Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Helmut Newton, Who Remade Fashion Photography, Dies at 83 - NYT

I first met Helmut and his wife at Timothy Leary's house. Tim and Helmut were good friends. (I guess that would mean that Tim would be 83 if he were alive now...) They were the same age and even wore the same tennis shoes. I remember Helmut and as a funny and really cool guy.

When I was working on Indian Runner, we asked him to do some of the photography for the movie and I remember hanging out with him in Omaha, Nebraska where we were shooting the film. I remember helping him find "corn-fed beauties of the Midwest" during his free time. He had this amazing talent for making women feel beautiful and capturing this on film.

I had always loved landscape photography since I was a child, but Helmut was the one who got me interested in portraits and helped me appreciate the amazing talent required to take portraits.

I'm going to miss you Helmut. Say hi to Tim for me if you see him.

I've been invited to be say something at the Social Computing Symposium at Microsoft. I'm looking forward to hanging out with some of my favorite people. (Maybe the first opportunity for me to speak at the same conference as my sister too...) I'm REALLY interested in what Microsoft is thinking about this space, and it appears that they are doing a lot of thinking.

japanpanelbeckyRebecca MacKinnon is moderating a Japan panel this year.

Last year, when I was on a Japan panel and MC'ing the Japan dinner, Japan was still looking dismal and my role as risk taking agitator was a good card for the Japanese to play to try to show that they were trying to change.

This year, the economy is "recovering" and the panel is populated by more of the old-school participants who are cautiously trying to explain the "turn-around" and how the "recovery" will continue.

I think the consensus is that the engine of the recovery is the restructuring of private companies and that the government policy and reforms are the oil.

I personally think that we need more fundamental changes in Japan, but I think that the incentive to make big changes will decrease as long as this fragile recovery continues. I think it's probably more constructive for me to spend my efforts on global issues and blogging until Japan needs my subversive energy again. ;-)

Comment from the audience: It's not the number of women in the women in the Japanese workforce, but rather their role in the workforce.

UPDATE: Ack! Rebecca glared at me, I shook my head, but she called on me for a comment anyway. I asked whether the more painful reforms are going to get less attention now that people are focused on the recover and making people feel comfortable.

One of the panel members disagreed with me and asserted that with political will, many of the fundamental changes will continue to happen and might even be easier.

Hmm... maybe in some areas, but I doubt it. Maybe I should have defined "fundamental changes."

Introduced Thomas to Sergey. Joi helping his fellow "journalist"...
Thomas Crampton is a fellow GLT and journalist for the International Herald Tribune. I've been hanging out with his a lot this trip, trying to learn more about how journalists work and think. For instance, I asked him about how he deals with issues such as global warming where it is so difficult to understand the first sources and we have to rely so heavily on experts and reports which often conflict. I've also been watching how he interviews people and teases out quotes and threads and focuses his discussion in a way that tries to gather evidence for a story that's developing in his head while at the same time keeping open opportunities for new ideas. (Just like good bloggers do. ;-) )

He's now working on a story about bloggers and he's been interviewing the bloggers at Davos. He's been asking a lot of questions about how we view ourselves, our ethics and what blogging means. It's very interesting on many levels because I'm interviewing him about journalism, he's interviewing me about blogging and I'm watching him interact with people, efficiently gathering information to construct a story. I'm looking forward to seeing how Tom's article turns out and how he manages to take the spaghetti of conversations and turns it into a piece of journalism.

In the process of developing the story about blogs, he quickly picked up the importance of Google and asked me to introduce him to Sergey. We both asked him questions about Google and blogs and I am happy to report that Sergey thinks that blogs may highlight some general issues with page ranking that need to be dealt with to continue to increase the accuracy of page rank, but that he didn't seem to think that blogs were "noise" or that they were getting artificially high page rank. Sergey didn't seem think think that blogs should be treated any differently than any other type of web page. This concurs with the opinion that Larry Page gave me the when I asked him about this last year.

So sorry Andrew, it doesn't look like blogs will be filtered from Google any time soon, and until the media starts to become more permalink friendly, I think the role of blogs in providing information and opinion on the Internet will continue to increase. The good news is that I realize that the questions that many bloggers are asking themselves about ethics and justice are the same questions that editors and journalists are asking themselves.

UPDATE: I was walking with Tom and got a few choice quotes from him. "Reality is good. It's earthy." And in response to my comment about whether I should pull my punches on journalists, he says, "no, poke 'em in the eyes." ;-)

Yesterday was the blogging panel at Davos. Jay Rosen was the moderator and the panelists were Orville H. Schell, Loic Le Meur, yours truly and Hubert Burda. You all already know Loic and Jay I'm sure. Orville is the Dean of the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and was at the Media Leaders discussion the day before too. He's got some great perspectives and his positive and insightful view on blogs was encouraging. Hubert Burda is the CEO of Hubert Burda Media, one of the largest media conglomerates in Europe and I was extremely impressed by his positive and open view on blogs and media. In other words, we had a great panel.

Jay kicked it off by saying that we were going to ignore the official title, "Will Mainstream Media Co-Opt Blogs and the Internet". ;-)

I explained that blogging meant a lot of things. There was the technology of blogging, the act of blogging and what journalists were talking about most of the time. I explained the power-law and asserted my position that the head of the curve, or the more popular blogs, were like an amplifier and that I agreed with many people who believe that the "tail" or the more personal blogs was where most of the interesting stuff was going on. I talked about Ross Mayfield's layers and the idea that a lot of interesting sources could be filtered by special interest groups, through a social layer and to the amplifier where maybe they can connect, merge with mass media to a certain extent. Because of the the media orientation of the panel and the audience, we decided to focus on the impact that blogging had on journalism and media.

Loic said he thought blogging was like "open sourcing" himself. Which I thought was an interesting way to look at it. He used his metaphor about how he thought blogging will do to the traditional media what Napster did to the music industry. He clarified that he meant that it would allow people to share information peer to peer instead of going through traditional distribution. The difference was that people could more easily create content for blogs than music.

Mr. Burda had a lot of great insights and talked about how collapsing business models and changes were all part of the game and that he and the others needed to let go and adapt. He made a point that he would be interested to see more blogs focusing on things like science instead of typically popular stuff like politics.

I think we all agreed that the ability for blogs to talk with and become one with the audience was key.

What was interesting was the number of people from the mass media in the audience who still seemed to think that blogs were either just poor quality news or that bloggers were just wannabe journalists. One person from a newspaper said that she thought blogs would just become incubators for journalists. I (emotionally) asserted that the mass media and blogs were not the same. Many bloggers (such as myself) are blogging, not for the money, but for a passion which embodies what I believe is part of the heart and soul of journalism. We are not encumbered by the pressures of advertising, marketing and the burden of having to sell print media. It's insulting to think that all bloggers just want to be journalists for print media. I pointed out that big media had a role and that their ability to protect their journalists from litigation and to fund particularly expensive investigations and stories was something we can't do, but the notion that we're just little versions of them was absurd.

Jay chimed in and pointed out that blogs are much more similar to the spirit of the "freedom of the press" referred to in the US constitution. IE citizens with presses.

I'm on a narrow band connection so I will add links after I get to a wifi connection.