Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I've finally started working on my paper on emergent democracy. It basically tracks the "Happening" but it will be for a non-blogging crowd so I will have to describe blogging and a variety of other things we take for granted. I'm going to write it in OmniOutliner and will render it with ActiveRendere and upstream it to my Radio page.

I posted this back in 1998, but I'm going to post it again. Tocqueville was a Frenchman who visited the US and wrote a book called "Democracy in America" in 1835.

Alexis de Tocqueville
From time to time, indeed, enterprising and ambitious men will arise in democratic communities whose unbounded aspirations cannot be contented by following the beaten track. Such men like revolutions and hail their approach; but they have great difficulty in bringing them about unless extraordinary events come to their assistance. No man can struggle with advantage against the spirit of his age and country; and however powerful he may be supposed to be, he will find it difficult to make his contemporaries share in feelings and opinions that are repugnant to all their feelings and desires.

It is a mistake to believe that, when once equality of condition has become the old and uncontested state of society and has imparted its characteristics to the manners of a nation, men will easily allow themselves to be thrust into perilous risks by an imprudent leader or bold innovator. Not indeed that they will resist him openly, by well-contrived schemes, or even by a premeditated plan of resistance. They will not struggle energetically against him, sometimes they will even applaud him; but they do not follow him. To his vehemence they secretly oppose their inertia, to his revolutionary tendencies their conservative interests, their homely tastes to his adventurous passions, their good sense to the flights of his genius, to his poetry their prose. With immense exertion he raises them for an instant, but they speedily escape from him and fall back, as it were, by their own weight. He strains himself to rouse the indifferent and distracted multitude and finds at last that he is reduced to impotence, not because he is conquered, but because he is alone.

Sounds pretty lonely. Luckily, being a leader today doesn't mean you're along. In fact, you're just one of the catalysts. I felt a bit strange leading the emergent democracy "Happening" when we were trying to find emergence where there was not supposed to be a leader or a pacemaker. Mitch mentioned that management as defined by Dee Hock was about being lead by the group and managing things above you. (versus the tradition notion of management being something that leaders do to followers) You're a leader as long as people look to you to be the catalyst. So, I wonder... Do leaders "emerge"? What does leadership have to do with Clay's power law discussion? My sense that people who are "different" and express their point of view will be discovered when society needs that point of view. It's like some antibody or some catalyst waiting for the right situation to be useful. This is very different from the single source of power/power broker sort of control oriented leadership. The old way to lead was to find the source of power, take it over and then control. Now maybe it is to find some point of view, feel strongly about it and blog blog blog. Be the difference that makes a difference.

Joi called it a 'happening' which is quite appropriate as it happened in several media at the same time.
I called the meeting, but actually someone else first called it a "Happening". I think it was Ross. Does anyone remember? Anyway, I think that's the right word for it too.

BTW, for all of you who didn't participate in the first two calls, it may be hard to understand why we are all so excited about a simple conference call. I think the multi-modal aspect and the integration of the Wiki is a new and exciting development. Ross does a good job explaining it on his blog.

The hinge on my 15 inch TiBook broke. The Powerbook display was hanging on from one hinge. I had to write a paper. My 802.11g base station had just arrived. What to do. I always use the opportunity of giving forward as my excuse to buy new stuff. So, I went out and bought a 12 inch PowerBook G4. I copied the system from my 15 inch to my new computer using Carbon Copy Cloner, which is one of my favorite utilities. No go. The new machine didn't recognize the system. I did a fresh re-install and randomly dragged folders to the new machine that looked important. That worked, but took way too much work. Anyway, I'm switched and have set up my 802.11g connection at home and I love it. I just uploaded a 1.7MB QT movie to my blog. zip... Done. ;-) I'm sitting here gloating instead of writing my paper on emergent democracy which is the excuse I gave myself for making such an impulse buy. Better get back to writing.

I've posted a two movies clips I took at the anti-war parade in Shibuya. The first one is a 1.7MB QT movie of the Japanese drummers and the second one is a 780K QT movie of the big black flags of the anarchics waving in the air walking down Koendori in front of the Marui department store. I imagined that we were marching for the overthrow of the Japanese government for a moment. ;-)