Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I'm just finishing the grading for the KMD Digital Journalism class that I taught at Keio. It really was a great experience and I'm looking forward to keeping in touch with the class. We've decided to keep the class together as an extracurricular project and the students will continue to work on their projects even though the class is officially over.

The class was divided into four teams. Each team had to organize a theme, at least one interview and their own method of output. Since we had less than one week, these projects are still a work in progress, but I think they made substantial progress considering the time constraints. (It was also the end of the school term and they were heavily loaded with other classwork.)

The four projects are:

1Ds - Digital Media Policy throughout the World ( site / blog )

Kyah! - Search Engines and the Future of Search ( site / blog )

OCTOPAS - How non-Japanese view the Japanese ( site / Interviews )

Sandwich - What is Photo Journalism? ( site / blog / video )

Your feedback and comments on their projects would be greatly appreciated.

Sorry about the delay. We've posted some notes from the June 2008 Creative Commons Board Meeting. Let me know if you have any questions.

Climate Matters: Inspire Your Next President

Brighter Planet and 1Sky are inviting Americans everywhere to participate in a contest to inspire our next president and political leadership on climate change. Between July 31std and September 22nd, Climate Matters contestants will upload a 30 or 60 second video representing their best attempt at delivering a compelling message to the next president and their political leaders to encourage bold action on climate change. A select panel of prominent judges will choose the winner amongst those ten videos which have accrued the most views in a single day. The contest will take place during both the summer Congressional recess and during the height of the presidential campaign season. To elevate the issue of climate change in the Congressional and the presidential campaigns, 1Sky will organize a strategic D.C.-based event for media and policymakers in early October to highlight the top 10 videos. We are also investigating multiple additional pathways for raising the profile and impact of the video submissions and winners.

Gillian Caldwell, the former ED of WITNESS and one of my heroes is the campaigned director of 1Sky. 1Sky is her "new thing" which I think is a super-important and exciting initiative. Please get involved and help out.


For over a year now, I've been taking photographs of people and posting them on Flickr with the "freesouls" tag. I thought it was my duty to free the souls of my friends for projects like Wikipedia and other free content projects. I blogged about this earlier. The word "freesouls" was actually a Lawrence Lessig idea.

At Wikimania in 2007 in Taiwan, I met Sophie Chiang who was the founder and editor of a super-cool art magazine and Christopher Adams, who was a writer. It was really beautiful. Having been struggling with printing myself at the time and considering the business models of CC books, I suggested to Christopher the idea of doing a CC photography book.

He liked the idea and as we noodled on it a bit, we decided it would be the most simple if we used my photographs to make a sort of proof-of-concept book and then invite other photographers to do something similar later.

As we worked on this project, we became more and more ambitious. Luckily, Christopher is also quite a hacker and we were able to use Socialtext, Flickr and Google Docs to efficiently manage the book editing process. Christopher even wrote a python script using the Flickr API to manage the images and categories for the book.

Christopher's designers are nearly done and we are getting ready to organize the final proof reading and plan printing.

The book includes essays from Lawrence Lessig, Howard Rheingold, Yochai Benkler, Isaac Mao, Cory Doctorow, Lawrence Liang and Marko Ahtisaari.

Here is an excerpt from Lessig's forward to the book:

Joi Ito has been at the center of critical movements to make technology, and creative freedom, available widely. He loves his profession, and he does it well. Mornings for him do not begin with the regret of who he couldn't be.

But his success in these fields has also given him an understanding of the people in these fields. In the twenty-some years of his work, he has come to know the people of these industries (both commercial and non-profit) well. They are his friends (Ito has no enemies). He engages them as a friend, always concerned and giving, never short or impatient. He understands them by learning to see them in a certain way. He engages them with the love of friendship by learning to see them in the most beautiful, or distinctive way, possible.

Digital technologies have now given us a way to see just how Joi sees the world. By lowering the cost of access and practice, the technologies have allowed Ito to become an accomplished amateur photographer. But 'accomplished' in this context means that he has learned how to capture the person he sees. And unlike the professional photographer, who ordinarily has 10 minutes to come to 'know' the person he photographs, Ito has had his whole professional career. He knows the people in this book. He has come to see them in their most beautiful, or extraordinary light, and he has perfected an ability to capture what he sees, and share it with all of us.


We are going to release the book in 3 editions: a boxed set, a limited and numbered edition and a general release. One or all of these will be available on Amazon starting in the fall. We're also going to be releasing pieces of the book online over a period of time in various formats and forms. We are also working on trying to make the whole process as carbon-neutral as possible.

We're planning on only making 50 boxed sets so if you're interested in getting one, please email chris at as soon as possible.

Finally, we would love to have a few volunteers to proofread the book. Also email Christopher if you're interested in helping.

If you're interested in being notified when the book comes out, please sign up on the page.

Although we're not done yet... Thanks to Christopher and his team, my assistants lead by Mika who had to deal with all of the model releases, Pat for help with the SF photo shoot, the people who contributed essays and all of the subjects who helped make this book much more free by signing model release forms.

Apologies to all of my important friend who don't appear in the book. We chose a limited number of images based on their quality and a lot of people who should appear in the book don't. I think we're going to have to do another addition. Apologies to people who didn't get their favorite version or image in the book. I let the Christopher and the designers make the final call on the choice of images in order to allow them to have more control of the tone of the design.

Of course, the book as well as the images will be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license with model release from the subjects.

I hope you enjoy the book when it comes out. I'll keep you all posted on the final stages on my blog.

I've been thinking about, and recently have started to get asked about, whether my investments in companies that use Creative Commons licenses represents a conflict of interest from the perspective of my role as the CEO of Creative Commons.

This is a valid question and a complex one. My life work involves working on big issues that I believe are important. Fundamentally, I believe in open networks which will enable reform in business, government, academia and society. I think the open Internet will be an important pillar for open society for the 21st Century.

I believe that for these changes to happen, we need to create and protect open standards such as TCP/IP, HTML/HTTP and Creative Commons to allow interoperability and open standards and an explosion of innovation that produces the software, services and infrastructure that supports the communities. Some of these software, services and infrastructure can be created as non-profit projects, but many will be created as start-up companies.

My current work involves spending approximately equal amounts of time working with companies that use Creative Commons as well as helping to manage the Creative Commons process and organization. Recently, just about every new investment that I make is a commercial Internet company that uses Creative Commons and those companies that don't use Creative Commons yet, I am continuously urging to incorporate Creative Commons in their business. In my business life, I'm building a ecology of great companies that work together using Creative Commons as the way they communicate, share and work together.

There are various aspects to the conflict-of-interest issue. One thing that I have to be careful about is using the resources of Creative Commons to unfairly advantage myself or my companies. Another issue would be access to proprietary information because of my role as CEO of Creative Commons which unfairly advantages companies that I'm involved in.

With respect to using resources of the Creative Commons organization unfairly for the benefit of my companies, I think that what I need to do is make a very strong policy to make sure that it is clear to CC staff and the community that they should not provide any unfairly beneficial treatment to my companies. While I might encourage an initial meeting, whether CC spends more or less time supporting and talking to these companies should be determined independently of the relationship with me.

With the respect to proprietary information, I think that at some level, the burden of ethical behavior rests on me. I vow to take confidentiality of information seriously and will try to limit to the greatest extent possible, the creation of propriety information or conversations.

Finally, I believe it is the role of the board and the community make sure that I am behaving in an ethical fashion.

Historically, commercial involvement in standards processes is not a new thing. All companies that are interested in using or supporting open standards typically are involved in funding and participating in the operation of standards bodies and associations. The key to success to to make sure that these organizations are not at risk of capture by these corporate interests.

I believe, but hope that I can make others feel comfortable that, it would be impossible for me to "capture" the CC process. The process is becoming and increasingly diverse and consensus-oriented process. Right now we're at a key moment in the evolution of the organization where we are small enough to move quickly but are becoming more and more complex. Complexity leads to process and one thing that I'd like to avoid is becoming a complicated ICANN-like process.

I believe that all of the companies that I'm involved in are net contributors to Creative Commons. The more companies that use CC the more valuable CC becomes. The more companies that become successful using CC, the more human and financial resources that can be used to support CC. So frankly, I don't feel guilty really.

However, I'm interested interested in hearing any criticism and suggestions on how I might increase people's comfort with this issue. I believe that disclosure is an important part of the solution. All of my business and other interests are on my wiki. I think that just about every company that I'm involved in uses Creative Commons.

Sorry about the long post, but I take this issue seriously and am really interested in what people think.