Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Richard showed me how to put my style sheet (Which Boris made) in my feeds (RSS 1.0/RSS 2.0). Take a look at it in your news reader and tell me what you think. Also, if you think this is "funky" please let me know why. It is sort of a weird thing, but at least in NetNewsWire, it looks pretty good.

Richard describes how to do it on his blog.

A few days ago, I quoted Wendy Seltzer in a entry about building norms together with the technologies.

I wondered at first if privacy tensions would ease as more people became more technically sophisticated, but I'm inclined to think that gaps in understanding will just move with the tech, and social norms will follow still further behind.
danah responds with an interesting point.
I think it is quite dangerous to believe that social norms are "falling behind." Social norms aren't behind; they're baffled at the direction in which things are going. They're pushing for a different direction and they aren't being heard. People are using technology to meet their needs, but they are not prepared for how the architecture is pulling them in a different direction.

Arguing that social norms can fall behind suggests that there is a hierarchy to the four points of regulation. Those points are valuable in discussion because they provide tensions. Social norms pull in different directions than the market, the law or the technology. This does not mean that it is behind. Quite often, social norms leapfrog everyone else. For example, social norms pushed Napster into creating an architecture that challenged the market and the law. It wasn't that the market was behind, but that it was pulling in a different direction and with a new tension, things need to be worked out.

Thus, rather than thinking about how social norms are behind, i truly believe that we should be understanding why social norms are pulling in a different direction. What does this say about the population being served by the technology?

This is a good point. A agree with danah that it is probably not a hierarchy. Sometimes there is a tension and sometimes norms drive technology.

I am reminded of the days when pagers were really popular among the youth in Japan. Back in the day, the pagers only sent numerical codes so kids came up with special codes to mean a variety of things such as "I love you" or "see you at 6pm". There were eventually code books published with a variety of numerical codes for phrases. You would see kids touch typing with two fingers encoded messages on public phone REALLY FAST. This was a technology being pushed beyond the limits of the designers by a need in society and a whole social norm built around a pretty skimpy architecture. These pagers eventually became alpha-numeric and when text messaging became available on cell phones, kids switched to cell phones. It is this pager culture from which the text messaging culture emerged and it was this youth culture that the carriers were tracking and designing their products for.

Mizuka and I went to Kyoto yesterday to celebrate Mameyoshi becoming a geisha. Mameyoshi was a maiko until recently. Maiko are young girls who live in okiya and are in training to become geisha They generally start when they are 15-16 and can be identified by their long flowing obi and the fact that they use their real hair for the hair styling. Typically maiko become geisha and become independent when they are 18-20 years old. There are two types of geisha. Geisha who perform with musical elements and geisha who are focused on dancing. Usually, geisha who perform with musical instruments are not maiko first, but Mameyoshi took the irregular path of going from maiko to geisha. They do a ritual called erikaishi where they change their kimomo style and switch from their real hair to wigs. Mameyoshi became a shamisen player and performed for us yesterday. The two maiko dancing are Teruyuki and Terukoma. The first dance is kagamimochi and the second one is gion kouta (one of my favorites). Apologies for the noise in the background. There was a fire engine outside.

I've uploaded a 55M QT movie of the performance. Here is a torrent of the file.

Gen Kanai points to the Gross National Cool article by Douglas McGray in Foreign Policy which triggered a serious of articles along the same idea. The thrust of the article is that although Japan's economy is in the dumps, the export of trendy culture like anime is strong and that Japanese biggest asset is it's "cool". I like the original article and I think McGray makes some good observations. Tony Kobayashi mentioned this in his remarks at the Japan Dinner at Davos last year and many people have begun to talk about this -- so many people, that the Japanese government has taken notice and begun to pursue this line of thinking in ernest.

I'm not as cool as some, but I'm cooler than many. From my experience hanging out with the cool people in Tokyo, my observation is that they are cool DESPITE government and other un-cool people. In fact, I would assert that in most cultures, it is the oppression and stifling of freedom that often allows a strong counter-culture to form. This counter/sub-culture is often the basis of "coolness". I think that the government's efforts to "support" and fund coolness in Japan could be disastrous. Just like most funding of venture business by government ended up going to people with "connections," I believe that an organized effort by the bureaucracy to make Japan more cool will have to opposite effect. I think that the government should focus on supporting the traditional culture and arts of Japan which are dwindling because of lack of support. They are more used to interacting with the establishment and I believe that the root/heart of a healthy pop culture is a strong base in historical culture.

Mizuka, Zuiko-san and Kaoru
Mizuka, Kaoru and I visted Sanji-Chion-Ji temple today. Zuiko is the lone abbotess who takes care of this temple. I met her through an introduction of a Monk the last time I was in Kyoto. She was once a politician but decided to throw away her career and become an abbotess. She is now 60 years old, but she has a beaming smile and does not look 60. She welcomed us and gave us a tour. The temple was built during the Oei Period 1394-1428 when the Irie Gosho, an area inside the Kyoto Imperial Palace was moved here. Unmarried daughters of the Imperial Family lived here and became abbotesses. It is now in the care of Abbotess Zuiko who has become of a friend. The temple is closed to the public and it's a great honor to be able to visit Zuiko-san and see the wonderful treasures and garden inside. There are around five such Imperial Abbotess temples in Kyoto.

I have some photos in my photo album.