Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

July 2002 Archives

cocktails.jpg nedstewartpaul.jpg shimonbill.jpg

Was all ready to go with my 3 minute brainscan, but got bumped because the schedule got out of control... Oh well. I guess I'm supposed to do it today. My China panel is also today.

Yesterday we had cocktails at a house in the mountains of Aspen. It was huge and beautiful. The view from the deck was amazing. No wonder everyone dreams of having a home in Aspen.

Later, we had dinner at an Italian resetaurant near the hotel. I missed the first bus and showed up after Paul, Ned and Stewart had almost finished eating...

Afterwards, we went to the bar at the hotel where Bill Clinton and Shimon Peres were have a dialog over drinks. My jet lag was catching up and I was full of wine and pasta so I couldn't "get into it" for too long, but it was a frank dialog. Including his remarks during the day session, I was extremely impressed with Bill and his intelligent comments. He had very thoughtful comments on the global ecology, the Middle East, the HIV problem and many other things. I wonder why he didn't share more of his thoughts on these important issues when he was in office. I guess he couldn't afford to do it politically.

I didn't really get to hear very clearly what Shimon Peres was saying, but he will be making a more formal presentation during the day today so I will get a chance to hear him again...

John Gage set up 802.11 in the main room of the conference so I'm online live now. Cool. The king of Jordan is talking now and I'm sitting between Stewart Brand and Paul Saffo. Shimon Peres and his bodyguard are sitting next to Paul. We're all sitting in Herman Miller Aeron chairs sponsored by Herman Miller. (The Levis of the new economy.)

The King of Jordan just said, "We find ourselves between Iraq and a hard place." ;-)

The King was incredibly articulate and impressive. He said that it was the Americans who supported Islamic extremism in the region because they used them to fight their wars. The war on terrorism is a war between fundamentalism and modern Islam and it was the rest of the world joining this struggle, not the other way around.

Many people ask my what Neoteny (my company's name) means. It means the retention of childlike attributes in adulthood. I first heard it from Timothy Leary when we were working on a book together. (It was called "The New Breed" about the techno youth culture. We never finished it, but I still have a pile of notes. Maybe I should get around to publishing some of it someday...) Tim loved the word. He used it to mean all of the great things that you often lose in adulthood such as curiosity, playfulness, imagination, joy, humor, wonder, etc. It is a biology term that the people in evolutionary theory use to when discussing traits that we retain in adulthood like lack of body hair, etc. There is a good web site about Neoteny at

Adulthood in the past meant that you finished learning most of what you needed to learn and you switched to production mode and started focusing on repeating tasks and narrowing your focus. I think that with the amount of change in the world today, it is impossible to "grow up" and finish your learning. I think Neoteny will become more and more of a survival trait in the future.

On the other hand, Neoteny means some strange things as well. It is sometimes used in the context of sexual preferences, stunted growth and other problems. When Jun was joining Neoteny and he asked a high school student whether they knew what Neoteny was and the student said, "Giant tadpoles". So, there are pros and cons.

When I say Neoteny on the phone, it is often mistaken for New Otani. There was a company callled Neonagy (ne is roots, onaji means "same" so they meant "our roots are all the same" in Japanese.) and many people make mistakes and call us Neotony. But, I think that as the world starts to focus on biotech, I'm glad I picked this name instead of e-blahblahblah, i-blahblahblah, Netblahblahblah, or blahblahblah incubator. ;-)

NEOTENY, AND THE FUTURE OF HOMO SAPIENS A short contribution from Victor Serebriakoff

Neoteny describes the fact of evolution, that the new species emerge from the form of the young of the evolving species. The hominids arose from the Bonono or chimpanzee stage because their young stayed young longer, they remained experimental, playful whimsical longer and longer. There is, with homo sapiens, a developmental pause at the age of three which continues until the sudden changes of puberty. Homo has the longest period of immaturity of any creature on Earth. It is almost two decades from the stage of an almost helpless, senseless and completely dependent baby until the fully developed adult.

And this tendency appears to continue. We may notice that while most of humanity stop play and begin to work most of the daytime in their early twenties and play only in their spare time, there is a significant minority who continue to play all the time. They are usually the most gifted and talented, they become scholars, students and artists and occupy themselves with tasks for which their is no immediate substantial gain for themselves, intellectual tasks in fact. This is a continuation of childish behaviour and that minority contains all the intelligentsia. With the development of automation, the increase of prosperity and the availability of unlimited energy - see later contribution - the proportion of the neotenous minority will increase until it become a majority, I believe.
Victor Serebriakoff.

An article called "Awakening genius in the classroom"

I find I have a terrible memory. I often confuse things that happened during my days at Tufts University and University of Chicago. I can't remember people at all. I have horrible problems remembering what I did when. I recently met someone I knew in college and he remembered a karaoke club that I took him to that has completely disappeared from my memory. Anyway...

I've found that digging up old web entries from the past has helped me reconstruct my memory. I'm finding, having jumped into blogging rather agressively, that it is beginning to create an interesting trail of entries that will probably be very useful to me in the future. So, this blog is serving two important purposes. Publishing my thoughts, but also externalizing my memory function.

I remember once when John Lilly was invited to a conference in Japan about John Lilly, he was asked to comment after almost a full day of people discussing his life and his work. He said, "you all know MUCH more than I will ever be able to remember so there's not much for me to say." or something like that. ;-)

There is a Wired News article - Blog to Cope With Alzheimer's Fog
I found the link on Media coverage of weblogs

sushi2.jpg sushi1.jpg
In terminal 1 of Narita airport there are two sushi shops: Sushi Iwa and Kyotaru. Kyotaru is a big chain and fairly low quality. Sushi Iwa on the other hand is a high quality sushi joint that I ALWAYS go to before leaving Japan on a trip. After the rennovation of terminal 1, Sushi Iwa significantly upgraded the quality of the material they serve and is definitely a treat. The staff are friendly and happy to fulfill any silly requests. They will also pack boxes to go if you want to eat it on the plane. When you go, sit at the counter. Also, remember that the material will get better as the staff get to know you. This is true in any sushi shop since on every piece of fish, there are tasty bits, and not as tasty bits. I find this is true in Chinese restaurants as well... Saegusa-san thinks that chefs can only make a few truely good meals every evening and they choose who gets them. Anyway, smile at the sushi chefs a lot and ask for a recommendation and you'll probably get something good.

As usual, I had a wonderful meal before I left. The shellfish were especially good today.

I just arrived in Aspen after stopping in Seattle and Denver and I haven't eaten anything since my sushi. ;-)

I'm on my way to Aspen today to attend Fortune's Brainstorm 2002. There is the list of people who attended last year on the Fortune web page. There is also a web page about what they discussed last year.

I am supposed to prepare a 3 minute "brainscan" blurb.

Hmm... I think I'll talk about the imact of digital communications on media, the public, the economy, security and the sovereignty of nations or something. I think people are sick of hearing New Economy crap, but I think that people have overestimated and short term impact and underestimated the long term impact. I think change is still to come... Or maybe I'll talk about my blog. ;-p

I'm also on the China panel. I know so little about China. I talked to Leonard again at length yesterday about his thoughts. (Leonard is the CEO of ASE, the second largest semiconductor packaging and testing company in Taiwan and former CEO of Acer.) Leonard had a great perspective about Taiwan, China, outsourcing and the future of Japan. I think that there is a huge risk that Japan falls between the manufacturing and services cracks and becomes an insignificant player in the global economy. I think that is what I should focus my comments on...

Anyway, I don't know what the rules are about writing about the conference, but depending on how open they are, I'll try to blog the good bits.

I wish Fortune would get rid of those annoying "subscribe here" pop-ups ad windows on their site. They are exactly as annoying as those subscription inserts that fall out of paper magazines.

Yasunobe-san, formerly of MITI said that the ATI-Stanford students were very motivated and interesting compared to many similar groups and that I should therefore accept the request from them to give a keynote at their upcoming conference. They then asked me to publicize it, so here you go. ;-)

I've been asked to talk about "Preparing for success as a global entrepreneur". I've been preparing for a long time, so I'm probably an expert on it. I wonder when I will eventually become successful. ;-)

To find out more about the program, take a look at their web page.

Event Information

Saturday, August 24, 2002
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Venue: Time 24, Tokyo Odaiba

Dropped by Moda with Mizuka last night. Moda is a bar run by my Jr. high and high school classmate Tomo. We used to run the Nishimachi yearbook dark room together and also used to throw the school dance parties together. We're both still into photography, but Tomo has made a career out of throwing parties. ;-)

Tomo had redesigned the place and installed a dart board with an electronic scoring system. He also hired two guys and one of them cooks, so they serve food now. It's a cool place to hang out if you are in Harajuku. He has a page with photos of his guests as well as a web page about the concept of Moda. I've been thinking about DJ'ing again for fun. Maybe Moda would be a good place to try it out...

From his web page:

MODA is a secret hideout for anybody into booze, music, cigars and digital art.

Come check out our new bar in Harajuku!

"MODA" is an abbreviation for "Museum of Digital Art".
A space for adults with wine, cigars and digital art. We offer a good glass of wine for 700yen to a bottle of vintage for over 50000yen, all stored in best condition at lowest prices possible. There is no cover charge and we are open all night, every night so feel free to drop by.

Read in Boing Boing about the ZDNet page of Corporate Anthems.

It's a great page.

I was able to find the audio soundtrack of one of my old favorites, "Ever Onward" the IBM Song. They also have an animation.

Here are the lyrics to "Ever Onward"

There's a thrill in store for all
For we're about to toast
The corporation that we represent.
We're here to cheer each pioneer
And also proudly boast,
Of that man of men
Our friend and guiding hand
The name of T.J. Watson means
A courage none can stem
And we feel honored to be
Here to toast the IBM.

Ever onward! Ever onward!
That's the spirit that has brought
us fame.
We're big but bigger we will be,
We can't fail for all can see,
That to serve humanity
Has been our aim.
Our products now are known
In every zone.
Our reputation sparkles
Like a gem.
We've fought our way through
And new fields we're sure to conquer, too,
For the ever onward IBM!

Ever onward! Ever onward!
We're bound for the top
To never fall,
Right here and now we thankfully
Pledge sincerest loyalty
To the corporation
That's the best of all
our leaders we revere
and while we're here,
let's show the world just what
we think of them!
so let us sing men - sing men
once or twice, then sing again
for the ever onward ibm!

The IBM Songbook is also online.

Great article in the NYT about how a study shows that people's brains react positively when people cooperate. Using MRI scanning and the Prisoner's Dilemma, researchers were suprised by the results. This reinforces many of Toshio Yamagishi's ideas that I wrote about in a previous entry.

Hard as it may be to believe in these days of infectious greed and sabers unsheathed, scientists have discovered that the small, brave act of cooperating with another person, of choosing trust over cynicism, generosity over selfishness, makes the brain light up with quiet joy.

Studying neural activity in young women who were playing a classic laboratory game called the Prisoner's Dilemma, in which participants can select from a number of greedy or cooperative strategies as they pursue financial gain, researchers found that when the women chose mutualism over "me-ism," the mental circuitry normally associated with reward-seeking behavior swelled to life. And the longer the women engaged in a cooperative strategy, the more strongly flowed the blood.

The NYT Article

Here's another example of the clash of cultures on the Internet. Google, trying to do a good thing has run into the wrath of old school Usenet types. ;-)

From David Farber's Interesting People Mailing List:


This article explores the conflict between the cooperative online culture of users who have created Usenet and the corporate commodification of Usenet posts by companies archiving the posts. The clash of decision-making processes is presented thorough the details of how Usenet users choose to petition a company to provide protection for the public archives it had collected. The company disregarded the petition and the archives were sold to another company. The new company has begun to put its own copyright symbol on the posts in its archives. How will such a commodification affect the cooperative nature of Usenet itself and the continuing vitality of Usenet's cooperative culture The article explores this culture clash and considers possible consequences.

from "Commodifying Usenet and the Usenet Archive or Continuing the Online Cooperative Usenet Culture?" by Ronda Hauben
in Science Studies 15:1(2002), 61-68

For someone who is always thinking of clever things to ask when interviewing people, this was an interesting site. Thanks Sen! Sen found it on slashdot.

"This is a collection of riddles I've accumulated via Eta Kappa Nu / Tau Beta Pi challenges, the internet, academic courses, and lots of cool friends. Many of them are from job interviews for hi-tech positions; I believe Microsoft was responsible for popularizing the usage of riddles in interviews. I like these problems because they often require you to think in ways you wouldn't normally. They may seem impossible at first, but then you get a solution and it's an epiphany. "

So it is a fight to be the most simple? Goggle beat Infoseek by being more simple and user oriented. Web services take that to the next level. If companies start competing to be easier to integrate, more open and more simple that's a great thing for us!

Quoted from the Goggle Weblog:

Google tells Amazon Light to Cease and Desist

Amazon Light, a very cool new use of the Amazon Web Services recently introuced (and clearly inspired by Google's Web API) provides a cleaner-than-Amazon interface to the same data. However, they recently report that they've been asked to cease-and-desist by Google's lawyers. The site was very much like Google's (screenshot) but it was clearly in good taste. I'm not sure why Google is so testy about it. Is a coming soon?

I wonder if they'll go after Whois Report next.

[Thanks to Kevin Burton for alerting me to this.]

Posted by Aaron Swartz on July 19, 2002 07:33 AM

So who owns my living room? I have projectors, displays, satellite tuning boxes, various amplifiers, CD players, DVD players, remotes, universal remotes, a home PBX trying to do VoIP to the office, a plasma display, a home security systems, 802.11, a Sony Airboard, 100MB fiber Internet acccess, a few PC's and Mac's, a cars with a car navigation system that rips CD's and talks to the Internet, a car with GSM built in that doesn't work in Japan... None of this stuff talks to each other. In my basement I have boxes full of firewire, ethernet, power, coaxial, optical fiber, RCA Audio/Video, SCSI, RS-232C cables.

So, it looks like Apple is making a lunge to connect things together with Rendezvous. Stuart Cheshire, Wizard Without Portfolio at Apple Computer & Chairman of IETF ZEROCONF was interviewed by The Idea Basket (found this on Frank's Blog.) In the interview Stuart talks about how although the IETF didn't like the idea of trying to make AppleTalk an IETF standard, they liked the idea of trying to make it easier to connect things to your home network. He set up a working group at IETF to do this.

From the ZeroConf page:

To achieve this small-network functionality in IP, there are four main areas of work:

Allocate addresses without a DHCP server.
Translate between names and IP addresses without a DNS server.
Find services, like printers, without a directory server.
Allocate IP Multicast addresses without a MADCAP server.

From the interview:

I can't comment on specific Apple product plans, but I think you had some very interesting ideas in your "Backstage Pass to the Future" article. Rendezvous is not just about making current networked devices easier to use. It is also about making it viable to put networking (i.e. Ethernet) on devices that today use USB or Firewire, and it is also about making it viable to use networking in areas that you wouldn't have even considered before Rendezvous. Imagine a future world where you connect your television and amplifier and DVD player with just a couple of Ethernet cables, instead of today's spaghetti mess of composite video, S-Video, component video, stereo audio, 5.1 Dolby, Toslink optical audio cables, etc.

So Apple will become a consumer electronics maker and will try to solicit the support of IETF to help get things hooked up. OK. One world view. Too bad TiVo isn't on the ZeroConf mailing list. TiVo is such a great product, but it really doesn't "hook up" with stuff well...

I guess the home server, home router universe is also trying to do this, but maybe less elegantly. Moxi sounded initially like an allstar cast trying to get into this super-set-top-box space, but it looks like it blew up and was picked up for scraps by Paul Allen.

Microsoft is obviously trying to go there too, but not so successfully so far.

Sony is an obvious leader, but it appears that they can't coordinate their architecture and although they take risks and make cool gadgets, they can't seem to orchestrate it all. I heard that they even shut down their design group recently. Having said that, the playstation is a great contender for king of the living room.

Anyway, while we're at it, lets get our phone and IM hooked up in the living room as well. Maybe it's just that IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) was last week, but with the VoIP (Voice over IP) IETF standard SIP and the IM standard Jabber, it feels like IETF is on top of most of the important things to enable my dream living room. Could it be that Internet standards will lead the way?

I feel great things happening in this area and the rumble of architecture shifts that can make possible things that have been impossible in the past. Definitely going to steer towards the rumbling to see if there are some opportunities in the space Japan still is competitive in. So my bet is that Apple creates some cool products that prove it can be done and that Taiwan Inc. and China quickly jump in and take over... Hopefully there is some room for us to do something cool.

From Slashdot:

Posted by CmdrTaco on Thursday July 18, @01:06PM
from the where-have-I-heard-this-before. dept.
Michael Long writes "Forgent Networks ( has announced that it owns the software patent on JPEG compression technology, and has stated that it is "in contact" with computer, software, camera, and other digital imaging product manufacturers regarding licensing terms. This ambush of the digitial imaging industry will probably stand as the worst public relations nightmare a company can inflict upon itself."

Thanks for sending this Sen. This is pretty intense. I wonder if this is the product of some vulture capitals, was planned from the beginning, some lawyers having fun, or something someone found when sifting through the assets of some acquisition. In any event, this should shake up the industry. Glad I don't manufacture digital cameras.

From the Guardian

by Tim Radford, science editor

Women live six or seven years longer than men because they sleep more deeply, according to US scientists. Men who stay up late, and who toss, turn, count sheep, or who suffer from sleep apnoea - a respiratory condition - are at greater risk from diabetes, heart disease and other conditions probably because they sleep less well, said Alexandros Vgontzas of Pennsylvania State University.

He told the journal Chemistry and Industry that women's mastery of the mattress was probably an evolutionary adaptation to the needs of child rearing. In effect, waking up for the 2am feed was compensated for by a better kind of oblivion.

Hmmm... This doesn't sound very fair. (Mizuka is still fast asleep. I'm awake 3 hours before I have to be, still tired after only 5 hours of sleep... I wonder if it's this silly blog drawing me out of my deep sleep...)

I wrote a paper to present at Ars Electronica this year September 7-12 in Linz, Austria. The title of this year's festival is Unplugged - Art as the Scene of Global Conflict. I had a deadline for the book so I tried my best to put my thoughts together, but I feel like my paper is still a bit disorganized and unfinished. I'd like to edit it before I present it in September so your feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Identity and Privacy in a Globalized Community

By Joichi Ito

June 17, 2002

Version 1.0

From atoms to bits

In his Wired Magazine column of January 1, 1995 "Bits and Atoms" Nicholas Negroponte' describes the shift in focus from atoms to bits.[1] The shift from atoms to bits is still one of the most significant shifts impacting society today. As with most technical trends, people have over-anticipated the short term impact (the dot-com bubble) but have severely under-estimated the long term impact.

The impact of digital communication networks and globalization on identities and nations

The industrial revolution triggered a cultural shift causing nations to become powerful entities in a globalized geo-political world. The world began to focus on the products of mass production and the world began to focus mostly on the "atoms". Individuals became able to travel easily and individuals began to be identified and tracked as physical units and physical borders rigorously managed. Digital communication technology and cyberspace has increased greatly the power and value of the non-physical world and is affecting the nature of national borders and identity. Here I would like to explore some of the changes facing an era of digital transnational communications, focusing on value shifting to cyberspace and its impact on identity, authentication and privacy.

Scalability of communications as profound as mass production

Although cyberspace and bits are rather new, non-physical space is an old idea.  A major step toward large-scale shared virtual communities and the scalability of communications was the creation of the printing press and the public. The invention of the printing press created another huge virtual world, the world of literature and public opinion. Before the printing press, there was no public. The next and much more significant step was the invention of electronic communications. Electronic communications such as the telephone changed speed and in turn the nature of markets, warfare and politics. The more scalable digital communications and the Internet have allowed the public to wake up from its semi-conscious state to an actively aware state where the public can now think for itself and communicate.[2]

The technology of the mass production of physical things allowed a new level of scalability and division of labor to form. During the industrial revolution, markets were suddenly flooded with entities rich from the benefits of the ability to mass produce and money became a much more central component of our reality and perception of reality. As Marshall McLuhan points out, the metaphors and language we use molds very much what we can imagine or do.[3] The abstract management of resources was possible in the modern world of mass production. Yet, money generally represented atoms, most companies in the 1920's being valued primarily on value of their physical assets.

As information technology has made communication and the transportation and the management of bits scalable and low cost, more and more of our wealth represents information -- information about atoms and information about information. Companies are now generally valued at premium on the value their physical assets. This "Intellectual Capital[4]" is the value of the information and other intangible assets held by the company. More and more of our value, identity and time exists in the digital world.

John Perry Barlow once described cyberspace as "where your money is."[5] Cyberspace is not just the Internet, but everything digital. The balance of your bank account is just some entry in some computer. This value is information about information about some value somewhere, but much of it is self-referential and mostly very contextual.

Entities beyond physical

There are many instances where entities exist primarily in the digital world.


MUD's are multi-user role playing games where players invest thousands of hours developing characters which own assets, have attributes and relationships with other players. The time and the knowledge of the players is invested in the game and the game becomes a rich highly contextual entity in the digital world which one could argue has substantial control over its representatives in the physical world.[6]


VISA for many years was just a contract between its members who wished to perform transactions electronically. The members created the rules and the system was completely distributed and each member was responsible for its own risk. VISA was able to be a brand recognized entity when necessary, but could disappear from regulators because it was not a legal entity and did not have a physical location.[7]

Multi-national corporations

Multi-national corporations or "legal persons" often have the benefit of existing in a limited liability state of global distribution, but often also suffer from the paralysis of being exposed to multiple jurisdictions because of the necessity to interact to a great extent with the real world.


Most people believe that identity is simply one's name, age, sex and address. In fact, we all have multiple identities that are aspects of the entity which is unique human being flesh and blood that we are. Actually, companies, government agencies and political bodies are also entities. Identities can be roles such as shareholder, officer, rape victim or spouse. Identities are identified by identifiers. Some identifiers require the authentication of the entity whereas some identities can be authenticated by uniforms, passwords, secret hand-shakes or other identifiers which do not expose the entity behind the identity.

It is essential to consider the issue of identity independently from the issue of authentication of the entity. When one is engaging in a transaction with some identity, one is concerned with the risks and attributes of the identity with respect to the transaction. When one is trying to sell diamonds, one is concerned with the authentication of the other identity's financial attributes. If one is trying to receive donated blood, one is concerned, not with who it came from, but the type and whether it is safe. If one is selling liquor, one is concerned with the age of the purchaser, not the address.

It is true that for many transactions, it is necessary to authenticate the entity, but often knowing the name, age, sex and address of the entity one is interacting with gives us no value. For police dealing with entities within their jurisdiction, the authentication of the identity gives them to ability to throw the entity in jail, but for most of us, the reputation of the entity, cash on hand, validity of the third party insurer or some other attribute is probably more important. With the global Internet, the ability to punish an entity beyond the borders of our community do not generally exist. For this reason, authentication of the entity is much less important than the authentications of identities and the attributes of these identities.

In fact, in many cases, it is essential that the entities are not identified and are able to remain anonymous. When one asks questions at a public help desk, or consults someone about sexual abuse inside of an organization or tries to reveal information about war crimes in inside of a country ruled by an oppressive government it is essential that one is able to remain anonymous.

Although pure anonymity is often very important, pseudonymity, the ability for one not to link identities with each other or with the entity, but for the identity to be authenticated, is important For the sexually abused student who is consulting the counselor, both parties need to know that it is the same identity that they have been corresponding with, but neither need to know the actual name and address of the other. In fact, many common law countries allow people to legally use nick names or pseudonyms. Such pseudonyms are common on the Internet and very useful. The tendency for us to try to force entity authentication on all pseudonyms is a very simplistic and policeman like view of identity. Pseudonyms are like roles and by limiting their use to transactions or participation in communities where reputation or other form of collateral like attribute can be secured; they can be a very important and functional tool.[8]



Roger Clarke defines privacy as "Right to privacy is the freedom from unreasonable constraints on the construction of one's own identity" and calls this digital identity a Digital Persona.[9]

As law enforcement, national security interests, political interests and commercial interests continue to collect more and more information about us and trade and analyze this information a great web of databases of digital identities are created linking physical entities to a massive dynamic body of information which represents our digital personas, their attributes and the relationships between these personas. We currently have very little control over how these personas are formed and managed and often we do not even know they exist.

The future of privacy, as Roger Clarke describes, lies in our ability to manage the construction of one's identity. In order to do this, one must understand the current state of privacy, the threats to privacy and technologies and methods that can better protect our privacy.

The EU Directive on Data Protection[10]and most of the world's privacy policies are based on the OECD's 8[11] guidelines about privacy that deal more with data protection than data format and architectures. These guidelines were written over 20 years ago when we were dealing with large mainframe computers, centralized databases and very little trans-border dataflow. Today, we are dealing with a distributed network, much more computing power and much more invasive data collection. The EU Directives talk about destroying information when it is no longer needed. In today's world, it is impossible to destroy information once it is created. It lives on in traces on hard disks, backup tapes, log files, surveillance databases. Once information has been created, it is important to assume that it will one day become public. Therefore, what is essential today is to manage the creation of information about ourselves. The best policy is to create information only when necessary and disclose only the information necessary for the particular transaction. It is essential to keep identification information to a minimum and to keep identifiers as separate as possible in order to make it difficult for hopefully impossible for the information about a particular transaction to be used in ways unknown or unintended by us.

Law enforcement and national security concerns are pushing money laundering laws to make our financial privacy illegal. They are trying to implement a myriad of biometric database to link information about our identities to our physical entities to be able to profile and model individuals. All of this information greatly enhances their ability to find and capture criminals, terrorists and other people who are not friendly to their concerns. Much of what these agencies do is essential for order in the world, but most criminals intentionally avoid identification and regularly thwart efforts by authorities to track them through such methods. In the mean-time, great databases of the profiles and relationships of regular citizens end up being compiled and these databases can and will be abused by governments, politicians, organized crime and eventually terrorists. The greatest threat to the freedom of individuals in our great new globalized information economy is the "ends justify the means" sort of thinking prevalent in counter-terrorist and law enforcement agencies without thorough consideration of the risk that such massive surveillance has on the freedom of normal individuals.

In fact, law enforcement and spies have more technology than ever before. They can read license plates from spy satellites, recognize voices on telephone lines with computers, plant microscopic tracking devices and genetically identify strands of hair. Our fears are increased by fraud by trusted executives, terrorist attacks, computer viruses and a variety of new threats. We need to be aware that throwing away our privacy and giving unlimited access to government agencies will not solve these problems.

Privacy enhancement technologies and architecture

In the past, being a privacy advocate meant that one was anti-information technology. Most information technologies in the past calculated things such as the efficiency of factory workers or sorted people to send them to concentration camps. Today there are many technologies that protect or enhance privacy.

For instance, David Chaum's blind signature technology allows users to authenticate the fact that a piece of digital cash is authentic, but allows the users to remain anonymous. This allows us to create the digital equivalent to real cash. This could create problems for agencies trying to clamp down on money laundering, but it could also help protect the privacy of activists in a totalitarian regime.

Huge databases of fingerprints or other biometric information can be very invasive and potentially dangerous, but companies such as Mytec Technologies[12] of Toronto are working with technologies which allow the biometric information to be stored on the user's card, rather than in the database. The organization uses cryptographic technology to authenticate the validity of the information in the card and provides access with a card and biometric combination, but does not retain an image of the fingerprint, retina or face that might be used to provide access.

Zero Knowledge Systems[13] provides a suite of products that help users manage their identities, the cookies they receive, the privacy policies of the sites that they visit and a variety of other things that are usually not visible or selectable to the user.

Eric Hughes once talked about the "open book protocol" which describes an encrypted accounting system that allowed people to audit a group of linked accounts while retaining the privacy of the individual entries.

Pharmanet in British Columbia, Canada, through the insistence of Mr. Flaherty, the Privacy Commissioner, allows patients to assign a password to prescription records.

I have proposed an idea as a replacement for profiling, database marketing and recommendation engines. If one were able to store on some small device or IC card, a local profile of one's shopping habits and one's computer or phone had a recommendation engine built in, shops and online merchants could provide us with the profile of the products and we could recommend things to ourselves. This would allow much higher privacy than the current system which profiles user on the merchant's servers. My method is also superior because one's profile could help recommend products even on a first visit to a site. The difficulty would be in standardizing the product profiling codes.

The Internet itself has become a method for activists to organize and disseminate information. A new breed of privacy activist exists who uses technology and tries to come up with technical methods for protecting privacy and most importantly tries to influence the architecture of computer and network systems.

Lawrence Lessig - Code

Lawrence Lessig in his book Code[14], describes how computer code are like laws and the architecture of databases and networks like politics. It is this war over architecture which occupies the battles of the digital privacy activists. New data formats will make it easier and easier to merge databases and link isolated transactions for bits of information about individuals. It is cryptography that will create the boundaries and limit the use of information.

Cryptography provides us with the tools to communicate securely with authenticated peers. Cryptography allows us the flexibility to create a variety of architectures. Authentication systems range from centrally controlled to completely distributed systems. Identification systems range from totally anonymous to pseudonymous to identification of entities. Cryptography gives us the ability to make technically possible, what we want possible and make technically impossible, that which we decide should be impossible. Creative use of cryptography allows us to trust who we would like to trust and be seen and communicate with only those we wish to communicate with and keep separate and unique. Each community and the group of identities in that community can have its own rules and architecture with the proper cryptographic technologies supporting it.

According to Philip Agre, Privacy is no longer a simple discussion of "the simple tradeoff between privacy and functionality" but a "more complex tradeoff among potentially numerous combinations of architectures and policy choices."[15]

Online communities[16] and reputation capital

Online communities such as mailing lists, conferencing systems, online games, online auctions sites, networks of BLOG's and the Linux community represent communities that have many of the same attributes as nations.

There are many fundamental differences, but one of the biggest differences is that because of the lack of physical access and usually the lack of the ability to access directly the entities behind the identities, these communities have to govern themselves without the ability to punish the entities behind the identities physically, such as throwing someone in jail.

The two most important items that a community has to manage its participants is the securing of reputation which can take the form of personalities developed through interaction, attribute points in games, reputation points on eBay or ability to influence and participate in development in the Linux community. It is this reputation and the ability to take away access to the identity tied to the reputation which helps enforce the rules and behavior within the community. 

In fact, this is not just an online phenomenon. Organizations such at the WTO use membership and trade sanction rather than physical attacks as its primary method of enforcing its rules. These are processes that are in place with any community, but the online versions are unique in the ability to attach these processes to online personas as opposed to identities tied to physical bodies.

In this way, communities that provide value to its members can govern themselves and manage accountability without access to the physical entities and provides us with a model for pseudonymous networks.

Culture, communities and the sovereignty of nations

As the events of the last year have shown us, it is very difficult for many communities to occupy the same space. Each community has its own culture and rules and each makes sense in its own context[17]. Before, all we needed was the ability to physically isolate the incompatible communities and create a sense of identity within these borders, and sovereign nations and physical borders helped to do this. Now with globalized media, economy and the Internet, people occupying the same space can have access to multiple cultural contexts.

We have spent the last 20 years trying to get everyone connected together into the "Global Village". The problem with the global village is that it is impossible to create a "Global Culture". The solution is to increase tolerance for different cultures, but also to allow different cultures to co-exist by creating distinct boundaries between communities, each with its own rules and culture. It is diversity that makes gene pools, politics and the Internet robust.

Each community will be able to interact with other communities based on bilateral or global rules. Each community will be able to enforce its rules through its ability to sever ties with communities or individual identities.

Human beings will continue to be physically exposed to the rules of the nation where they live, but digital personas will be able to freely associate with and join communities globally and will be governed in each community based on the rules of those communities.

Governments currently try very hard to extend their jurisdiction beyond their physical borders such as the French concern over Nazi paraphernalia on Yahoo or the American "War on Terrorism." Most nations try to tax income and track assets of their citizens beyond their boundaries. Eric Hughes once said, "You can't tax what you can't point a gun at." The difficulty that these nations face is that unlike the days when our assets were physical, there is really very little to prevent digital assets from moving freely and the cost and difficulty of enforcement becomes extreme.

Global companies will choose tax havens to set up their funds, countries with loose labor laws for their factories and countries with good food to host their board meetings. Nations should view themselves more as service businesses land lords, their taxes being the price and their rules, infrastructure and culture being the services they provide. Physical nations that provide physical services can and will charge for these services in the form of tax or service fees. The easiest way for such a tax to be levied is where the money enters the physical world, such as in the form of consumption tax. Other service providers to provide non-physical services, such as online security, transactions, underwriting and data protection can charge for their services in the form of transaction fees or service fees. There will be additional layers of services where the physical nation-states and commercial entities meet and overlap. Yet, these borders are already quite blurred. Some people in the UN are calling for the more active use of mercenaries to fight their wars and many agencies of governments in countries such as Singapore are very hard to distinguish from commercial entities. In the future nations will mostly likely be more concerned about trying to be popular and maximizing the value created by their tax income rather than trying to forcefully beat their own culture into the hearts and minds of the global community.


In the new world of colliding cultures, a blurring of physical and virtual identities and a dissolving of the sovereignty of nations, governance and order becomes the crucial issue. One thing that the Internet has taught us is that very difficult problems can be solved by unbundling the pieces and creating protocols for each of the layers or objects to interact and work together. The Internet has also taught us that no one has to be "in charge". (When people try, they fail. See ICANN.) The key to success in governing the communities of the future will be a combination of global rules and practices for trade and interaction and technical architecture that allows communities to be independent and separate from each other. Conduct in the physical world will be governed by physical nations and physical policemen while conduct in the virtual world will be governed by the rules and methods of each of the virtual communities. Protocols will have to be created and enforced by both virtual and physical communities where the bits change to atoms and vice versa. It is this protocol that will be the core issue and topic of debate between computer scientists, lawyers, politicians and citizens for the years to come and the answer will be as much technical as it is legal.

[1] Negroponte, Nicholas. Bits and Atoms. <> (June 4, 2002). Wired Magazine. January 1, 1995.

[2] See de Kerckhove, Derrick.Connected Intelligence. Somerville. 1997.

[3] McLuhan, Marshall. The Gutenberg Galaxy. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1962.

[4] Edvinsson, Leif and Malone, Michael. Intellectual Capital. HarperBusiness. 1997.

[5] It is not clear when John Perry Barlow started saying that cyberspace was "where your money is," but many people quote him. Barlow, John Perry. Barlow Home(Stead)Page <> (June 4, 2002).

[6] Mizuko Ito describes people who play MUD's and the level of reality that these identities assume. See Ito, Mizuko. "Cybernetic Fantasies: Extensions of Selfhood in a Multi-User Dungeon." Paper presented at the 1994 meetings of the American Anthropological Association, Atlanta <> (June 9, 2002)

[7] Dee Hock is the founder of VISA and describes his VISA and the distributed nature of the organization his book. See Hock, Dee. Birth of the Chaordic Age. <> (June 4, 2002). San Francisco: Berret-Koehler Publishers Inc. 1999

[8] Roger Clarke describes clearly the various types of identities and the difference between entities and identities. See Clarke, Roger. "Authentication: A Sufficiently Rich Model to Enable e-Business." <> (June 9, 2002)

[9] Roger Clarke coins the phrase "Digital Persona" and ties it to a discussion of privacy. See Clarke, Roger. "The Digital Persona and its Application to Data Surveillance." <> (June 2, 2002)

[10] "The European Directive on Data Protection" <> (June 9, 2002)

[11] Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data <> (June 9, 2002)

[12] <> (June 16, 2002)

[14] Lessig, Lawrence. Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. Basic Books, 1999.

[15] p. 5., Agre , Philip E. and Rotenberg, Marc. Technology and Privacy: The New Landscape. The MIT Press. 1997.

[16] One of the first books about online communities. Rheingold, Howard. The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier. <> (June 9, 2002) USA: HarperPerennial. 1993.

[17] For a discussion on how difficult it is for different cultures to co-exist and the impact that culture has on the basic nature of a community, nation or civilization see Hall, Edward, T. Beyond Culture. Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Press. 1976.

The Internet Multicasting Service and the Internet Software Consortium are two well respected non-profit public engineering organizations on the Internet. I recently talked to Carl Malamud since he's in Japan for IETF doing his thing. He is one of principles of IMS and according to the IMS web page "created the first Internet radio station and put the SEC's EDGAR database on-line. A serial social entrepreneur, he's helped run a number of nonprofit organizations and committed two Silicon Valley startups. Carl is the author of 8 books, numerous articles, a few RFCs, and takes up way too much space in Google."

I first met Carl through Jun Murai when we worked on the Internet 1996 World Expo together.

Anyway, he asked for my support for their bid and talked me through it. I think it's great and am very supportive. I think it's by far the best bid and the best structure and I think could be come a model for many other TLD's.

From: Carl Malamud To: Date: Mon, 15 Jul 2002 23:43:42 -0400 (EDT)

Our proposal for .org is not only the only pure non-profit bid, it is the only one that treats the .org registry as a public trust. We're proposing a fully-open, transparent operation: all statistics, finances, and source code will be published. We consider .org to be a public trust, not a public trough: that means that all revenues will be devoted to the .org domain and to public infrastructure.

We'll also make some real changes to how this crucial piece of public infrastructure runs. For example: our performance specifications meet or exceed each of the other bids. (E.g., zone files for the DNS will be published in 5 minutes or less in contrast to the current 24 hours.) We'll be deploying secure DNS. We've got some advanced development work already published that shows how small namespaces (e.g., personal namespaces like Whois) can be changed.

Our team has been doing this for 10 years+. In contrast to the other bids, ours is about people. We're personally signing up to run .org, not promising that some newly-formed organization or some opaque MIS staff will do this.

Bottom line: a rock-solid public infrastructure based on our extensive experience doing this. Most importantly: the first truly open and transparent registry. It doesn't matter if you think there should be a million TLD's or ICANN should be abolished or whatever: the first step is to create a reference implementation so everybody knows how registries should operate. We're proposing to run and then document a best current practices registry.

Their proposal
Their "show your support page"
News and information about the .org bid
ICANN .org Reassignment: Request for Proposals

Howard Rheingold, one of my mentors, friend, and former editor of the Whole Earth Review who has written some of my favorite books about the mind and thinking recently writes books about "the next big thing" in technology starting with Virtual Reality, Virtual Communties and now Smart Mobs.

The big battle coming over the future of smart mobs concerns media cartels and government agencies are seeking to reimpose the regime of the broadcast era in which the customers of technology will be deprived of the power to create and left only with the power to consume. That power struggle is what the battles over file-sharing, copy protection, regulation of the radio spectrum are about. Are the populations of tomorrow going to be users, like the PC owners and website creators who turned technology to widespread innovation? Or will they be consumers, constrained from innovation and locked into the technology and business models of the most powerful entrenched interests? HOWARD RHEINGOLD: SMART MOBS [7.16.02]
John Brockman, literary agent extraordinaire and editor and publisher of Edge writes about Howard's new book. (John Brockman is also the sponsor of the Billionaire's Dinner)
Introduction In 1999 and 2000, Howard Rheingold started noticing people using mobile media in novel ways. In Tokyo, he accompanied flocks of teenagers as they converged on public places, coordinated by text messages. In Helsinki, he joined like-minded Finns who share the same downtown physical clubhouse, virtual community, and mobile-messaging media. He learned that the demonstrators in the 1999 anti-WTO protests used dynamically updated websites, cell-phones, and "swarming" tactics in the "battle of Seattle," and that a million Filipino citizens toppled President Estrada in 2000 through public demonstrations organized by salvos of text messages. Drivers in the UK used mobile communications to spontaneously self organize demonstrations against rising petrol prices. He began to see how these events were connected. He calls these new uses of mobile media "smart mobs." For nearly two years, Rheingold visited hotspots around the world where smart mob technologies and societies were erupting. He had some idea of how to look for early signs of momentous changes, having chronicled and forecast the PC revolution in 1985 and the Internet explosion in 1993. He is now sees a third wave of change underway in the first decade of the 21st century, as the combination of mobile communication and the Internet makes it possible for people to cooperate in ways never before possible. — JB
Howard's been working on this book for awhile and this topic is perfect for Howard and perfect timing for us. It's amazing considering how much fieldwork Howard does, how Howard is always there at the right place at the right time. But I'm sure it's not luck. ;-) I think that people have all over-estimated the short term impact of the Net, but the issues that Howard discusses are many of the core issues that the Net combined with mobile communications will impact. These issues change the face of media and communications, which will change the whole notion of the "public." This shift will finally change the balance of power in economy, politics and society more and more to the people. (I hope. ;-) )

minetal.jpg rangers.jpg utsumi.jpg aerateam.jpg mizjoi3.jpg

We had a costume party today. We had an Indian chef come and cook a wonderful curry feast. (Thanks for the intro Kumi!) We invited people from Neoteny and it's portfolio companies as well as people from Mizuka's dental clinic. It's amazing how many people cancelled at the last minute. My guess is that many of the people wimped out. ;-) It was a lot of fun though. We prepared power ranger sort of wear for those who didn't come with outfits. Luckily there were five people without outfits so we were able to get a power ranger group photo.

Utsumi, the CEO of Genec, came as his head on a platter. I wonder if that had a deeper meaning...

Bill Tai turned me on to the SliMP3 Ethernet MP3 Player made by Slim Devices Inc. It's $249 device that talks to a server installed on your PC via ethernet. It has a remote control that lets you navigate through the mp3's on your PC and plays them out through RCA cables that connect to your stereo. Pretty cool device which works well. I don't know if $249 is expensive or not, but in my house where my PC is in a room in the basement and my stereo is in my living room, it's a great thing. Setup and installation were easy as cake. The device talks DHCP so you literally just plug and play. I'm all for dedicated devices that make hooking up stuff in the living room easier!

Frank, who told me, "Oh No. Now all you'll be thinking about is whether something will be material for your blog," when I told him about my blog, has started his own blog. I met Frank through our mutual friend Hiroshi Lockheimer when they both worked for Be Inc. Frank was in charge of marketing and communications and they asked me to be on Be's advisory board. I was the first and last advisory board member I think. Anyway, since then we've kept in touch and Frank co-founded AirEight with his old pals from Vertus. I'm on the advisory board for AirEight as well. Looking at the web page, you might think that all they do is sponsor race cars, but they are actually doing some cool things. ;-)

Frank has a very geeky style that is really my favorite part of the US technology entrepreneurship thing, but he seems to feel a bit self-conscious about it. Another mutual friend we have is Michael Backes who David Smith describes as the only person he knows with terminal ADD. They both worked at Virtus. There something about people who worked at Virtus that I can't put my finger on... They are all have kind of a wacky sense of humor and seem to be part of some big long drama that reminds me of the Hitch Hicker's Guide to the Galaxy or something.

Anyway, Frank's blog should be fun. I look forward to tracking it. You saw it here first. My first scoop. I blogged a blog first.

Bloggers will already be aware of this, but web publishers are trying to make it illegal to link to pages on their site. The logic from some people is that it subverts the efforts of the publisher to manage the traffic, sell advertising and control the user. National Public Radio say that they just wanted to know who was using their stuff. The great debate following their taking this position seems to have changed their minds. The form one had to fill out in order to link to their page is no longer online and one day after the OJR article, June 27, NPR updated their Terms of Use Page which now says this about linking:

Links to NPR Web Sites
NPR encourages and permits links to content on NPR Web sites. However, NPR is an organization committed to the highest journalistic ethics and standards and to independent, noncommercial journalism, both in fact and appearance. Therefore, the linking should not (a) suggest that NPR promotes or endorses any third party痴 causes, ideas, Web sites, products or services, or (b) use NPR content for inappropriate commercial purposes. We reserve the right to withdraw permission for any link.

Anyway, as co-founder of Infoseek Japan (I'm still on the board), as a newbie blogger and as someone who believes that the contextual flexibility of the Internet is one of its most important attributes... I am horrified by the idea of limiting deep linking. It goes against the basic idea that brought us this medium in the first place.

A court in Copenhagen, Denmark ruled in favor of the Danish Newspaper Publisher's Association against the online news aggregator Newsbooster who was deep linking into the Newspaper's site. This is the first court ruling deep linking to be illegal.

I testified in a case in Japan where an Osaka court ruled that someone who linked to an illegal pornography site was actually running a pornography site and found guilty which has similar legal ramifications, but didn't seem to have the impact that the current deep linking debate has.

Sen proposes an interesting technical solution. (I always like technical solutions more than legal solutions.)

Frankly, I think that if people don't want to allow deep linking, people should just configure their software (probably requires some implementation work and may be some access control depending on how strict the site wants to be) to not permit browsers to reach portions of their site directly w/o a "legal" referer.

It's not a perfect solution, but I bet it would prevent 99% of people from reaching certain parts of websites directly...

Here are some links:

NPR's Mixed Messages - Online Journalism Review
NPR's brutally stupid linking policy - Boing Boing
Public Protests NPR Link Policy - Wired News
Danish Court Rules Deep Linking Illegal - Slashdot
Web site barred from linking to Danish newspaper Web sites -

Lights, Camera....

...and there was no action.

As we approach the August 5 start date for the national ID, Yoshiko Sakura, Ben Shimizu and I (with a lot of help from Gosuke Takama) are leading a drive to sign up as many politicans as possible to pass a bill freezing the start of the national ID program for 3 years until we can have sufficient public debate and technical planning. The architecture is bad, the security sucks, there aren't sufficient guidelines on what the government can use the information for and there is no watchdog organization or even a privacy commissioner. Having said that, even if the security was better and there were a privacy commissioner, I still would be against the national ID. The architecture is wrong and the basic approach to information about people is wrong. There are much better ways to do the same thing without using a single IC card and a single human readable 11 digit number. 83% of Japanese interviewed in a recent survey don't even know that the national ID program exists!

Last week, Yoshiko Sakurai with her amazing pursuasiveness signed up many of the leading LDP politicans including Kamei, Hirasawa and Shiozaki as well as members of all of the major opposition parties. Yesterday was a press conference to announce that we had signed up enough diet members to stop the August 5 launch... not. Over the last few days very strong invisible forces moved to try to squash our movement by putting pressure on the politicans supporting our movement. Koizumi-san, who I strongly support, made a stupid comment yesterday saying that he was for the National ID. (Never attribute to malice, that which can be sufficiently explained by stupidity. I guess in this case, ignorance.) The mayor of Yokoyama, the young Nakata apparently rushed to see Koizumi-san and explain that he should not support the National ID. The dark forces were very quick to label our movement as anti-Koizumi. Sakurai-san is trying to get us a meeting with Koizumi-san to explain the situtation to him and get him to understand. The press conference ended up being us, a bunch of press and the few bold politicians willing to publicly show their support to our movement. (The photo is a picture of the Network TV cameras from my seat. The empty area in the middle was where we were going to seat the politicians. The room is a room in the diet offices building.)

So, we're not back to the drawing board, but have been pushed back once again. With the US pushing for a privacy czar and concerns being raised in the global debate, I'm hoping that the global environment might help... but this may be wishful thinking.

Anyway, if you don't hear from me for awhile, call the Amnesty International and tell that I was last seen protesting the Japanese National ID.


Quoted from Slashdot (I quoted the whole thing since it is short. Thanks for finding this Sen!)

Posted by timothy on Tuesday July 09, @06:36PM
from the private-enterprise dept.
davecl writes: "The off-shore datahaven, HavenCo, is doing well, according to the BBC. HavenCo is based on a WW2 gunnery platform several miles of the English coast. In the 60s it was outside the 3 mile territorial waters, and a retired Army officer moved there and proclaimed it the independent state of Sealand. In the 80s territorial waters were extended to 12 miles. Sealand's nation status is this unclear, but this hasn't stopped HavenCo setting up their data haven. Customers are largely gambling sites, but an increasing number of political groups, such as the Tibetan Government in Exile, are based there in an effort to escape government censorship. More regulation of the web means more customers, and business is booming. Wonder if others will see this as a way of making money out of beating censorship?" We've mentioned Sealand several times before -- it's great to hear they're defying the skeptics.

I was one of the early investors in Havenco and a great fan of the concept. I was also one of the first customers. I have a Sealand flag in my office...

Glad to hear they are doing well.

etoy also have a server on at Havenco.

If you haven't seen this, it's a great site. We gave it a Golden Nica this year at the Prix Ars Electronica.

From the Prix Ars Electronica web page:

Golden Nica Josh On, Futurefarmers (USA): "They Rule" Database visualization is an important area of interactive design. "They Rule" is an excellent example of this kind of project. It attempts to demonstrate the relationships between some of America's most powerful corporate executives by visually showing you which companies they are involved with, and how these companies might gain from such a relationship.

The interface, once you get it, is pretty easy. There was a map of the Trilateral Commission, it's members and the boards that they sit on. (Here is a speech I gave at the Trilateral). You can see all of the board members of a company, other boards they sit on, donations they have made, all mined from public sources presented in an elegant design.

Saegusa-san just turned 60 which is an important birthday in Japan. It is called kanreki. The first birthday party was a suprise party at Blue Note Tokyo after the Enjin01 meeting. The second party was at a small temple in Akasaka and we wore traditional Japanese summer ukata. There were booths with sushi, curry, yakitori and traditional Japanese games. And lots of beer. This picture is Mizuka, Saegusa-san and me at the temple. About 400 people came. It was a very eclectic crowd with ex-prime ministers, artists, company presidents, journalists and actors. I did feel a bit young. When someone asked me where I was going dressed in a ukata, I said, "to my friend's kanreki party", and they looked at me kind of funny. I guess it's not so strange calling people 25 years older than you "friends" in the US, but in Japan it is strange enough to be gramatically incorrect. For some reason, most of my best friends are all much older than me. Interestingly, many of their wives are Mizuka's age. ;-p

Gene was one of the co-founders of Gnutella and a very outspoken leader in the P2P movement. He co-founded Infrasearch which was acquired by Sun Microsystems.

I'm not sure about this, but read this on boingboing and boingboing pointed to an obituary "written by one of Gene's co-founders from Infrasearch"

The obituary says:

Gene was a unique individual. He was quiet and perceptive, kind and honest, possessing a quick wit and a questioning mind. During the last two years we made good and bad decisions, were happy and sad at the same moments, and after selling InfraSearch always wanted to work together again. Gene Kan, my best friend, tragically passed away on June 29th, 2002. I knew Gene not through articles or interviews. I knew him as the guy I could call when I was having trouble changing a flat tire - and as someone who would say "stay right there, I'll be there in ten minutes." He was the guy I could ask if my tie was correctly knotted or what his thoughts on the Israeli Prime Minister were. He was someone that would check his character judgements with me and someone who would start whispering to me a hilarious idea in the middle of a boring meeting. In this land of minute friendships started at "events" and held up by lunch meetings, I've experienced two emotions that are equally impossible to describe: happiness to have called him my friend and the overwhelming, all-devouring sense of loss.

I met Gene around the end of 2000 at a conference in Kyoto organized by Mitsuhiro Takemura. He took a very strong position about how copyright was dead and took it much stronger then me, leaving me without my usual corner in the discussion. He was really into cars and I remember talking a lot about cars with him at lunch. I also remember being astonished that he was 10 years younger than me, which is a strange feeling in Japan where most people are older than me...

He contacted me recently because his roommate was looking for a Buick Regal Grand National and Gene remembered from our conversation that I had one. In an email response to a question about what he was thinking of doing next, he said:

I'm thinking of doing something with aftermarket car parts manufacturing, since I have some friends and personal experiences. I haven't thought of anything cool and important to do in computers....

Goodbye Gene. We'll miss you.

Washington, D.C. — In a surprise decision that exonerates dozens of major companies, the U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that corporate earnings statements should be protected as works of art, as they "create something from nothing."

Full article on Satirewire

A true gem found on BoingBoing. A web page of a law firm which is hilarious. According to Jun, the legal community in Denver always looks forward to their regular emails. From their web page:

The firm is composed of lawyers from the two major strains of the legal profession, those who litigate and those who wouldn't be caught dead in a courtroom.

Litigation lawyers are the type who will lie, cheat and steal to win a case and who can't complete a sentence without the words "I object" or "I demand another extension on that filing deadline." Many people believe that litigation lawyers are the reason all lawyers are held in such low esteem by the public. Powers Phillips, P.C. is pleased to report that only four of its lawyers, Trish Bangert, Tom McMahon, Tamara Vincelette, and JoAnne Zboyan are litigation lawyers, and only one of them is a man.

Lawyers who won't be caught dead in a courtroom are often referred to in the vernacular as "loophole lawyers," underhanded wimps who use their command of legal gobbledygook to scam money from the unsuspecting, usually widows and orphans. Many people believe that such "loophole lawyers" are the reason all lawyers are held in such low esteem by the public. Powers Phillips, P.C. is pleased to report that only four of its lawyers, Myra Lansky, Kathy Powers, Mary Phillips, and Jay Powers, are such "loophole lawyers" and one of them, Jay Powers, hardly does anything at all anyway so he doesn't really count.

The first time I really heard someone talk heatedly about blogs was when I had dinner with Dan Gillmor of the San Jose Mercury, John Markoff of the New York Times, Howard Rheingold, Justin Hall and John Vasconcellos. I was probably the only one who hadn't been "turned on" yet. Dan was a strong believer that it would change everything. Markoff still gave a lot of credit to the value of editors and the role of mass media. I still really didn't understand the difference between blogging and having your own web page. I've had a diary online for years and I was using Dreamweaver to edit my html.

Justin was scooping around for some more stuff to do with the "free time" and I wanted to update my web page so he found Movable Type, a cool "personal publishing system" which allows you to create blogs and set it up for me. (He's currently co-webmaster of my site.) The amazing thing is how much technology has advanced. The software saves the messages in database format, allows you to export to other blog software, lets you syndicate stuff in xml, lets you "ping" other blogs to let them know when you have updated your content, keeps templates, style sheets and content separate so different people can manage the different roles, etc. The simple advance in technology make the world of difference. It is like the different between gopher and html.

So, when I soft launched my blog, I emailed Howard and asked him to help me get linked to. He told me that I needed to scoop a story. Then everyone would pick it up and link to me. Ah ha! That's how it works. The network of blogs is like an amazing network of people doing peer review, adding their spin. Each blogger being an entry into this network for his/her readers.

So I started reading boing boing and surfing the net in a totally different way, keeping an eye out for the tell-tale links and discussion area of blog networks. Anyway... You learn something new every day.

The other amazing thing is, like the Internet itself, blogging is really difficult to "get" unless you spend sometime actually surfing around blogs and seeing how it all links together and how cool content collects into pools on the leading blogs. It's like the "tupperware syndrome." You need to experience it to "get it." So many people who are generally really clued in, still haven't caught on to what this blog thing is all about. I'm going to blame the fact that I didn't "get" the blog thing until Dan Gillmor's rant on the fact that I live in Tokyo now and don't get face to face rants from fanatical Internet gurus as often. I didn't "get" the imact of PPP until John Markoff gave me a copy of MacPPP. Maybe there is a trend here. Joi gets his new ideas from newspaper reporters in California! Anyway, when you finish reading this, go to boing boing and trying spending an hour reading, clicking, reading, clicking and see how much you learn!

The real media is also taking a serious look at blogs. The Economist had an interesting article "The trees fight back".

Howard posted this link in a comment here, but I think this article "Is Blogging a Fad?" is a great article on blogs that you should read.


We just got back from the World Cup finals. I had a very difficult time choosing which team to back. I know more Germans than Brazilians, but the Brazilians seemed nicer and more fun. They were also more likely to win. Mizuka definitely wanted to cheer for Brazil so that settled it.


We had front row seats on the second story. My Hasselblad didn't really work from where we were. The lense was too dark and my film was too slow... They were out of the "Sky Box" seats, but I figured that hanging out with the real fans would be fun.

Unfortunately, we ended up sitting with a bunch of rowdy Brits. They seemed to think that I didn't understand English. They gabbed on about all kinds of things that I won't post here, but when Mizuka left to get us some drinks, I told them them what I thought about their behavior. Actually I was quite upset and it was ruining my experience. I said that I thought they were really rude and that I bet that they were fixed income dealers from England. Interestingly enough, one was!

Later, one of the guys behind me was cheering for Germany and the rest of they guys said that they would all punch him when Brazil scored. I told the guy I would punch him too. He laughed. When Brazil scored their first goal, I turned around and punched him quite hard. He was noticably upset, but I guess he didn't have the guts to really start a fight so we shook hands and let it go.

Anyway, they were quieter after that and everyone around us had more fun, I think.

Brazil won as expected and they went running around thanking their fans, which was nice.

We quickly escaped the scene and were able to catch a taxi to get onto the highway before they shut it down to let the emperor drive back. 30 minutes later, Mizuka and I were eating and drinking near our house at Mitate where everyone had just finished watching on TV. We got a warm welcome from the staff and service the best we had experienced. The staff said that they cried when Renaldo scored his goal...


And now it's back to normal for Tokyo and Brazil is on the brink of banruptcy...

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