Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

As an employee of The New York Times Company, I probably should not raise this issue - but hey! - journalists are instinctive troublemakers.

What views on the decision by www.nytimes.com and www.iht.com to implement the Times Select paid subscriptions system for the highest profile columnists.

I fear we are giving room for new columnists to arise out of the Blogoshere to rival our own marquee names.

I have not thought enough about it, but I wonder if the opposite tactic might not be best. We give away the high profile columnists and charge for specific stories and local news that people cannot get elsewhere. The columnists increase our footprint and we cut out much of the blogosphere.

The problem, of course, is we need to find a way to pay for my salary and – very modest – expenses. Any thought on how to keep me in a job by earning money off our websites is much appreciated!

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Just returned to Paris from Munich where I went to write a story on the progress of Open Source implementation by the city government: Microsoft Chief Dines in a Linux City

The project has been troubled but is still on track.

Attended a small dinner hosted by Dr. Hubert Burda of Hubert Burda Media that was attended by the CEOs of BMW, Adidas and other major German companies. Steve Ballmer, the guest of honor, spoke briefly about Open Source and Google.

Ballmer clearly views Google as enemy number 1. He said something like Google had better watch out because the people in Microsoft will be forced to work “harder and harder and harder and harder and harder and harder until we offer better services” repeating the word half a dozen times. Quite forceful and you can see his drive.

He was also interesting about the future of the corporation when confronted with open source. Corporations offer consistency over time and user support, Ballmer argued.

Several members of the audience disagreed: “Have you ever tried to call Dell or Apple or Microsoft for a problem you have? No, you go to online forums to look up what other users recommend.”

As for consistency over time, one reason the city of Munich went for Open Source is that they were angered about being forced to pay for an upgrade to Windows XP.

They expect the savings, however, is expected not in the licensing fee for the software, but in the ability to switch service companies. If you buy Microsoft, only Microsoft can provide servicing. If you use open source, you can change service providers.

To come back to the original question: How will corporations look in a world where collaborative volunteer efforts do things for free on the Internet? Will corporations disappear?

The Ig Nobel Prizes, the Nobel Prize of all things funny are streaming live now.

via Steve Crandall

Creative Commons (CC) has traditionally been supported by a small number of foundations which have very generously allowed CC to get started and grow into an international movement. (Thanks!) CC is now entering its second phase where it must begin to be supported by the public itself. This is an important step and is also required by the tax authorities in the US for CC to retain its nonprofit status.

Larry has written something about the fund raising as well as an update on CC over on the CC site. Please take a look at it and send your donation to the CC fundraising campaign! Thanks in advance.

Today I went on my first World of Warcraft (WoW) raid. WoW has two "sides" Horde and Alliance. The Alliance are the usual "good guys", humans, elves, dwarves and gnomes. The Horde are undead, tauren, trolls and orcs. The designers have created stories for the Horde side that tell of the suffering and struggle of each of the Horde races and makes each one justified and lovable. One of the many parallel layers of the game involves the war between Alliance and Horde. In addition to the normal experience gained from killing monsters and completing quests, there is a whole ranking system based on honor points, honorable kills and dishonorable kills. Basically, huge mobs of players get together and raid towns and castles of the other "side". Killing civilians, even from the other side constitutes a "dishonorable kill" and can hamper your ability to gain rank. You basically kill guards and other players who have "Player vs Player (PvP)" turned on, signaling that they are non-civilians. Killing the leader of the particular city, fort or castle provides special honor. The ranks are based on military ranks and after you gain this rank, it is prominently displayed even when you're not fighting the other side.

It was my first raid so most of my energy was spent figuring out exactly what the hell I was supposed to be doing, but the whole mission was organized in a somewhat dysfunctional military way with teams and squad leaders. I have no idea whether I was running with a bunch of 13 year olds or professional soldiers (the game has many of both) but the raid channel chat was a bit noisy. What was disturbing was the hateful and some of the over-the-top role playing. Other members of the raid were clearly disturbed as well. I imagined a bunch of leaderless young soldiers raping and pillaging some village. I felt a bit dirty afterwards.

This is only one sample so I probably should not make a judgement yet. Maybe I should try a raid with my guild members... Or better yet, maybe I should get our Orc guild tough enough to defend the cities from these bad humans. ;-)

I was a bit too low level to be on a raid and I kept dying, but here's a picture of me on the steps of the lower level of the big Horde Undercity.