Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I'm back in Tokyo after quite an interesting week in Silicon Valley. As I landed in the airport, I noticed that the "gee, I'm back in Japan" feeling that I usually have was much less. The airport smell was "normal" and I didn't feel I was really "back" but that it was just another normal day. I think it is because I have been traveling SO much these last few months. So here is my theory.

I think that when you SWITCH infrequently, there is a literal switch. I remember when I used to only travel once or twice a year, I could feel my brain switch from English to Japanese, driving on the right side of the road to driving on the left side of the road. When I started traveling a lot more, this switch didn't happen and it all became one experience.

I've noticed that people who I went to school with at the American School in Japan can generally mix English and Japanese, but many people who switch between English and Japanese can't mix. (We call this mixing chanpon)

Having just switched to the Mac, I'm finding a similar experience. I now have 4 different keyboards and 3 operating systems (Mac, OS X shell, Windows) each with their hotkeys. I find that as I switch back and forth between keyboards and OS's a lot, I am becoming more and more able to "speak" the different hotkey combinations without messing them up.

I've heard that people who learn a third language after learning a second language often use words from the second language by mistake. I'm sure this is because your brain is trying to "map" the new language on in the same space as the old one and you trigger the wrong thing sometimes. It's like trying to install a new OS over an old one and keep some of the stuff from the old one.

I once took a class on brain damage. There was a study that we read that talked about "brain crowding". Some girl was a great at drawing and got brain damage and she lost her ability to speak. As she learned to speak again, her drawing ability diminished. So the brain reallocated that part of the brain towards to more a important thing.

Assuming that you have a limited brain surface area, I guess the trick is storing things as efficiently as possible.

So my theory. When you are switching between modes and you hear a big CLICK in your head, you're probably using two different sections of your brain. When you can get it all to feel like one thing, you're probably learning to store it in one place and trigger just the differences and that method, I assume it's more efficient, but I wonder if it is worth trying to get better at this sort of multi-mode storage. I wonder if you can LEARN to learn more multi-modally... hmm....


Dan Gillmor introduced me to Clay Shirky tonight and Dan, Noriko, Barak and I had dinner with him at LuLu's. We got in without a reservation. What a change from the old days! Clay is very cool. According to his web page:

I have been a producer, programmer, professor, designer, author, consultant, sometimes working with people who wanted to create a purely intellectual or aesthetic experience online, sometimes working with people who wanted to use the internet to sell books or batteries or banking.
He was supposed to talk this morning at Supernova, but didn't make it so I asked him what he was going to talk about. He said he thought that politics of the semantics was a very political issue and more relevant than the technical discussion. He also talked about the economic significance of the difficulty of switching protocols vs. api's and how important and political protocols were. He had very broad interests like me (unfocused?) and we talked about lots of cools stuff. He knows Marko who I wrote about earlier. Thanks for the intro Dan!


Just had lunch with Dave Winer. We talked about a lot of things and I don't know what was "on the record", but I think I can say we talked a lot about outlines. (Dave said, "everything looks like an outline to me," on the panel so I assume it's no secret.) I actually love outlines generally. My web page before my blog was an outline. All of the papers I write, I write in MS Word Outline mode, convert to html, run a script to strip the junk out and pour in my custom style sheet. So now that my blog is bloating, I'm looking for an outline mode to create a structured view of my entries and links to other blogs. I'm going to try using Radio Userland for this...


The Nikkei has an article about cellphones with cameras being used in enterprise/business. Found this on Gen Kanai's weblog

Found Fotolog while surfing around during the session. I just set up my fotolog. Supernova has a fotolog as well. Fotolog is nice because it does the thumbnailing and lets you have friends like LiveJournal.