Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Dan Gillmor and crew have announced HonorTags. This builds on his citizen journalists pledge, but is basically a way to tag posts to describe context and role of the author. Currently they have: HonorTagJournalism, HonorTagProfessional, HonorTagAdvocate, HonorTagPersonal, HonorTagFiction, HonorTagUnTag. They are soliciting feedback. Maybe I should suggest HonorTagJoker.

Micah Sifry has written a nice piece about why wifi and cheap broadband is an essential enabler and more important than direct aid for communities which need help. He references various examples and source. I completely agree. I remember speaking to a UN diplomat who said that the Internet has changed the face of global policy making. He told us that the Anti-Personal Land-mine Treaty would not have happened if it weren't for email and the ability for NGOs to get information, organize and pressure governments and the UN using the Internet. I believe that at every level, it is essential to empower individuals and communities with a voice and the Internet is in a position to enable people for the first time at a reasonable cost. It is about global voices.

I believe that it is easy enough to run a basic Wifi, Internet and Voice over IP network that in many cases municipal governments can run them. I realize this hurts competition and this is what Verizon argued when they tried to stop Philadelphia for setting up their own Wifi network, but I think it would be better than what we have now. In many places broadband is controlled by organizations that are effectively monopolies anyway. See for example the new ruling in the US that cable companies don't have to allow others to provide access through their network. Would you rather have the network run by a monopoly that is controlled by a bunch of greedy shareholders or a local government that the people at least have some control over?

People will argue that allowing local governments to operate networks will stifle innovation because of lack of competition. I think that the benefit is worth the cost of providing cheaper and more universal access. The network is becoming less and less a "service" and more and more a "thing". You can buy a bunch of routers and hook them together and you have a pretty good network. You do need maintenance, but you don't need some huge company with a bunch of bell-heads running the thing. Simple access is more like a road than a full-service hotel. It just has to be cheap and work.

I agree that this isn't for all municipal governments, but I think the central governments of the world should try very hard not to give in to the pressure of the telco lobbies and stifle the attempts of municipal governments to provide network services including voice. I also believe that non-profits and NGOs can play a huge role in helping provide access in addition to municipal governments as well as helping municipal governments set up such networks.

The other day, I met with the guys doing Tokyo Art Beat. Tokyo Art Beat is probably the most comprehensive art event site for Tokyo in both English and Japanese. Interestingly, even though they are both French, the site is not yet available in French. Anyway, I know at least a dozen people who have pinged me that they are going to be in Tokyo over the next few weeks so I would recommend this site to find cool things to do when you are in town.

Frode and his team at Liquid Information have launched a demo of Hyperwords. Hyperwords is a very big idea about tools that make the web a lot more linky and contextual. For now, the demo allows you to load a web page through Hyperwords and mouse over and select various functions from a menu including looking up the definition, searching for on search engines including Technorati and highlighting. The cool thing about the highlighting is that the info is added to the URL so you can copy paste the URL to someone to give them your highlighting. Anyway, I know Frode is looking for feedback so give it a try and let him know what you think.

This blog piped through Hyperwords

Demo page for Hyperwords

UPDATE: Interview with Frode

UPDATE 2: Frode has released a new version:

demo page

This site viewed through version 4

To the page where you can make any page live

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal about the rise of more aggressive nationalist Japanese politicians. The article gives the example of the recent decision to willingness to challenge China, for instance, in the dispute over natural gas drilling in the East China Sea. These politicians, according to the article, are taking leadership away from the bureaucrats who traditionally ran most of the foreign policy. I haven't read much about this and have been away from Japanese politics for awhile, but if this article is accurate, it's a disturbing trend. I think the move for Japan to become more "normal" is a good thing, but I don't think that a nationalist position is a good one.

However, the Asahi reports that 52% of Japanese polled say Koizumi should halt shrine visits and the Japanese Emperor Akihito made a surprise visit to a Korean war dead memorial in Saipan on Tuesday.

So it appears to me that once again, the central government and the LDP are out of touch with the people and even the Emperor and it's the politicians who are fueling this nationalist mood. I wonder what we can do about it... It's clearly a bad idea.