Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

April 2003 Archives

Very interesting thing just happened. (Once again, standard disclaimer... I'm obviously not the first person to have this experience, but it's new to me...)

I got a trackback on my iTunes entry (the first trackback there...) from a Japanese MT blog. Anyway, I went over to the site and it was indeed an entry about iTunes, but no mention of me or my blog. Also, no link back.

So, maybe I feel a bit hurt, but nothing illegal going on here. Obviously it makes sense to try to direct people to more information about a topic and sending a trackback to an entry about the same topic makes sense. It just felt weird. I had been looking at trackback more as a two-way thing, but I guess they are technically one way.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Obviously, if it were spam or a link to a unrelated topic, I would erase the trackback, but it is a link to a legitimate entry about the same topic and I wouldn't think about erasing it. I guess it's just that I've never trackbacked to anyone that I didn't link to except in the case of a topic exchange thread...

I was talking to someone today about Marc Canter and all of the other people who think Wiki's are ugly. I was talking about how Marc Canter was a "media" guy and how Wiki's are for text people. Then, it hit me. (Apologies to everyone else who already thought of this before...) McLuhan talks a lot about how "looking" at TV is different from "reading" text. When you read a book, your eyes are focused a bit above the text and the text sort of just goes into your head to create symbols. With TV, you actually LOOK. You really care if the font on the TV is ugly, but you rarely remember the font of a good book you just read.

So, maybe this is the difference. When I am on a Wiki, the way it looks really doesn't concern me as much as trying imagine and understand all of the context that is captured in the web of pages linking to and from the page. I imaging all of the people from all kinds of places and what they must be thinking. It's less about user interface and more about code.

When I think about broadband, iLife, digital photos and things that I "look" at I CARE how the user interface works and how it feels as an experience. On a Wiki all I care about is that it is easy, which is part of user interface, but a different part. (I think I saw a discussion about the aspects of user interface somewhere... but I don't remember where.)

So... if you follow McLuhan's thinking, the looking culture and the reading culture are different. Are blogs/Wiki's going to merge them? What happens? Can the "keep it simple and easy, I just want the context, I don't care how it looks" people co-exist with the "give me an experience" people? Is it about meta data?

Again, another random note on a Japanese holiday...

I just downloaded iTunes 4, set up my .mac account for the music shop and started browsing around the music shop. Ooo, I don't have that Orb CD, "click", I wonder if they have.... "click"... "downloading..." "hey..." "click".

Now maybe I'm not a good sample, but iTunes 4 is to music downloads what iPod was to mp3 players. Of course you have to download iPod patch to play the AAC protected music format and you are not downloading sharable mp3's.

My little foray into the DRM'ed music space is really an experiment on myself to see if a proprietary system can make the experience compelling enough to make people say, "screw it, I'm going to use DRM." So far, the experience for me is that actually quickly finding clean copies of music I'm looking for and having it seamlessly arrive in my iPod is worth the $.99/song they are charging and the fact that it's protected. THAT'S SCARY. It's the sucking sound of Hollywood you're hearing here... hmm...

Anyway, I'm going to play around with it a bit more before I decide for sure whether this is a killer service, but I just thought I'd post this urgent news so you could try it for yourself. ;-p

Update: Not nearly as many songs that I want as I initially imagined. They're like trying to get my to buy the Village People and stuff... Search seems broken -- it gives me errors. Keeps trying to tell me I can't use the service because I'm in Japan -- I keep trying to trick it into thinking I'm in the US. a good roundup on Marc Canter's site.

Update 2: BAAAAD news. So I bought a bunch of albums and songs and was happily downloading them thinking about how much money I had just spent. Then. "There was a problem with Music Store. Please try again later." I still have the songs I've downloaded and they are there, but all of the stuff that was in the queue to be downloaded. Gone. "click" "You already have a copy of this dumbass, do you want to buy it again?"... fill out bug report asking whether I can reinstate the downloads or check whether I've been billed. "thank you for your bug report. We can will not respond to this request directly, but we appreciate your dumbass suggestions..." shit... Anyway, I will make sure I check my credit card bill next month. Until then, I will and not queue up downloads.

Update 3: When I restarted iTunes it started download all of the music I bought. phew...

Mayor Nakada officially appointing me to committee member. I was one of the people who recommended the Mayor to the WEF to be chosen as a GLT. He became a GLT this year. At 38, he is one of the youngest mayors in Japan.
Today was the first meeting with the Mayor of Yokohama and the committee for personal information protection. I wrote about it before here. I was happy to finally meet the 4 other committee members who turned out to be very smart and a good variety of backgrounds. One human rights expert, one lawyer, one law professor, one computer security professor and me.

Now that the privacy bill looks like it is going to pass, we deliberated about a variety of things, regarding what Yokohama should do after it passes. We also talked about what to do about the 845,000 people who opted out of the national ID. Currently they are going to send a type of deletion record to the central government, but I pointed out that this list is also information about the people who opted out and in fact is maybe even worse if you consider the fact that this list could be used to profile the people opting out. I suggested that we try to come up with some sort of technical option for the people who opted out of the national ID that would let them benefit from Internet enabled local government services without registering for the national ID.

The Yokohama City government also noted that data for the people who opted out was created during the trial and that in fact they all actually had national ID's even though the opted out. The local government has asked the prefectural government and the central government to delete these records, but they have not complied.

This committee will not have a regular meeting schedule or formal output style but will meet as needed on an ad hoc basis as issues arise to deliberate on.

Had lunch with Adam Greenfield. I met Adam online and recently have developed a relationship with him. This was the first time we shared a meal together. Recently he protected me against Richard B., coined the term moblog, launched a new site called Margin Walker and has a cool site called v-2 where he blogs. He wrote a paper called a minimal compact about open source constitutions for nation-state sized governance. He's currently organizing a moblog conference in Tokyo in July which I plan to attend.

We talked about a lot of things, but we agreed on two things. He is yet another person who thinks wikis are butt ugly (YAPWTWABU) but I said he should try Wiki's. So I agreed to try to read everything in Margin Walker and contribute and he agreed to post on a Minimal Compact Wiki Page on my Wiki and we'd both try each other's new sites out. Anyway, enjoyed the conversation, but you will hear more about it on Margin Walker and my Wiki. ;-)

The Japanese have elevated prostitution to a fine art.  There are many grey areas - between pure hooker (who are usually Chinese or Phillipina girls) versus Geisha.  Hostess bars plop a beautiful woman down - in between each business man - who put their hand on your knee, laugh at your jokes and pour your drinks.  They then accompany you outside and hail a cab for you.  But sex is never a part of the equation. 

Lots of blond and buxom American and Europeans are imported for both hostess bars and strip joints, but only a pure bred Nippon Jin (Japanese) can be a Geisha (do don't believe that Shirley MacClaine movie!)  Japanese actually take pride in their Geisha tradition.

I'm not going to take a moral stand here, but will try to point out some interesting facts and thoughts that this quote from Marc Canter highlights.

First of all, it's amazing what gets lost in the translation and the difficulty I am having in explaining the whole geisha thing really shows how different cultures can be.

I think almost all cultures have prostitution and I don't think Japan's sex industry is any different, but you're more likely to get a sex for money offer from Jr. High School girl in Shibuya than from a geisha.

I think geisha represent the polygamist past of Japan more than they represent prostitutes. Even one generation ago, many men had many women with whom they had children. One of my good friends has over 40 siblings, many of the mothers are geisha. Japan is still very arranged marriage oriented and until recently was almost entirely so. What was really happening in a marriage was two families negotiating a relationship that was solidified in the exchange of children. The geisha and other mistresses were often treated at part of the large extended family and were treated well and often publicly recognized. The children were not as recognized as the official children, but were also treated with a great deal of respect.

The geisha have gone through a variety of changes in their roles in the past and are now totally different from where they started out. I think the height of the geisha's role was when poor families would sell their young women to the okiya and the okiya would provide young women to the tea houses to take care of the powerful men. The powerful men would choose from these maiko their favorites and sponsor them to be geisha. The power men would support the geisha financially and indirectly the traditional dance and arts that the geisha performed. These days, people don't "sell" their children so most geisha become geisha to learn the tradition and to meet interesting people. Most people who go to tea houses can not afford to be a full sponsor of a geisha and corporate expense accounts pay for most of the drinks. People still sponsor geisha but it only usually works when both are truly in love and in many cases, this turns into a true marriage.

So, there are a lot of bars and even tea houses that are about prostitution. In fact there is even a service in Gion that provides prostitutes who double as geisha to tea houses for the foreigners who come to Kyoto thinking that geisha are prostitutes and insist on having sex. On the other hand, the bars that have evolved from the traditional tea houses and the old tea houses in Kyoto are still fairly legitimate places for people to meet future wives and for women to look for future husbands outside of the arranged marriage system.

I forget her name now, but there is a female academic who asserts that monogamy is a plot by the weak and poor men in Japan to get their fair share of women. She blames the drop in birthrates in Japan on this. She said that she would rather be the second wife of a wealthy man than the first wife of a poor man and that there weren't enough good men to go around now. ;-)

And as I said at the beginning of this post. I have a very torn moral stance here. I don't think it is fair that women are not treated equally in Japan and the "tradition" is not supportive of women's' rights. On the other hand, there are a lot of amazing things that tradition supports including a great deal of art and culture. The "value" of a man probably should not be defined by their wealth or their political influence. On the other hand, having children that you can't support is probably not a responsible thing to do. Then we can later about whether the fact that there are men who can't support their children is the fault of society or the men...

So I took my FX77 that I griped about here because my Mac couldn't talk to it. It turns out it's a nice camera. It is fast and take much better photos than any digital camera so far. There are a lot of settings that allowed me to deal with unusual lighting. I tooks lots of pictures of snapping turtles and geisha.

I tried a new method of authoring photo albums. I installed Movable Type on my PowerBook and used Kung-Log, BBEdit and Adobe ImageReady to author. It worked well. ImageReady did a really nice job optimizing and adjusting the balances on the images without all the extra junk that photoshop had. Having MT locally let me put the photos in directories and rebuild the pages so I could see how it would look on my blog. BBEdit was a clean way to edit the tables by hand. Kung-Log let me write everything, save it as a draft, then post it again to my blog once I was on a fast line.

It was a 2.5 hr train ride so I had a lot of time... probably not the most efficient way to post photos, but it was a lot of fun...

Mizuka and I went to Daiichi, my favorite restaurant to eat Japanese snapping turtle, or suppon. I've written about Daiichi before here. So I'll focus on photos for this entry...

Here is a 176K MPEG movie of the boiling stew...

Mizuka posing in front of Daiichi.
The first thing you see when you enter your room at Daiichi is a Daichi cloth covering your place setting.
Removing the cloth, you find a sparse setting for your meal.
The meal begins with a small portion of stewed, chilled suppon served with a little bit of chilled soup and some sliced ginger. Yum.
The stew arrives. The Stew is in clay pots, some over a century old. The pots are heated with coal to an extremely high temperature and are delivered on wooden boxes. The pots are so hot that the stew continues to boil through the serving without any additional heat.
Here's what the stewed suppon looks when it arrives in MY bowl.
Another very important part of the experience is the hot sake in the suppon soup. This really tastes amazing. Nothing like it on earth.
The suppon bones look kind of strange and I try not to figure out which bones come from which parts of the turtle.
You must finish the soup... Then comes another serving of stew.
Next comes the pickles. They're good too, but you have to sort of sit there and stare at them until the zosui comes which you're supposed to eat the pickles with.
Then comes to zosui. It is another clay pot with rice in boiling suppon broth. An egg or two are broken over the bubbling zosui and stirred.
Then the zosui ends up in your bowl. (Sorry Dr. Atkins!)
As you near the end of the zosui the zosui gets crispy and brown where it sticks to the pot... That's called okoge and tastes REALLY good.

Mizuka and I attended the 131rd Annual Miyako Odoro. We have attended every year since we met. It is the annual event where the geisha of the Gion district perform their traditional dance. The event is open to the public, but is a lot about the patrons of the tea houses getting a chance to see the geisha and maiko perform their art that they practice so hard to perfect through the year.

The geisha, and maiko are given tickets that they must sell to their patrons. The tea houses pick up many of these tickets and distribute them to their clients. Mizuka and I always buy a pair from Kaoru.
The show consists of a plot that changes every year, but it all is framed in four sections and there is a scene for each season where all of the maiko come out in a line.
On the left hand side of the theater, the Japanese drums and the Japanese flutes play. The geisha playing the flute in this picture is our good friend Fukunami.
On the right side of the theater are the geisha who play the shamisen and sing. The geisha third from the left is Kimiya-san and the geisha second from the left is Komomo-san. Both good friends.
And everyone shows up for the grand finale!
The geisha also do a tea ceremony for the guests.
The Japanese green tea made and served by the geisha is nice and you get to keep the plate that the snack comes on. (Sorry again Dr. Atkins!)

Pierre Omidyar, my classmate from Tufts, founder of eBay, an advisor to and investor in Neoteny and a good friend, recently started a blog. (A Movable Type blog. I think he started his blog before he knew we were investing... ;-) )

He responds to my entry about blogshares. He seems to be thinking about the money vs. influence / markets vs. democracy issues as well. Being a billionaire philanthropist geek is an interesting position to be in when thinking about whether having more money should mean you have more influence and he's clearly been thinking about this a lot.

Welcome to the blogging community Pierre.

I'm going to comment on his comments when I have more time. I'm eating turtle stew right now...

I've decided to put my English language audblog posts in my moblog. You will see audio interspersed between the photos from my camera. I will try to put some audio about the photos that I post. It would be cool if I could have the audio attached to the photos themselves, but that's a pain to figure out right now. Also, since I usually shoot photos in clusters around events, I think maybe a series of photos followed by some audio might be the right format for this.

I'm going to start audblogging on my main Japanese blog since my written Japan sucks and maybe I can be a bit more interesting via audblog.

Hi Esther!

Thanks to an MT plugin by David Raynes, I now have my Blogshares shareholders listed on my page. (See bottom of my sidebar). Now all I want is for the people's names to be clickable...

Gave a talk at the American Chamber of Commerce of Japan yesterday. Americans living in Japan are the most fun to speak to because they generally agree with what I say. ;-) It's a bit like preaching to the choir and obviously, I'm not adding as much value as when I'm debating with my opponents, but the Q&A session after my talk was good and there were a lot of good comments and thoughts. In addition to my "ad hoc society of Japanese revolutionary wannabes" maybe I should try to participate in more meetings about democracy with foreigners living in Japan...

I was at the lunch table with Thierry Porte and Kumi Sato, both vice presidents of ACCJ who told me that I have to become a member of the ACCJ. ;-)

Anyway, I talked about Democracy, Weblogs, Risks and Japan. It was a slightly modified and improved version of the talk I gave at the MIT Forum. Here is the 32MB PDF file of my Keynote presentation.

Update: Here's the 12MB Keynote file.

Had a nice chat on the phone with Seyad, the creator of Blogshares. He says that it's been much more popular than he had originally anticipated and this popularity has both positive and negative repercussions on his life. ;-)

So here are a few of my thoughts on Blogshares. Blogshares is fun. One of the problems with blogshares right now is that blogshare dollars mean different things to different people. Maybe this is OK. Maybe this is true with real money. The thing is, people are gifting me shares of their blogs and I feel guilty. Sure, I visit the site and take a look, but like when I receive real money, I feel guilty, but don't know what to do in return. I could link pack to them like Mark, but that seems like "selling out" to me. Also, it seems weird being serious about playing a game when not all of the players are playing to win.

One thought I had was to use blogshares as a way to show your supporters. For instance, if I could have a list of my blogshare holders in my sidebar and a list of how many shares they had (I guess I could write a Python script! ;-) ) that would be cool. Maybe there could be a voting mechanism where I could ask my shareholders to vote on something about my blog or even ask them to vote for a board of directors for my blog. Anyway, tying in governance, emergent democracy and other things into blogshares would be interesting. Having said that, voting shares is marketing oriented, but not really "democratic". It's about as democratic as wallstreet and the millionaires would control the blogs.

Etoy has shareholders who are their supporters and we get to vote on important issues that they think about. I guess the fact that there is a real market on blogshares makes it harder to control who your shareholders are and difficult to "control" your blog. Maybe this method would work best for multi-author blogs like Metafilter if they were able to distribute their shares to people who contribute. There should be a way for a blog to distributing shares to contributors and directors...

More thoughts on this later, but blogshares is interesting. The main problem is there are game, social software, search engine elements all in one place and I think trying to find a good balance that's fun, fair and useful will be key.

A new group weblog authored by Elizabeth Lane Lawley, Ross Mayfield, Sébastien Paquet, Jessica Hammer and Clay Shirky to focus on social software was announced at ETCon I hear. Great team and looks interesting. It's also great that Clay is finally blogging after all of that "it's not for me" business. ;-)

Powered by audblogaudblog audio post
My first Audblog post. It finally works with MT! So now I have to figure out the style. Do I post in my main blog? I can't set the categories, add titles or text from the phone so it initially appears in my blog as just an clickable audblog logo with no text, title or category. Hmmm...

You know what would be neat? If I could voice annotate the photos in my moblog. So... How to link the photos with the audblog entries... I guess I could write a Python script to search for moblog entries and audblog entries within 10 minutes of each other and cross-link them. ;-)

Six Apart (Ben and Mena's company, the creator of Movable Type) just announced their hosted service, TypePad. They also announced that Anil has joined the team. Also somewhere in the announcement is a bit about my company, Neoteny investing in Six Apart. I'm very excited both as a Movable Type user/fan and as an investor.

This is probably one of the most exciting investments we've made and I particularly like the fact that I started as a user, sponsor, friend and finally an investor. I really like Ben and Mena and wish we could find more deals that were as cool as this.

Congratulations and lots of thanks to the whole team who worked to make this deal happen!


bluetoothlogo.jpgI just got my DSC-FX77, the new Sony camera that does bluetooth. I was bracing myself for wirless iLife... then. Suckage. The FX77 uses Bluetooth BIP (Basic Imaging Profile) to talk to the computer. Mac OS X has bluetooth, but of course... it doesn't know what the hell BIP is. A close examination of the Sony web page says it doesn't work with the Mac. I just saw the bluetooth logo on my Mac and on the Sony web page and didn't read the fineprint. Stupid stupid stupid...

So, does anyone know if Apple is thinking of implementing BIP or if there is some software that will let my USELESS Mac bluetooth talk to my useless-to-me new camera?

You have all probably heard about the Open Source Applications Foundation release of Chandler 0.1. I just downloaded it. I saw it on Mitch's blog a few days ago, but I was SOO immersed in writing a birthday database in Python that I didn't take a close look at Chandler until this morning. To my pleasant surprise, Chandler is written in python for the Mac and even handles birthdays. ;-) It doesn't run without spitting out lots of Python errors along the way, but I can actually understand them now! Hoho. Haha. Python is VERY cool and I'm glad OSAF is using Python. We used it a lot at Infoseek and our team at Infoseek/Digital Garage actually wrote some of the first Japanese language handling for Python.

I'm currently using Mark Pilgrim's Dive Into Python to learn Python. It's a great tutorial. Thanks for recommending it Sen.. Of course I've bought the numerous O'Reilly books as well.

Today was the opening party for the new Mori Buildings Roppongi Hills development in Roppongi. "The project, covering approximately 11 hectares, with a total floor area of 724,000sq meters, is the largest currently planned redevelopment project in Japan." I was on one the Cyber 66 committee at one time which was a planning committee to try to figure out what to do about the radio spectrum "shadow" the building would cast and what to do about the IT infrastructure.

As far as I know, there were three parties. One party for insiders last week, the party I went to at 7pm which was for 1500 of Mr. Mori's closest friends and one today 1 hr later for other special friends. It was quite impressive, but I was already expecting to be impressed so Mizuka and I cruised through the tour, slammed down the champagne, ate tonkatsu at one of the new restaurants and split.

There was a flower motif and these strange alien-like characters on the screen and in person. (the thing in the picture with Mizuka.) I'm not sure what they were, but they were all over the place. It is an amazing building and should change the landscape and traffic around Roppongi area significantly.

Good article by Xeni (a boing boing blogger) in Wired about the role of SMS in disseminating information about SARS and the attitude among Asians about SARS.

As SARS gallows humor is forwarded from cell phone to cell phone throughout the region, are "cough" ring tones next?

Hirata just set up a web page that lets you register your blog and receive an email address that you can use for moblogging. It's based on the mail2enty Python script I'm using for my moblogging.

I spent the day learning Python and wrote a script to make a category index of my blog on my Wiki

Thanks for the help Sen!

Mizuka and I went to see the last cherry blossoms last week and I shot some Provia 100 with my Hasselblad. I got sick of the poor quality of the Photo CD's considering the cost and bought a Nikon 8000ED film scanner so I could do my own scans instead. Here's my first attempt. I'm still trying to figure out how to get it right and it does take a lot of time, but you have control and obviously much more tender loving care than the people scanning for you onto Photo CD's. I've posted a few pictures on my .mac site. I can't figure out what the white space is that gets inserted when I publish from iPhoto.

Anyway, my iLife just got better thanks to Nikon.

In an EXTREMELY feeble attempt to integrate my Wiki with my blog, I have created a little link at the end of each entry that sends you to a page on my Wiki linked to the blog entry. The problem is, I have not figured out what I should call each of the Wiki pages. I thought about category/entry ID or something, but everything I could think of was kind of clunky. I ended up with just JoiBlog/EntryId(Entry#) which is REALLY ugly. Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. These thoughts will then probably force me to learn Python so that I can actually build something useful. The other thing that I will need to do is actually put something useful in the Wiki pages that are created instead of just the current "Would you like to create this page?" thing. BTW, please click on the Wiki links and go ahead and make pages if you feel like it. My guess is that most people won't feel like it. ;-p

As a Quaker, I wonder if you're allowed to think about hard-on's in church and joke about people's deaths on your blog. Or maybe being an A-List blogger forces you to resort to deadpan humor to tighten up your style. ;-|

Doc Searls
Other dead Atkins headlines  
I'm still on the Atkins diet. Dr. Atkins isn't , of course. I mentioned that a couple days ago under the headline Ultimate Diet . Since then I've regretted not using either of two other headlines that came to mind at the time:

100% weight loss
Dead weight

Anyway, both Doc and I are on the Atkins Diet which is basically a low-carb diet. Many people swear by it, but many people continue to warn me against it. It's too bad that Dr. Atkins died, but at least he died of an injury and not of something that could be tied to the Atkins diet.

Brian Barry writes in The Economist about how little Japan has leveraged IT and how this is still the source of inefficiency. He also gives some examples of companies that are using IT to change Japan. I agree with him totally and think that in addition to unwiding some of the big companies that don't make sense anymore, improving the cost performance of the exisiting companies can greatly increase the profitability of Japanese companies which is key.

I feel self-conscious about quoting my one quotes after that parody of this site but:

A tour of the
business-class lounges at Narita airport, says Joichi Ito, an internet entrepreneur, reveals how senior managers feel about information technology: "In United's lounge everyone has their laptop out; in the Japan Airlines lounge they are all drinking beer."
Actually, someone else pointed this out to me a long time ago and I have since observed it myself and have used it as one of my favorite examples.

PS Having a meal with TWO Brian B's in Tokyo this week was very confusing for my calendar...

PPS The Economist site link is "premium content". blah.

Had dinner with Brian Behlendorf and his wife Laura La Gassa. I met Laura for the first time last night wondering on the way to dinner what type of person she would be and I found that she was even a bigger geek than Brian and that they both LOVED food. I LOVE to go to dinner with people who appreciate food so we hit it off right away, talking about blogs, food and geekiness the whole evening.

I first saw Brian's name when I discovered the SFRaves mailing list and web page. I was REALLY into raves at the time and the mailing list was THE place to get info about what was going on in the rave scene. Brian used to run SFRaves. He also started Hyperreal which was one of the first places (was it the first?) where you could download music on the Net. I probably actually first MET Brian when he set up and was running Hotwired on the Indy on his desk. (It was just a PERL script at the time.) I still remember him showing me the web access log tail -f window on his Indy showing all of the accesses Hotwired was getting. He went on to help set up and make successful the first web consulting company that I know of, Organic. It was in the same warehouse building as Wired and I remember the florescent ethernet cables connecting Organic and the Wired offices. Brian was one of the connectors that helped make South Park in SF evolve from the home of rave flyer artists like Nick Philip to the home of Wired, to the home of companies built to support Wired to a thriving neighborhood.

After Organic, Brian when to found CollabNet where he is an executive and board member. It is a venture funded global company for supporting software development and sounds very cool. We talked about how blogging might be relevant. (Since to me, blogging is relevant to EVERYTHING. ;-P )

Brian had talked to Cory and Meg recently who both talked about blogging with him. Brian, Laura and I also talked a lot about Clay's power law paper. Brian, like many mailing list gurus was not blogging yet and had not yet gotten over the hump of actually trying it. Brian, like many mailing list gurus also was flooded with information and couldn't imagine having yet another place to have to read and write. I tried to stress the increase in signal to noise and resorted in the end to the old "you have to try it to understand it" tupperware lady pitch. I think we reached Brian's tipping point. He agreed to give it a try. On the way home from dinner (thanks to my 128K PHS wireless USB thingie for my PowerBook) I set up a Movable Type blog for Brian on my server.

Unlike many other mailing list gurus who promised to use blogs I've set up for them, less than 8 hours later, Brian has posted his first post. He blogs about blogging and his karaoke with a Red Army General in Shanghai. (Why is it that Red Army Generals like karaoke so much.) Anyway, everyone please welcome Brian Behlendorf and his new blog!

PS Brian, if I got any of your history wrong, let me know and I will fix it. Hmm... If this were a Wiki I could ask YOU to fix it.

Just to confirm the buzz: yes, the First International Moblogging Conference has been scheduled for Saturday, the 5th of July at super-deluxe on Roppongi-dori here in Tokyo.

Just found Maledicta Press Online on Metafilter. There is Maledicta, the International Journal of Verbal Agression.

Maledicta discusses language honestly: no dashes, no asterisks, no moralistic pussyfooting. Our motto: "They say it -- we print it."
This brings back some memories. I remember I was REALLY into the study of maledicta in High School. I wrote about it online on The Source and almost got kicked out. A good curse involves religion, scatology and sex. The following is the curse that I posted I guess 20 years ago. Please don't read the rest of this post if you are easily offended.

Oh God, quit slapping me in the face with your cock all covered in shit from fucking Jesus.

I actually don't remember where this one comes from... and... I don't remember exactly why I decided to post it considering how many people it offended. ;-p

I'll write more tomorrow when my brain is a bit more fresh, but thanks for showing up to Moda tonight. It was great. I didn't get everyone's name/blog URL who came so please leave a comment here with your URL if you feel like it.

Bill Emmott, the editor of The Economist on the left and Brian Barry, the Tokyo bureau chief of The Economist on the right
Bill Emmott, the editor of The Economist visited Japan on his tour through Asia. Ever since I met Bill, I've become subscriber of the paper version of and an avid reader of The Economist. Bill is a Japan expert and has written numerous books about Japan. It's great having someone who knows as much as Bill as the editor The Economist since Japan is not getting much coverage these days. We talked about the feedback Bill has been getting on the strong stance The Economist took on the war and how interesting and useful the feedback was. Brian noted that Bill got more feedback because his articles had his name on them. I explained that a lot of bloggers link to articles in The Economist and that if they used Technorati, they could track bloggers writing about the articles and get feedback more quickly and in more detail.

We also talked a lot about Japan and many of the problems Japan faces. Bill is very supportive of our efforts and I hope that with Brian's help, we can get The Economist to cover Japan in an objective way. Media coverage will be essential in our efforts to push for more transparency.

Happy Birthday Liz! Thank you for showing people how t use my new public To Do List.

BTW, She's a tuppeware lady. Funny because I call the "you have to try it to understand why it is useful" aspect of Internet and blogs the "tupperware syndrome".

Scoble, who was doing TabletPC's at NEC has left and joined Microsoft. He's an important part of the blogging community and I hope this ends up changing Microsoft in a good way. Good luck Scoble. I have mixed feelings, but I've shared them with him. I think it's the right think for him though.

It reminds me the quote from David Smith on Frank Boosman's blog about the similarity between people's view of MS and the US.

Since Dave Winer blogged this news already, I assume I can too. ;-)

I've moved my Wiki to a semi-permanent server and started adding content. The URL is: One page, I thought might be interesting was a public To Do List. Anyone who wants me to do something or who wants to reach me should feel free to add to my public To Do List. I promise to check it every day. Please make sure you sign the To Do entry and also create a homepage on my Wiki with your contact info so I can track you more easily. This is an experiment so any constructive thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

My sister blogs a great view of the US occupation of Japan from the perspective of how it affected our family. Very relevant to the current situation in Iraq.

The Christian Science Monitor recently published an article focusing on independent labels and musicians. While recording industry album sales were down 11% overall in 2002, some independent outfits saw sales increases of 50 to 100 percent, all while eschewing mainstream radio play.

posted by Matt Haughey

Tim O'Reilly fowards a rant about how the RIAA unfairly blames P2P as the reason for their drop in sales and how their statistics show otherwise.

From: Tim O'Reilly

Date: Sun, 13 Apr 2003 18:13:44 -0700

To: David Farber

Subject: FW: The Music Piracy Myth

Dave, I thought your readers might enjoy the following rant from George Ziemann, who's been doing analysis of the RIAA members' own statistics to argue that the decline in sales is related to their reduced title output and higher prices, not to file sharing.

For the articles to which he refers, see and

From: George Ziemann
Date: Sat, 12 Apr 2003 22:47:19 -0700
Subject: The Music Piracy Myth

Currently, if you do a google search on RIAA statistics, I'm number one and two; you are three and four, and your article refers to me, so I know you know who I am.

The article to which you referred was published in December. Since that time, a lot has happened, as I'm sure you are aware, not the least of which being the RIAA's recent lawsuits against college students.

First of all, I am a musician. The only reason I even started researching what the RIAA has to say is because of the problems I had selling my own work at eBay, which were entirely due to RIAA accusations of copyright infringement (it was my own CD).

After looking at the 2002 RIAA data, I also realized that over the last 5 years, the recording industry has shipped out more than 2 billion physical units of product, adding up to a retail value of more than $20 billion. You'd think that they would embrace a free marketing and promotion opportunity like mp3s. Let's face it, an mp3 is an inferior copy. I consider mp3s to be an ad for my actual recording.

My current consternation comes in the form of a letter from my congressional representative, who states that "In 2001, record sales were down 10 percent because of unauthorized music downloads..."

Yes, sales were down. Other than that obvious fact, there is no empirical data to suggest that downloading is the cause of the problem. I've asked the RIAA. In fact, I would go so far as to say I have relentlessly taunted them in hopes of a reasonable explanation. They offer none.

So think about this. As the original research I conducted indicates (and has been verified by SoundScan via, the record labels began to reduce the number of releases BEFORE the Napster hearings. When they went in front of Congress to complain about downloading, Hilary Rosen could confidently state that sales were going to suffer.

Because it was engineered.

Here's another interesting point. I can go to and order CDs for $1.89 each. Not "replicated" but created from a glass master. As I understand it, the current wholesale price for a CD is about $12.

So how can EMI's Cost of Goods Sold (2001 -- at Hoovers Online) be 71% of their income? BMG's 2001 annual report blames industry shortcomings "long obscured by market success" and Vivendi told its stockholders that an "anticipated lighter release schedule" had something to do with it. BMG is the only one that even mentions file sharing -- as a justification in investing in Napster.

Why does "sales are down 10%" overrule any other explanation for declining sales? A bigger question is -- Why won't anyone in the media even discuss this?

Recently I spoke to the FCC at a public hearing in Tempe (Phoenix area). Next month, I'm going to speak at the DMCA hearings at UCLA Law School.

Additionally, I'm hearing from college kids all over (Duke, Auburn, UCSD, Univ. of North Carolina, Yale Law School, Univ. of Wyoming). They're reading my site and they're using it as background for dissertations and reports. They ask questions. They do not accept vague answers.

Why does the government accept the "sales are down" without any consideration of other, equally plausible explanations? And why does the press?

When the majority of the public is guilty by default, then something is terribly wrong. I'm not sure why I'm even writing to you, except that you seem to be about the fifth person in the country that has applied some logic to this issue.

I've written to every member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Commerce Committee and Small Business Committee. I've written to Jay Berman, Hilary Rosen and the Recording Artists Coalition. With the lone exception of Janis Ian, absolutely everyone has totally ignored me.

What can we do?

I first started using a Wiki in the Emergent Democracy Happening because the SocialText folks used a Wiki to organize the information. I had visited Wiki's before and knew about them, but the ED Happening was the first time I had really used one. Then I saw Robert Kaye using a Wiki to take notes and he said he was addicted. Robert runs MoinMoin Wiki on his PowerBook. I figured that running the same Wiki software as Robert would be a good place to start. I got it running on my PowerBook, decided that I wanted one in a public place too, so I put one on my XServe box. I've been surfing around WikiSpace today trying to understand all of the interesting things like InterWiki links and stuff.

So, my plan is to take notes locally on my PowerBook and paste publishable stuff onto my public Wiki. Using the same software lets me keep the punctuation which seems to be different between Wiki's.

So my question to all of you Wiki gurus is this. Is there any way to get OPML into a Wiki easily? I've been taking notes in NoteTaker which exports to OPML. My blogroll and just about every outline I have is in OPML. I would LOVE to be able to import this into my Wiki...

My old buddy Tomo from Jr. High (we used to throw parties together in Jr. High) runs a bar in Harajuku called Moda. I haven't DJ'ed for awhile, but I've decided to try messing around a bit. I'm going to be DJ'ing from 8pm until around 10pm this coming Wednesday so drop by if you want to hang out and see me try to DJ. There's no cover charge. He has a web page.

New York Times
Globetrotting Traveler Infected With SARS [...] Airlines have been saying that the filters aboard modern planes do a good job of removing viruses from the air. But according to the health department here, at least 13 people have fallen sick with SARS after they shared a flight from Hong Kong to Beijing last month with an elderly man who had become infected with the disease while visiting his brother in a hospital here.
ABC News
SARS could be biological weapon: experts

Russian infectious disease experts say Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) may be a man-made biological weapon.
The virus, according to Academy of Medicine member Sergei Kolesnikov, is a cocktail of mumps and measles, whose mix could never appear in nature. "We can only get that in a laboratory," he told a conference in the Siberian city of Irkutsk, quoted by RIA Novosti news agency. It may have spread because of an "accidental leak" from a lab, he said.

Via Ben Hammersley

Reid and I were talking about humility and how most truly confident and capable people are usually pretty humble. We talked about how even a few self-defacing comments can go a long way and making you look pretty smart. So here's the paradox. When you know that I know this and I say something self-defacingself-effacing, it can look stupid if it is intentional and not sincerely. So how do you know when someone is sincerely humble, or just acting humble. Or does it even matter? I guess acting humble insincerely is still better than being arrogant and having to prove yourself at someone's expense. Being humble naturally is probably the coolest, but it isn't just a matter of trying. Kind of like trying REALLY hard to meditate doesn't help you meditate. ;-)

So, Friendster testimonials. Friendster is yet another site that is a networking site, which if it didn't ask you whether you had an open marriage when you signed up, wouldn't seem so much like a dating site. Anyway, Friendster has a feature which allows you to write testimonials about each other. I have received two. Frank and Liz wrote REALLY nice things about me. I assume they are sincere since they are sincere people. I am going to write something nice about them back since I like them both A LOT. But... what if someone writes something nice about me even though they don't really mean it. I will feel guilted into possibly writing something nice about them back. If I don't I look like a jerk. If I do, I could look like fake.

I think that as we design tools for social networking, some of these nuances are going to become important. Different circles have different cultures. Some people thrive on ego and put-downs. Some people thrive on humility. How does this affect the design of the tools...

Took Reid to go see Jay Dvivedi, the Chief Information Officer of Shinsei Bank yesterday. Reid is one of the coolest entrepreneurs that I know and as the former COO of Paypal, also one of the few people I know who gets off talking about payment systems with me. Jay is the smartest CIO I know and is ALWAY extremely inspiring when I see him. When I first met him he was talking about how he was going to revolutionize Shinsei Bank (the Long Term Credit Bank after it was acquired by Ripplewood.) Three years later, he has done everything he promised to do and has built maybe the most technically advanced bank in the world and the only major bank in Japan that is full IP and open systems. We got a tour of his the facility and it was amazing. EVERYTHING was IP: video, phones, everything. He uses public Internet to connect a worldwide network of vendors and nodes in a seamless network that TOTALLY works. Shinsei Bank is living proof of the end-to-end principle. He is now beginning to consult for other companies selling what he has developed at Shinsei Bank. Jay's boss, Mr. Yashiro who used to run Citibank in Japan where Jay used to work is also an amazing model CEO. During our sessions at the Association of Corporate Executives committee on IT Governance that I co-chair, I talked about Yashiro-san and Jay and their relationship quite a bit as a model. If only Japanese CEO's knew as much about the importance of IT as Yashiro-san and if only there were CIO's like Jay, we could be doing so much better in Japan. In addition to GDP, we would have profits. ;-) Three years ago, when Jun and I toured the banks and met the bank heads, Yashiro-san was the only person who bragged about home much money IT was saving him, instead of how much money he was spending on IT...
Adriaan just finished the new release of Kung-Log, the MT client for OS X. He's implemented the thumbnailing feature I asked for and it is now perfect. I can do ALL of my primary blogging from Kung-Log. One thing that is not documented but very useful is the proportionalization of the thumbnail. Enter either the width or the height and tab or click the other box to have it calculate the proportional size for the other field. It's talking the MetaWeblog API so it works for other CMS/blog systems as well, but well tuned for MT

I was just appointed committee member of the Committee for the Protection of Identification Information for the City of Yokohama. I was appointed by Hiroshi Nakada, the mayor of Yokohama. Yokohama is one of the most active opponents of the Japanese Basic Resident Code system and has made it optional for the residents of the City of Yokohama. Mayor Nakada argues (rightly) that the current Basic Resident Code law is illegal because there is not sufficient privacy protection as originally mandated in the law. This argument is quite valid until the privacy bill passes. The privacy bill is being deliberated in the Diet at this moment. I believe, and have said publicly, that this privacy bill currently being drafted is too strong on business and too lenient on bureaucrats and would not constitute strong privacy vis a vis the issue of National ID.

Currently of the 3,450,000 residents of Yokohama, 845,000 people have opted out of receiving national ID's. When the privacy bill passes, it is likely that Yokohama will have to hook its network up to the national network. Yokohama has passed a local bill and created this small committee of five people to advise the mayor who has made it clear in the bill that Yokohama would disconnect their local system from other prefectures and the national system in the event that there was evidence of privacy failures in the system. The bill states that the mayor will seek the advice of the committee to judge whether such privacy breaches have occurred and what they should do about it.

The press conference just ended so there is no press yet, but I will provide links if there is any press coverage.

Mayor Nakada is 38 year old, young for a Japanese mayor. He was selected as a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum this year.

Ross provides an improved picture of the Ecosystem of Networks and ties in the idea of Social Capital.

I'm late blogging this, but Dave Winer's speech about why programmers need to work with laywers, why Napster failed and why weblogs will allow us to do an "end-run" around the "fat smelly execs" of the media companies. Very funny and inspirational.

Robert Kaye of Musicbrainz arrived in Tokyo yesterday. The cherry blossom season is about to end, but Robert had cherry blossoms in his hair so the season will be a little longer this year. We had dinner and talked about RDF.

I met him when I was in SF last time and I wrote about it here. Thanks for introducing us Lisa!

Chris giving me his new Tokyo University name card with Professor Yasuda looking on
Professor Yasuda and "Visiting Associate Professor" Chris Goggans visited our office today. Professor Yasuda has invited Chris to Tokyo University as a Visiting Associate Professor to help educate Japan about security and to break into a few computers. ;-) Chris is now officially faculty at the most prestigious university in Japan. Amazing. I played my own little role by writing a recommendation for him, but hats-off to Professor Yasuda for pulling this off. I think this is GREAT. Chris has the hands-on experience that many of the so-called security experts in Japan lack and having him firmly embedded in the establishment, even for a short period, should have an enormous positive impact on the understanding.

It will also be fun to have Chris around Tokyo for awhile.

I wrote about Chris before here.

Hasegawa-san, the CEO of Global Dining, at the La Boheme bar
Had dinner last night at G-Zone Ginza Global Dining's new restaurant complex in Ginza. Yesterday was the first day in business. It's a HUGE space with a Gonpachi, a Zest, a Monsoon, and a La Boheme, all Global Dining restaurants. It feels almost like Disneyland, tunnels connecting the restaurants and lots and lots of theme stuff like a fake entrance to a Western Inn, etc. The opening party the day before attracted about 4000 people. Hasegawa-san, the CEO of Global Dining, Jun (my partner who is on Global Dining's board), Oki Matsumoto the CEO of Monex and I ate at Gonpachi. The sushi looked REALLY good, but I kept away from the carbs...

On the synchronicity side, the twin brother of a guy who has worked for me at Infoseek forever, Hamano, is in charge of facilities and suprised me. Also, the former manager of Tableaux Lounge in Daikanyama where I used to hang out A LOT is now the manager of La Boheme in Ginza G-Zone. Anyway, you can reserve rooms, they're open late. I think G-Zone will be my Ginza hangout, although I rarely have any reason to go to Ginza these days.

I wrote about Hasegawa-san before here

(c) Ted Kaehler 2003
Here is a site with a graph of the SARS epidemic. Incidentally, it is powered by Squeak.
Epidemics usually follow S-shaped curves. The predictions here are based on pure exponential growth. When the middle of the S-shaped curve is reached, the rate of infection will slow, and exponential growth predictions will no longer be useful. The reported data shows that the epidemic is still in an exponential growth phase.
Via Dave Smith but blogged first by Frank.

I've used a cool Flash tool called Indy Junior to render a clickable map of my travels this year. Indy Junior was developed by Bryan Boyer based on similar map done by my friend Joshua Davis. Requires Flash.

Via Megnut

consynrsss.gifI have to admit that I've been feeling guilty about talking so much about RSS and RDF without REALLY understanding what I was talking about, a state which I think I fixed today. (While staring a pile of books on democracy and constitution law...) First I read Ben Hammersley's new O'Reilly Book Content Syndication with RSS. I went and surfed around the Net reading the documentation on RSS and RDF on a variety of sites. Then I decided to try to do something interesting. I've created a new RSS 2.0 feed which includes the entry comments, links to the email or URL of authors of the comments, includes the number of comments in the guid's so that you get an update when someone posts a comment and permalinks in the feed to the comment as well as the item. I included the BlogChannel module so I could include my blogroll from Thanks to Noel Jackson, I figured out how to include my Creative Commons License in my RSS feed.

The feed is here. Feedback would be appreciated.

So, I finally understand what Dave, Boris and many others have been trying to get me to understand. It's flexibility vs. simplicity. RSS 2.0 is cool because it extends the simplicity of the original 0.9x RSS with modules. RSS 1.0 is cool because there are so many things you can do with RDF. The problem with RDF is that it is so ugly to read. Honestly, this morning I wouldn't understand what I have just written. The geek inside me is now awake and I want to learn everything there is to know about RDF, but it took a bunch of people pummeling me to get me to care, whereas plain old RSS 0.91 got me excited just looking at the code. So, I guess I'm on Dave's side in terms of keeping it simple and helping to get it widely accepted. On the other hand, the RDF stuff really does allow a lot of the semantic web attributes that we are talking about in the emergent democracy debate and the RDF framework, once it really starts to get picked up inside of applications could be really powerful.

Anyway, the main feed for my blog is now my RSS 2.0 feed.

Sorry to everyone who has to reload the feeds because I've rebuild everything. Also, I've made them the last 30 entries instead of just 15 since that was the limit for 0.91. Let me know if that's too many entries.

A few quotes from the proMED-mail, which is a good list to follow for on-the-ground updates from the global medical community.
Date: 4 Apr 2003
From: ProMED-mail
Source: OIE press release
Atypical pneumonia: Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)

The causative agent has not yet been identified. It appears to be a Paramyxovirus, a Coronavirus, or a mixture. The World Health Organization (WHO) has hypothesised that the causative virus(es) may be of animal origin, from domestic or wild animals located in Guangdong Province (in South China).

This is why the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has contacted the Chinese Veterinary Authorities to obtain information on the animal health situation in China over the past 6 months and, in particular, in Guangdong Province.

Date: Fri 4 Apr 2003
From: Steve Berger

SARS - Deja vu ?

As SARS enters its fifth month, a number of questions remain unanswered. Why Asia? Why now? Why young adults? To these I would add a fourth question (Why the panic?) and an hypothesis.

Every 10 years or so, a pandemic spreads out from China and surrounding countries. The 'Asian flu' of 1957 claimed 98 000 lives worldwide, and the 'Hong Kong flu' of 1968 an additional 45 000 lives. Although the world community was rightly concerned, I do not recall a collapse of air travel, imposition of quarantine, or daily front-page headlines. To date, SARS has claimed 79 lives, and the etiological agent appears to be far less contagious than Influenza A virus.

joibeer.jpgYesterday, I officially weighed in at our gym with witnesses and I came in at 67.3kg with my clothes on. My target was 68.5kg so I cleared it comfortably. (Again, flashbacks from my wrestling days.) I had challenged myself to stop drinking alcohol completely until I reach the target weight. I was off of alcohol for exactly 2 weeks. It was a good experience. I lost a lot of weight, found out that I was an alcoholic (addicted to alcohol) and that alcohol was lowering my productivity and my general emotional quality. This was probably because I was drinking too much. I had a beer last night, which tasted REALLY good. I also had sake, a double Jack Daniel's on the rocks and another beer. Although this was not much considering my former average daily intake, I got a headache. Maybe my body is trying to tell me something...

I also called Yuichi, my Fat Club partner to tell him that I had won and that he is my new chauffeur. He promised to find a suitable outfit to wear during his day as my chauffeur. We also agreed to do another challenge, since he still wants some incentive to continue his program.

Anyway, it was a good test of my will and a lot of fun. It's probably not for everyone, but competing with someone and blogging about it was a good way to push myself to lose weight.

No taking over, peaceful co-existence, if stripped of all the Valley-drunk Buzzwords, Cultic Groupthink and wacky utopian half-baked utter-nonsense mushed-oatmeal theories like ‘Emergent Democracy’.

Thanks Yat!

I was invited to a breakfast with Keiko Higuchi by Merle Okawara. Ms. Higuchi is an outspoken anti-war feminist who was one of the first people to try to deal with the aging population issue in ernest. She is running for the office of the Governor of Tokyo as an independent against Shintaro Ishihara, the current Governor of Tokyo. She is characterized as a anti-war liberal and Ishihara is a well known nationalist.

Ishihara is an outspoken nationalist who rails against the United States and China and the central government. It is well known that he claims that “fifty years of subservience to the interest of the United States has deprived the Japanese of a national purpose and engendered a paralyzing identity crisis. And he reminds his countrymen that theirs is the only non-Caucasian society to have created a modern superpower.”
Ishihara is a well known writer who is able to capture the hearts of many Japanese with his catchy slogans and easy to understand policies that address many of the issues facing the average Japanese today.

Ms. Higuchi will have a tough fight being characterized as a soft philosophical peace-loving woman. Ishihara is talking about ramping up the police force to stomp out crime (especially those committed by foreign immigrants) and is supportive of increasing the military power of Japan. The war on Iraq will probably have a great deal of impact on this election.

Governor Domoto of Chiba also ran and didn't expect to win, but she did. Having assumed she was going to lose, she didn't promise many favors and thus she is relatively free and independent, having won. It would be great if Ms. Higuchi could win and displace Ishihara. She'll need some strong and smart advisors to help her execute, but having a woman Governor with a left-leaning disposition would probably be a good thing in light of the current atmosphere.

Ms. Higuchi outlined her philosophy this morning and I was happy to hear that she felt that democracy was broken and that the voice of the people as well as the ability for communities to organize and be heard in government was lacking and she intended to increase the diversity of opinions heard by lawmakers.

I talked about blogs and emergent democracy. (Of course)

Just in case you missed this, Microsoft is supporting RSS and is letting the developers lead. Dave Winer approves. If you don't know what RSS is, here is a great article describing RSS and how to make a feed.

I am now 9kg lighter than when I started my Atkin's Diet program about a month ago. I weighed in this morning at home at 68.4kg which is just barely under my target of 68.5kg. I will conduct an official Fat Club weigh-in tomorrow at the gym. If I can keep myself under this weight and possibly lose a little more for a safety cushion, I will be free from my committment to not drink any alcohol until I meet my goal.

I have to say that it was tough without alcohol, but I feel much healthier and am definitely not going to drink as much as I used to. I actually enjoyed the challenge and would like to point out to the people who tried to tell me that it was foolish to make promises that I can't keep, that I did in fact keep my promise and actually enjoyed it. Also, special thanks to all of the people who didn't pressure me to drink or eat.

Anyway, it's not over till the fat guy sings, but I'm pretty comfortable that I'll pass tomorrow. I wonder where I will make Yuichi drive me...

A good article in Business 2.0 on the business of the Atkin's Diet

I just had lunch with a friend from Hong Kong. He said people are pretty freaked out. All of the schools are closed and hotels are at 10% capacity. He says that you can actually trace the infections back to a doctor from China who visited Hong Kong for a wedding. He sneezed in an elevator and all of the people who were in the elevator are now dead. There was a rumor that the people who got the disease from him all died, but the people who got the disease from those people haven't all died and that the virus diminishes in deadliness as it is transmitted, but it appears to be a rumor. People in HK are stocking up, partially because of the teenager hoax which involved a forgery of a newspaper site blowing the problem out of proportion and sending everyone into a panic. Seven people are reported to have symptoms in Japan and are being tested, but they they have not been confirmed to have SARS.

Everyone in HK is wearing masks, although it probably doesn't help. Immigration officers in Tokyo are wearing masks, but only telling people who have fevers, have visited risk countries and are coughing to go to the quarantine office. People in China still seem to be under-informed and are not wearing masks.

New York Times
China Yields Data on Mystery Illness Reluctantly

BEIJING, April 3 — In early March, when a new mystery illness started hopscotching around the globe, Chinese health officials looked on in silence, as if to say, "This has nothing to do with us."

At that point, China was already four months into an outbreak that officials later acknowledged was the same disease, severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. Yet they insisted that the situation was fully under control, shared none of their data and declined to join international investigations.

Dan Gillmor
April 3, 2003

It wasn't newspapers or television or radio that originally spread the word about the outbreak of a serious respiratory illness, now known as SARS, in southeast China. It was SMS -- text messages on mobile phones.

Boing Boing
Cory Doctorow 7:59

The Chinese government sent out six million SMS messages to Hong Kong cellphones yesterday, informing the populace that the web-page that reported that the whole city would be quarantined to contain the SARS outbreak was a hoax perpetrated by a 14-year-old who'd been arressted.

April 4, 2003 Paul Krugman on the economic impact of SARS

Kevin Marks has written a nice rebuttal to Andrew Orlowski's article about googlewashing.

Also, FYI it wasn't because I am a "a colossus of authority" that Jim Moore's article took off on Google, but probably because the true colossus, Dave Winer wrote about it. Actually, I first heard about Jim's blog because Dave met Jim and emailed Doc and me about Jim's new blog. (In any event, collosal is a collosal word. I think Andrew had probably just finished reading the article about the colossal squid.)

Andrew Orlowski has an article in The Register about how Jim Moore's paper about the Second Superpower spread so quickly it now ranks #1 on Google. Talks about how A-List blogs contribute to the ability for a single entry to quickly outrank versions of the word. (Cory talks about this phenomenon a lot.) Flattering mention of my blog... ;-p

Moore's subversion of the meaning of "Secondary Superpower" - his high PageRank™ from derives from followers of 'A-list' tech bloggers linking from an eerily similar "Emergent Democracy" discussion list, which in turn takes its name from a similarly essay posted by Joi Ito [Lunch - Lunch - Lunch - Segway - Lunch - Lunch - Fawning Parody] who is a colossus of authority in these circles, hence lots of PageRank™-boosting hyperlinks, and who like Moore, appeared from nowhere as a figure of authority.

Lunchin' Ito's essay is uncannily similar to Moore's - both are vague and elusive and fail to describe how the "emergent" democracy might form a legal framework, a currency, a definition of property or - most important this, when you're being hit with a stick by a bastard - an armed resistance (which in polite circles today, we call a "military").

The phenomenon Andrew writes about is quite interesting although the article is a bit nasty. Obviously Andrew doesn't think much about blogging.
Andrew Orlowski
Andrew Orlowski on blogging
Here's a mechanism which allows a billion people who can't sing, can't write a song or make an original beep, and have nothing to express, the means to deafen me with their tuneless, boring cacophony.
IMHO, I think Andrew should join the conversation instead of griping and acting like a magazine on the coffee table at a cocktail party...

Mitch has blogged about this article.

Thanks to Kevin, Anthony and George on the ED list for the links

Some more SARS stuff.

Earlier, I praised the WHO on their handling of SARS, but as the news starts to unfold, I guess it's not that simple. The tendency for the web to amplify fluctuation is probably hurting our ability to get a good sense of the actual risk of the situation. I think we should be focusing on what we should do to minimize risk rather than freaking out about it. On the other hand, it still appears we know so little about it. The question is whether the damage from freaking out exceeds the risk that SARS poses...
China coming clean on spread of killer illness

By Hamish McDonald, Herald Correspondent in Beijing, and agencies
April 3 2003

China's wall of silence on the lethal pneumonia epidemic started to break open yesterday when health officials in southern Guangdong province reported 361 new cases of the illness and nine more deaths during March.

This appears to contradict earlier claims that the outbreak was "under control". At the same time, a team of four experts sent by the World Health Organisation was given permission to visit Guangdong, the suspected origin of the new disease, after waiting five days in Beijing for a response.

The figures bring the number of severe acute respiratory syndrome cases in China to 967 at the end of the March, with 43 reported deaths, though more cases might be added later from other Chinese provinces.

A friend of mine who just got back from Shanghai told me that he didn't see a single report about SARS when he was in China. It's stuff like this that still makes me doubt China's ability to really "play" yet.

James Moore
China as the winner of US v. Iraq

Joi Ito just wrote from Japan, and I recall that at last summer's Fortune Brainstorm conference Joi was emphasizing the hidden power of the Chinese--and that the Chinese really aspire to superpower status, and a major form of global leadership.

I think that the Chinese are the real winners in the war on Iraq. While the United States blows resources on a destructive cause, the Chinese are staying focused on strengthening their core economy. The United States ties itself up in years of economically and morally-draining occupation of Iraq--while the Chinese stay free and focused.

I figure that the war on Iraq probably will hasten Chinese leadership over the US

I was invited to the Forture conference last year and Japan had become so insignificant that as probably the only participant from Japan, I was stuck on the China Panel. (There was no panel or session on Japan.) ;-) Pretty good indication of what people are interested in these days. I didn't remember this conversation with Jim until he blogged it, but, yes. I think China is obviously shooting to be super-power and in my recent visits to China at least some of the people presented the situation to me as "so you should choose China instead of the US as your primary partner since we're (China) going to beat the US soon."

I think that if the US totally botches the Iraq thing and China ends up being the force that neutralizes the North Korea situation, China could potentially be catapulted into quite a strong geopolitical position. It's interesting to watch China's foreign policy right now.

This is an entry for readers of Joi Ito's Web to comment freely. Please drop in and introduce yourself, introduce your blog, comment about things generally or about things that don't fit in other entries.

This is an experiment. There is a debate about whether comments in blogs are good. They tend to increase noise, but also provide more "inclusiveness". I am getting more and more private email that I think would be appropriate for a more public section of my blog. Having said that, I think the ultimate future is that everyone has a blog and we all talk on our own blogs. Until then, I think having a comments section to draw more people into blogging is probably a good thing.

So, comments about this idea as well as just general comments are welcome. I'm naming this "Spring '03 Salon" in case I need to create a new entry after it gets too long.

PS I first saw the quarterly "Salon" item used on The Meta Network

Great paper by James Moore at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society about how the "will of the people" is the emerging second superpower. He talks about emergent democracy, the Internet and gives a bunch of great examples.

In any case, what I most want to share with you is my paper “The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head” (the title was suggested by Esme Bashwiner).  The point of the paper is that “the movement” is now approaching the status of “the second superpower,” after the United States.  This is due to (1) critical mass of people who identify with the world rather than the nation, with each other rather than just themselves, (2) the web and interactive media “neurology” of the movement—including texting, email lists, and blogging—which is giving it a kind of collective mind and ability to act, and (3) the advance of international institutions and international law, which provides a venue or a forum in which the second superpower can work with sympathetic nations to press its cause.  The Bush administration is attacking the fabric of the international system, but it is unlikely to prevail.
Jim is one guy who I was HOPING would start a blog. Thanks to Dave and Doc, he's got one now.
Aaron and Daiji Hirata talking about UTF-8
Had lunch with Aaron Swartz.
Aaron Swartz is a teenage writer, coder, and hacker. In 1999, he won the ArsDigita Prize for excellence in building non-commercial web sites. In 2000, he co-authored the RSS 1.0 specification, now used by thousands of sites to notify their readers of updates. In 2001, he joined the W3C's RDF Core Working Group which is developing the format for the Semantic Web. In 2002, he became the Metadata Advisor to the Creative Commons. The rest of the time, he works on a variety of other projects.
He has a Weblog and also runs the Google Weblog. Larry sent me email to make sure that we met while Aaron was visiting Japan. Thanks Larry!

So, we talked a lot about RSS. RSS 2.0 isn't truely XML compliant, but even one of the co-founders of XML, Tim Bray, uses PERL regex to parse XML a lot of the time and doesn't bother with the formalities of running a true XML parser.

Now here's the dirty secret; most of it is machine-generated XML, and in most cases, I use the perl regexp engine to read and process it. I've even gone to the length of writing a prefilter to glue together tags that got split across multiple lines, just so I could do the regexp trick.
Well, if one of the founders of XML thinks that XML parsers are a pain, they probably are. Most RSS news feeders do not parse RSS as XML, but just clean it up and figure it out and doesn't reject non-XML compliant feeds. I have a feeling that these standards committees, while very important, are starting to get away from the original spirit of the Internet of "keep it simple, make it work".

Aaron, is a no-bullshit guy and who spent a lot of time with the W3C folks trying to get them to understand why RSS was so important. Well, I say, lets get on with it and just make it all work, even if it isn't formal XML. RSS is hot right now and wide adoption could revolutionize everything from digital cameras to DRM.

Photo copyright 2003 Jason Levine
The last time I saw Ben and Mena, I showed them the "the cork trick". It's a trick I learned from a teenager in Belgium. Basically, you take two corks, hold them vertically with your thumbs, grab the ends of the cork in the other hand with your forefinger and thumb with both hands and remove the corks. (impossible to explain without a demo or photos.) It's much hard than it looks and also very difficult by the time you have two corks. It's a great way to impress people.

It took me quite a while to be able to repeat it consistently, but apparently Mena, my cork prodigy, is much more talented than me. Anil sent me a link to Mena doing the cork trick at SXSW on Jason Levine's site.

So, it's April 1 in Japan and I was sitting around trying to think of something clever for my April Fool's blog entry. Then Xeni sent me a link to Joy of Being Ito Web. Haha. Very funny Jim.

I'm going to give up trying to write someting funny today... ;-p

Dan Gillmor has a short entry about the stupid new bill in Michigan that basically makes firewalls and VPN's illegal. According to Dan, "And guess whose greasy fingerprints are all over it? Right, the movie studios."

Magic Box Productions Logo designed by Susan Kare
What a blast from the past for me. I just read on Slashdot about Susan Kare's web page. She is the godess of User Interface Graphics. She did most of the original Macintosh Icons and a lot of the icons for things like General Magic, Windows 3.0, etc. When I was helping to set up a computer graphics company call Magic Box Productions that Hakubun Ito was running, Megan Smith introduced us to Susan Kare who did our logo. It's still one of my favorite logos of any of the companies I've worked for. The T-Shirts were great. ;-) Magic Box Productions was my late 80's early 90's short dabble in the computer graphics world before MacPPP and the web swept me back into computer networks. Magic Box Production is still run by Hakubun Ito.

The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today report NBC News fires Arnett Over Iraqi TV Interview. Via The Command Post, here is the official word from National Geographic which co-fired him.

Update from The Command Post: "Peter Arnett, the American reporter fired by MSNBC and National Geographic earlier today has reportedly (Fox News) been hired by the Daily Mirror."

Short flash animation about the liberation of Afghanistan. Turn up the sound an take a look at this link.

Via Tom Hammer

Interesting message on Politech about the freedom of speech issue of the recent banning of Mr. Irwin Schiff's book on how not to pay taxes.

Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2003 02:29:56 -0500
From:Texas Spitfire
To: Declan McCullagh
Subject: Since you brought up the Freedom of speech issue

Mr. McCullagh,

I do not know whether you have been following the Irwin Schiff saga or whether you personally support his position in the IRS/Income Tax issue so I would like to bring this subject to your attention.

I believe that regardless of whether Mr. Schiff is telling lies or truth, he should be allowed to have his viewpoint. If what he is putting forth is false, word will quickly spread and he'll be out of business. The fact that the IRS is going to such great lengths to censor him only makes his position more creditable. In fact, I don't think a person can be found, who has put his procedures into action, who will say that "it didn't work".

At any rate, I just thought you might like to check it out.

BTW, a copy of his "banned" book, "The Federal Mafia: How the Government Illegally Imposes and Unlawfully Collects Income Tax" was auctioned on eBay recently for $117.75....the regular price is only $38!

Sherry Hightower

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