Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I think it may be due to the press I got this month, but my mailbox has been totally overloaded with a variety requests. I've tried to go back and follow up with people who have sent me email, but I think I've missed a bunch. If you've sent me email about something and haven't received a reply, can you either put yourself in my Public To Do List or continue to ping me? I know this is rude, but not replying is more rude. I try to reply to everything I get, so if you've been ignored, it is accidental. Sorry.

Speaking of false positives, I'm also against blacklists because they can also cause false positives that are difficult to correct. Smartmobs was blacklisted by Verio and it took Roland two months of hell to get it sorted out.

I know I use a blacklist for my comment filtering. It's a stop-gap measure until someone figures out a better solution.

Many of the old men I know are cranky. They are often cranky because they've been fighting long battles. Battles about technology, battles about politics, battles about education, all kind of battles. Most old men have their hot buttons that trigger a rush of memories of these battles. When most old men talk to each other, they sense these hot buttons and generally avoid each other's hot buttons. The rule about avoiding religion and politics as dinner topics comes from the fact that there are many hot buttons in these areas.

Last night I was one of these cranky old men. We were talking about terrorism and profiling. I am a veteran of many battles on privacy and security. I didn't realize how much of a cranky old man I'd become until a friend of mine last night kept pushing that hot button with the opinion that profiling was a good thing and that a few false positives were worth the cost to protect America. I got completely emotional and ruined the tone of the friendly dinner conversation. The problem with a dinner conversation is usually there is some alcohol involved which clouds memory (access to facts stored in cranky old brain) and logical thinking, and you can't page slap people with your previous arguments. As a cranky old man last night I realized how difficult it was for me to have casual conversation about a hot button topic and how difficult it was to have a rigorous discussion about complicated topics when I didn't have access to a method of providing context. I felt like I was just beating my chest to show I felt strongly about the issue...

I think this issue of having difficulty engaging in a discussion with someone on a topic you understand well where you have a strong opinion is an issue that many academics face. This forces them to climb their ivory towers and engage in esoteric debates in an esoteric language with their peers and not reach down to the average person. This is also why many academics avoid publishing in popular media.

I wonder if there is a solution to this problem. I think layers of blogs is one thing that helps. I consult with a number of academic sources to come up with my somewhat simplistic assertions about certain issues. Others write about it even more casually on their blogs. If things are attributed correctly, one can usually drill down to the source (although many academics sources are still not online). Sometimes it works the other way around. I write about something casually and accidentally trigger a bunch of hot buttons which ends up providing more context and rigor.

The scary thing is, I can see myself starting to want to only have discussions with people where we read each other's blogs, a sort of blogademic.

It's daytime here, but I'm watching the eclipse on the web.

Thanks for the link Victor!

November 5, 2003 - Wednesday

The following is from Information Clearing House today.

"Note: Unconfirmed Report"
Can any of our Scottish readers verify the following report:

Since Saturday, people in the Highlands of Scotland have been witnessing large movements of US warplanes overhead. Experienced observers say the large numbers are reminiscent of those that preceded the bombing of Iraq in 1998 and military strikes against Libya in the 1980's, as well as the first Gulf War.

It is thought that the planes have flown on a route over the North Pole to bases in Europe and the Mediterranean. The size and scale of the movement suggests that the US may be preparing to strike against a country in the Middle East in the next week to ten days. I have been getting a lot of email referring to this report. If you have information in relation to the above, please email me at"

Has anyone seen this or know of any other information about this? Is the US about to attack someone else?

Via Markoff