Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Folding Fixie

I just got my fixed-gear folding bike from Bike Friday. It's based on their Pocket Rocket Pro frame, but instead of the normal gear system, it has a simple single gear. There are various kinds of "fixies". Some some have brakes and some have a gear on the other side which allows you to flip the back rim so you have two gears, although switching gears involves removing the back rim.

Because of the mechanics of a folding bike, the dropout where back rim mounts into the frame is slightly different from a normal fixie, but in principle it is the same. I was going to try to be badass and get it without any brakes (you use your legs to brake) but Stephen, my sales guy at Bike Friday, convinced me to get at least a front brake... that I could always remove it if I didn't need it.

After taking it around the block, I'm glad I have it. I don't think I have the legs to control myself down steep hills yet.

Fixies are getting more and more popular these days. They seem to have a slightly culty image, but I think more and more "normal" people are riding them and even major brands are starting to release fixies. The reason I got it is because it's supposed to be a good workout with the high cadence and the variety of weights you end up having to pedal. Also, because of the significantly fewer parts, it's more durable and less likely to break. Wikipedia has a pretty good article on fixed-gear bikes.

The bike folds so you can take it on the train or stick it in a cab and it also easily dismantles and fits in a airline checkinable suitcase.

This is my second Bike Friday. They're hand-made and high quality and the service and support has been good. I'd recommend them to anyone who wants a high quality bike that they can travel with.

Kudos to Sean for turning me on to fixies and to Markoff for turning me on to Bike Friday.

UPDATE: Here's a picture of it folded.

Folded Bike Friday Pocket Rocket Pro Fixie

Shibuya Center gai Shibuya Center Gai

I spent High School in Japan. I lived in Shibuya and went to The American School in Japan in Chofu.

I grew up in Shibuya. Back then, in the early 80’s, Shibuya was a hot area of Tokyo. Brands like Van Jacket, Domon, Jun, etc. and the “Shibuya Casual” or “shibukazi” scene were getting a lot of attention. Shibuya was full of bars, clubs, restaurants, clothing shops and places to just hang out on the street.

As a teenager, I spent a lot of time “on the street” buying liquor from vending machines, chasing rats and going to game centers and clubs. Back then, it didn’t really matter if you were underaged and the discos were packed with Jr. High School aged kids. I went to my first nightclub in 9th grade. You could buy bottles of whiskey, Suntory White, in vending machines.

During summers I hung out in the fashion buildings, sometimes helping in the shops and always going out with the designers, shop staff and hair dressers after work. The Japanese bubble was just getting going and everything felt like an endless drunken party and a explosion of consumer brands and excess.

Later, after I first dropped out of college, I returned to Shibuya to run an after hours club at the end of Center Gai. That’s where I met Hyperdelic Video and a lot of my “crew”, many of whom I still work with. I also met Keith who was running Tower Records at the time. I used to have him let me put my club flyers there. I was probably just a scrappy little kid to him then.

When we first moved to Shibuya, we lived in a fancy house paid for by my mother’s employer, ECD. Later, we had to move to a dumpy little two room apartment made from a converted love hotel. That’s when I hung out the most with Keigo (Cornelius) who was living with his mother in the same apartment building.

Walking around Shibuya at 7AM this morning brought back memories of all-nighters and the craziness of my teenage years in Tokyo. I shot some photos and uploaded the set to Flickr.

Joi with Timothy Leary terminus
Me with Timothy Leary's terminus made of his mortal remains

As Timothy once said, "everyone out there gets the Timothy Leary they deserve". WAV File

Today, I did an interview with agent etoy.Monorom and agent etoy.Silvan for their Mission Eternity project. My job was to channel Timothy Leary who is one of the test pilots of the project. The project involves a terminus made from the mortal remains of Timothy which are connected to a sarcophagus installation. It keeps track of and maintains a network of volunteer angels who keep his archival identity parts alive on the Net. In many ways it is still a work in progress and I was contributing in my own way.

I had told etoy that several of us had had experiences in the past where Tim asked us to channel him. When he was busy or needed to do other things, I would be asked to play his role by answering questions and explaining thoughts. I was working on a book with him at the time and would talk about the ideas from our book, The New Breed. Most silly questions looking for an answer were responded to with a, "think for yourself!" In the past, I did these interviews in chatrooms with Tim often in the next room so it wasn't that hard to imagine what Tim would say. Now 10 years after his death, I had to think a deeply about what Tim would think about the current state of affairs and try to play this role.

It was a lot of fun.

While I was preparing for this, I reflected on Wikipedia where someone edited a comment on my Wikipedia article from "Ito is Timothy Leary's God Son." to "Ito has claimed that he was one of Timothy Leary's so-called 'God Sons'". Someone nice edited it back eventually. Also, somewhere along the line, my name was also scrubbed from Timothy's article as well. I realize that to some people my relationship with Tim is not notable or interesting and possible annoying. I don't really feel like being greedy about it at all. It just feels a bit sad that something I said on my blog has been reduced to a claim that looks like some kind of heavy name dropping...

As I thought about this more, I remembered the quote from Tim. I also remembered that Tim touched people deeply and made them feel special. I think EVERYONE he touched directly or through his work came up with their own Tim. I don't feel I have any right to take away from that. However, I think that it would be great if we can understand Tim as the aggregate of all of our Tim's and somehow come together to help him come back to life through our memories. I really think that this is what etoy is trying to do with Mission Eternity and that makes me happy.

What's amazing to me now is that as more and more information becomes available online and we are able to talk to each other about our memories... Tim can come back to life instead of fading and through us, maybe he becomes much larger than what he could be if he were all in one piece right now. I look forward to working together to bring back his spirit instead of bickering over the pieces and the details of the past.

Update: Chris found a video of Timothy calling me his godson. Thanks Chris!

Federated Media is doing a campaign with Wikia for HP to get people to talk about PC’s to promote the hot new HP Blackbird. The Blackbird is a high-end, water cooled mod-friendly PC designed for gamers and other high-end users. They are trying to get people to talk about PC needs and the Blackbird on the Blackbird Wikia site.

They asked me to do a video so here it is.

FWIW, I think it’s a cool idea. I wasn’t paid to do the video although I’m an investor in Wikia so obviously benefit from this.

Oh, and they are giving away free Blackbirds to some of the people who participate in the conversation on the Wiki.

Larry just posted about the Texas suit against Virgin and Creative Commons

On the Texas suit against Virgin and Creative Commons

Slashdot has an entry about a lawsuit filed this week by parents of a Texas minor whose photograph was used by Virgin Australia in an advertising campaign. The photograph was taken by an adult. He posted it to Flickr under a CC-Attribution license. The parents of the minor are complaining that Virgin violated their daughter’s right to privacy (by using a photograph of her for commercial purposes without her or her parents permission). The photographer is also a plaintiff. He is complaining that Creative Commons failed “to adequately educate and warn him … of the meaning of commercial use and the ramifications and effects of entering into a license allowing such use.” (Count V of the complaint).

Please read the rest of his post.

This is a very good example of the complexities of copyright and other rights and the necessity of educating the public and ourselves about what copyright exactly is. As Larry points out, the posts on Slashdot are for the most part accurate and correct, but in a nutshell - Creative Commons is about copyright and NOT about privacy or other non-copyright issues. Just because something is licensed under a Creative Commons license, it DOESN’T mean that you can do anything you want with it. Different jurisdiction around the world have a variety of different laws, but depending on where you, property rights, moral rights, privacy laws and other laws may restrict what you can do with a photo. It is the responsibility of anyone reusing or remixing works to understand what rights may apply in their particular application. In particular, commercial use can trigger a variety of restrictions and a CC license on the photo by a photographer only relates to the rights that the photographer might typically have.

One of the things that I’ve been working on with our small group of photographers in the iCommons Photo-Commons node is to discuss things like model releases in combination with Creative Commons licenses to address exactly these sorts of issues. Above all, what is important is to create a way for subjects, photographers and people using these photos to have a clear way to decide and communicate what rights they would like to reserve and what rights they would like to permit. Creative Commons is one important part of this process, but we clearly need more than just CC to make this all work.