Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

So here's an article in spiked-IT criticizing my blogging about Six Apart/MT before investing. Actually, it is criticizing the fact that people aren't criticizing me. I've been giving this some more thought and I am very open to feedback, but I think the criticism is misguided. I am following a very transparent formula. I blog about what excites me and if it is possible for me to invest in it, I do. It would be stupid, but the other strategy would be to not write about anything I'm thinking of investing in. This might be more journalistically pure, but then my blog would not reflect my actual feelings and actions and would be misleading. I would be leaving the best stuff out. If you want to understand my investment focus, just read my blog! If I sound excited about a new company or technology please ASSUME I'm trying to figure out a way to invest in it.

This blog is where I am trying to be as sincere as possible and honest about my feelings. I am not trying to mislead anyone. Trying to cover my ass too much is probably just as dishonest as deliberately misleading people.

Traveling again from today. I'm making a VERY short trip to SF on my way to San Diego to attend Future in Review. Then I'm going to St. Gallen Switzerland to give a talk about Emergent Democracy at the ISC Symposium and will be back in Tokyo on Monday the 26th...

My trip to SF is very short so I won't be able to have a party this time. Sorry! Next trip, I'll have another party. I'm meeting a few people, but definitely don't have time this trip to meet all of the people I want to see. Apologies in advance to people who I won't see this trip. (At least to those people who want to see me who I won't be able to see...) FYI, my schedule is completely booked.

Interesting post on my wiki by Bayle Shanks about Liquid Democracy.

Bayle Shanks
Another option is LiquidDemocracy . In LiquidDemocracy , everyone does indeed get to vote on every issue. But you can give your vote to a proxy. AND, they can give your vote to their proxy. So, say you don't know much about the space program -- you give your votes on things relating to the space program to someone who has similar political views to you but who knows more about the space program (and they can pass the vote on if they choose).

It seems to me that LiquidDemocracy solves the "ordinary people have no time to learn about every issue" problem.

One way to look at LiquidDemocracy is as representative democracy, but much more fine-grained; you don't have to elect just one guy to represent you on every issue, you can have different specialists for different issues. Second, there is no GerryMandering (at least, not in the process of choosing representatives); your single vote empowers your chosen representative a little bit; you don't have to get more than 50% of the people in your area to vote for the same guy before there is any effect.

More on the idea here (these pages are a bit murky, though; but there are some good "scenarios" in LiquidDemocracyVotingSystem ):

-- BayleShanks

Finally got a chance to talk to Dan about his new book and the future of journalism over lunch. We talked about what journalism really was. My thought was that journalism is defined in the constitution and is a part of democracy. Dan's notion is that the Net and blogging is changing the nature of journalism which in turn has a huge impact on society and democracy. This huge impact is one of the missing parts of my/our emergent democracy paper. Dan's going to focus on journalism, but obviously recognizes the connection with democracy.

We tried to deconstruct what traditional media was. My thought was that the founding father defined "the press" as individuals and small groups with printing presses to represent the voice of the people and that currently, newspapers are just printing machine owners and paper distributors just like telephone companies are a bunch of telephone poles and pipes. Dan asserted that there was more to it. He explained that the protection from lawsuits is an very real risk to journalists and that media companies protect their journalist from such suits. I can see that. Relates to the discussion about the Creative Commons license.

We talked about reputation a lot and about technorati. Nob Seki, follows up the discussion on his blog and discusses the notion of Trusted TrackBacks and the relationship between the interviewer and interviewee.

I gave a short talk and participated in a discussion about my Emergent Democracy paper at Glocom. Professor Shumpei Kumon, the executive director of Glocom translated my paper into Japanese. I am EXTREMELY grateful for this. He said that the paper would not normally pass his requirements for publication because of the sloppiness in the logic and the attributions, but since he thought the process as well as the topic were relevant and interesting, he agreed to publish the paper in Japanese in their journal in June. I'll be able to post the Japanese translation by Professor Kumon on my blog after that. In parallel, Illume, a scientific journal is publishing another version of the paper (edited and trimmed down) in June as well. So, we'll see what the Japanese think about ED soon.

I got a great deal of interesting feedback from the discussion.

Satoshi Hamano, (moblogged it here.) a student at Keio SFC, a rather progressive university, said that he got excited about ED, but when he tried to explain this to his peers, he got kind of a blank look. We discussed the issue of whether Japanese Net users would be interested in discussing democracy and whether blogging would take off in Japan. I explained that even on the English language blogs, not many people were interested in emergent democracy. ;-)

Hiroshi Azuma talked a lot about the fact that Japanese diary sites and the anonymous BBS 2ch in Japan have defined a Net culture that is different from that of the US and that the style of blogging in the US may be difficult to introduce into Japan. He described it in a very interesting way. I had talked about how blogs were interesting because of the weak-tie links between the blogs. He said that Japanese dairy sites are very strong-ties oriented and the anonymous BBS is where the weak-tie stuff happens. He said the balance of weak-tie and strong-tie communication in Japan is maybe different than the US. This is an interesting and important point and relates also with Dan's thoughts on the future of journalism. I guess the big question is, can new entrants into blogging change the somewhat small-group/strong-tie oriented communications of Japanese diaries and the anonymous nature of the 2ch BBS's in the way that AOL changed the nature of USENet. (I know that's not a great example.)

Glocom has been studying the Power Law a great deal and they made a few notes. I'm sorry I can't remember who said this, but someone pointed out that even in small groups of 12 often power laws occur. Social networks also tend to have power laws. The notion was that there were lots of big and small power laws in a somewhat fractal way. Maybe the way to look at Mayfield's Layers is to think of the limiters. IE 12 is the limit for giving everyone an equal voice and 150 is the limit to a peer-to-peer communication network.

Also at the top of the power law curve, things are a bit more flat and at the bottom, maybe more steep.

Shumpei also questioned emergence and the notion of trying to rally a movement around it. Politics is intentional, while emergence just sort of happens. Seems contradictory. I sort of agreed, but unlike a revolution where we are trying to take over, we are tool makers who have learned lessons about the Internet and the nature of chaos and emergence. The Internet is a working anarchy. We like and embrace distributed power, open standards and lack of control. We understand how it works and don't feel uncomfortable with the lack of control or the inability of one to know the whole of it. Designing the pieces of emergence and hoping that this emergence causes good is very different than trying to get voted into office so you can exercise your good judgment with control.

I also discussed the nature of leadership, how I have put my paper on my wiki and changed "by Joichi Ito" to "mostly by Joichi Ito" urging people to edit the text directly. (Ross's idea.) Shumpei said that maybe the paper would continue to become not by Joichi Ito and finally even disappear. ;-) I described how the ED discussion section of my wiki was getting pretty intense and how the paper is now a PLACE. (Yes, I know... I need to clean up that page...)

Last, but not least, I got to meet the infamous one way trackbacker that sparked such an interesting discussion on this blog a few weeks ago. ;-) Actually, he's a nice and smart guy with a cool MT blog in Japanese.