Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

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Today was the first shareholders meeting since Pia went public. Pia is the largest ticketing company with 60% of the market in Japan. They started as a publisher of magazines about leisure such as movie guides and the publishing business continues to be a big business. The shareholders meeting was in a large event hall called Blitz in Akasaka. A pianist played on stage before the event which was very well produced and very appropriate for an entertainment and leisure company.

I was officially elected as their first outside board member at this shareholders meeting.

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So I was with Frank Boosman in a meeting and I was talking about how excited I was about setting up a blog. He said, "Oh No. Now all you'll be thinking about is whether something will be material for your blog." Well Frank. That was material for my blog. ;-p

As Justin and I prepare this web site for our July 1 launch and I port over all of the old columns from Japan Inc. I am reminded about an issue that has been haunting my online and real life style. Most of the people who read my Japan Inc. column liked it because it presented a unique view, but several people commented that it was just a bunch of name dropping. I've also heard that people inside of a Japanese government agency call me a name dropper.

Name dropping is an interesting thing. I suppose it is annoying when someone is doing it for some sort of gain such as better treatment or just plain bragging. My Japanese elders often tell me that a true Japanese does not disclose one's contacts and that it is not cultured to talk about "who you know."

The problem is, I think one of the most interesting things about me is who I know. When I meet other people like me, we usually do a quick brain dump of who we know and try to zoom in on a few mutual friends. More like name "dumping." This is a sort of standard protocol for me. For instance, I recently met David Smith we instantly bonded through our mutual relationship with Michael Backes and our similar view on how crazy and wonderful he was. ;-)

I'm also fascinated by interesting people. I have my views about other people and am very interested in other peoples' views about people. Trading list of "people you should definitely meet" is a very important part of initiating friends into my network. So I can't imaging not talking about all of the interesting people I meet.

Anyway, I guess I am trying justify myself. Maybe I shouldn't worry. Actually, I've never had anyone I truely respected be bothered by my "name dropping" so maybe it is an attribute of people who are concerned by their own lack of friends. I guess I don't need to respect of people who confuse me with the petty businessman who waves the name card of a politician when dealing with bureaucrats...

There is something special about good old American Lasagne done well. I personally like it better than traditional Italian Lasagne. Recently, I've been using a ragu sauce taken from the Harry's Bar Cookbook (thanks to Christine Schoepf of Ars Electronica for recommending this great book to me!) with a more traditional American Lasagne recipe. The ragu may be a little to... "fancy" tasting for the lasagne, but I'm not sure. I'm going to try to modify the sause a bit in the future... But below is my "current recipe" for my favorite lasagne. (If you like the Ragu, by the book. The link above is to Amazon.com's entry for the book.)

The Ragu

  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 celery rib
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 2 table spoons flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 quart veal stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • fresh ground peper
  • bouquet garni (1 fresh rosemary sprig, 1 fresh thyme sprig, 2 flat-leaf parsley sprigs tied in cheesecloth

Chop carrot, celery and onion. Use 1/2 of the oil and saute the vegetables over medium heat for 10 minutes. In another pan, heat remaining oil, add garlic, cook for about 30 seconds and discard garlic. Add the beef. Cook the meet until brown (approx 10 min.). Combine everything and add the tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes. Add flour and cool another 2 minutes. Raise the heat, add wine, evaporate wine, add stock, salt, pepper, bouquet garni. Bring to boil, reduce heat, add and simmer for 1 hour stirring from time to time.

This sauce makes a very good spagetti sauce too.

The Lasagne

  • 8 oz. Lasagne
  • 15 oz. Ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tables spoons grated Parmesan cheese (grate yourself!)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • salt
  • fresh ground pepper

Boil pasta. Lay flat on foil to cool. Eat oven to 350F. In a bowl, stir ricotta, 1 cup mozarella, parmesan cheese, egg and seasonings. In baking dish, spread 1/2 ragu, place pasta 1 layer, spread 1/2 ricotta mixture over pasta, cover with 1 cup ragu. Repeat layers of pasta, ricotta mixture and ragu. Top with pasta, ragu and mozzarella cheese. Cover ith foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes. 10-12 servings.

He shows that in closed systems people who focus on the relationships of the members and who do not trust work well whereas in open systems where it is more important to find many trustworthy people, it was better to assume people were trustworthy at the beginning.

He is a social psychologists and talked about some experiments he did where he found that people who trusted people more generally did better in his open market simulations. He found that people who trusted people more tended to be better at quickly discerning the trustworthiness of the partner. He shows that in closed systems people who focus on the relationships of the members and who do not trust work well whereas in open systems where it is more important to find many trustworthy people, it was better to assume people were trustworthy at the beginning.

Anyway, I don't do his work justice with this small comment. His most recent paper is not yet available in Japanese, but his early work on trust is also very interesting and is available on his site.

Here is his web page.

http://lynx.let.hokudai.ac.jp/members/yamagishi/english.htm