Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Thanks to everyone in Rome for great food and wonderful discussions. I'm off to Milan today... more later.

Yesterday, I had a meeting with some of the Italian Indymedia community at a squat. In most countries squatters are considered criminals and local law has very little tolerance for them. In Italy, the squat scene is the center of a lot of the sub-culture and alternative media. After years of resistance, many of the squats on property which was owned by the local government have been officially recognized by the municipalities in various degrees. The squats have events including debates and parties. They have kitchens, living quarters, and in the case of the squat I went to last night, a computer lab (called "hacks" this one named "bugs") that teaches people how to switch from Microsoft to Linux and allows free Internet access to anyone who wants to drop by.

After the chat in the bugs hack, we went to dinner at a centro sociale called Casale Podere Rosa. It was similar to a squat except the people don't live there. The place we went to was on the upscale end. The food was excellent and they had lots of posters and pamphlets describing the organic farming methods they used to grow their produce.

Internet penetration in Italy is quite low and the Berlusconi media machine controls most of what people see. On the other hand, the left wing are fighting hand and fist (literally) with the right wing radicals. Free speech was something that people were fighting for, in many cases outside of the law. At a tactical level, my discussion about freedom of expression and our "Infrastructure of Democracy" idea of fighting bad speech with more good speech sounded a bit idealistic. What was interesting to me was the power and the energy of the alternative media movement. It reminds me of my theory on good alternative music. When there is a huge force pressing down on freedoms, sub-cultures with more creativity and power are likely to form.

Thanks to everyone in Madrid for all of the hospitality and excellent company.

I'm off today to Rome. See you on the other side.

UPDATE: Just arrived in Rome. I had asked for a hotel with Internet. I realized when I arrived at the Hotel Hassler that I had stayed here once before with my mother and sister around 20 years or so ago. I remember it being an excellent hotel. However, I remember that they didn't take credit cards back then. Now they have Internet. I remember this was my late mother's favorite hotel in Rome...

Click image to see flickr image
including notes on the objects.
whatsinyourbag Originally uploaded by Joi.

I saw this fun whatsinyourbag flickr tag on Minami's blog so I decided to dump the contents of my shoulder bag on the floor (at 5AM) and take a picture.

Al-Qaeda tells Madrid: 'We will defeat all the infidels'
11 March 2005

DUBAI- Al-Qaeda's frontman in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, vowed to defeat "infidels and apostates" in response to a Madrid conference on terrorism.

"We tell the infidels and apostates, the enemies of God: whatever you do, you will be defeated. God promised us victory," read the statement from the Organization of Al-Qaeda of Jihad in the Land of Two Rivers, in a statement published on the Internet.

The authenticity of the statement could not be verified.

"How many times will the infidels and apostates meet to fight against Islam and combat the Jihad... They have other worries than to fight the Muslims and mistreat them," it said.

On the other hand...
CBS News
Spanish clerics issue fatwa against bin Laden

Last Updated Fri, 11 Mar 2005 10:34:46 EST
CBC News

MADRID - Clerics representing the majority of Spain's one million Muslims have issued what they say is the world's first fatwa against Osama bin Laden.

The edict by the Islamic Commission of Spain, which represents about 70 per cent of the approximately 300 mosques in the country, called bin Laden an apostate and asks Muslims to denounce him.