Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I had just finished reading Philip Jacob's piece and was preparing my thoughts for a panel on spam that I THINK I'm on in January when I saw this piece by Larry. It's great. It's right on and he's putting his job on the line. I totally agree. We CAN NOT give up the stupid network just to stomp out spamming. I think that the label/punish idea is great. I only worry that the punishment loop is more difficult internationally. Maybe you'll end up with a lot of spam from Japanese, Chinese and Russian spammers. ;-) Larry will still keep his job though, because it will still be siginificantly less spam than you get now.

Lawrence Lessig: putting my job where my mouth is

Lawrence Lessig
A kind-hearted email and a nice analysis of spam have given me an idea:

First the analysis: Philip Jacob has a great piece about spam and RBLs. The essay not only identifies the many problems with RBLs, but it nicely maps a mix of strategies that could be considered in their place. But, alas, missing from the list is one I've pushed: A law requiring simple labeling, and a bounty for anyone who tracks down spammers violating the law.

Then I got an email from a kind soul warning me about my work—"do you know how powerful your enemies are?" this person asked. No, I thought, I don't, but let's see. If I've got such powerful enemies, then I've got a good way to do some good.

Here goes: So (a) if a law like the one I propose is passed on a national level, and (b) it does not substantially reduce the level of spam, then (c) I will resign my job. I get to decide whether (a) is true; Declan can decide whether (b) is true. If (a) and (b) are both true, then I'll do (c) at the end of the following academic year.

So: Is there anyone else advancing a spam solution who would offer this kind of warranty?

PS We've had this discussion on spam on this blog before and my current position considering the technologies we have is that we use local whitelists (I use tmda) instead of central blacklists.

I was dreaming about trackbacks this morning (really) and I was thinking about how cool the Blog Snowball Fight was. Then I realized that of COURSE you should trackback ping your friend with your greetings.

So Happy Blog New Year everyone! Here's to making blogs a bigger and bigger part of the freedom of ideas and creating a global dialog for a blog enabled global community and a more democratic world.

New Yera's Eve moblogging

New Year's moblog going. The New Year's Moblog is going. Please take a look... [Joi Ito's Web]

We got left in the dark :-(
So it's 5PM here in SF - which makes it 7PM in Chicago, 8PM in NYC and already 2AM in London.
But the site is dark and empty. I wonder what that means?
- it's too late for us West Coasters to post - we don't have our New Years Eve on the same day as everyone else
- Trilateral commission retribution for negative economic policies (and overall underground interests and sympathy penalty)
- never happened - it was just a figment of Joi's imagination
- the site was flooded by millions of uploads
- some other conspiracy involving the Taken, Joi, Tim Leary's spirit and a patridge ina pear tree

My sincere apologies. We had the site turn on at GMT 12/31 0000 and turn off at 1/1 0000. For some reason, we thought this would sweep around and give everyone 24 hours to post. Kind of a "Day in the Life" sort of thing. It also reflects no one on the team wanting to have the responsibility of monitoring the content of the uploads over New Years... just in case... (we should have trusted everyone more...) Anyway, I apologize to everyone who wanted to post, but couldn't. We'll do something again soon and will plan it better.

Anyway, the site is back online. We'll try to figure out a better way to display the content. Maybe a slide show? Anyone interested in trying to figure out how to do that? ;-)

Although it does remind me of all of the times that US web sites do maintenance based on US time zones and take critical sites in Japan off-line during the busiest times. ;-) Unintentional Time Zone fascism....

The New Year's Moblog is going. Please take a look...

As I struggle to prepare my thoughts for the Davos Blueprint for Japan 2020 panel, I keep ending up at the conclusion that Japan is not a functioning democracy. Although it is a loop, the lack of transparency, the lack of an open function market, the lack of a free and independent media, the lack of a functioning judiciary... All of these things point to the fact that we don't have a democracy. I'm not blaming anyone for this and I think that many people are sincerely trying to reform Japan, but I do believe that it is much deeper than just some stimulation packages and lip service to transparency.

Larry talks about the "Framers" in "The Future of Ideas" and what he says about them sounds pretty good. It sounds like the "Framers" really tried very hard to structure a democracy that is robust against corruption and able to self-correct. So, I decided to ask Professor Lessig about democracy. (It sure is nice having a comparative constitutional law professor in the neighborhood. ;-) )

Professor Lessig gave me some great things to think about which I thought I would share. (This may not be very new to people who don't live in a totalitarian state... if there is such a think these days...)

The first thing he said that made a lot of sense is that a democracy requires multiple points of authority to criticize and check power. This may seem obvious and is the spirit behind the separation of the three branches of government, but it goes beyond that. It's giving power to the states. (In Japan's case, the governors.) It's a free media. It's a bunch of different points of authority which structurally allow a competition of ideas and well-regulated criticism. For this, authorities with a strong sense of the ethics of independence are necessary.

Professor Lessig defined democracy as a competition of ideas. I think he is right on.

So this is where blogging comes in. We both agreed that there is a sense of well-regulated critical discussion about politics and other important topics on blogs. Blogging has been around for awhile now, but is still in its infancy. If we can develop the Internet into a method that enables a competition of ideas and a well-regulated critical dialog, we may be able enable one of the key factors missing from many non-democracies. A public dialog which engages the people. (By the way, the "press" when the Framers were writing the Constitution were individuals with printing presses, not the massive media companies.)

Sorry about this sloppy entry. I just wanted to get this out before I forgot. I'll post more over the holidays as I prepare my presentation, but the key lesson of today's lunch was: Focus on the "competition of ideas" and MAYBE everything will follow. Maybe it's a blog-enabled public and a league of powerful governors that will lead Japan into the next stage...