Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Yes! The woman speaking ahead of me gave the history of television and talked about Steamboat Willie. What an excellent segue-way into my Creative Commons "creativity is built on the past" riff. Steamboat Willie, as you will know if you read Free Culture, is the Walt Disney rip-off parody of Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jr. and the first successful Mickey Mouse animation. Lessig likes to call this parody and remix creativity "Walt Disney creativity". The panel is about innovation and creativity in digital television and I'm going to talk about going beyond interactive television and allowing people to interact with the content as creators and considering the use of creative commons in the television context.

UPDATE: It was fun. Since "freedom of the press" was invoked by a previous speaker, I got a chance to point out that the US founding fathers were probably referring more to giving the people a voice and not about protecting multi-national media conglomerates.

I'm on a panel right now in Milan. I learned the name of the conference when I finally got my pass. Lucky for me that they have simultaneous translation. On the other hand, I'm the ONLY one in the room who is using it right now since the speaker is speaking in Italian. There are two translators as usual who switch back and forth so the other can take a break. The thing is, the resting translator seems to be trying to make the speaking translator laugh. She keeps shutting off the translation and cracking up laughing. You can still catch the laugh when switches the mic back on and here the giggle under her breath. You can also hear the antagonistic translator scribbling jokes onto paper and putting it in front of the other translator. This reminds me of when the IRC back channel tries to make people giggle during serious talks.

It's a bit surreal. I'm the only participating in their performance and everyone is listening to this serious talk oblivious to whatever tremendously funny thing is going in the translation booth. I wish I could signal them so they would let me in on the joke...

After my blog post about joining ICANN and protecting the Internet from the ITU, I received several essays and arguments about how I didn't understand the ITU. I promise to study the ITU more and enter the dialog with an open mind. The previous post is based on my understanding which is admittedly not first hand maybe a bit shallow. It was based on discussions with people whose opinion I respect highly so I am still fairly convinced that ICANN is better than ITU, but if anyone has anything that they think I should read to understand the ITU and why THEY should take over ICANN's role, please send me email or drop a comment here and I will read it. I'll post again when I'm a bit more educated from more first hand sources.

I'm sitting in the Italian Parliament (I think.) The panel I was on was dealing with the impact of digital/Internet on content creation and distribution. It started yesterday and continued today. I think it lasted about seven hours or so in total. I found myself in violent disagreement at the beginning because they kept talking about piracy. The interesting thing about this panel (probably more common in other cultures, but new for me) was that we had to come to a written consensus by the end of the session and present it in the Parliament building. It would then be distributed to politicians across Europe as a recommendation.

I found myself negotiating like some UN diplomat.

In the end, here is where we ended up on a few of my "hot buttons".

Organized, for-profit, commercial piracy was different from P2P file sharing by individuals. We could not agree on the impact of P2P file sharing, but we agreed that punishing file sharing was not the only/best way to deal with the issue. I pushed for a stronger stance, my position being that as Chris Anderson says in The Long Tail, it's a matter of price and convenience. People will pay if the experience is better. That was not included in the statement, but "education" was used instead. Blah. I just made a statement that I disagree with this and that there is not enough evidence that P2P filesharing of music is really bad for the music industry.

It appeared that people had a VERY bad image of Creative Commons. For some reason they thought that CC was trying to force people to share and was anti-copyright. I explained the CC was built upon copyright and was trying to help artists choose their copyright.

This part turned out quite well in the statement. They said that CC was a tool, not to steal from artists, but to give them the choice to share and lower the parasitic costs (legal) of choosing a license. They concluded that CC was NOT a threat as they had originally envisioned, but a complimentary and a good thing. The tone was very pro-artist and less tolerant of distributors, the idea of giving more control to artists seemed to be quite attractive.

I'm about to have a chance to object to some of the issues I see in the statement and give an address about my thoughts. I'm going to talk about the value of the Long Tail and Creative Commons.

Yesterday, I got lost running around looking for the building where I was supposed to be on the panel. The street was numbered so that they they started from one on one side of the street, go all the way to the end of the street and turn around and continue to increase in number on the other side of the street. So the highest number and the lowest number are across the street from each other. This was very disorienting and very inconvenient since I started on the wrong side of the street and I was trying to go to building #1. I was carry a very heavy bag with my computer, but I scurried down the street to try to get to the panel on time. I got them just in time. No one was there. )panic( Then people slowly started showing up. They had wine, food, dessert, espresso, and finally the panel started about one hour late. OK. My fault. When in Rome...

So today. I showed up a whole hour late, trying to game the system properly. Little did I know that a special rule applies for early morning meetings. It was a 9AM panel. I arrived at 10. A few people were here chatting in the hall. The organizer seemed relaxed and said we'd be starting in a bit. It's 10:30 AM now. Most of the panel have arrived, but we're still short. Anyway, I should probably just relax and enjoy it. I'm not complaining. I'm just observing how utterly different it is from Japan where I get scolded for starting my press conferences 2 minutes late...