Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

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


hi joichi,

so let me take this opportunity to just say a quick HALLO from germany.
giving you a big thumbs up! keep up your great work!


Hello! I'm from France and am a regular reader of your blog ever since I heard about it on Justin Hall's. I read it even more often now that I use Syndirella.
I write news and tutorials for an online publication called Journal Du Net Développeurs (incidentally, my first paper here was about content syndication).
About comments, I don't really know what to think of it: it's good for people who don't have a place to express their views online, but more and more people tend to get a blog, and post their comments there with a link to what they're talking about. I tend to think that comments are good for quick questions/comments, and blog-posts for more thought-out questions/comments, but then again even A-list bloggers like Dave Winer don't follow a set rule, sometimes participating in a thread of comments, sometimes just posting a quick comment/question on his blog...
Granted, posting comments on one's own blog and not in the comments section, maybe relying on trackbacks and such to link the infos together, sounds much like a direct application of the LazyWeb concept. Is the Web making us lazy ? And is it really a bad thing ?

[ Salut Xavier :-) ]

I'd like to see more and more Japanese blogs written in english (so that i don't have to wait 20 years until i'm japanese fluent :-D ).

I'd like to go back here and here some day. Meanwhile, it's nice to keep in touch with Japanese blogs.

I've enjoyed reading your weblog!

I'm very interested in exploring how weblogs, collaborative technologies and mobile devices/applications are transforming how people design, promote and participate in face-to-face and virtual meetings, conferences and tradeshows.

Curt Siffert here and my blog is called Hunting The Muse. My basic theme is challenging systems that require us to compromise ourselves to work within them. It's why I'm drawn to the discussion about Emergent Democracy. I do a lot of my own thinking and writing about different voting methods and various forms of representative democracy. I also keep close tabs on the RSS tools because the more decentralized journalism is, the better. Anything to increase individual power, options and choices is a good thing... anything to allow people to not only discuss but project-manage in a decentralized collaborative fashion is good, as well.

As for these comments, I'd love to see a comment system where a blog entry's comment thread could join in to a massive meta-thread that other blog entries are contributing to. The meta-thread would be accessible through various means, but any message in that meta-thread that is a direct reply to the blog entry would also show up in the comment thread displayed on that blog. It would bring in more blog readership and be yet another tool to allow various blog entries to be joined in conversation.


Hi Mr Ito,

Interesting that you should mention this now, as just last night I was wondering if it was appropriate to send an email the author of a blog instead of commenting on the blog itself (when there were no appropriate entries to comment to) ;-)

On one hand, I know that most blogs are not MetaFilter, which is the appropriate place for such no-immediate-connection comments Or, if I have something to say I should probably just say it on my own blog. But then again, while I am interested in a lot of things that other people write about, I don't write about all of those things myself. And posting it on my blog would not really add any value to the world at large because I have a very small audience who is not interested. In the end, I figured that if it was someone else that had something they thought would be of interest to my readers, I would like them to send it to me and if I want to put it up or not is my own choice.

I can't see anything wrong with comments in blogs. In fact, without them blogs would probably loose much of the appeal for the reader and the blogger. As for the noise, unless the author feels she/he has some social duty to reply to each and everyone (which I don't think there is) I can't imagine the noise should be beyond tolerable unless you get the slashdot level... but that doesn't happen by accident. And in the end, even though the blog is public, it is still the property of the author, and I think she/he has a right to tell noise makers to just cut it out.

Greetings from Denver Colorado. I'm a nearly daily visitor to the moblog and of course your weblog is in my aggregator. Keep up the good work.


Greetings from Urbna, Illinois. I've been reading your blog for a short while now - generally through the RSS feed (as I think most people read blogs these days).

I think comments have a place, even where all participants have their own blogs. It allows a reasonably focused linear discussion. Also, perhaps technology will evolve to address the issue, but at the moment the effort needed to follow all the trackbacks from a starting point. Trackback, in any event, is not yet widely enough deployed.

Having said that, this entry has sparked some more involved thoughts, which I will probably address at

Hi Joi & everyone,
I'm a NZer living in Mie-ken, Japan. I've recently become interested in blogs, and finally made my own a month or so ago. I've been enjoying discovering new and interesting things to read, and aggregating RSS has changed the way I interact with news. After coming across this blog I also felt pretty happy - I'd thought there was little out there about Japan and the net in English. Now I'm hoping to come across more blogs talking about web design in Japan (Adam Greenfield's v-2 so far). Discussions on Shift-JIS vs UTF-8 anyone?
As for comments, I think they generally provide good feedback/extension on a posted story. If you're interested in setting up a general comments section for readers, that sounds more like a webBBS to me (comment threading etc). Good to have, but only for blogs with large readerships I bet.
Thanks for the good read so far Joi, keep taking those "Sleep is for the weak" tablets huh ;-)
peace - boblet

Sometimes the comments on a blog are what makes the site - in the case of a site I am an author on:

Speak Up

it is run to be a community based thing where people's discussions help the use of the site. Much like

Other personal sites like or are funny and personal and perhaps have commenting for different reasons.

I do think that with trackback we can remove commenting and simply carry on discussions on our own blogs as you suggest.

Otherwise - this is a great site and I especially enjoyed the April Fools parody of your site.

Joi, when you get these emailed comments, do you ever ask the sender if you can post them? I'm curious about what they say that they don't want public (I always dig behind-the-scenes stuff.

there are a ton of weblogs written in Japan in the English language, but I don't know many that are by Japanese people in English. See the lists on Antipixel and the enigmatically named hmmn by Kurt.

The Salon is a good idea, worth a try. Perhaps it will be modified eventually, but I think it will be a valuable part of Joi Ito's Web.

Mediaburn has recently launched - a directory of RSS feeds for weblog syndication. It's a companion website to The Mediaburn Radio Weblog

Looking forward to future posts!

- Gary Santoro

Thanks for always sharing your knowledge and experiences.
I've moved to Tokyo about 3 months ago and around the same time discovered blogging. It has helped me to sort through my thoughts and record various events. I think comments are a necessity to certain types of blogging, but like you mentioned before should be included with the blog entry like how your site is setup. I use Radio's comment system which is a popup .. hopefully Dave will think about moving toward the direction of incorporating it instead of popping it out. Also, I think having the comments flow through various blogs would be really kewl.
That's my 2 yen. Or should we change that using the current exchange rate .. maybe another webservice ;)

I never set out to be a Joi Ito groupie ;) but as I look over my own blog in these few weeks since I discovered it, I notice that I am citing this blog more than any other source.

As regards this comment blog, it's an interesting experiment (ok, one more interesting experiment) but I wonder, how would it be different if instead of a centralized comment-roll, we seized Ben and Mena's idea to have some other site that is the target of related TrackBack hits? Of course it changes the dialog, since here, in comment, I imagine myself talking to you (in a room where others are listening) whereas with a Trackback on my own website, it is more like I am talking to others (in a room where you are listening).

Hello! My name is Boris. I dropin regurlarily and sometimes post over-simplified and rushed comments. ;)

I personally feel Comments should be left in favor of "Trackbacks". Trackbacks need to be simplified and better integrated, but they are definitly the next spin of the wheel of weblogging's "charge crank". That and self-managed WebIDs. More on that on my upcoming new blog. ;)

Cheers Ito-san! Keep up the good work!

I'm Matt. My blog is linked above in my name. I've been reading for a while your blog and others of course. I encourage comments, it's all about debate, someone making you aware of something you did not think about or meeting someone with a similar interest/point of view. A salon might not be a bad idea. I know if I have something to say about a post on OxBlog for example (where there are no comments), I have to make a post on my blog, whereas here I can make a comment, the discussion stays in one place, and perhaps I'll provide a link on my blog to this central discussion place so others can read & participate. I think having comments allows the conversation to remain in one place and thus a bit more focused, but folks can still provide links within their comments to follow a particular thread if they wish.

Hi ! I'm Emile, a regular (okay. daily) reader of the blog, from France. Keep the good wok up !

This is the only blog, and by far, that I read on a regular basis, so I guess that makes me an official Joi Ito groupie, though I don't post any comments (mainly because I rarely have anything to add).

I don't have a blog, sorry, but I'm thinking about making one some of these days, about stuff that interests me (say, did I mention I was an engineering student ? I'm an engineering student.), like the semantic web, emergent democracy, esperanto, weblogs, free software, social software, game design, world government and other groovy utopian stuff that, were it not for the Web, I'd feel I'm the only one on earth interested in.

As you kan see, I enjoy talking about myself so I guess that qualifies my for being able to write a Weblog ^^

Anyway, keep up the good work !


Hi, Kim from Sweden here. No personal blog yet.
I've been reading your blog for something like half a year now. Very interesting and impressive stuff you are doing for the Japanese democracy.

Just recently I began reading Alex Kerr's book Dogs and Demons and immediately thought of your work as being the kind of new fresh thinking that is needed in the Japanese political system. Although I haven't finished the book yet it is clear from Alex' writing that change does not seem to be imminent. But do you, as someone who deals with the system daily, agree with this? Is change so far away, or can it be accelerated?

I'm interested in politics and have been active in a political youth organisation here in Sweden. Here "gaijins" are a natural part of the political system, but in Japan it seems that foreigners are almost non existent in politics. This can not be a good thing since diversity in politics allows the public debate to broaden and see a wider perspective. So if you set the emergent democracy aside for a moment and focus on present day politics, do you feel that foreigners have a normal place and can be influential in the Japanese political system, locally or nation wide, or will be so in the near future? I'm asking because I feel that if I were to move to Japan I would be crazy if I wouldn't be able to be at least a bit politically active.

Anyway, enough about politics. Just want to finish by extending a grateful "Thank you!" for providing an interesting blog and interesting ideas!

Hi Joi, thanks for the opportunity to comment here. I'm a German citizen living in Brazil, commenting in English on a Japanese weblog. That's the Internet for you..
I've been reading your weblog for some time, lately mostly over its RSS feed. Thanks for writing lots of great stuff. Now and then I link to some post of yours from my own weblog, Solipsism Gradient. Which is loosely devoted to metaweblogging, Mac development and interesting (mostly geeky) stuff.
I agree with you that, in the long run, we'll all comment on our own weblogs and such comments will be propagated appropriately. One way to get there will probably be an evolved TrackBack. Some time ago I commented on parallels between weblogs and bulletin boards; what we're looking for, then, is a distributed bulletin board; perhaps with a dial for each weblogger to control to what extent external comments are displayed. This would range all the way from "always include full comments from this weblog" over "excerpt", "display title/link only" and "list links only on a separate page" to "ignore comments from this @#$%"... I guess that'll be a real "solipsism gradient" :-).

First off great blog. I think the comments are half the fun, I read this site as much for the discussion as for the original posts. Find it really frustrating when blogs don't have comments, it really finders the blooming of interesting conversations.

At the same time though, its a bit weird how conversations sometimes go blog to blog, compared to bulletin boards blogs actually inhibit conversation a bit. It pushes the ego forward a bit. Boards are based around community, blogs around a person or small group. I think trackback is developing in the direction of intergrating the two, but its still in beta.

I'd like to see more spaces develop explicitly for conversation. There is need for the blog space, but it be nice if blog posts and the conversations they develop could dovetail smoothly into a community space as well. Again things like trackback and topic exchange seem to be moving in this direction, so I'm excited about what the future might bring. It be really nice if a you could post something on a personal blog and also have it show up as a comment on the original blog.

Really like this Salon idea too. Some political blogs like Daily Kos post "Open Treads" once a day. Works great. On the tech side be warned though, at a certain point it becomes necessary to use MySQL rather then the Moveable Type defualt (BerkeleyDB I think).

Greetings from Toronto. This open salon is a great idea, an excellent way to 'meet' some of your readers. Having lived and travelled around Japan a bit in the 1980's I appreciate the Japanese perspective which you provide on various issues. Your blog, in addition to the blogs of a few old friends of mine from the old Mindvox BBS, inspired me to start my own blog last fall.

As far as the topic of comments, I feel they add a conversational aspect to blogging which I find far more interesting than a simple one-to-many publishing model.

Hi Joi

Greetings from Washington, DC or as a friend of mine has called it Mordor. The Salon is a pretty good idea. My web log is at Design Kitten. I don't post as often as I should, but then who does?


Commenting is a good thing for the most part. I like to interact with people (hint hint!!!) even though you hardly say anything on mine I still *heart* you ;)
and you'll be happy to know I don't have sars just a sinus thing going on :)


Haisai Joi!

I found your blog via Antipixel's site a couple of months ago and I've been reading your entries with NNW. This is the first time I'm contributing a comment to your blog and I think this (Spring '03 Salon) is a great idea. :)



I am probably one of the folks that fell under the "should have emailed" category. I am a regular reader of the Joi blog, having been introduced to his site by mutual friends Chris Goggans and Bob Stratton.

I just spent the last week visiting six Japanese cities talking about information security and homeland security. I dropped Joi a note in hopes that we might meet up, but schedules didn't match. I met a lot of very interesting folks in the Japanese tech. community and I oftened mentioned Joi's blog. Most of them were very aware of who he was, several knew him personally and they ALL told me his real name was Joichi, not Joi!

I live outside Washington, DC and work with two companies I founded. One in 1996 called the Terrorism Research Center, which has a very strong community discussion. Over 6 years or so, our old site generated about 30,000 user comments regarding stories we posted or current events. We just migrated the site to a PHP mySQL solution, so those comments are gone, but you can see the community starting to re-emerge.

I've got a blog at my personal site though I haven't spent a lot of time updating it. It started as a way for family and friends to keep track of what I was doing, but I am starting to comment on current issues and other things I find interesting.

I've been fascinated by the communities developing around these blogs and have added several to my daily browsing routine. It would be great to have persistent Internet connections like I observed in Japan, as my travel schedule usually impacts my Internet habits.

Hello to Joi, and everyone else.

Hi Joichi -
I've been a longtime admirer of your site.
(I'm also the guy who did the parody of homage to it for April Fools.
I've been in Tokyo for four years now and blogging on since 1996, on borrowed server space before that... (Of course, back then, it wasn't called blogging, it was called being lazy and re-using the same page over and over for each entry, deleting little.)
I've been having a lot of fun with the blogging community here, meeting some really great people and being able to talk about our common addiction. (Stuart Woodward's site ( has all the details on getting in touch with the rest of us.)

Hello, information security professional, been in Japan for 363 days now, have been lurking around Ito Web for a while.

Part of me thinks blogs are self-indulging glorified home pages, but what difference does it make? Started using it, because I felt bad about copy & pasting emails to friends all over the place, just to report what we're up to. This technique has good sides and bad sides.

About comments: use them if audience feedback is valuable to you, otherwise don't. The same goes for other functionality, there simply are no rules.

I use other people's sites as aggregators to make more sense about what goes on in Japan, mainly for language reasons. Saves me a lot of research time (thanks y'all); still looking for more infosec resources.


hi hi hi
I like reading your weblog. Its got cool stuff about things I never hear about, like the hydrogen economy and Chinese superpower. Good stuff. My Blog is pretty weak in the way of public importance but I still like to share whats going on my life.


I enjoy the feeling of "Adventures in Joi's WonderLand"

Hi Joi,

I started coming to your blog via a link probably from Adam Greenfield, but I hit the link because I've known who you are for quite some time -- being that I'm a former Mondo 2000 writer and friend of R.U. Sirius.

I currently write a syndicated technology column for the Las Vegas CityLife entitled "All Tomorrow's Parties". I also do web design on the side and play music on those rare occasions when I can convince people to let me. ;-)

I lurk.

Hey Joi... ;)

I think that comments are an important part of a public blog... The majority of people are _never_ going to have their own blogs. It takes interest and time, even though software has reduced the time commitment somewhat.

For those people allowing comments is important. But I think it's also important for those with blogs when their comment doesn't fit into their own blog, or when it's not a comment 'sufficient' to be a post on their blog... This is a highly subjective thing, of course, but I post comments all the time that wouldn't make sense as a post on my own blog... :)

Hi everyone. Thanks for chiming in. It's interesting to see how everyone got here. Didn't realize so many people came here from Antipixel.

This "salon" is kind of kludgy in that it's just really an "entry" with "comments"... Maybe I'll try to figure out a special template to make this look a bit more like a salon...

Hi Joi. I got here by way of Adina and the whole Group Forming / Emergent Democracy thing.

I started weblogging (AbbeNormal) to explore the intersection of wiki and weblog styles. I still haven't seen software that puts them together well (Bill Seitz' imho is the least worst). Personally, i've lost the wiki discipline and ended up just weblogging, and mainly using the wiki pages as resource listings.

I much prefer the wiki style of mutual writing to posts & comments, or the weblog-linking attempts i've seen to date -- i'm also waiting for, and getting back into coding to support, better wiki-linking software. Unfortunately, weblogs are apparently much more approachable than wiki -- perhaps because of weblogs' individualistic focus?

If Hydra added a weblog-posting mechanism we might see something new in this arena.

Hello, I got here a few weeks ago from the emergent democracy meme also. Very interesting. I am interested in WikiWeblogs, which John Abbe runs, for many of the same reasons he mentions.

Hey, maybe I should make a proper introduction before I start asking you political questions, sorry.

I lived in Japan as an exchange student in 2001. Right now I'm studying part time to finish high school, which will be finished in two months. When I'm not doing that I'm either doing Perl development for my own amusement or doing paperwork as a part time employee at Rational Software here in Sweden. This summer will be spent in Tokyo with some friends and then I'm off to study Japanese and eventually computational linguistics at some university in Sweden.

I think I first met your blog through a google search on Japanese politics or something related. That was my first encounter with the blog world and today I regularly read several in NNW, have made RSS feeds for those pages I have control over and will have a personal blog up and running soon.

Regarding comments in blogs I think they're a natural part of the medium. Trackback is perfect for when you wish to make a longer comment in the debate, want to expand the subject further or make a side-track. But to have a dialogue with the readers of a blog comments are better, allowing a debate to stay on one page instead of spreading out. Imagine all the clickety-click we would have to do if all these comments were trackbacked instead. And not everyone has a blog today, but hopefully that will change for the better.

Regarding my earlier comment I just found this article at Yomiuri and must say that that's a great step in the right direction.

Douzo yoroshiku onegaishimasu.

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