Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Some more SARS stuff.

Earlier, I praised the WHO on their handling of SARS, but as the news starts to unfold, I guess it's not that simple. The tendency for the web to amplify fluctuation is probably hurting our ability to get a good sense of the actual risk of the situation. I think we should be focusing on what we should do to minimize risk rather than freaking out about it. On the other hand, it still appears we know so little about it. The question is whether the damage from freaking out exceeds the risk that SARS poses...
China coming clean on spread of killer illness

By Hamish McDonald, Herald Correspondent in Beijing, and agencies
April 3 2003

China's wall of silence on the lethal pneumonia epidemic started to break open yesterday when health officials in southern Guangdong province reported 361 new cases of the illness and nine more deaths during March.

This appears to contradict earlier claims that the outbreak was "under control". At the same time, a team of four experts sent by the World Health Organisation was given permission to visit Guangdong, the suspected origin of the new disease, after waiting five days in Beijing for a response.

The figures bring the number of severe acute respiratory syndrome cases in China to 967 at the end of the March, with 43 reported deaths, though more cases might be added later from other Chinese provinces.

A friend of mine who just got back from Shanghai told me that he didn't see a single report about SARS when he was in China. It's stuff like this that still makes me doubt China's ability to really "play" yet.

James Moore
China as the winner of US v. Iraq

Joi Ito just wrote from Japan, and I recall that at last summer's Fortune Brainstorm conference Joi was emphasizing the hidden power of the Chinese--and that the Chinese really aspire to superpower status, and a major form of global leadership.

I think that the Chinese are the real winners in the war on Iraq. While the United States blows resources on a destructive cause, the Chinese are staying focused on strengthening their core economy. The United States ties itself up in years of economically and morally-draining occupation of Iraq--while the Chinese stay free and focused.

I figure that the war on Iraq probably will hasten Chinese leadership over the US

I was invited to the Forture conference last year and Japan had become so insignificant that as probably the only participant from Japan, I was stuck on the China Panel. (There was no panel or session on Japan.) ;-) Pretty good indication of what people are interested in these days. I didn't remember this conversation with Jim until he blogged it, but, yes. I think China is obviously shooting to be super-power and in my recent visits to China at least some of the people presented the situation to me as "so you should choose China instead of the US as your primary partner since we're (China) going to beat the US soon."

I think that if the US totally botches the Iraq thing and China ends up being the force that neutralizes the North Korea situation, China could potentially be catapulted into quite a strong geopolitical position. It's interesting to watch China's foreign policy right now.

This is an entry for readers of Joi Ito's Web to comment freely. Please drop in and introduce yourself, introduce your blog, comment about things generally or about things that don't fit in other entries.

This is an experiment. There is a debate about whether comments in blogs are good. They tend to increase noise, but also provide more "inclusiveness". I am getting more and more private email that I think would be appropriate for a more public section of my blog. Having said that, I think the ultimate future is that everyone has a blog and we all talk on our own blogs. Until then, I think having a comments section to draw more people into blogging is probably a good thing.

So, comments about this idea as well as just general comments are welcome. I'm naming this "Spring '03 Salon" in case I need to create a new entry after it gets too long.

PS I first saw the quarterly "Salon" item used on The Meta Network

Great paper by James Moore at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society about how the "will of the people" is the emerging second superpower. He talks about emergent democracy, the Internet and gives a bunch of great examples.

In any case, what I most want to share with you is my paper “The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head” (the title was suggested by Esme Bashwiner).  The point of the paper is that “the movement” is now approaching the status of “the second superpower,” after the United States.  This is due to (1) critical mass of people who identify with the world rather than the nation, with each other rather than just themselves, (2) the web and interactive media “neurology” of the movement—including texting, email lists, and blogging—which is giving it a kind of collective mind and ability to act, and (3) the advance of international institutions and international law, which provides a venue or a forum in which the second superpower can work with sympathetic nations to press its cause.  The Bush administration is attacking the fabric of the international system, but it is unlikely to prevail.
Jim is one guy who I was HOPING would start a blog. Thanks to Dave and Doc, he's got one now.