Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

It was dark so I used the infrared nightvision mode on my Sony video camera to capture the scene
Went to the anti-war parade in Shibuya today. It was the biggest protest of its type that I've been to. (Although I think the gay and lesbian parade I went to with Kara and Megan was bigger and more fun...) I heard that it was the first protest that circled through the Shibuya route completely before the last team had left, making a full circle.

We were the bloggers against war. We were stuck between the semi-left wing Asian group and a bunch of strange folks with messages on their umbrellas. Later, we ended up next to the Japanese drummers, which was much better. I guess they wanted to do this at the same time all over the world so Japan got stuck after dark. We were a pretty diverse group. I liked the Japanese drummers, the anarchists with the BIG black flags and the "Love not War" folks.

It was pretty interesting and mayb 20% of the people were really having fun. Regardless of the logic, I think it is definitely more fun to be against the war than for it.

Recently I've been getting email and comments in my blog pushing me to try to elaborate on my position on the war or to engage in the debate. I don't want to right now. I have several reasons.

1 - The War with Iraq is very important, but I have many things that are important to me and committing to taking a strong position and defending it would undermind my ability to cause a revolution in Japan, think about North Korea, run my business and try to understand democracy.

2 - Most of what can be said is being said. It reminds me of high school debate. We had hundreds of note cards supporting or debunking various positions. Debate was about choosing and presenting a variety of positions about certain points. Both teams had 99% of all of the arguments already worked out. It was just a matter of hashing things out. I read the war blogs and it seems like just recycling of the same information over and over again. I'm not interested in hearing about the war unless it is new information. Calling me names and pushing me harder will not change my position on the war. I also do not have much to add at this point. I don't have much first hand information and it would be reiterated arguments already made. I don't see the point.

3 - Most of the sources of information are not trustworthy and have a variety of complex agendas. The issue itself is VERY complex. I think that ANYONE who is completely convinced either way either has access to information that I do not have or is a fool. I do not take strong positions on issues where I don't know the facts for sure and where it is too complex to predict the outcome.

I have decided to be against the war after listening to a variety of people who I trust and who have thought about this a lot. I had the opportunity to meet Colin Powell at the World Economic Forum in a small group with the Global Leaders for Tomorrow two years ago. I developed a great deal of respect for him. His speech at Davos this year was the most convincing argument for the war that I've heard. All of the pro-war folks are not nearly as convincing and I've already heard the argument about the UN resolution from Powell so I don't need to hear it again and again. I've also spent time with a journalist who I respect very much who is also pro-war. He was also very convincing. I've talked to experts on foreign policy, university professors, bloggers and a variety of people who I trust. My feeling after hearing all of the arguments is that there is no obvious position. So, when in doubt, my position is, don't kill people. Also, I believe that the US one of the best democracies in the world and that we should all push the US to hold the link and maintain its integrity. Judges face cases where they KNOW the defendant is guilty, but throw it out due to technicalities. Rules are rules. First-strike, torture are bad no matter what the reason. Due process should be protected no matter what the reason. If you let these principles slip, you're losing what you're fighting for. I'm not going to go into any more specifics in this entry because for every argument, there is a counter-argument.

So my fear in taking the anti-war position is that we may be allowing another Hitler to happen. Having said that, Sadaam does not have nearly the support or the power the Hitler had so we still have time. We are allowing the bin Laden to unite the Arab/Islam world against the US with this war and strange bedfellows are united. This is dangerous. We are also pushing Sadaam to strike first. The cost of a long war on the global economy and the difficulty of "running Iraq" is immense and I dread the thought of a drawn out US occupation of Iraq. That's what's on my mind.

So my humble position is to let the inspectors continue, work through the UN, get the rest of the world on board with a "smoking gun" and talk to the rest of the Arab nations more for ideas about hot to unseat Sadaam.

PS If you are going to warblog spam my blog, please comment on this item if possible. I won't delete or censor war comments to other entries, but I think it's bad taste to turn EVERY discussion into a discussion about Iraq.

Frank Boosman's rather lucid arguments FOR the war.
Interesting cross-blog debate

The Meta Network and the Electronic Networking Association were just about where it all started for me. My first real company was MDG Japan, a company that distributed Jcaucus (a Japanese version of the Caucus groupware product that MDG was marketing). The ENA was the first computer networking conference where we really started hashing a lot of the issues involving the scaling of online communities. We're still talking about a lot of the same things though... hmm...

Lisa Kimball
2003 is our 20th anniversary year for The Meta Network!

We are planning many festivities - including a linked-up set of celebrations the weekend of March 22-23.

We're also looking for artifacts, copies of conversations from the early years, and reminders of some of the highlights and special events we've shared on MetaNet.

If you have something to share or would like to know about special events, join the ANNIVERSARY conference on MetaNet and join the fun!

I'm a Webby Judge in the "community" category. We're nominating sites first. If anyone has suggestions, please post them here and I'll take a look. Thanks!

tia.jpgGood show US democracy! Now if you can just shut down that war of yours.

Is there still a pulse in the badly injured body of American democracy? Cynics will say that it will go underground, but I choose to believe that the US Congress has succeeded in shutting down the ultra-panoptic Total Information Awareness program -- the scheme to protect Americans from tyranny through total dataveillance of our every move. I say yay. Maybe those telephone calls you and I made to our Congressional representatives made a difference.
Virtually without dissent, the House conferees accepted a bipartisan Senate provision written by Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, stipulating that the program cannot be used against American citizens. The conferees also agreed to end research on the program — in effect shutting it down — in 90 days unless the Pentagon submits a detailed report on the program's cost, goals, impact on civil liberties and prospects for success against terrorists. What this means, in effect, is that if the program continues at all, it will be as a low-intensity research project under close Congressional supervision.