Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I just created a torrent for Tex Live. Tex Live is a ready-to-run TeX system for Unix. I just set up the torrent for the TeX Users Group, but I'm currently seeding it on my laptop so I would love a few other people to get the file from me and seed it so there are a few more seeds. It's a 580M file. Thanks!


More details on the tracker.

UPDATE: Doh. The reason I'm helping out the TeX guys is because I think it's a cool project. If you're geeky and into typesetting, you should check out the project.

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I wrote earlier about the origin of the Japanese the ritual of chopping off pinkies. In Japan, the ritual comes the importance of the left pinkie in the grip of a Japanese sword. Removing the left pinkie is literally disarming and was used to punish people in the past. This has been ritualized and continues to be used by small number of Yakuza and others in Japan as a form of punishment or taking responsibility.

This is why I didn't understand why the Koreans were severing their fingers in protests against the Japanese. Two Koreans chopped their little fingers off in in front of the Japanese embassy in March to protest Japanese comments about the Dokdo islands and in 2001, 20 Koreans chopped their off their little fingers in protest against Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine.

I was beginning to understand the issues that the Koreans were protesting against, but I didn't see how this finger chopping was involved. I decided to get to the bottom of this and asked friends during my trip to Korea.

Although it is an ancient custom, if I understand correctly, one of the most famous incidents was An Jung-geun, a legendary leader in the armed resistance against the Japanese occupation, chopping off parts of several of his fingers and writing "Korean Independence" in blood on the Korean national flag. Later he assassinated Japanese politician Hirobumi Ito in 1910. Hirobumi Ito was a key figure in the Meiji Restoration of Japan, former prime minister and former Resident-General of Korea. Using the blood from severed fingers to write such statements became a sign of solidarity in the resistance against the Japanese and I believe the recent finger chopping is a continuation of this.

I am not trying to make a statement about or a judgement on the anti-Japanese protests or the actions by the Japanese, but trying to clarify something that was confusing for me.

PS I found this article about the protests that ran in today's Korea Herald insightful on the relevance of these protests.

UPDATE: Edited post to reflect comments that An Jung-geun chopped his fingers before the assassination and that it's an ancient custom which didn't start with An Jung-geun.

Yesterday the ICANN board discussed and approved ICANN staff to enter into negotiations with ICM Registry, Inc. for the .XXX Top Level Domain (TLD). I'm sure there will be a longer more complete presentation from ICANN later about this, but as an individual board member I thought I'd post a quick note before people got carried away with speculation based on a lack of information.

I realize that the formal documents on the ICANN page are difficult to read, but I suggest people take a look at the actual application before jumping to conclusions about what the .XXX TLD is. It is actually a well thought out structure that provides a balanced approach to an issue with many stake holders.

The .XXX TLD is a sponsored TLD or sTLD with a sponsoring organization. Policy will be managed by a non-profit organization called the International Foundation for Online Responsibility (IFFOR). (Here is the org chart.) IFFOR will have a board of directors comprised of members from several supporting organizations. These organizations include 1) privacy, security & child advocacy, 2) free expression, 3) online adult-entertainment and board members selected through a nomination committee system similar to ICANN. No one constituency can capture the board and all have a say. There will be an Ombudsman. The organization has demonstrated strong support from all of the constituencies and also the credit card industry. A portion of all of the revenue from domain names will go to a fund that a Grant Advisory Committee will use to support child advocacy. Credit card companies are working with the legitimate adult sites to create incentives for them to switch to .XXX.

ICANN has been mandated with trying to increase the TLD space and the .XXX proposal, in my opinion, has met the criteria set out in the RFP. Our approval of .XXX is a decision based on whether .XXX met the criteria and does not endorse or condone any particular type of content or moral belief. This is not the role of ICANN. I realize that some will view this as ICANN endorsing pornography on the Internet, but this is not the case.

There are people who are concerned about censorship and control. These are issues that have been raised, but I think the .XXX proposal is more about creating incentives for legitimate adult entertainment sites to come together and fight "bad actors" and is not focused on forcing people to use the .XXX domain.

Some people have argued that there has not been enough public debate, but we have been taking public comments for quite a while. We DO read them and have encouraged people to discuss their issues with us through the process. I believe we followed a rigorous process. We started with an RFP and over the last 15 months, we have had independent evaluators, numerous meetings, public discussion and public comments.

I think Bret Fausett summarized the situation well on his blog.

The decision on .XXX may be one of the most difficult ICANN has ever made, and you can expect ICANN to be criticized whatever it decides. I imagine that many of the countries participating in the GAC aren't ready to be part of a decision that will endorse a space for pr0n on the Internet. The fact that .XXX could be a political hook on which the governments of the world could hang Internet zoning laws could make the decision more palatable, but it's still a political minefield for ICANN. Again, I hope the proposal is accepted, but it's going to take a great deal of courage to do that.
I think any decision would have had strong critics. I believe we have made the best decision possible considering all of the issues involved. Having said that staff are now negotiating the contract. If anyone has any thoughts that we should consider in negotiating the contract I would be happy to hear them. Staff are working hard to produce a contract that ensures that the TLD functions as advertised.

Cory Doctorow @ Boing Boing Blog
GOATSE t-shirt in the NYT


Anil Dash wore a subtle and arcane GOATSE t-shirt for a recent New York Times photoshoot, and they ran a pic of him wearing it. GOATSE is an Internet legend -- a repulsive photo that used to live at that Internet pranksters went to great lengths to trick others into seeing.

SFW Wikipedia entry on Goatse, NYT Link

This is excellent... Wait, does this guy work for Six Apart?

Thanks to Jin Ho, Heewon, Goo Dong-Eon, Xenix, Qho, Young Wook, and BK for a very interesting dinner discussion and explaining the Korean blogging scene to me.

Korea is reported by the OECD to have the highest high-speed Internet penetration of any nation. Korea has an extremely vibrant gaming, blogging, mobile phone and youth culture scene and I was eager to find out more about what was going on. I scribbled a bunch of notes over coffee during the day and over dinner. Please excuse any errors since I have not been able to fact check everything. If you could point them out and let me update them, I would appreciate it.

According to articles in the press, there are 5-6 million blogs. These are not to be confused with hompy. Hompy (a derivative of home page) are personal home pages with photo albums, guest books, avatars, background skins, and background music. There are approximately 10 million hompy pages. In a city with a population of 10 million and a country with a population of 45 million, that's quite impressive. Companies seem to be making money selling background music and items for hompy pages. Most of the posts are focused on photos and one line comments on pages of friends. They are generally closed communities and are focused more on real-time presence-like communication rather than diary or dialog.

Cyworld, which sounded like the leader for hompys has a feature they call "scratch scrap". This allows you to copy/paste content from other web pages easily to your hompy. On of the problems that I see with this is that this simple built-in feature does not provide a link back to the original source. It is rumored engineers who designed this left and joined Naver, one of the leading blog companies and created a similar feature for them. Generally speaking, it sounded like people don't link very much. They are still mostly plain html and not css + xhtml. There seemed to be some trackback implementation, but it is not yet as widely used as in the US or Japan. As far as I could tell, none of the blog systems used any of the standard APIs, and some had RSS feeds. Blogs and hompys don't seem to be pinging any pinger sites, which makes them nearly invisible to the outside world. In addition, many sites block search engine bots from crawling hompys and blogs.

It appears that one of the biggest problems is that there are several 800 pound gorilla type portals that remind me of AOL during it's powerful years. They try to create walled gardens of users. With millions of bloggers and hompy users in each community, they are focused more on integrating inside of their portals than open standards or linking across portals. There are some independent blog services and aggregators, but they still seem to be focused on community and somewhat inward facing networks. A not-so-visibile majority of blogs in Japan and the US are also this way, but the public facing citizen journalist or pundit-style blogs seem to be very sparse in Korea.

One of the reasons might be due to the success of OhmyNews. I visited OhmyNews as well, and they are truly an online newspaper powerhouse. You can read about them in detail in Dan Gillmor's We the Media, but they are a edited news website with droves of citizen journalists who submit articles. They have courses in writing for the citizen journalists, tip jars that people can pay them through, editors to help with the important stories, lots of influence and visibility and offline community activities. I can imagine that someone who had something political or pundit-like to say might easily choose to write for OhmyNews than to start a blog. This doesn't describe everything, but I'm sure that OhmyNews has attracted a fair number of the potential media blogger types.

I still have a lot to learn but the incredible difference in the blogging scene and the apparent happiness with what the people had considering the widespread adoption made me wonder if the Korean blogs would ever look like American or Japanese blogs. (Many aspects of the Japanese blogging scene seem to be following in the footsteps of the US blogging scene, albeit with some differences.)


4- jaz @ June 2, 2005 10:43 AM

hey joi. the function is called "scrap," not "scratch"
what it allows you to do is to display a particular post from someone's mini-hompy (cyworld) - if the permission setting of that post is set to "allow scrap" - not from just any website. there's a watermark-like feature that goes with it, which displays the original author's name and the link back to the origianl mini-hompy.

Sorry about the error. I was told however, that most bloggers and hompyiers didn't cite or link. Someone said that the big portals encouraged because it allowed all of the content to be searched inside the portal, rather than offsite. Does anyone have any more information on this?