Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

umaisushikan_thumb.jpg sushikanito.jpg
What a suprise... After meeting with Oki and a Keio student to work on the "Blueprint for Japan 2020," I had to go home alone. I walked toward Akasaka station rather hungry and saw the sushi shop on the corner next to Tully's and across the street from Starbucks that seemed a bit too mass production for me, but it was Sunday night so I couldn't be choosey and I went in and sat at the counter.

A familiar face! It was Ito-san from Koh-sushi. Koh-sushi was a fairly well known sushi shop in Shibuya that closed years ago. There was a talkative Philippino there named Eddie that I remember well. Anyway, Ito-san remembered Mizuka and me. We talked about Eddie who had gone back to the Philippines and was running a Japanese restaurant and how he had to come back to Tokyo to work to make some money to make ends meet. Eddie had worked at Umaisushikan, but the mass production was too much for him.

Umaisushikan is a large place and Ito-san (pictured above) is the manager. Actually, the sushi is great. I've been walking past this place for 3 years and had only been inside once briefly. Well, now that I know Ito-san is there, I will go more often. It is a low cost and high quality place. It is large enough so I don't mind introducing it on this blog. ;-)

P.S. I don't know if this is the right reading for the name...

drag_thumb.jpg paradebanner_thumb.jpg rugbie_thumb.jpg
Mizuka, Kara, Megan, Louie and I went to the Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade today. It was quite a turnout with probably over a thousand people or so. There were drag queens, gay rugby guys and a pretty wide variety of others. It was a well organized march through Shibuya and around Yoyogi Park. It was a bit strange because they didn't stop the traffic and split the parade up into 13 paradelets each led by a car/float of some sort. Not as much punch as a full on marching parade, but pretty interesting and fun none the less. It was the first Gay and Lesbian Parade I had ever been to.

Megan and Kara said that it didn't compare to the parades in San Francisco, but it was better than they expected. Gay pride and gay rights are apparently at very different levels in different countries. In some countries, being gay is a capital crime and in other countries gay couples can get married. Japan is fairly open to gays I think, but there are no provisions that I know of support gay rights specifically. It is probably a lot like feminism in Japan. Mimi's theory is that since there is less violence against women, the feminist movement in Japan doesn't get as much backing as the movement in the US. Similarly, there are probably much fewer hate crimes against gay people and they are accepted as part of the culture.

But what do I know. I'm not an expert. It is interesting though. Megan says that probably 5%-10% of the world is gay.

We also saw DJ Patrick and I got to introduce him to Megan, which I had been hoping to do for a long time...

We walked around Harajuku afterwards and had Chinese tea at the new place at Ometesando crossing. It is affiliated with Yu-Cha up the hill. Yu-Cha is really nice generally, but they add that stuck up Japanese attitude into the tea ceremony and make what should be a more casual experience a very stuffy one. When Megan was trying to take a picture of Mizuka playing with Louie, they made a big stink that they didn't let people take pictures in the store...

Chinese tea should be more fun...

stewart.jpgStewart Alsop (who I met recently at the Fortune Brainstorm 2002) writes in his column in Fortune Magazine about GoodContacts.

When Barak was visiting a few weeks ago, he was raving about it as well. GoodContacts is basically a contact management package that talks to Outlook or Act! and spams them with email and asks people to update their info. The good thing about GoodContacts is that they don't keep your contact list, they just enable you to spam from your computer. That's why I thought about using it until I realized I would have to switch to Outlook. (and why I am still drooling) It is viral, useful and cool. It triggered a "flashbulb moment" for Stewart.

Stewart Alsop

And that leads me to the flashbulb. Imagine that we all have one phone number and one e-mail address that knows where we are. Imagine that the network keeps track of our location and our personal data, and automatically updates anyone who might be interested. Imagine that we don't have to think about whether the right phone number or address is stored in the network or our PC or our PDA or our phone. Imagine that all these little details of personal life are just handled. Yeah, yeah, I'm dreaming. But if that stuff happens, it will start with dumb little programs like GoodContacts. That's enlightening.

boldface added by Joi for emphasis

I have great respect for Stewart and all this SOUNDS good, but the lightbulb that flashed for me was. OUTLOOK? PERSONAL DATA? Ack! I would like something with similar functionality. It would be great, but I still can't imagine using a Microsoft product for contact management considering all of the security and privacy problems they have. I also would HATE for all of this information to ever end up not being local. Be careful when you ask "the network" to do stuff for you. I envision something similar, but a much different architecture.

Think IM buddy lists. Everyone should be able to have identities that are separate from their "entities". (see my paper about for more thoughts about this) You should be able to have multiple identities for the various roles. Each identity would be attached to different attributes such as memberships, age, corporate roles, or writing pseudonyms. Locally, you would be able to attach current information such as shipping address, home address, current phone, voicemailbox, etc. to each of the identities, being able to manage which identity was "active" or capable of routing to you at any given time. At work you would want your personal phone calls screened, your business contacts on. At home, you could reverse them.

Managing our identities and personal information in this age of privacy destruction will be essential. I truely believe that privacy underpins democracy and that "viral" solutions that give people like Microsoft or their software, access to our contact info should be watched carefully. Peer to peer, multi-vendor, multi-id, hash/digital signature based connectivity is much more interesting for me.

But maybe Stewart was going to get to the architecture next. I think it's a great idea, but the architecture discussion has to happen NOW.

schwarz4.jpgI had breakfast on Monday with a entertainment lawyer who used to book a lot of these expensive Japanese ads using foreign talent. She said it has decreased significantly due to lower budgets and lower popularity of foreign talent in Japan. So these clips on Japander.com are probably going to end up as priceless gems, a genre that died with the Japanese bubble.


Japander.com hosts video clips of American stars who have advertised in Japan, from Brat Pitt to Stevie Wonder, with Luc Besson and Harrison Ford thrown in between. Some of the clips are amusing to watch for American audiences, presumedly because most of these folks wouldn't advertise consumer products in the United States. While the content might be funny, the site has a strong derisive tone: "Japander: a western star who uses his or her fame to make large sums of money in a short time by advertising products in Japan that they would probably never use." Somehow it's hypocritical for these stars to shill for Japanese consumer products, as though American stars who advertise in the United States always use what they promote? Either way, many of these clips show funny sides of familiar stars. Quicktime required.
One of my favorite commercials ever is Arnold Schwarzenegger in Arinamin V's commercial. He is playing mah-jong with important guests. He does a huge faux paux by winning the round when he should have let the guests win. His boss scolds him. Then he sneaks off to a corner, drinks the special drink while the customer is telling his boss the deal is off. Suddenly, as the drink takes effect, Arnold is transformed into a glittering entertainer and the guest is showered with mah-jong score counting stick and everyone is shouting and cheering. A MUST SEE. Here it is. (Or click the image...)

I had lunch with Megan, Kara and their 3 month old son Louie yesterday. Kara was invited to Japan by the Japan Society on the U.S.-Japan Foundation Media Fellows Program. Steven Levy, one of my favorite journalists was also recently here on this program. This is a great program since I get the benefit of all of these great journalists hanging around Tokyo in rotation, especially since even the New York Times thinks people are losing interesting in Japan. (As Tokyo Loses Luster, Foreign Media Move On Thanks for the link Justin.) (Can't find the article right now...)

I think I may have met Kara before, but we never really had a chance to talk. Kara reports on Silicon Valley for The Wall Street Journal. I've known Megan since she worked at Apple a LONG TIME AGO. I THINK we met through Jeffrey Shapard or someone else when we were trying to get a demo together for SOMETHING in Japan. (As I have written before, my memory sucks...) Anyway, Megan is one of the most intelligent, happy and nice people I know... in fact that most people know. But you all know that. She knows EVERYONE.

Megan was designated as a Technology Pioneer in 2002 by the World Economic Forum so I see her at the World Economic Forum events regularly. Megan helped us when we were trying to get Magic Box Productions going. She's also been great in introducing me to interesting folks. After Apple, she went to General Magic where I think she was the chief engineer or something. After that, she went and started PlanetOut which has become the largest gay/lesbian site in the world. Megan is now Vice-Chairman of PlanetOut.

So we hung out and talked and it was great fun. I always talk too fast and too much when I get excited. We all kept interrupting each other, but for some reason it worked out OK and I think we got a lot of talking done. Kara, Megan and I talked a lot about where we thought things were going. We talked about my blog, Japanese companies, OTHER PEOPLE ;-), and technology. Kara was great because she knew so much about everything and pushed me to be more concrete about what I was saying. She also didn't hesitate to roll her eyes when I said something that didn't make sense. I had been wondering who could deserve to be Megan Smith's partner, but Kara definitely passes. Louie was really cute and didn't cry once. He gave me his meishi and it had his email address on it. He laughed at me a lot. I couldn't tell whether he liked me or thought I looked stupid.

I'm really glad they're in town and I'm sorry I'm going to miss most of their trip since I'm leaving for Europe with Mizuka on September 11. (And no, I didn't get a discount airfare.) Mizuka and I will be joining them tomorrow to go see the Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade 2002. (entry in PlanetOut | their web page) Hopefully, I'll have some pictures later from there.