for the other one for a day. Well, that doesn't seem to be enough incentive. My weight's been hovering for the last week. So new rule. No more alcohol until I hit my target. I'll think about drinking again at that point. This should help in a variety of ways. I have stopped blogging when drunk. If I stop drinking, I will be able to blog at night and catch Dave Winer when he starts blogging in the morning on the East Coast. With the increase in email since I started blogging and all of the great new deals to look at in Silicon Valley, I am definitely reaching my limit on available time and not drinking should significantly increase my "uptime."

So, this is an official announcement. If anyone catches me drinking, you can smack me and blog that I'm a liar and a cheat. Come to think of it, I quit smoking since I started blogging. After my weight is under control and I stop drinking, maybe I'll take a crack quitting caffeine. Then I can announce that blogging is good for your health and that it saves lives. ;-)

Inspired by Clay's claims about the power law distribution of blogs, I've been thinking and writing (with many others) about emergent democracy in the hopes that blogs will not create an elite ruling class, but will allow direct democracy to emerge from the chaos. The irony of my technorati and daypop rankings increasing because of this does not escape me. It feels good to get attention, and this feeling is the lust that drives people to stare at power law curve. Liz and I were chatting in IM about this today and she quoted: "One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them." So, who is the Frodo Baggins of the Internet? Are bloggers hobbits? Who can resist the power law distribution and try to create a more democratic process.

It is not just the Net that suffers from this. In my attempts to change Japan, Oki Matsumoto and I have been plotting the overthrow of the ruling elite. The problem is, to change anything in Japan, you have to be powerful and elite. Once you are powerful and elite, it is almost impossible by definition to overthrow yourself. We are thinking about setting up an organization with limited terms for leadership positions, mandatory retirement at a certain age (You can move on to the next platform.), and a variety of other measures to prevent people from accumulating too much power. I don't know about Oki, but I definitely have the "urge" to take control and lead this thing to the end. But I know from watching all of the others that it will eventually go to your head and you won't realize when you're not as smart as the "followers". It is only at this moment where I have enough power to organize, but not to control, that I must help forge the rules to prevent anyone from spoiling it for the rest of us in the future. I trust my ability to resist the urge to abuse power today, but history shows that most of us are not hobbits and this ability to resist becomes exceedingly difficult.

I would like to quickly point out here that competition is at the center of a healthy market and I would not want to question the value of competition where you have a mechanism to keep it fair. It is in power law distribution oriented situations where power accumulates beyond fairness. Bill Gates lives on the edge of this definition.

So, is lust for power uncontrollable? I don't think so. People have sexual lusts and they overcome them to make society possible. People lust for big SUV's but the US seems to be making it politically incorrect to fulfill this lust. We have lusts of many kinds, can't we try to condition ourselves away from the lust for power? Hollywood movies tend to reinforce the lust for power. Maybe it starts by changing the role models in society?

What is this leadership thing anyway? Dee Hock has a great piece about how leaders should focus on managing their superiors first and peers next and that the followers are the ones who manage the leaders. Emergent leadership is not about control or taking power, it is about ethics, integrity and holding together so that you are empowered by others. A system that promotes leaders quickly as necessary and destroys leaders who retain power for power's sake is what I want.

However, whether we promote good leaders or bad leaders depends on the people. The people will get the leaders that they deserve in such a system and the burden will be on them. (Which, I think is how a democracy is supposed to work.)

Yesterday was an interesting collision with reality for me. I had dinner with a business partner/friend and I talked about my thoughts regarding the problems with Japan. He asked me whether people called me a left wing radical. He said that many people would probably find what I was saying to be rather threatening and anti-establishment. That's probably true.

Later, I met some other friends in a bar and a very senior executive from a BIG Japanese company came over to our table and began talking to my friends in a rather rude tone. (He was able to do this because of the position of power he was in.) It was very annoying so I cut him off told him that I thought his tone was rude. He then threatened me, told me I was a threat to Japan and stormed off. After talking to people like Idei-san of Sony and Kobayashi-san of Fuji-Xerox, I think I had forgotten that there were still a lot of REALLY SCARY people in Japan. I should be careful. On the other hand, I think that unless people speak up against those who abuse power, no one will have the guts to begin to criticize the establishment.

It's easy to criticize the establishment in the mountains of Switzerland, but continuing to deliver the message in the halls of power in Japan will be difficult. I have to be smart about picking my battles, but I have to promise myself not to allow fear to stifle me.

Note to myself... Avoid going to bars likely to have powerful drunk people, even if invited by friends...

Update: I just talked to a friend who knows the "BIG company" well and he said that the guy who threatened me is on his way out and one of my friends in that company, who is actually quite a gentleman, is "on his way up." Good news. Maybe the world is getting sick of people who abuse power...

So my flu is basically better, but I'm really nervous today. Just when I thought I was getting over my chronic butterflies, I've got them again. In a few hours, I'm the first one up to bat on the panel about the Blueprint for Japan. It's going to be in the big room here and is a full blown plenary. Later in the evening, I will be the coordinator at the Japan dinner. For some reason, this year it's quite popular and there are over 200 people registered. The coordinator is a position that professor Takeuchi created where he acts like a talk show host going around the room asking for comments. He's VERY good at it. The Japan dinner became very popular after they changed to this format. I'm definitely not going to be as good at it. I tried to get out of it, but Idei-san told me I should do it. (gulp) Then, tomorrow morning, again in the big room, I am the "challenger" to Heizo Takenaka, our Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy and Michael Porter is the moderator. Takenaka-san will be coming just for the day and it is a short 30 minute session. I like Takenaka-san at lot, but my job is to "put him on the spot." Hmm...

So maybe this is what I get for saying that they never invite me to speak at Davos. At least it's all at the beginning. It's all fun stuff after that. The other good think is that since they are both plenary sessions, they are the part of Davos that will be covered by the media, which means I can blog them. ;-)

I'm one of those people who hates reading books and hates writing stuff. I love talking to people and I do most of my thinking when I'm talking to someone or when I'm preparing to talk to someone. That's why I love blogs so much. I feel like I'm talking, not independantly cogitating.

Now my question. In a discussion, you're allow a certain amount of sloppiness and you mold your position and you develop a model together with whoever you talking to. I feel similarly when I blog. Having said that, what you write persists and you can get criticized for what you write. Larry Lessig's blog is "tight". I mean, it's well thought out and non-sloppy. (He IS a law professor. ;-) ) On the other hand, Marc Canter's blog is a bit more sloppy, but quite interesting. Dave Winer seems to have mastered his style, a combination of short references, personal opinions and technical clarity.Doc, Meg, Dan, almost everyone on my blogroll has a pretty cool and unique style that works. One of my problems is that I think and talk differently depending on where I am and who I am with. This is helpful in providing myself with a variety of models that represent mutliple points of view when I think of an in issue. On the other hand, blogged, this turn into a mish mash of styles. Does this work? Can people filter the stuff that doesn't interest them? I assume they can.

I LOVE "10 Tips on Writing for the Living Web" It was a great help when I started blogging. Tip 3 is "Write Tight". So... that's my dilemma. Are people interested in the stream of consciousness sort of blogging I'm doing right now, or should it be tighter? Should I be MORE introverted and personal about my feelings, or more organized and intelligent. Is it OK to use my blog to think out loud? Do I have to check my spelling? ;-p Hmm...

So this Blueprint for Japan 2020 that Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum got us started on is not ready, as you can tell from my sloppy postings still groping for the question, let alone the answer. But January is the due date and we're on primetime now.

Next Sunday, Sony's chairman, Idei-san, has invited me to join him on Hodo 2001, a Sunday morning news program which is fairly widely watched to talk about the future of Japan. The week after that, I've been invited by Idei-san to to join the Sony Open Forum in Hawaii where I will be one of two speakers. My topic is... "Blueprint for Japan." The other speaker is Richard Smith, the Chairman & Editor-in-Chief of NewsWeek. It's a small but interesting group of a dozen or so outsiders and Sony top management. The theme this year is "Management in the Era of Uncertainty". Also participating are Rob Glaser, the Chairman of RealNetworks, Yoshihiko Miyauchi, the Chairman and CEO of Orix Corporation and Hisashi Hieda, the Chairman of Fuji Television. Unfortunately, the details are confidential so I can't blog much. (I got approval to blog the above.) Then I've got the panel at Davos which I think will be moderated by Carlos Ghosn, the president of Nissan Motor Co., and Oki Matsumoto, Idei-san, maybe a politician and I will be on the panel. Later that evening, we will be presenting the Blueprint at the Japan dinner hosted by the Association of Corporate Executives. So... I'm not asking for sympathy, but at least you know why I'm in a bit of a pickle since I don't know exactly what my position is on "this whole thing." It's really both an opportunity to sound really smart or look VERY stupid over and over again... I will write another entry about the style on my blog, but I just want to apologize in advance for possibly dragging everyone through a rather sloppy thinking process as I try to figure stuff out.

howard021219.jpgHoward and I have known each other for a long time. I visited Howard often when he was at the Whole Earth Review and I was hanging out in San Francisco with Timothy Leary and the gang. Howard turned me on to a lot of really interesting thoughts and was one of the first people who helped me started writing. Howard wrote THE book on Virtual Reality which influenced me and the rest of the world and I ended up working with (my now step-brother) Scott Fisher at Telepresence Research who Howard writes about in the book. After the Virtual Reality book, he wrote a book on Virtual Communities in which I appeared. (Maybe the first time I appeared in an English Book.) Howard has always been a great visionary for the future and I'm happy to be a part of it. When the www started to happen, my Eccosys team and I set up one of the first web sites in Japan. Howard writes about how this influenced his thinking. These days we talk about Smartmobs ubiquitous computing and the future of embedded systems. As always, community and empowerment are key.

Howard and I talked a lot about how to be an evangelist for the future. We talked about the issue of how to give credit where credit is due, but how it is often difficult to credit people who you do not know about or who haven't influenced your thinking directly. (As I've recently discovered once again, when Japanese diary community criticized my description of blogs.) Howard told me that there was a saying in the I Ching that says something like, "If you climb up on the wall, you can see farther, but you also become an easier target." This is extremely relevant. We talked about how some criticism is very important, no matter how hurting it is, to internalize, since it will help us grow. Some criticism is important in order to understand how people will view us, and some criticism should just be ignored. Sorting this out is quite a task, but necessary and important. We agreed that learning from your critics helps you fix sloppy thoughts as well as prevent mistakes in the future.

On the other hand, what's a pioneer without critics? One chairman of a large company I know said, "I don't trust ANYONE who doesn't have some enemies." I don't know who to credit this to, but "You can identify the pioneers because they are the ones with the arrows in their backs." Stan Ovshinsky says this often.

So, my conclusion? Give credit to those you influence you or are doing important work. Listen to the critics, be thick-skinned and keep on truckin'.

We also talked a lot about Justin. ;-)

From Gen Kanai weblog
Gen Kanai weblog

Joho the Blog: Quality of Service


First, QoS is impractical.
Second, QoS is the wrong solution.
Third. QoS violates the principle of the Internet's architecture.

David Weinberger ruminates effectively on why "Quality of Service" is essentially FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) that the phone companies use to confuse customers. It's important to understand that the phone companies want to confuse you and make you buy stuff you don't need. So ignore this QoS stuff whenever you hear it- or at least investigate it carefully.

Totally agree. I have many friends that use VoIP over regular Internet for everything and we use it quite a bit. I've never heard of any real problems. It just isn't as big of a problem as circuit-heads try to tell you. Also, IF people really care so much about QoS, why do we use crappy cell phones even in our office? QoS is GENERALLY not worth losing end-to-end control over.
I guess with video, there will be new issues, but I think that many of the end-to-end oriented solutions should be able handle the QoS issues without trying to create a smart or circuit oriented network.

After returning from a week in the US and realizing how important the trip was and how useful Supernova was, I started thinking about next year. I have enough conferences and meetings to fill the whole year with schmoozing. How do I cut this down to a few high quality meetings? If I am in conferences all year, I surely won't get any REAL work done. A healthy balance of networking and real work is essential.

When I was at Supernova, Dave and I talked about the World Economic Forum. He wrote a nice essay on an idea to create a bloggers conference. I think this is a great idea. The trick now is to get enough interesting people to agree to come, but to keep small enough to make it fun.

The best conferences I attended this year were the Fortune Brainstorm in Aspen, the Global Leaders for Tomorrow Annual Meeting in Geneva and Pop!Tech. They were all in the 100-200 people range. I think that 100-200 is the right size. The Trilateral Commission meeting was about 300 or so people and it was interesting too, but the group was less diverse... (Although I would go if they ever invited me again.) The World Economic Forum meeting in New York was a bit too big to be cozy, but Japan related sessions are essential for me... Supernova was great from a "meet everyone interested in this space" perspective, but I think it could use more diversity. The fact that everyone was blogging was cool. It pushed the envelop from the conference blogging perspective and it's great to see friends.

This year, I have committed to going to The WEF meeting in Davos to deliver our Blueprint for Japan 2020 and Mark Anderson's SNS conference.

So, do we start something new, or op-opt someone's conference? Who's going to get it going? It takes a lot of energy and networking juice to get one of these things to happen...

I'm back in Tokyo after quite an interesting week in Silicon Valley. As I landed in the airport, I noticed that the "gee, I'm back in Japan" feeling that I usually have was much less. The airport smell was "normal" and I didn't feel I was really "back" but that it was just another normal day. I think it is because I have been traveling SO much these last few months. So here is my theory.

I think that when you SWITCH infrequently, there is a literal switch. I remember when I used to only travel once or twice a year, I could feel my brain switch from English to Japanese, driving on the right side of the road to driving on the left side of the road. When I started traveling a lot more, this switch didn't happen and it all became one experience.

I've noticed that people who I went to school with at the American School in Japan can generally mix English and Japanese, but many people who switch between English and Japanese can't mix. (We call this mixing chanpon)

Having just switched to the Mac, I'm finding a similar experience. I now have 4 different keyboards and 3 operating systems (Mac, OS X shell, Windows) each with their hotkeys. I find that as I switch back and forth between keyboards and OS's a lot, I am becoming more and more able to "speak" the different hotkey combinations without messing them up.

I've heard that people who learn a third language after learning a second language often use words from the second language by mistake. I'm sure this is because your brain is trying to "map" the new language on in the same space as the old one and you trigger the wrong thing sometimes. It's like trying to install a new OS over an old one and keep some of the stuff from the old one.

I once took a class on brain damage. There was a study that we read that talked about "brain crowding". Some girl was a great at drawing and got brain damage and she lost her ability to speak. As she learned to speak again, her drawing ability diminished. So the brain reallocated that part of the brain towards to more a important thing.

Assuming that you have a limited brain surface area, I guess the trick is storing things as efficiently as possible.

So my theory. When you are switching between modes and you hear a big CLICK in your head, you're probably using two different sections of your brain. When you can get it all to feel like one thing, you're probably learning to store it in one place and trigger just the differences and that method, I assume it's more efficient, but I wonder if it is worth trying to get better at this sort of multi-mode storage. I wonder if you can LEARN to learn more multi-modally... hmm....

joibathroompop1994_thumb.jpg
PSINet Japan's POP in my bathroom circa 1994
Found this old picture of my bathroom which sparked some old memories.

Back in 1993 IIKK, which was Japan's first commercial Internet connection, was looking for a place to put their POP. They were owned at the time by Intercon and they were unknown in Japan. No one would rent an office to them. I lent them my bathroom. A few months later PSINet bought IIKK. I was probably one of the first people in Tokyo to have a 128K leased line to their toilet.

Then, the founding Eccosys team gathered around the leased line. Cyrus, Shimokawa, Daishi, Sen, Jona and Yuki. We bought a used Sun SPARC 1+ over USENet and set up a server. When the NCSA web server came out in 1993 we were ready. We were bunch of kids with a lot of free time, a leased line and a UNIX server. We started one of the first web pages in Japan, "Tomigaya." Later, Yoon joined the team. (And turned out to be the best manager of the bunch.)

Eccosys merged with Digital Garage which went public in 1999 with Hayashi-san at the helm. (Several US Web companies offered to buy us. I'm glad we didn't sell.) Before going public Digital Garage created Infoseek Japan.I left Digital Garage and ran Infoseek Japan with Takao Nakamura as CEO and me as Chairman after it was sold to Infoseek Corp. Infoseek was acquired by Disney. (Reporting to the Disney was probably one of my more "rigorous" experiences...) Then Disney sold Infoseek Japan to Rakuten where it is sitting happily ranking third place after Yahoo and MSN in reach and is a nice profitable business. (I'm still on the board.)

I also ran PSINet Japan for about a year until I got them out of my bathroom and into a real office. ;-) PSINet Japan was sold to C&W as part of PSIX's bankruptcy liquidation. I was on the PSINet Japan board until C&W bought it. I think PSINet Japan was one of the few profitable units in the PSINet empire.

So nothing against my former parents... The Japanese kids somehow survived while the parents passed away. I loved them all... except some folks at Disney... oh... and a few from my Infoseek days. And now that you mention it, I keep in touch with only a few people including Barak Berkowitz, Bill Schrader, Ned Desmond and Michael Johnson, but many of the people from those days have faded away...

Well, this time at Neoteny I don't have a parent to fight with or blame. We only have ourselves. (I better stop blogging and get back to work...)

ubiquitous
adjective
existing or found everywhere

Had lunch with Justin and Jane. I met Jane for the first time and it was cool to be able to start talking about stuff right away since I read her blogs and she reads my blog. We were "synched" and ready to go. She was very cool and just like I imagined.

And Justin... I was once called ubiquitous by someone and I remember looking it up in the dictionary. Justin is ubiquitous. Not only does everyone know Justin, everyone has just recently seen him. Another ubiquitous person I know is Gohsuke Takama. I used to see him at every rave, walking in front of my car in Berkeley, under the table of an art exhibit I was judging for the Interactive Media Festival as "techno-shaman Gohsuke". Phil Zimmerman has signed Gohsuke's PGP key and he is always everywhere at once. Both Gohsuke and Justin are globally ubiquitous.

The other day, Barak told me I was like Forest Gump. (I didn't like this comparison of course.) I'm always around when big things happen, but not necessarily at the center. I was Pierre Omidyar's classmate in college. We were setting up Yahoo's server in Japan before Softbank invested in Yahoo. I was with Timothy Leary the night before he died... the list goes on. Being ubiquitous is very different from being a power broker or the center of things that happen. I think some people are nodes. Some people are hubs. Howard, for instance is a big node. Howard connects to a lot of things, but also does a lot of sitting and thinking. I may have been semi-ubiquitous, but I'm more and more a hub linking nodes I think...

Anyway, I was busy today, wanted to post at least one thing and all I could manage was this stupid comparison between human beings and computer networks. Sorry!

We had a joint dinner tonight with Enjin01, a group of cultural leaders that I co-founded and the Cultural Design Forum, where many of the people from Enjin01 had defected from. We talked about possibly merging the groups back again. There was a basic disagreement. The Cultural Design Forum wanted to continue to have big annual meetings and basically talk about stuff to the public. Enjin01 has seminars, but Saigusa-san explained that we are pro-actively trying to pushing reform forward.

I drove Saigusa-san home and I told him that it was time to be active, not just vocal. I remember I said something similar at dinner last night, but this is such a unique time in Japanese history... When I am in San Francisco, it is almost boring because they let you do anything you want. This horrible government, the pressure and the oppression give me a sense of purpose. It is almost exhillerating. It is the same feeling I have when I watch movies about revolutions. I am not an anarchist, but maybe I enjoy anarchy. There is such an opportunity to create value and impact history when stuff is so screwed up... I really think that good timing, the Internet and some organizational skills might wake up the Japanese people. This is possibly a once in a century opportunity to see an awakening of a country...

Or maybe I'm being too optimistic. Well, it is probably not a bad thing to be optimistic when everyone is running the other direction...

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...

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...

draemon.gif
doraemon2.gif

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.
tanaka2.jpg

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...

Last week my uncle Hiro visited from Iwate to let me know that he was turning 70 and that I should start preparing to take over the family business. The family business is not really a business, but a family foundation that runs schools. The main school is currently a school for nurses.

When my parents divorced in the early 80's, I decided to change my name from my father's name "Izu" to my mother's family name, "Ito" because there was no one else to take over the family lineage in my generation on my mother's side of the family. The family has been in our house in Iwate for 800 years and 17 generations or so. I heard once that we can trace our family for about 27 generations. Our family was originally military strategists. My great grandfather was a geography teacher to the Emperor and after that our family has been focused primarily on education. When my grandfather was off to war, my great grandmother started one of the first high schools for girls in Iwate. My grandfather invested our family fortune in war bonds. My grandfather died before the end of the war and we were nearly bankrupt after the war. Our home was used as the HQ for the US occupation forces in the region. Much of our land was taken away and our family took what assets we had and poured them into building a foundation now called The Foundation for Global Education and Communication. We build a nurse school, a day care center and an English school. The government put a very formal looking sign in front of our house declaring the house "The former residence of the Ito family." I have to remember to tell them that we still live there...

My mother passed away and before my eldest uncle passed away, he declared that I was to take over the family lineage after my other uncle ran the family and passed it on to me. Running the family includes funding the foundation (very difficult when you don't have much money), taking care of the grave (17 generations. When I stare at the names etched in the gravestone, I realize I am merely a blip in the history of our family.) and taking care of the family home.

I'm not really ready to do this and this visit from my uncle was a sudden and frightening realization of my future fate...

PS The facts about the history are gleaned from memories of discussions with my grandmother and mother about our family. Therefore, I worry a bit about the accuracy. My uncle has hired a reporter to interview our great aunt who apparently knows more about our family than anyone else to try to get some of the facts cleared up...

Japan has a process where they make boards and inquiry panels to discuss important issues with experts and the public. These inquiry panels are defined by law and are supposed to be an important part of the law making process, but in fact they are often used to diffuse public pressure and just act like they care. I am often asked to join such panels and I find I learn a lot about what is going on and can usually influence the direction ever so slightly. I usually feel this is better than not doing anything, but I am often citied as having been co-opted. In the past, the issues haven't been so important or public so it hasn't really mattered. This time it does.

A month or so ago, the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications which is in charge of the National ID that I have been protesting approached me and asked me if I could organize a panel to review the privacy issues around the National ID. I consulted with our protest movement we decided that if the results were made public and we could fund some privacy research, this was probably a good thing. We are now in the process of organizing a global survey of privacy technology, privacy commissioners and other things that would be useful in considering how to set up the Japanese government privacy policy. We hope to create a recommendation about what Japan should do in creating new system as well as what we can do to minimize privacy invasiveness in the current system. So far so good.

Now I have been contacted again, but this time the request is to be on the board of the National ID committee and be in charge of privacy! Apparently this is a request from the minister. (Very interesting since I practically called him a liar on a live national news program where we debated against each other and I think he called me something that sounded a lot like "stupid." Anyway...) It is probably a move to try to co-opt me. I replied saying that I have no intention of stopping my anti-National ID activity or becoming "quiet." I said I would consider taking the post if I was allowed to be completely open and public about what we discussed in the meetings and if I were allowed to continue to protest the National ID. I think that if I were to take such a post, it would negatively impact the movement. Having said that, as we all know from Karl Auerbach's ability to really be a pain in the ass to ICANN as a board member, I think co-opting doesn't work when one is able to be public with one's comments. So I'm thinking about this. If they come back and tell me that I have to stop protesting or I have to keep the meeting discussions confidential, I will obviously say, "No." On the other hand, if I am able to blog everything that is going on inside, I wonder if they will be able to co-opt me. Anyway, this may end up being quite an interesting test for this medium and my blog...

On the other hand, (since I know my investors, board members and employees are now reading my blog...) I probably don't have to time to do the job properly considering the fact that I have a REAL JOB and this whole thing was supposed to be just a hobby... hmm.... And if I focus my REAL JOB too much on my hobby, it compromises my independence... hmm... All this is SO difficult.

I had dinner tonight with Barak, Michiel (who started today as an intern from Hitotsubashi Biz School) and 4 students from Stanford's ATI program. Michiel said that he thought that I was unfocused. (I've been called this before. Jun called me "scatterbrained" when asked about me after he first met me.) Michiel said he felt my blog was too unfocused. I guess that's true, but I thought it was a feature, not a problem. Michiel admitted that he was often negative. (Jun said the other day that he thought people sounded 30% smarter when they were negative.) Anyway, I had been actually been worried about this in my blog, but I didn't admit it to Michiel. So, I wonder. Do people care what I care about or is focus and order more important than my random thoughts. I guess it depends. (Doesn't everything.) At the Fortune brainstorm meeting former congressman Jack Kemp said, "People don't care how much you know until they know that you care." So I guess I wonder whether people are reading primarily for 1) entertainment, 2) because they care about what I think, 3) they are looking for information... Again, I'm sure it's a combination. Maybe I should do a cluster analysis on my readers. Maybe I shouldn't care. As 10 Tips on Writing the Living Web says, (I found this site on Blogdex.) "write for yourself; you are, in the end, your most important reader." So there you go. I'm justified.

pages3thumb.png
So I've been blogging for 54 days now and I'm definitely addicted. I know I've said this before, but it is DEFINITELY different than just having a web page. As Frank warned me, all day long I think about things to blog. Everything I read on the web is potential blog material and I find I am reading much more and chasing all kinds of ideas a lot further than I used to. Also, since I have a Japanese section, I find I have started to try to read Japanese much more. (Even though I still suck.) I write almost every day. Web surfing has taken on a whole new meaning. I have had 4,652 distinct hosts visit the site since I started. Since many people are behind firewalls that appear as single hosts, the number of people who have visited is probably higher. I check my access log and look at the referral list and graphs of the requests to see what events trigger what sort of accesses and see who is sending my how many people. I find myself spamming my friends, messing around with google and doing all sorts of things to try to increase the traffic to the site. (This obsession with traffic may be a subconscious yearning from helping run Infoseek Japan for so long and always trying to catch up. We are in 3rd place after Yahoo and MSN now... But at least we have outlasted the parent. Anyway...) It is kind of like sitting in front of my computer with a bunch of my friends looking over my shoulder. At the same time, I surf around and read other people's blogs looking over their shoulders.

I talked to Dan Gillmor yesterday on the phone and he said that the audience is now the media. (Or something like that. Correct me if I'm wrong Dan.) I think the Smartmobs stuff that Howard talks about is about a similar phenomenon.

So I'm supposed to be a professional IT investor. I'm also supposed to be spending my time thinking about my work, not farting around on the Net just for fun. Yossi Vardi said that instant messaging was an addictive drug and he (one of the founders of ICQ) was a drug dealer. So where is the money? Is there any money to be made in blogging? There are blogging tools like Movable Type, Radio Userland and Blogger. There are ASP's for bloggers, there is Blogdex a blog crawler/index... but are any of these things really going to make money?

The last few years of the Internet bubble were riddled with people trying to make money on stuff that should have been someone's hobby. Maybe the core of blogging is this way. Maybe I should be thinking about what social changes blogging causes and what new businesses this enables or makes obsolete?

Maybe I should be thinking about what happens when we integrate P2P, voice, video, IM, home servers and cell phones?

Maybe I shouldn't be thinking too much and should keep blogging until it "comes to me." ;-)

Anyway... Just a thought... I'm late for a meeting... gotta run!

I find I have a terrible memory. I often confuse things that happened during my days at Tufts University and University of Chicago. I can't remember people at all. I have horrible problems remembering what I did when. I recently met someone I knew in college and he remembered a karaoke club that I took him to that has completely disappeared from my memory. Anyway...

I've found that digging up old web entries from the past has helped me reconstruct my memory. I'm finding, having jumped into blogging rather agressively, that it is beginning to create an interesting trail of entries that will probably be very useful to me in the future. So, this blog is serving two important purposes. Publishing my thoughts, but also externalizing my memory function.

I remember once when John Lilly was invited to a conference in Japan about John Lilly, he was asked to comment after almost a full day of people discussing his life and his work. He said, "you all know MUCH more than I will ever be able to remember so there's not much for me to say." or something like that. ;-)

There is a Wired News article - Blog to Cope With Alzheimer's Fog
I found the link on Media coverage of weblogs

As Justin and I prepare this web site for our July 1 launch and I port over all of the old columns from Japan Inc. I am reminded about an issue that has been haunting my online and real life style. Most of the people who read my Japan Inc. column liked it because it presented a unique view, but several people commented that it was just a bunch of name dropping. I've also heard that people inside of a Japanese government agency call me a name dropper.

As Justin and I prepare this web site for our July 1 launch and I port over all of the old columns from Japan Inc. I am reminded about an issue that has been haunting my online and real life style. Most of the people who read my Japan Inc. column liked it because it presented a unique view, but several people commented that it was just a bunch of name dropping. I've also heard that people inside of a Japanese government agency call me a name dropper.

Name dropping is an interesting thing. I suppose it is annoying when someone is doing it for some sort of gain such as better treatment or just plain bragging. My Japanese elders often tell me that a true Japanese does not disclose one's contacts and that it is not cultured to talk about "who you know."

The problem is, I think one of the most interesting things about me is who I know. When I meet other people like me, we usually do a quick brain dump of who we know and try to zoom in on a few mutual friends. More like name "dumping." This is a sort of standard protocol for me. For instance, I recently met David Smith we instantly bonded through our mutual relationship with Michael Backes and our similar view on how crazy and wonderful he was. ;-)

I'm also fascinated by interesting people. I have my views about other people and am very interested in other peoples' views about people. Trading list of "people you should definitely meet" is a very important part of initiating friends into my network. So I can't imaging not talking about all of the interesting people I meet.

Anyway, I guess I am trying justify myself. Maybe I shouldn't worry. Actually, I've never had anyone I truely respected be bothered by my "name dropping" so maybe it is an attribute of people who are concerned by their own lack of friends. I guess I don't need to respect of people who confuse me with the petty businessman who waves the name card of a politician when dealing with bureaucrats...

I am slowly starting to get back into the rhythm of my busy life again. In the last month, we had memorial services at our home in Portola Valley, at her company, ECD in Troy, Michigan, at our home town in Iwate, Japan and in Hawaii.

My mother passed away. My mother had cancer for over 20 years and we had been struggling with her illness for a long time. She passed away at home with the support of the family. I think my mother had a very fruitful and happy life and was the most significant inspiration in my life.

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