Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

We will be announcing later today the establishment of Neoteny Venture Development Co., Ltd. which will be lead by Hidehiro Matsumoto as its CEO. Neoteny Venture Development is a spin-out of the consulting business of Neoteny Co., Ltd. which has been in development for a year. Neoteny Venture Development Co., Ltd. will be a subsidiary of Neoteny Co., Ltd. The team has delivered five consulting engagements to large Japanese companies. NVD will focus on corporate venture consulting, entrepreneurship support and corporate spin-out consulting. Neoteny Co., Ltd. will focus on venture investing in information technology businesses. Neoteny will update its web page tonight. (It will be a blog ;-) )

I will of course continue to be CEO of Neoteny and current am focused on investing in personal communications technologies and networked consumer electronics and enabling technologies and services...

habbohotel_thumb.jpg Neeraj showed us Habbohotel today.

Hirata found it on IP. It is very cool. I think the best avatar style space I've seen so far. The only thing is, the site is in the UK and I can't buy credits to furnish my room. If anyone else is a member, My Habbo is "Joichi"...

Hat's off to Dan who wrote about this a year ago!

Dan Gillmor
From: Gillmor, Dan To: Dave Farber Date: Sat, 21 Jul 2001 18:53:11 -0400

HELSINKI -- Buying virtual furniture for a virtual hotel room may seem likan odd enough exercise. Now add this: You pay by mobile phone.

That's how it works at online chat sites Hotelli Kultakala and Habbo Hotel, operated by a small Finnish company called Sulake. And people, mostly young people, are paying -- with real money -- by calling a special phone number, entering a few digits and having the cost of virtual furniture added to their next month's phone bills.

Across town, meanwhile, Riot Entertainment is getting ready to beam messages from Frodo the Hobbit to the mobile phones of ``Lord of the Rings'' fans. The messages from Frodo and other denizens of Middle Earth will be part of a movie marketing campaign when the first of three Rings movies opens later this year.

Some of the most intriguing ideas about tomorrow's mobile communications and commerce are coming from the people of this small Nordic nation, whose influence on the world's telecommunications stage has long outweighed the size of its population.

Earlier I wrote about suicides in Japan. I also recently wrote about the relationship between life insurance and murders. I found an interesting article in the Mainichi covering all of these issues.

This article is interesting because it points to life insurance as the cause of many suicides where life insurance is the only way to get out of debt. I guess the choice is either to kill yourself or someone else. ;-p They actually let you use your life insurance as collateral for home mortages in Japan..

MDN: WaiWai
From kamikaze to hara-kiri, Japanese just can't stop topping themselves

By Ryann Connell
Staff Writer

September 30, 2002

Any wonder, then, that Sunday Mainichi (10/6) refers to Japan as the suicide capital of the world -- a dubious honor also recently bestowed by the World Psychiatric Association.

"Considering that both Japanese men and women have the world's greatest longevity, it came as a shock to learn that we're also number one for suicides," psychiatry Assistant Prof. Kazuo Yamada tells Sunday Mainichi.

National Police Agency figures released earlier this year showed that 31,402 people committed suicide in Japan last year, 915 more than in 2001. It was the fourth consecutive year that deaths by suicide had topped the 30,000 barrier and has prompted calls that the Japanese government isn't doing enough to help its people. Men in their 40s or 50s account for about 40 percent of all Japan's suicides, with health and financial problems the main reasons why Japanese are taking their own lives.

Yet another interesting aspect of Japan's suicide rate is revealed by its skyrocketing since 1998.

"That year the unemployment rate also rose rapidly and people were suddenly getting laid off in large numbers. Suicides became prevalent particularly in 40-something or 50-something guys. Life insurance companies were thrown into a panic. The amount of life insurance payouts the companies had to pay in 1998 threw the entire industry into a crisis. The companies responded by doubling the waiting period before they'd make payouts on suicides. That stemmed the flow of people taking their own lives a little bit," Yamada tells Sunday Mainichi.

Industry figures agree with the claim.

"Usually, payouts aren't made in cases where the cause of death is clearly suicide. And it is true that the decision that companies made in 1999 to extend periods before payouts are made was based on the rising suicide rate," a spokesman for the Life Insurance Association of Japan says.

Indeed, life insurance payouts seem to be a vital factor in Japan's suicide rate. So much so, it seems, that they can almost be rated along with depression as one the major reasons people take their lives.

"Guys in their 40s or 50s, the one's who're most likely to commit suicide, have got kids and home loans, yet when they lose their jobs they have no idea how they're going to cope. All they can think about is how much harder things are going to get each year when it comes to paying their mortgage or for education," psychiatry professor Yamada tells Sunday Mainichi. "Eventually, they come to believe that the only way they can fulfill the responsibilities they have toward their family is to commit suicide and ensure those relatives who remain are set up financially for life."

The EFF is one of the few organizations fighting on the issues of copyright and privacy in the US courts. They need our support more than ever. I just sent my contribution. If you care about the Net shouldn't you?

existing or found everywhere

Had lunch with Justin and Jane. I met Jane for the first time and it was cool to be able to start talking about stuff right away since I read her blogs and she reads my blog. We were "synched" and ready to go. She was very cool and just like I imagined.

And Justin... I was once called ubiquitous by someone and I remember looking it up in the dictionary. Justin is ubiquitous. Not only does everyone know Justin, everyone has just recently seen him. Another ubiquitous person I know is Gohsuke Takama. I used to see him at every rave, walking in front of my car in Berkeley, under the table of an art exhibit I was judging for the Interactive Media Festival as "techno-shaman Gohsuke". Phil Zimmerman has signed Gohsuke's PGP key and he is always everywhere at once. Both Gohsuke and Justin are globally ubiquitous.

The other day, Barak told me I was like Forest Gump. (I didn't like this comparison of course.) I'm always around when big things happen, but not necessarily at the center. I was Pierre Omidyar's classmate in college. We were setting up Yahoo's server in Japan before Softbank invested in Yahoo. I was with Timothy Leary the night before he died... the list goes on. Being ubiquitous is very different from being a power broker or the center of things that happen. I think some people are nodes. Some people are hubs. Howard, for instance is a big node. Howard connects to a lot of things, but also does a lot of sitting and thinking. I may have been semi-ubiquitous, but I'm more and more a hub linking nodes I think...

Anyway, I was busy today, wanted to post at least one thing and all I could manage was this stupid comparison between human beings and computer networks. Sorry!