Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

The Swiss Ambassador to Japan, Jacques Reverdin
Had dinner last night at the Swiss Ambassador's residence for the second time in one week. Last week was the kickoff meeting for the ISC alumni club. I will be speaking at the ISC symposium this year so that qualified me to be a member. I met Ambassador Reverdin for the first time at this dinner. He struck me as smart, classy person with a good sense of humor. Also notable were the two pianos. He played one of the pianos to signal the beginning of dinner.

Last night, I was invited to dinner with some people who attended Davos and a few of his friends, including the EU Ambassador and the British Ambassador. It was a much smaller group and as usual, I talked a lot about blogs and democracy in Japan. It was a very healthy discussion representing a variety of views. (Will not go into detail since one of the issues discussed was the issue of being misquoted or unfairly portrayed in the media...)

I really enjoyed the discussion. I wonder if there aren't very many such discussions, or whether I'm just not invited to them very often. ;-) Also enjoyed listening to ambassadors talking about politics at the residence of the Swiss Ambassador. Seemed like a good place to get a balanced impression the European view of the war.

Anil demonstrating the deadpan smile.
Anil coins a new smiley. :|

Have a day everyone...

PS Anil is not nearly as annoying in person as he is online. When I met him at my party I was suprised by how warm and friendly he was. Later I started introducing him to others like this: "Anil is not an asshole but he plays one on TV." He told me that his ability to manage his online personality was his key to success. ":)"

Just got out of a meeting of the Association of Corporate Executives or the Keizaidoyukai where I am a secretariat member and was the youngest member when I joined. The Keizaidoyukai is one of the two most powerful economic associations in Japan. The other one is the Japan Business Federation or the Keidanren. The Keidanren is the federation of all of the big companies, the members representing their companies. The Keizaidoyukai represents individual corporate executives. The Keidanren is more powerful, but the Keizaidoyukai has played a very important role in the past in pushing for reform. The Keizaidoyukai was founded after the war by a group of visionary business leaders in their 30's to rebuild Japan. It has grown into a large organization with over a thousand members and an average age of 66 years old.

Tony Kobayashi, the chairman of Fuji-Xerox is the chairman, but his term will end next month and is most likely going to be succeeded by Kakutaro Kitashiro, the chairman of IBM Japan. I'm a big fan of Tony Kobayashi and Mr. Kitashiro is someone I greatly respect. I should be overjoyed that Mr. Kitashiro is taking over the Keizaidoyukai but today we had a meeting with him and I was quite negative. I felt a bit bad, but I told the group that I was considering resigning because I was frustrated with the lack of measurable results from our meetings and that I thought it was difficult to try to gain the support of younger members when most of the people in the association were basically retired and had a lot of time to talk and not act. We all talked about how we needed to reform the Keizaidoyukai if it was going to be an agent of change in Japan.

I walked away feeling like I should give Mr. Kitashiro a chance to change the Keizaidoyukai, but with a feeling that it would be difficult. I can barely stand the tedious task of trying to convince the senior Japanese business executives. I can't image the really young leaders wanting to spend their time in these meetings. It's really a pity considering the strong philosophical foundations upon which the association was founded, but as with anything, age and power bring a variety of issues and it is losing its edge…

PS I resigned from the New Business Conference per my promise that I made here.

Matthew Cadbury, the always insightful GLT posted this on our list today. Relevant to the revolution and the pursuit of truth thread today.

Matthew Cadbury
I was disturbed (but not surprised) to read in the newspapers that a recent NBC poll shows that 42% of the US population believe that Saddam Hussein was behind the September 11th attack (the reality, of course, is that none of those involved in September 11 were Iraqis and there was no Iraqi involvement of any kind in the attack). How do so many people come to be so misinformed?

The misinformation is certainly deliberate and has been done by "Team Bush" to justify attacking Iraq. Rumsfeld mentioned Al Qaeda 8 times in his last press conference on Iraq, this constant drip feed of Saddam/Al Qaeda eventually influences people.

We have discussed the importance of a free press before in this group, so where has the free press been in the USA the last few months? Has the free press not been able to counter government misinformation or has it not tried?

One problem with a free press is that it might produce the news that gets the sales, so how do you guarantee that truth is involved?

Why do US citizens tolerate being lied to by their government?
Has the USA lost respect for the truth?