Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

A blog is created every second, according to the BBC which cites Dave Sifry / Technorati.

Markoff at the New York Times broke the embargo and scooped the Mozilla announcement. Markoff got a few things wrong which maybe weren't clear.

The announcement is about a subsidiary that the Mozilla Foundation is creating. He says it is a "for-profit" sub-sidiary, which I think could be misunderstood. It is a 100% subsidiary of the Foundation which is non-profit with non-profit goals. The subsidiary is a taxable entity, but has primarily the same mission as the foundation.

Also, he refers to the subsidiary "offering service and support at a fee." This is not true. You can imagine the value that the search traffic alone has. At the moment, the subsidiary is not considering offering service and support for a fee.

There is an embargo, although this scoop may have breached the dam. I'm about to leave for the aiport to go to OSCON so I don't know when I can update you again, but I'll blog more about this and my role in all of this after the embargo is officially lifted.

UPDATE: I am now on the board of the Mozilla Foundation, the parent of the new subsidiary. The reorg announcement is on the Mozilla site now. More later.

UPDATE 2: I appears that the time zone of the embargo was not clear or was lost somewhere along the chain and Markoff didn't intentionally break the embargo.

UPDATE 3: The official press release. Chris Blizzard and Tristan Nitot blog about the reorg.

My grave
As I've blogged before, I spent years fighting the Japanese national ID system, pushing for a 3 year moratorium on the bill to allow privacy and security to be fully considered before rolling the system out. Even though our movement had majority support among politicians, the public and even the media, the system rolled out "because it would have caused too much confusion to stop it," according to one senior policy oriented politician. Afterwards, I had a choice of either continuing to protest a running system from the outside, or work on the inside trying to point out issues and watch over the deployment. I ended up on various government oversight committees where I have continued to point out issues and still argue that they should shut the current system down.

To my surprise, my hometown Mizusawa has the second highest proliferation of the national ID cards at 10% and hosted our Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications study group today. As the local government officials discussed their system proudly, I felt some pain as I pointed out some of the risks. They knew that I was local so they asked my support for their initiative in that local family style... Scenes from The Godfather cross my mind. It reminded me a bit of the scene in Godfather II during Michael Corleone's trial where they bring the brother of key witness Pentangeli from Sicily to the hearing. All it takes is one look from the brother to change the Pentangeli's position. OK. It's wasn't that bad, but it reminds me of the same thing.

My family has been building and running schools in the town for the last three generations and we just rebuilt our nurse school, which at some point I will have to "run". Until recently, our family funded the schools, but now relies partially on government support. As with most semi-public endeavors in small towns, it requires "community support." Thus The Godfather reference above.

After the study group meeting at City Hall, I visited our family grave. I took a look at where my name will at some point be etched as the 19th family head of the Ito family. I took the opportunity to grill my uncle a bit more about the specifics of our history since I'll be the custodian of this information at some point. I also had him collect up various family history documents. It appears that the first Ito, moved into our current home about 400 years ago and was some kind of union of a 25th descendent of Emperor Kanmu, the 50th Emperor (we're on #125 now), and Kawatari Fujiwara. I can't understand the old-fashioned Japanese text to understand the details of the arrangement. I believe Kawatari Fujiwara was from the Fujiwara family that lived in our region until they were defeated around 400 years ago. The only thing left from this period of the Fujiwara estate/castle is a golden pagoda and mummies in Hiraizumi. Anyway, the story I heard from my mother was that after their defeat, the survivors fled and started their own families in the region, and took the character "Fuji" from "Fujiwara" and changed their names to "Saito", "Goto" and "Ito" which all use "Fuji" character for the "To" part of the names. Anyway, I'm not positive about the details so I better find out more before I have to take over the family and my children start asking me all kinds of questions.

As always, staring at the place on the gravestone where my name will be etched along with all of the previous family members makes me feel like a mere blip in history and is humbling and strange.

"LDP lawmaker Nagaoka found hanged" read the Japan Times front page headline today. "Nagaoka who was serving his second term representing Ibaraki Prefecture's No. 7 district, was one of several lawmakers criticized by a magazine for changing positions on postal privatization, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's priority policy initiative. The magazine called Nagaoka a traitor for his actions... Nagaoka opposed the the bills in the ruling party's decision-making General Council but later voted for them in a crucial Lower House vote on July 5. The bills passed by a razor-thin margin of five votes." He left no suicide note and his wife had not witnessed any suspicious behavior.

Suicide is common in Japan and is sometimes considered even honorable. However, whenever I hear about these suicides that appear to benefit the establishment, I remember a conversation I once had with former chairman Shima of NHK. NHK is the public broadcasting organization of Japan, the largest broadcaster in the world (I think), and not privatized. I used to interpret for the late chairman and helped him set up his web site when he was ousted from NHK. I remember him telling me that half of the officially reported suicides were actually political murders/assassinations and that the corruption went all the way to the top. If I had heard this from anyone other than the chairman of the largest broadcaster, life-long political reporter and behind-the scenes kingmaker, I would have thought it was a stupid conspiracy theory. Coming from Shima it carried some weight. I do not have any evidence that this is true, and I realize this would be an irresponsible allegation, but those words spring to mind whenever I read, "Lawmaker found hanged. No suicide note. Lawmaker cast swing vote against controversial bill to privatize..."

"You have dishonored your faction and your family and you must take responsibility if you want to avoid consequences to you and your family," a voice in my head whispers... An offer that he couldn't refuse. This is called otoshimae in Yakuzaese. There is a crime in Japan called kyoyozai which makes it illegal for someone to say something like, "You SHOULD pay me money," with an implied threat. This law is to specifically prevent the exercise of this kind of indirect force.

Jiji Press notes in a separate article that if the bill doesn't pass the Upper House, Koizumi has threatened to dissolve the House of Representatives. If this happens, it is more likely that he will visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in mid-August to rally the votes of conservative LDP voters.

And some people ask my why I don't go into Japanese politics...

Fireworks, or hanabi are a hugely popular and very important part of Japanese summer. People get dressed up in traditional Japanese yukata and makes their way with thousands of other people to see hanabi. Magazines and web portals dedicate large sections for information on hanabi, which you can find somewhere almost every weekend during the summer.

The Jingu hanabi show is a non-standard because it happens in the middle of Tokyo. (Most are over the beach, bays, lakes or in the countryside.) Jingu is the Tokyo baseball stadium and they pack the stadium with people and shoot fireworks almost right over the stadium. The fireworks are low, huge and loud. It is an immersive experience. That is combined with a stadium full of screaming people. Replace the traditional "oohs and ahhs" with "OMG OMG WTF" The streets and rooftops all around the stadium are full of people who are getting the benefit of the fireworks for "free". (I wrote about the business model of fireworks last year.)

After these last few hot and humid days, the hanabi reminded me that there are at least a few things to look forward to in Japanese summer.

95 K movie