Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I've been tuned out of the warblogging these days, but I have a question for the warbloggers. Did they find any WMD? Because... if they didn't I've lost a great deal of respect for Colin Powell. It was his passionate argument about how he was convinced beyond doubt that Iraq had WMD that moved me to say I was "more supportive" of the US.

I'm often criticized for using biological metaphors for organizations, but I think they're very effective sometimes.

Seb's Open Research
Blogs increase the surface area of organizations

Jon Udell has got a keen eye for biological metaphors for information systems, and here comes up with a nice one for how weblogs change the shape of organizations:

Think of an organization as a single-celled animal. Blogs increase the surface area of the cell, help nutrients flow across its membrane, and promote multicellular cooperation.

I'm on the road with low bandwidth and was spending too much time commenting on my blog to think of something original to blog today. Instead I have quoted one interesting person quoting another interesting person. Sorry if you already saw this today, but it was the most interesting thing I could find through my quick zip through my RSS feeds today.

Japanese VC and tech socialite Joi Ito [ Hates reading books - Lunch - Lunch - Segway - Lunch - Lunch - Fawning Parody - World Blogging Forum!]) has spent months hyping the couple who started the Movable Type weblogging software Ben and Mena [buys banjo]Trott. The cute, but strangely synthetic twosome were showered with advanced publicity in the form of flights and lunches and "party games" (the latter is filed under "Humor / Leadership and Entrepreneurship" ), before Ito's company invested in Movable Type last week.

Will we be able to trust Ito's ongoing research analysis about his investment?

We shall see.

Just to clarify the facts and my position...

I think I have made it clear that I am a VC interesting in investing in this space. I will continue to invest in companies. I find companies by meeting people doing cool things. I blog about the cool people I meeting. I hope I will end up investing in some of these companies.

With Six Apart, I have moved from user to acquaintance (lunch) to "Hirata wrote a Japanese language kit for Movable Type and we'd like you to meet the Japanese MT community" to investor. We were already heavy users of MT and consulting to companies about using MT before we were in serious negotiations about investment.

I think this will be a standard process. 1) Find product/blog it, 2) lunch/blog it, 3) possibly invite to Japan/blog it, 4) be quiet for awhile, 5) invest/announce. Some steps may be skipped or out of order. Not investing doesn't mean it's not a good product or a good person. Many reasons for not investing. Valuation, structure, business plan, other investors, etc.

Ethically speaking... I will plug whole-heartedly any product/person I like. If I have a relationship, I disclose it. The only time I won't talk about something is if I am in negotiations with someone since there is usually an NDA. The notion that blogging about lunch with Ben and Mena or blogging about Mena's mastery of the cork trick, was them being "showered with advanced publicity" is frankly a pile of crap as anyone who knows me should know.

At this point I am incentivized to help Ben and Mena succeed. So of course, I will work hard to promote them, it would be strange if I didn't. I think that the success of blogging has come from open standards and an open dialog about the standards. I think it is essential for the tool builders to have healthy competition, but for everything to work together. I'm constantly talking to Dave, Ev, Jason and anyone else in the space. I really don't see how the investment lessens my commitment to talking to everyone and sharing. In fact, I think that now that I have my money where my mouth is and it should increase my commitment to blogging generally.

As Dave said in an email, I'm now in the pool with him. ;-) Oh and by the way, I don't think I was ever providing anything as lofty as "research analysis". I have a point of view. I solicit feedback and I put my money where my mouth is. I do not try to pretend to be objective. I am a VERY subject human being. Investing in the people who make the tool that I spend more time with than anything else in my life right now seems like a reasonable thing to do.

So one more time... I get excited about something, blog about it, then decide to invest. Not the other way around.

Thanks for the link Marc!

The Emergent Democracy page on my wiki is starting to turning into a real wiki discussion. This is the first time I've participated in one. Since I'm the custodian, I guess it's my job to organize it. I just finished editing a bit, but it's still a bit sloppy. Very different style/dynamic than comments or mailing lists, but still very intriguing. Love the feeling of editing some kind of living text...

Feedback would be appreciated. Do you think my header fonts are too big?

Very interesting thing just happened. (Once again, standard disclaimer... I'm obviously not the first person to have this experience, but it's new to me...)

I got a trackback on my iTunes entry (the first trackback there...) from a Japanese MT blog. Anyway, I went over to the site and it was indeed an entry about iTunes, but no mention of me or my blog. Also, no link back.

So, maybe I feel a bit hurt, but nothing illegal going on here. Obviously it makes sense to try to direct people to more information about a topic and sending a trackback to an entry about the same topic makes sense. It just felt weird. I had been looking at trackback more as a two-way thing, but I guess they are technically one way.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Obviously, if it were spam or a link to a unrelated topic, I would erase the trackback, but it is a link to a legitimate entry about the same topic and I wouldn't think about erasing it. I guess it's just that I've never trackbacked to anyone that I didn't link to except in the case of a topic exchange thread...