Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I first met Stewart at the Fortune Magazine's Editors Invitaiton conference in Aspen last year. I knew of him from his column in Fortune Magazine, which I love. I like Stewart because he's a real gadget otaku, a great writer (can explain why things are exciting to non-techies) and is a successful venture capitalist. He is my role model in a sense. He seems to have a great time doing all of the things he is passionate about. Also, I find that he is such a nice guy that I sometime forget he's a venture capitalist. Maybe because I've been an entrepreneur longer than I've been a venture capitalist, or maybe because I don't know all of the best ones, but my stereotype image of venture capitalists is more arrogant... like Hollywood studio execs. Stewart, totally breaks that mold. Maybe that's why he's so busy and in the middle of everything. He doesn't scare everyone away...

We had an interesting discussion of the state of things. I did try to get him to think about blogging personally, but as with many professional journalists, he seemed to like the format that he has now. As we spoke, he introduced us to two companies on his blackberry and within a few hours I had meetings set up with them using my Danger Sidekick from the car. Gadgets rules...

Went to see The Woz. As I reported before, he's working on some cool new technology at Wheels of Zeus. The Woz has a bunch of Segways and he is getting a license to be a Segway trainer. I got notice from Amazon that I should call them and prepare to receive my Segway. The Woz said he would give me my training course.

The Japanese government just turned down my request for a special waiver to allow me to ride my Segway around in certain parts of Japan, even though the Prime Minister said that all of the waivers should be approved. Anyway, we're going to try to file again in the next round of applications in June.

Until then, maybe I'll keep my Segway in the Valley and cruise around with The Woz. ;-)

mimi2.jpgSo this is my sister. My younger sister. (Many people think she's older, because she's smarter than me.) She chose an academic career where I dropped out of college twice and because an entrepreneur. Our paths went in wildly different directions, but has recently begun to converge as I have begun to dabble in amature academism and her research focuses on the technology and the social issues surrounding the stuff I'm interested in.

Recently she wrote the following article for Japan Media Review. Last night I heard that she had come to give a talk at Stanford about this as well. (She never tells me these things...)

Mizuko Ito
A New Set of Social Rules for a Newly Wireless Society
Mobile media are bringing sweeping changes to how we coordinate, communicate, and share information.

Just as Weblogs are distributing journalistic authority on the Internet, mobile media further de-centers information exchange by channeling it through networks that are persistently available to the mobile many.
She quotes Howard and Justin. She talks about the mobile phone culture from the perspective of an anthropologist who has been studying the cultural aspects of mobile media for a long time. Lots of cool observations.

I recently talked to one of the vendors involved in i-mode and they told me that Japanese girls have around $300 dollars of disposable income a month. $100 goes to food, $100 goes to clothes and $100 goes to their cell phone. The target average revenue per user (ARPU) for i-mode is around 7000 yen ($50). It's amazing...

John Markoff introduced me to Scott Love over the Net. He is the man behind the amazing outliner NoteTaker. Markoff is using NoteTaker. I have this funny thing with Markoff because he won't blog. I think Markoff's sense of finding cool people and cool technologies is amazing though. He was the one who gave me MacPPP when it first came out and it was one of the key elements in dragging me back into networked computing again after a lull in the late 80's. Anyway, when John tells me I "need to meet" someone, I do.

Scott is great. So is NoteTaker. First of all, I have become TOTALLY addicted to NoteTaker. I throw EVERYTHING into it. Photos of people, sounds, URL's, clippings, PDF's, etc. I can sort them, organize them, annotate them, index them, create to do's and publish them in OPML, as web pages or as mail attachments to others using NoteTaker. So, when I met the man behind NoteTaker via email and eventually in person, I realized that this was no ordinary piece of software but something written by someone who had a big plan, but was willing to take a lot of feedback and build it into the product. I've been talking to Scott about a lot of feature requests and thoughts on where things might go. Suffice it to say that he "gets it."

So, I'm excited that maybe NoteTaker will be a way to get some convergence between us and the non-blogging world. NoteTaker has a great interface and does many things... If you haven't tried the product, take it for a spin and IMAGINE... ;-)

PS I do not have any financial interest in the company and am writing from the point of view of an enthusiastic paid customer. ;-)

Had dinner tonight with Lawrence Lessig to talk about emergent democracy and other things. Larry pointed out some interesting work called deliberative polling being done by Professor James S. Fishkin. Since polling forces people to vote on something they don't really know too much, the data may be statistically accurate, but is not necessarily the best way to promote a democratic system. Deliberative polling takes a diverse group of people, forces them to discuss the issues in small group, in large groups, small groups, over and over again for a fairly lengthy process until everyone has a pretty good idea of the issues and a balanced and educated position. Polls are conducted through the process to track how people's opinions change. Afterwards, many of the people who have participated become much more active citizens. I think that this is similar to the emergent democracy idea that we have. Maybe we can try to do this deliberative polling using the online tools that we have.

Deliberative polling turns to the representatives to execute on these opinions. Antoin was the first to point out (many others have pointed this out later) that my paper misses an important part of the democratic process. The execution. It focuses on the deliberation part. Maybe emergent democracy should focus on those interesting moments in history where the people wake up and change government. Larry talked about how there were three such instances in the US. When the framers went against the bill of rightsarticles of confederation in writing the constitution, during the civil war and during the "new deal." Each of these involved a deviance from constitutional democracy because of a huge swell in the opinion of the people. Maybe emergent democracy enables the people to force an issue when it become important enough to engage the public to rise up. Sort of an information militia. We can rely on the experts in the representative democracy when this are running smoothly and the people are not engaged... Anyway, still very malformed thoughts, but a lot to think about.