Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

As I struggle to get gnupg working on my XP box, this is great news! Thanks for pointing this out Sen.

The Register - PGP is back!
By Andrew Orlowski in London
Posted: 19/08/2002 at 13:20 GMT

Phil Zimmermann's PGP is back in the hands of an independent company, after Network Associates agreed to sell the technology it mothballed back in March to a start-up specially created to market PGP.

Jon Callas, the former PGP chief scientist, becomes the CTO of the new company, PGP Corporation. Will Price, former Director of Engineering at NAI, becomes VP of engineering.

I just got the beta of opencola. (Thanks Howard!) On the surface, it looks like a bookmarking, meta-searching relevance tracking front end. Very useful just for meta-searching various search engines and news sources and filing your information. You have various folders for different topics and you mark the relevance of various documents and you can continue to search for more stuff similar to what you like. The cool thing is that you can add peers that can look at your public folders and share recommendations with. It is similar to a company we invested in that unfortunately didn't end up making it past "beta" called FatBubble... Howard talks about opencola in Smartmobs. I think it was started by Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing. Anyway, so far it looks great. The only problem is I have no PEERS! If someone else can download the beta and post their id here as a comment or email me their id we can be peers. (I do have the choice of rating the relevance of peers. ;-0 ) Anyway, definitely worth a look.

Welcome To Opencola

I had dinner tonight with Barak, Michiel (who started today as an intern from Hitotsubashi Biz School) and 4 students from Stanford's ATI program. Michiel said that he thought that I was unfocused. (I've been called this before. Jun called me "scatterbrained" when asked about me after he first met me.) Michiel said he felt my blog was too unfocused. I guess that's true, but I thought it was a feature, not a problem. Michiel admitted that he was often negative. (Jun said the other day that he thought people sounded 30% smarter when they were negative.) Anyway, I had been actually been worried about this in my blog, but I didn't admit it to Michiel. So, I wonder. Do people care what I care about or is focus and order more important than my random thoughts. I guess it depends. (Doesn't everything.) At the Fortune brainstorm meeting former congressman Jack Kemp said, "People don't care how much you know until they know that you care." So I guess I wonder whether people are reading primarily for 1) entertainment, 2) because they care about what I think, 3) they are looking for information... Again, I'm sure it's a combination. Maybe I should do a cluster analysis on my readers. Maybe I shouldn't care. As 10 Tips on Writing the Living Web says, (I found this site on Blogdex.) "write for yourself; you are, in the end, your most important reader." So there you go. I'm justified.

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So I've been blogging for 54 days now and I'm definitely addicted. I know I've said this before, but it is DEFINITELY different than just having a web page. As Frank warned me, all day long I think about things to blog. Everything I read on the web is potential blog material and I find I am reading much more and chasing all kinds of ideas a lot further than I used to. Also, since I have a Japanese section, I find I have started to try to read Japanese much more. (Even though I still suck.) I write almost every day. Web surfing has taken on a whole new meaning. I have had 4,652 distinct hosts visit the site since I started. Since many people are behind firewalls that appear as single hosts, the number of people who have visited is probably higher. I check my access log and look at the referral list and graphs of the requests to see what events trigger what sort of accesses and see who is sending my how many people. I find myself spamming my friends, messing around with google and doing all sorts of things to try to increase the traffic to the site. (This obsession with traffic may be a subconscious yearning from helping run Infoseek Japan for so long and always trying to catch up. We are in 3rd place after Yahoo and MSN now... But at least we have outlasted the parent. Anyway...) It is kind of like sitting in front of my computer with a bunch of my friends looking over my shoulder. At the same time, I surf around and read other people's blogs looking over their shoulders.

I talked to Dan Gillmor yesterday on the phone and he said that the audience is now the media. (Or something like that. Correct me if I'm wrong Dan.) I think the Smartmobs stuff that Howard talks about is about a similar phenomenon.

So I'm supposed to be a professional IT investor. I'm also supposed to be spending my time thinking about my work, not farting around on the Net just for fun. Yossi Vardi said that instant messaging was an addictive drug and he (one of the founders of ICQ) was a drug dealer. So where is the money? Is there any money to be made in blogging? There are blogging tools like Movable Type, Radio Userland and Blogger. There are ASP's for bloggers, there is Blogdex a blog crawler/index... but are any of these things really going to make money?

The last few years of the Internet bubble were riddled with people trying to make money on stuff that should have been someone's hobby. Maybe the core of blogging is this way. Maybe I should be thinking about what social changes blogging causes and what new businesses this enables or makes obsolete?

Maybe I should be thinking about what happens when we integrate P2P, voice, video, IM, home servers and cell phones?

Maybe I shouldn't be thinking too much and should keep blogging until it "comes to me." ;-)

Anyway... Just a thought... I'm late for a meeting... gotta run!

Japan's suicide rate tops 30,000 / yr. Over 3X the 10,000 or so automobile related deaths. Most of the suicides are men in the 50's and 60's and often due to job related and financial stress. So, while many Silicon Valley ventures were built buy people who had lost their jobs in the defense industry. Japanese tend to commit suicide instead. Japan's suicide rate is among the top 10 in the world. It is said that Japanese mental health medicine is 30 years behind the US (Although Kurokawa-sensei is trying to do something about that.) So it makes sense that cleaning up after a suicide is as common as cleaning up after a traffic accident and people are being billed the costs. The original article below is from 1998, but suicides have increased since then, making it more relevant.

Waiwai is the Mainichi Daily News summary of articles from Japanese Weeklies. This one is from Shukan Hoseki (10/1/98) a bit old. Relevant sections quoted below. See original article for full text.

ClassicWaiwai
Paying for suicide costs more than the ultimate price
By Ryann Connell
Staff Writer
August 17, 2002

"Trains don't usually stop too long after a suicide, there's rarely much damage to carriages and we rarely have to send anyone off to catch trains on different lines. In that regard, train suicides probably don't cost too much," says an employee of a commuter line. "But to make sure we can cover the costs incurred when a suicide leads to a derailment, we have to ask the bereaved families of suicide victims to compensate us. The costs are usually in the range of 100 million yen, but I've heard of a case where a family was billed 140 million yen after someone killed themselves by jumping in front of a train."

"As soon as the news hits that someone's committed suicide in one of our apartments, rents have to drop by about half or we can't get anyone else to live there," laments a Tokyo real estate agent. "In one case a few years ago, an agent sued the father of a man who slaughtered his girlfriend then killed himself in one of the agent's apartments. The agent won the case and the father ended up having to fork out a few million yen."

"We can get a room back into shape in a couple of days (after a suicide), at a cost of only a few million yen in even the worst cases," says a hotel employee. "We don't usually charge renovation costs, but if the suicide is of a famous person and the hotel's reputation is damaged, the hotel'll sue the bereaved family for whatever they're worth."

MDN: WaiWai