Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Philipp and I had a conversation about altruism as a follow-on to a bunch of posts he done on the iCommons.org site. I end up rambling on and don’t give him much of a chance to talk, but it was fun. Check out other posts on the site and let me know what you think about my theory of altriusm. ;-)

philipp (South Africa) on iCommons.org
The role of altruism in the digital commons

Listen to Joi Ito and Philipp Schmidt discuss altruism, the economic man, the difference between happiness and pleasure, carriers of compassion, and that being a happy sharer yourself, is the best way to get others to share as well.

The conversation starts off with an overview of Marcel Mauss’ The Gift, and the Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness, which address the issue of sharing from very different directions. The Gift provides a historical framework for sharing that is non-financial, and sets out a clear process of sharing that runs counter to our economies’ urge to commoditise. The Dalai Lama develops a theory of happiness that is grounded on compassion, and the ability of human people to learn happiness. Why is it that we learn Maths and Sciences in school, but don’t seem interested in learning and teaching how to be happy?

Joi then sets out a profoundly optimistic model for collaborative citizenry that will help us identify, and ultimately address, global challenges like climate change. He makes a convincing argument that happiness comes from things like community and a well functioning family, where more is not necessarily better, and that the best way to bring others into this movement is to let them participate in our functional communities of sharing, and to be happy.

Note: The book mentioned by Joi is Scott Page’s The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies.

Kara Swisher is one of the smartest, funniest and sometimes cruelest journalists I know. She is a co-host of the Wall Street Journal All Things Digital conference with Walt Mossberg.

For a variety of reasons she’s having a hard time getting an interview with Jerry Yang. She discovered that “Lunch with Jerry Yang” is the prize from DonorsChoose.org Bloggers Challenge for the bloggers who inspire the most readers to give. To participate/give, just go to the AllThingsD page on the DonorsChoose site.

So… in addition to loving Kara, I also owe her for introducing me to cool people and letting me stay at her house and stuff. When she says, “i need you to flack this…it is for a good cause. also funny” I guess it means I should blog about it. ;-)

Good luck Kara. Sorry Jerry!

But it is a good cause. Really. I’m going to give right now.

For a more complete description of this whole thing, which is admittedly slightly difficult to understand, see Kara’s blog post about it.

Märt Saarepera Mart explaining architecture

I just returned from a trip to Tallinn where I completed the paperwork to invest in GuardTime, an electronic archive and log authentication system using cryptographic time stamps.

The idea was developed by the founder of the company, Märt Saarepera and his collegues in Estonia when Mart was in Japan. Mart started out as an academic and a researcher, but became an entrepreneur in residence at my company Neoteny back when we were still incubating businesses. At the time, our team thought that the business was too early and passed on the investment and Mart set off on his own with support of his friends and family and some minimal support from myself.

Years later, it looks like the market is finally ready for Mart and his product. His idea has also developed from a rather theoretical idea to something they can show and ship.

Mart has raised money from a group of investors including the Ambient Sound Investments (ASI) founded and run by some of the Skype founding technical members.

Because of securities laws in Estonia, I needed to visit Estonia personally to open an account at a bank there. The banking in Estonia is really advanced, having been built from scratch after the Internet existed already. They use hardware password generators for their online banking and offer more services through the Internet than any other bank I’ve ever seen. Also, because they don’t have a lot of legacy crap like banks in Japan, they are very profitable and lean.

Tallinn was a very cool city. It is the capital of Estonia with a population of about 400,000. In many ways it reminds me of Helsinki except smaller and with Skype as the anchor IT global brand instead of Nokia.

The old town where I stayed was a beautiful district with the old architecture preserved and the random Russian government buildings scattered around typical of this former USSR region. Embedded in this old-architecture are very nice restaurants, shops and hotels built in the cool super-minimalist style of Nordic Europe that I love so much. I stayed at a hotel called Three Sisters and it was the best small hotel I’ve stayed in recently.

Another cool thing about Tallinn was that there was free wifi everywhere. The hotel, railway station, offices and airport all had free wifi. The Internet was faster than in Frankfurt airport, the Frankfurt Sheraton, in fact faster than just about anywhere that I’ve been recently other than my office in Tokyo.

I don’t know if it is the Estonian culture or Mart’s community, but everyone I met at GuardTime and Skype seemed happy and smart. There was a buzz of a strong culture and good work being done. I miss think sort of feeling “pure” feeling these days.

I’ve uploaded my photos in a Flickr set.

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Larry on Danish TV talking about his new work on stopping corruption and why corruption is the root of many of our most significant problems.