Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I'm one of those people who hates reading books and hates writing stuff. I love talking to people and I do most of my thinking when I'm talking to someone or when I'm preparing to talk to someone. That's why I love blogs so much. I feel like I'm talking, not independantly cogitating.

Now my question. In a discussion, you're allow a certain amount of sloppiness and you mold your position and you develop a model together with whoever you talking to. I feel similarly when I blog. Having said that, what you write persists and you can get criticized for what you write. Larry Lessig's blog is "tight". I mean, it's well thought out and non-sloppy. (He IS a law professor. ;-) ) On the other hand, Marc Canter's blog is a bit more sloppy, but quite interesting. Dave Winer seems to have mastered his style, a combination of short references, personal opinions and technical clarity.Doc, Meg, Dan, almost everyone on my blogroll has a pretty cool and unique style that works. One of my problems is that I think and talk differently depending on where I am and who I am with. This is helpful in providing myself with a variety of models that represent mutliple points of view when I think of an in issue. On the other hand, blogged, this turn into a mish mash of styles. Does this work? Can people filter the stuff that doesn't interest them? I assume they can.

I LOVE "10 Tips on Writing for the Living Web" It was a great help when I started blogging. Tip 3 is "Write Tight". So... that's my dilemma. Are people interested in the stream of consciousness sort of blogging I'm doing right now, or should it be tighter? Should I be MORE introverted and personal about my feelings, or more organized and intelligent. Is it OK to use my blog to think out loud? Do I have to check my spelling? ;-p Hmm...

So this Blueprint for Japan 2020 that Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum got us started on is not ready, as you can tell from my sloppy postings still groping for the question, let alone the answer. But January is the due date and we're on primetime now.

Next Sunday, Sony's chairman, Idei-san, has invited me to join him on Hodo 2001, a Sunday morning news program which is fairly widely watched to talk about the future of Japan. The week after that, I've been invited by Idei-san to to join the Sony Open Forum in Hawaii where I will be one of two speakers. My topic is... "Blueprint for Japan." The other speaker is Richard Smith, the Chairman & Editor-in-Chief of NewsWeek. It's a small but interesting group of a dozen or so outsiders and Sony top management. The theme this year is "Management in the Era of Uncertainty". Also participating are Rob Glaser, the Chairman of RealNetworks, Yoshihiko Miyauchi, the Chairman and CEO of Orix Corporation and Hisashi Hieda, the Chairman of Fuji Television. Unfortunately, the details are confidential so I can't blog much. (I got approval to blog the above.) Then I've got the panel at Davos which I think will be moderated by Carlos Ghosn, the president of Nissan Motor Co., and Oki Matsumoto, Idei-san, maybe a politician and I will be on the panel. Later that evening, we will be presenting the Blueprint at the Japan dinner hosted by the Association of Corporate Executives. So... I'm not asking for sympathy, but at least you know why I'm in a bit of a pickle since I don't know exactly what my position is on "this whole thing." It's really both an opportunity to sound really smart or look VERY stupid over and over again... I will write another entry about the style on my blog, but I just want to apologize in advance for possibly dragging everyone through a rather sloppy thinking process as I try to figure stuff out.

I'm still working on my Blueprint for Japan 2020 for Davos and focusing on trying to figure out what we need to do to "fix" Japan. I'm digging around trying to define the problem.

The biggest problem is the recession, but it's just one piece. It's also a very visible piece. There are other less visible indicators such as the lack of entrepreneurs, high suicide rates, mental health problems, lack of political participating of the people, lack of diversity in politics, huge media companies with little diversity, 4% of the universities providing over 30% of the CEO's for public companies, the medical scandals, a judiciary that is unable to enforce the constitution, the difficulty in filing claims against the government and corruption at many levels.

Reading Hiroo Yamagata's interesting proposal (from 1998) to increase VAT to simulate inflation, based on Paul Krugman's proposal in Japan's Trip. He says:

Hiroo Yamagata
But wait! You've been reading the papers, and they say that structural reform and bank clean-ups are essential for Japan's recovery! What about those? Well, those are definitely good things and should be pursued in their own right. But neither have too much to do with the recession.

I think he has a point, but I think that's not a reason why we shouldn't continue to push structural reform. Although reforms don't have as much of a direct effect on the macro-economy as people say per Hiroo's argument, it's difficult to have a healthy economy without entrepreneurs, a healthy, open market, transparency and a democracy that people trust. I think that it is much easier to cause reform during a down market because people are willing to bite the bullet and change in order to survive, power-structures are more fragile and susceptible to change and people are in pain and possibly willing to become more politically active. Now there are a lot of "maybe's and might's" here but I think that when people are happy shopping and getting paid for doing almost nothing, it's pretty hard to stage a revolution. I guess one might argue that we don't need a revolution in Japan, but I think that without one, we won't be able to change into a truly functional democracy. Without a democracy, it is unlikely that Japan can be a global player in the 21st century. Again, a pretty bold claim... So now I think I've identified my homework.

Is there really a problem with Japan or are people just upset because of the recession?
IF there is a problem, how do you cause change? (You need power to change and you don't have real power in Japan unless you are on the inside and therefore unlikely to change.)
Will structural reforms, in the long run, help the economy?

I guess one of the short-term questions that I have to answer is whether we should talk about the economy and involve a bunch of economists in the debate or focus on democracy and deal with the law professors and politicians. ;-)

After reading Phil Wolff's blog entry about CV's, I decided to immediate convert my CV to OPML and start immersing myself in the microcontent of it all before I even started thinking about how to make it more intelligent. I started using Radio Userland's outliner, but found out that after a bunch of new entries, the top of the list "scrolled" off the top and couldn't be accessed in the window. I saved it and opened it with OmniOutliner. OmniOutliner at least dealt with the content, but I had difficulty editing the text. (Maybe I'm just not skilled yet. I've found both Radio's outliner and OmniOutliner to act funny why are you doing copy/paste) Since OmniOutliner is not native OPML, but exports, it's a bit of a pain. Also, to create links that Radio understands, you have to create extra columns and enter "link" in the "type" column and the URL in the "URL" column. This format can be imported from a Radio created OPML outline. Then, finally, I had to open the file again and set which sections to have expanded and collapsed since OmniOutliner's state didn't seem to save into OPML in a way that ActiveRenderer could understand.

So... I'm totally getting into outlining, but I can't find a perfect tool. OmniOutliner is nice, but still a little clunky, and editing acts a bit weird. I've tried NoteTaker from AquaMinds which LOOKS very cool and lets you mess with a lot of media types, but doesn't talk OPML so no go. I've also been messing with StickyBrain by Chronos. It is a fancy "sticky note" program that lets you index, categorize and search sticky notes which become your little pieces of microcontent. It's too disorganized for me and doesn't talk OPML. So, what happened to cool programs like MORE? (MORE was an EXCELLENT outliner that Dave Winer made in 1991.) Are we moving backwards?

Here is what I want:

Easy to use outliner that reads and writes OPML like a pro
The ability to import and deal with many media types
The ability for leaves to have multiple parents (MORE let you do this...)
Smart search/index
Easy linking between outlines

That would be enough for now, thanks.

Has anyone found the ultimate solution for managing and publishing your microcontent? Or, is that what we're all working on now?

Regarding Dave Winer's post about looking for a job in academia (which I think is perfect for Dave), Phil Wolff writes the following.

a klog apart
p.s. Now is the time for Dave to make weblogs more useful in job search.

Start by acknowledging that CVs are made from microcontent. Then...

1. Support HR-XML résumé protocol, syndicate CVs via RSS.
2. Create a blogging user and programmatic interface for creating and maintaining a CV.
3. Make it easy to associate posts with specific jobs, projects, and skills.
4. Make job availability clearly visible.

A big "ah ha!" I've always had trouble keeping my CV up to date. This would be very cool. In any event, I am going to start by moving my CV over to a Radio Outline RIGHT NOW.