Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I've set up an IRC channel that we will use to backchannel during the Madrid conference on Terrorism and Open Democracy. It is #madridopendemo on Freenode.

UDPATE: We are now in session...

Lessig Blog
the "democracy" that is Europe

So despite the fact that the EU Parliament has rejected software patents for Europe, and despite the fact that there is not a qualified majority of member states supporting it, the EU Council has now endorsed their draft of the "Directive on the Patentability of Computer-Implemented Inventions."

This struggle continues to astonish me. There's no good economic evidence that software patents do more good than harm. That's the reason the US should reconsider its software patent policy.

But why Europe would voluntarily adopt a policy that will only burden its software developers and only benefit US interests is beyond me.

They call it a "democracy" that they're building in Europe. I don't see it. Instead, they have created a government of bureaucrats, more easily captured by special interests than anything in the US.

I guess this is "free" as in free markets, not free software or free beer. I am a capitalist, but looking at the damage that monopolies and strong commercial interests are wreaking on the world, I begin to question the "sanity" of our markets. Now that our media companies and it appears are policies are traded for cash, what is there to check the continuing consolidation of power and diminishing of democracy?

Mark Frauenfelder @ Boing Boing Blog
U.N. landmine commerical won't air in US.

A U.N. commercial depicts American girls playing in a soccer match. A girl steps on a landmine and there's a big explosion. Kids get blown apart. CNN and other networks don't want to air the ad.

 Images2 Landmines2The explosion appears to kill and injure some girls, sparking panic and chaos among parents and other children. Shrieks of horror are heard through much of the spot, and a father is shown cradling his daughter's lifeless body, moments after celebrating a goal she had scored.

It closes with a tag line reading: "If there were landmines here, would you stand for them anywhere? Help the U.N. eradicate landmines everywhere."

You can view the ad here. (Here's a torrent file). Link and another Link
First, there was news that:
But on Monday, the Americans created turmoil by announcing that the United States would not join an otherwise universal consensus unless the document was amended to say that it did not create "any new international human rights" or "include the right to abortion."
(via Jonas)

Now this.

I remember at a recent meeting, a senior diplomat we were meeting with said that the U.N. Personnel Landmine Treaty would not have happened if it weren't for Internet and email. He talked about how the Net opened many of these previously closed treaty making processes to NGOs and individuals. It appears that the US is doing what it can to marginalize these multilateral processes. This also reminds me of how important video is. You can say landmine all you want, but a video has impact beyond words. I really think that video blogging will evolve into an important part of our dialog. I wish more news agencies would provide us with material to use to create citizen video commentary. Maybe CNN can ban it, but we can still distribute it on the Internet.

From: John Parres Date: Mon, 07 Mar 2005 00:15:18 -0800
To: dave
Subject: NASA using BitTorrent

I just noticed the cool WIRED story "Around the World in 80 Clicks" about NASA's World Wind open source app that displays 10 terabytes of Earth imagery on demand so I thought I would give it a spin (heh).

The story says "...When project manager Patrick Hogan unleashed World Wind, one of NASA's servers collapsed under a deluge of downloa requests - 100,000 a day - and the service went offline. This spring, it's back, with a bigger server..." and a BitTorrent link!

It's nice to see USA government scientists making use of P2P to save
taxpayers' money.


Excellent. I have been pushing local governments in Japan to use BitTorrent and other P2P technologies for community video projects. Many government and commercial video projects are crushed under the bandwidth and server costs of serving video. P2P allows the cost to be shared by the community of people who want to download the files. From a taxpayer perspective, this makes a lot of sense and adds yet another example of non-infringing use of P2P technologies.

via IP

I'm posting this in full because it's important.

Cory @ Boing Boing Blog
Does "the Long Tail" mean we need longer copyrights?

Chris Anderson's brilliant Wired article, The Long Tail, talks about how indie, obscure and midlist/backlist material is more valuable, in aggregate, than all the glitzy, mainstream top-forty stuff is.

However, when Lawrence Lessig argues for shorter copyright terms, he bases his stuff, in part, on the fact that old stuff is all out of print and can't be brought back into print because of the cost of clearing the copyright to the work.

Are Lessig and the Long Tail irreconcilable? Anderson says no:

Many of those extracting new value from old content are not the original creators or rights-holders. Some of them are repurposing older material, and others are aggregators who have found ways to find new markets for material that's fallen beneath the commercial radar. Either way, they typically aren't the original record label, film studio, publishing house, TV production company or any of the other names that might be on the copyright declaration. They are someone else, probably someone entirely unexpected. This is, after all, the dawn of Remix Culture.

What's changed is the presumption that the primary rights-holder is the best at extracting the commercial potential of creative material. Instead, anyone can do it: the advertising company that remixes an old movie to sell a car; the Linux t-shirt done Warhol-style, or just plain old DJ magic. What you need to encourage this multiplicity of commercialization potential is tiered alternatives to one-size-fits-all copyright, from allowing derivative works (good marketing!) to shorter terms for the sake of the remix-culture social good. I can't think of a better example of that than Lessig's own Creative Commons, which has already become the license of choice for the right side of the Tail, where the commercial imperative is less all-consuming.


(via Copyfight)

Another way to look at this is to look at the marketing cost of promoting some piece of content. It is nearly impossible for someone to sustain a marketing campaign for most content for the lifetime of the copyright. In the past, it is likely that old content would get lost in the archives or disappear all together. With digital technology and remix culture, new creators can discover old music and bring it back. This is what Disney has done with many of their stories. When Disney takes an ancient myth or story and spends money to animate it, it's building on the past, but involved a great deal of creativity. In the same way, many of the people who dig into the tail and discover lost songs and books and are tuning them or putting them in context often add a great deal of creativity in the process. The notion that there is an "origin" of an idea or work and that the creativity stops there is silly. Most creative work is a process of people passing ideas and inspirations from the past into the future and adding their own creativity along the way.

Also, I'm not against businesses making money. I just believe that the cost of marketing is going to increase and the cost of delivery is going to decrease as the Net gets stronger and mass media gets weaker. In a world where discovery is more important than delivery, it's the people who find, remix and direct attention to old stuff that should be rewarded, not the people who deliver it or sit on it waiting for someone to show up.