Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Pete Wilson
I've joined the Pacific Council Task Force on Japan as a guest. The Pacific Council is affiliated with the Council on Foreign Relations. They do reports on a variety of countries and this year they are working on Japan. The Task Force on Japan is being headed by Pete Wilson, the former Governor of California. We had breakfast today at the American Club and Mr. Wilson gave a great speech about Japan which was "off the record"... ;-)

I was originally asked to join this group by Mr. Toyoda of the METI who was the chief trade negotiator for MITI at the time. Mr. Toyoda and became friends when Dr. Ishiguro of Tokyo University invited me to join a study group for Mr. Toyoda on preparing for the WTO negotiations the year that AOL proposed a bunch of e-commerce related deregulations. It's interesting how my being dragged into a government study group to protect Japan against American IP and IT imperialism ended up with me criticizing Japan at the American Club. ;-)

Yesterday, I met the John Wheeler and Daniel Rosenblum from the Japan Society who are also working on US/Japan stuff.

It's great that there are all of these groups helping to try to save Japan, but it would probably make sense to coordinate and have each group focus on a different aspect...

Takasuka-san on the left, Funaki-san on the right
Yesterday, Matsumoto-san who is now the CEO of Neoteny Venture Development, Takasuka-san, the founder and CEO of Cybozu and Funaki-san the President of TIS and I had lunch. Takasuka-san is a really interesting guy who I met through Hato-san of Exceed. Takasuka-san was an engineer at Matsushita in the Management Information Systems group. He left Matsushita to found Cybozu. Cybozu makes a groupware package. The key to their success is that they did guerilla marketing to small groups in big companies that wanted to bypass the MIS group. Since the groupware products of big companies were invariably too complicated and a pain to work with, Cybozu was a great alternative that was priced low enough to get under the radar. They have been profitable and growing from their first year and have done well even after their IPO. TIS is one of the largest and most profitable system integration companies. They are headquartered in Osaka (as is Matsushita) but most of their operations and customers are in Tokyo. Sanwa Bank owned a big share of them for awhile, but have cut back in the wake of bank balance sheet reforms. Mr. Funaki used to work at Sanwa Bank and joined TIS several years ago to run it. TIS invested in Digital Garage and helped Digital Garage grow from a web company to an e-commerce company. TIS also invested in my Neoteny.

Anyway, it was fun introducing the two who met for the first time. I have a theory that Osaka companies that do business in Tokyo make money. Osaka is known for their business sense. The problem with Osaka is that it is a small market with a lot of competition. Funaki-san can act as regal and upper-class as anyone, but lunch was very Osaka-style. My father is from Osaka and Matsumoto is Kyoto which is in the Kansai region near Osaka. The discussion quickly shifted to a Kansai dialect.

What is fascinating about Takasuka-san is that he still loves Matsushita. He loves Matsushita even more than when he was there. He seems to embody the real soul of Matsushita which is about delivering great products to the masses at the lowest cost.

Anyway, I wish the best to both of them and I think they bonded in an interesting way. A senior Sanwa Bank executive now immersed in running a huge IT company and a young Matsushita engineer running a public company.

I know some of you are not as excited about this whole "Blog Thing" as some of us, but this is really amazing. This is the kind of thing that I think shows how the speed and the "feed-like" nature of blogs can short circuit mistakes and create new communication channels that traditional web pages just weren't fast enough to do...
Boing Boing
Judge amends decision after reading correction on blog
A former law clerk noted an error in a Fifth Circuit decision on his blog. The judge who wrote the decision turns out to be a regular reader of said blog, and he immediately amended the decision and wrote to the blogger with the news. Judges read blogs. Judges correct Federal court rulings based on blogs. Wow.

So Steve Sakoman pulled it off. $11mm in stock for Be Inc. was a good deal for Palm. Great news for BeOS fans, although most have already moved on. Too bad my Be Inc. stock options aren't worth anything though. :-) Good luck Steve!

PalmOS 6 details emerge
By Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco
Posted: 10/30/2002 at 14:20 EST

PalmSource has offered us a glimpse of the next milestone for PalmOS, version 6.0 due for release next year.

Version 6.0 will be as dramatic a change for the platform as OS X was for Apple, or NT was for Microsoft, and represents the culmination of work from the former Be team Palm acquired last year.

The new OS will feature multimedia and graphics frameworks drawn from BeOS, PalmSource's Michael Mace told us. Mace says this is real BeOS code, but Steve Sakoman, the team's former leader at Be Inc, and now PalmSource's "chief products officer" has denied that Be code would be incorporated into the new OS. More likely, we suspect, the new OS will inherit some algorithms and architecture from BeOS.

WiFi eyes better wireless LAN security

By Stephen Lawson
October 30, 2002 11:37 am PT

THE WIRELESS ETHERNET Compatibility Alliance (WECA), which certifies IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN products with the WiFi label, on Thursday will announce a new set of mechanisms to combat the security problem that has plagued wireless LANs.

A WECA official did not provide details of the mechanisms but said they are intended to replace the current security system based on WEP (Wireless Encryption Protocol).

WEP, which is built in to products that use the IEEE 802.11b and 802.11a standards, is easy for intruders to break into, according to many analysts and other observers. A task group within the working group that administers 802.11 in the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Inc. (IEEE) is developing a new security specification that would require equipment to support several different strong algorithms for encrypting traffic. That work is not done yet, and products using it are not expected until the second half of next year.

Duh... This is a pretty big problem. People think that having a WEP key is actually secure. You can crack normal WEP keys in a few minutes by sniffing traffic and using programs such as wepcrack which is available on the web. There are some chipsets out that have better security, but most of the AP's we all use are completely vulnerable. On the other hand, if you aren't worried about people hijacking traffic and if you encrypt everything you do internally, you're fine. Just don't for a moment think that just because you set a WEP key that you're secure. (Kudo's to Chris for telling me about wepcrack. ;-) )