Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I'm off to attend the 22nd annual Izu Conference. It's a conference sponsored by IBM with a great deal of history. It's about an equal number of business people, bureaucrats, politicians and academics and has a fairly balanced male/female ratio. It's usually around 50 people. It's basically the same members each year with a few new members added each year. The membership represents people who seemed to be chosen for being clued in, not for being just famous our powerful. I already confirmed that I can blog about stuff we talk about there. This year's topic is what we think of the US. ;-)

One thing that I am struck by, having been at several conferences lately where we have had discussions about US foreign policy is the inability for foreigners to affect US foreign policy. The US seems ready to ignore the UN and the rest of the world when they disagree with it.

So let me get this right. The US is going to become the world's policeman and will bomb the bad guys into democracy. The US will become so rich and powerful that there will no longer be hatred and wars? The US will become the one nation to rule them all and American culture bind them?

In this scenario the US is kind of like a super state, but only American citizens can vote, right? Only American citizens have rights. What does this mean exactly?

I think that the US needs to seriously consider the consequences of alienating the rest of the world and trying to become a super-class global citizen and ruler of the world without a significant change in its attitude towards other nations and other cultures. We are in an integrated world where it is impossible to isolate yourself economically, culturally or even militarily.

I'm not (yet) asking to be allowed to participate in the US elections, but I do think it is important to understand just how important it is for the US to get along with its neighbors. The only way to get along with people is to understand them and talk to them. The tragedy of the human psychological tendency to not care about cultures and people who you don't know or are different from you is something we can no longer tolerate.

I think the US is going down the slippery slope of becoming one of the most hated nations in the world when it still possible for it to be one of the most loved nation if only it learned to listen to, respect and understand the rest of us.

I guess my point is that we need some sort of global democracy that is inclusive of everyone which embraces diversity. I know I'm oversimplifying the issues, but I've been quiet the last few days so I felt like a rant. ;-)

I recently talked to someone who talked to a journalist off the record and was quoted anyway. This happens to me too. I think it might be interesting if we could figure out a way to share our experiences with specific journalists. I got the idea from reading Dan Gillmor's book about how the defense department posts full transcripts of interviews on its web site so people can read the context in which statements are made. Maybe we can link to or upload such transcripts as well. Hopefully, this will help make journalists a bit more honest and give the honest ones a bit more credit. I'm going to try to start it on a wiki page, but we may have to move it to something more structured depending on how it goes. Obviously, positive feedback about journalists is also something that we should track.

The lack of activity in the US in protesting the treatment of foreign national at the borders, the extradition of foreign nationals to countries known to torture and disinterest in the the profiling and secret arrests of Americans of Middle Eastern descent is disconcerting.

Remember, some day they may come looking for you.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Had a fun dinner and drinks list night. Thanks for organizing everything Jacob. Jay has some pictures posted.