Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Mena writes about August Capital and Jay Allen joining the Six Apart team. August is a top class Silicon Valley VC firm and they have recently invested $10M in Six Apart. Thank you for your confidence and welcome to the team. Jay Allen is the author of MT Blacklist and will be joining as a product manager. Welcome Jay.

People have been reporting about the FBI ordering a hosting provider, Rackspace, with offices in the US and the UK to seize at least two servers from Indymedia's UK datacenter. Indymedia is a well known edgy alternative news site which was established to provide grassroots coverage of the WTO protests in Seattle. It has grown into a multinational resource for some hardcore journalism including a lot of work on the Diebold and the Patroit Act issues. The reports as well as Indymedia's page on this story say that the FBI has not provided a reason for the seizure to Indymedia. The statement from Rackspace says:

Rackspace
In the present matter regarding Indymedia, Rackspace Managed Hosting, a U.S. based company with offices in London, is acting in compliance with a court order pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), which establishes procedures for countries to assist each other in investigations such as international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering. Rackspace responded to a Commissioner’s subpoena, duly issued under Title 28, United States Code, Section 1782 in an investigation that did not arise in the United States. Rackspace is acting as a good corporate citizen and is cooperating with international law enforcement authorities. The court prohibits Rackspace from commenting further on this matter.
In past, Indymedia has done stuff like posting photos of undercover police officers. However, according to Indymedia, the "FBI asked for the Nantes post on swiss police to be removed, but admitted no laws were violated". This time the FBI has not told them what they've done wrong and Rackspace is under a gag order so they can't even tell Indymedia exactly what hardware they removed.

This implies that some non-US entity had the FBI force an action in the UK under MLAT. This means that Indymedia is being suspected of engaging in international terrorism, kidnapping or money laundering. I've seen some extreme reporting on Indymedia, but terrorism, kidnapping or money laundering? I guess the definition of "terrorism" has been expanded to meet popular demand these days, but come on... really?

This reminds me of toywar. A group of Swiss artists established in 1994 who are Golden Nica award winners from my Ars Electronica jury in 1996 call themselves etoy. Later, Etoys, founded in 1998 tried to take the etoy.com domain by force. They got a temporary injunction against the web site because a judge in LA agreed that it was confusing to customers of Etoys. Network Soutions complied and went beyond their call of duty and shut down etoy.com email as well for good measure. Swiss artists can be sued in a US court and having their email shut down by a US registrar.

My point is, be careful where your data lives...

UPDATE: nyc.indymedia.org is speculating that it is because Indymedia published the identities of the RNC delegates.

UPDATE2: It appears that maybe it wasn't the RNC, but the photos of the police officers according to Cryptome.

UPDATE3: imajes has an written a letter to his MPs. Maybe others should do the same.

Google
What is Google Print?

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Since a lot of the world's information isn't yet online, we're helping to get it there. Google Print puts the content of books where you can find it most easily; right in Google search results.

To use Google Print, just do searches on Google as you normally would. Whenever a book contains content that matches your search terms, we'll show links to that book in your search results. Click on the book title and you'll go to a "content page," where you can see the page containing your search terms and other information about the book. You can also search for other topics within the book. Click on the "Buy this Book" link and you'll go straight to a bookstore selling the book online.
If you're a book publisher and you'd like to have your books included in Google search results, look into the Google Print program for publishers.

Holy shit. Watch out Amazon, here they come!

via danah

UPDATE: It appears that people have known about this since last year and it has been on and off in test mode, but the official announcement was Oct 6th.

I've agreed to be the technical advisor for a movie currently in production called The Negotiator / Mashita Masayoshi. It's the third movie in a series which started as a TV series and was followed with two movies called Odoru Dai Sousasen or Bayside Shakedown. In the first two movies, Ujiie-san from Infoseek Japan helped out a bit and in exchange they used Infoseek in the movie and had an Infoseek.co.jp sticker on the hero's computer. The third movie doesn't have the sames stars as Bayside Shakedown, but has a pretty big role for the computer team.

The series is about the police force based in Tokyo Bay. The characters are quite fun and I've always enjoyed the series. I am excited to be working with this excellent team. In the past they've always done little things to get a cult following. Cool stickers, realistic technology, etc.

The story is about a negotiator for the police and a very technically sophisticated bad guy. The movie comes out during Golden Week next year. I don't think they have plans for US release.

My job will be to help them find images, software and ideas to try to make the movie realistic from a computer network and technology perspective. I've just set up a wiki page. Guess why? Because, I need help from all of you. ;-)

Japanese press conference for movie

Fantastic article in Wired by Chris Anderson titled The Long Tail. You MUST read it. Physical distribution limits the number of titles of books, music, DVDs that can be stocked. He explains that online sales show that the market size of stuff below the break even threshold for physical distribution is often larger than the market for the "hits" that make it into stores. He calls this "The Long Tail". We can essentially double the market for most content by figuring out ways to help people find the stuff they are looking for in the long tail and deliver it online.

He also makes another important point about pricing. The iTunes 99 cents is too expensive. It's based on a calculation to protect CD distribution. He suggests that the price should be based on how much your time is worth. In other words, at what price is it not worth your time to find, download and tag a track from a file sharing network. He thinks that maybe this number is around 20 cents for a college student.

I absolutely agree with his analysis and it's great that he's got so many figures and facts to support the argument.

UPDATE: POP STARS? NEIN DANKE! -
In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen people...
written by Momus in 1991 is very relevant to this discussion. Thanks Boris.