Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I think we're at a very exciting point in the history of the future. Dave wrote a great essay to kick of the year just as I was trying to collect my thoughts. Let me also be a bit optimistic for a moment and share with you what I WISH will happen. Consumer electronics and mobile devices are where computer networking was before TCP/IP. Nothing talks to anything else and everything is vertically integrated and "intelligently" organized. TCP/IP changed that for telecom/computer networks. We all know the story.

Same thing with consumer electronics. It's a very different market with lots of different constraints like power consumption, price, etc. There are a lot of people working on various layers trying to standardize with mixed results. Apple is clearly making the move into consumer electronics. Sony is trying very hard to integrate network services into its hardware. It still doesn't work well. They're too "smart". The Tivo Rendezvous support is an example of a step forward and shows the potential of open standards in this space. Apple's Safari which is based on KHTML, from KDE's Konqueror open source project is also an interesting example as well.

So, here's what I think. We all know that the network should be stupid. Network providers will be a basic utility like electricity, but they'll still make money if they stick to the network. Where is the next focus? In the hardware, content and tools. If the hardware companies are smart, they will support open standards and let the users create the content, let the community create the tools and provide API and support for open standards. Yes, they will give up some control and yes they will eventually become more of a commodity like the network, but the scale will increase and they will make money.

So here's my offer. I'll focus on trying to pitch the hardware companies in Japan to look at the MetaWeblog API and other standards that we are developing. I will TRY to invest the rest of the $15mm I have into companies that develop things are end-to-end stupid network oriented, open standards compliant, blog community supportive, non-proprietary OS based and generally un-evil. I will also try to get others to invest with us. I'm going to try as hard as I can and still be fiduciarily responsible to my investors. I want everyone else to try very hard too. Let's see if we can make this happen. Think twice before going to work for you-know-who. If you go work for you-know-who, try to get them to support open standards. If you can choose, choose something open. If you can buy/license something from the developer community vs. building it do so. And most importantly, now that we have blogs to talk on, engage us in the dialog and try to break open mobile devices and consumer electronics platforms and get them to take advantage of the most talented group of unemployedself-employed developers since before the bubble. Let's convince the consumer hardware guys to open up and focus on their strengths and benefit from this just like IBM and others were able to benefit from the Internet by supporting and embracing the developer community.

I know this is rather obvious and I'm probably preaching to the choir, but I'm serious. ;-)


Amen, brother.

Your preference for the "stupid network" is right on the mark. I learned that in my Internet-building days. Not owning all components is a difficult concept for many businesses to grasp. The former Bell companies in the United States are still wrestling with that, and continually rolling out value-added services that no one cares about.

There are examples that tend to give one hope for what would otherwise be commodity service providers. One great example is that of "premium SMS". I was stunned when I first learned the amount of revenue generated by selling cellphone ring tones and other "premium" short messages.

According to Strand Consult Publications"The potential for the premium SMS market in the UK alone is somewhere
between £ 265 million and £ 0.85 billion."

That's validation to me that infrastructure providers do have opportunities for additional revenue without having to assume that they can predict and deliver every application that a user will need.

The telecom carriers are having a rough time, and I can't help but wonder whether a more open environment for developers might not reverse the trend through a new renaissance of creative exploration and web services.

I'm partial to flat-rate data services with no settlements, but any reasonable and generous tariff structure would contribute to the "ecology of the network", as I choose to think of it.

I think your call to action is coming from the right place. The examples are right in front of us. When was the last time you logged on to a public X.25 network (the other ARPANET offspring) to check your email or browse the web?



Joi, I learned of your offer from Marc Canter's website. I would like to organize attractive opportunities for you and enterprises in Japan.

I am the Direktorius of the Minciu Sodas laboratory, serving and organizing independent thinkers around the world. We bring together individual projects around shared endeavors. We function as a networking club, and attract enterprises with our people and endeavors. We have 50 active and 500 passive members.

I am currently focusing my efforts on Spine for the Web, a human centered directory for leveraging existing web pages in order to get things done. Much of my effort is as an organizer of humans, I am writing from Tuzla, Bosnia where I am looking for Islamic independent thinkers and also helping Franz Nahrada develop a network of villages across the Balkans. Real life problems are clarifying the real life needs for ASP solutions even to help places that don't have direct Internet access. Imagine a young villager with a computer who collects local wisdom into websites and brings them into town once a month. Then imagine ISP access in the town that is based on inexpensive computers running on web browsers. Solutions like this will tap into the larger part of the world. And they will be necessarily simple, human, relevant, down-to-earth.

At our laboratory I have developed a fractal method of team-building, see our proposal to organize 20,000 thinkers for $1.5 million. We have our first customer, Ian Bruk, for a much smaller version of our service: a team of 30 thinkers for $1,975 per year or $195 per month. We are intending this for corporate thinkers as a way to connect them with the outer world.

I would like to offer to you something in between, perhaps at $5,000 per month. We could organize people to unfold and realize a vision in your desired direction. We would help projects so that they might be sound and attractive, both socially and economically.

In particular, we have organized makers and users of tools for organizing thoughts, and worked through IrDA to develop a MindSet standard (IrdaKiss) for such data exchange.

We could build on your work on Emergent Democracy, and build momentum for that as a public investigation.

I hope we might connect. I would be glad to develop a service that might multiply your strengths across a wide range of social and economic efforts.


Andrius Kulikauskas
Minciu Sodas
Vilnius, Lithuania
(writing from Tuzla, Bosnia)

Joi, I just want to add a related software project that we will be working on, a "Radio for Knowledge".

What have I concluded from and also here in Sarajevo? There is very much a need for a way of streaming information (about a particular endeavor, but perhaps even a particular company, as in Ian Bruk's reports) so that we can get all manner of input (letters to discussion groups, blog entries, new pages at Google, changes in websites, etc.) and be able to output it at any volume.

By volume, I mean that for a particular endeavor, some people want to get roughly 1 letter per month, whereas others might like 1000 per day. And there is a whole spectrum in between. I would like to keep it very simple, for a particular "channel" I would like at any time to be able to set the dial to a particular "rate of flow".

The way this would work is that incoming information would be prioritized by some semi-cryptic algorithm that would be the stuff on top that is most important. It would not have to be perfect, just as Google is not perfect. It would be simple, just as Google is simple. You just set the "volume" to take as many items as you want. And you can get them delivered in the form that you want, which might be email, RSS, website, streaming chat, or a CD in the mail.

We would not try to customize this. That could come later, but I think there is enormous value in actually making this much happen now.

There are many reasons to work on this, but an important one for me is that, as an organizer, I need to know that people are signed up to regularly get information delivered to them. This way I can know that it is own their minds. Otherwise it is not efficient for me to go to them if I do not know at least that much. Also, it helps to define a common knowledge regarding an endeavor. From a human engineering point of view, it is very important that people be able to set how much knowledge they want to get. At our laboratory´s open discussion groups I know from experience that most people can handle up to an average of five letters per day. After that and we lose people just from overload. The length of the items does not matter, simply the number of items in your Inbox is what causes the problem. Other people can handle much more, and some would like even less, so it would be fantastic to be able to fine tune the "volume" of such a stream.

See the reply by Ian Bruk, we are discussing some modest funding. We very much welcome partners.

Have you entered an American univercity?Have you chosen to be a doctor?

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