Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Although Anil is very different in person in real life, most bloggers blog in their own voice. At dinner with Markoff and Dvorak, we talked about how many journalists have a different professional persona and are actually much nicer in person than they are online. (Dvorak can be almost as rude in person as he is online. ;-P ) Dvorak deconstructed some of the ways that journalists will write to get a rise from the community and how disarming it is to meet some of the critical journalists in person. In fact, they said that Andrew Orlowski's not such a bad guy in person.

I write in my own voice, but I've developed sort of a thick skin from years of being flamed in Japan and in the US so I actually think some of the silly criticism is actually funny and flattering. Bloggers probably take criticisms more personally than journalists who play "the game" through their avatars. It's more painful to be slammed when you are speaking in your own voice.

Don't know how relevant this is, but this thought about avatars came to mind after reflecting on dinner with Dvorak and Markoff where we were all laughing about our critics and thinking about how my readers/community were maybe more upset about Orwlowski's silliness than I was. I am very grateful for people defending me and pointing out things that would be politically incorrect to say myself. Having said that, I'm not taking Orlowski's attacks personally since at one level, I think it's a game/joke. If Orlowski's actually serious about what he's writing, then I just feel sorry for him.

As they say, "Don't attribute to malice, that which can be explained by stupidity." and "Don't attribute to stupidity, that which can be explained as a joke."


Joi - you're doing a great job - at dodging bullets and dancing the dance. My favorite part is watching you deflect slimeballs with a swat of the virtual hand.

People accuse me of all sorts of things - and make assumptions of my "business prowess". I think they're all pretty freaked out that I'd invest all my OWN money in what I want to to (maybe that scares them a bit?)

But since I'm so thick skinned - I just say "thank you" - and "let me tell you about what we're doing" in the same breath - while on the elevator. This pure hussling energy is what makes an entreprenuer (to me - at least.)

I'm not sure where my detractors think cross-platform multimedia authoring or multimedia players came from - I certainly hope they don't think it comes from caretaker management.

No matter what you do - there will always be others who don't like it. Dvorak has made a career of playing that fiddle. Me - I'm just me - a singer in the band.

I know this bilateral back-patting is going to make some people sick but I'd like to take this opportunity to say that you really amaze me with your ability to always be so positive and turn stuff around into something funny or happy. Maybe it's the reggae.

I think everyone needs to develop a style of deflecting negative energy.

This is ALL just plumbing, it is but infrastructure. The Bubble lifted it to self-important highs, and now the remaining fallout Bloggers, have the gall to think that their random low-readership scibbblings will usher in a perfect world, replacing World Governments with a new form of neocyberutopia ‘Emerging’ Democracy. And anyone who doesn’t buy into this worldview, is downright “silly”.

Pure hussling energy? More like don’t bother me with the facts. Say someone had some hard research that pointed out that an investment of yours was worthless, that it had major problems, that is it not a good valuation, that the accounting was a total mirage, and you simply will go “Thank you” - and “Let me tell you about what we’re doing”? Bubble at work. I guess that mode sure worked for oh say, PSINET and InfoSeek. :) But all a Game and Joke, eh? Let’s all just sit around the campfire, singing happy songs and deflecting negative energy. Negative energy, directly translated anything outside your current worldview. And I think you’d be surprised at the number of people, who do NOT think Orwlowski is silly. But hey, why bother, deflect negative energy. It sure is better (and more fun) if we don’t have to deal with ugly things like facts. Deflect negative energy, deflect reality.

Steve, the point is to dodge the negative energy which would only cause a negative emotional reaction. That way you can respond to the actual content of the criticism instead of reacting irrationally. Please point to any investment of mine that I am misrepresenting or any statement that I've made that is misleading or false. I will try to clarify it or will correct myself.

For your information, when PSINet Japan was sold to C&W during the bankruptcy in the US, I was still on the board and the Japanese unit was profitable.

I am still on the board of Infoseek Japan. Infoseek Japan is now a subsidiary of Rakuten, a public company. I helped Rakuten buy it from Disney. Infoseek Japan is profitable, our earnings are growning quarter on quarter and we are the the third largest portal in Japan after Yahoo Japan and MSN in Japan. MSN is #2 only because it is the defalt startup for IE and actually doesn't count. Rakuten has recently acquired Lycos Japan and Mori, our CEO of Infoseek Japan is now also CEO of Lycos Japan. Google Japan is also populated with several ex-Infoseek Japan guys. Digital Garage, the company I co-founded is public, making money and is about to take one of its subsidiaries public which is also making money.

My point is, I've been running and involved in Internet businesses from waaay before there was ever a bubble, have continued through the bubble and many of the companies are still making money after the bubble. Both Infoseek Japan and PSINet Japan survived despite the collapse of the parents, although PSINet Japan is now part of C&W.

I still have great respect for many of the people I worked with at PSINet and Infoseek, but please understand that I ran the Japanese subsdiaries which were run as separate businesses.

Cause a negative emotional reaction? Well, I assume that would vary from person to person. Behave irrationally? That again depends upon your viewpoint. But cognitive dissonance as the solution?

Separate businesses, I can surely understand why you would need to segment and point that out, as the parents were classic fallouts. And it also depends on how you define “survive”, serious valuational loss and a kick around to a few companies before all the dust settles, and the remaining pieces are firesaled off. Are still making money? That begs clarification. By that you mean profit? Profit, as you will, can be translated, as the percentage of sales a company is with left after paying off all expenses, (and yes debt) with real revenues, not fuzzy numbers.

Have you earned back the $20 million plus per in Whitney, PSI Ventures and others monies? Doing Blogs and ‘save-the-world-thru-a-new-form-of-Democracy’, spreading the goodwill, love and hugs...having all those 'important' lunches, and giving global internet rah-rah speeches, until all the money runs out? Burnrate to the end? Classic VC. :)

Personal Communication Technologies, Networked Consumer Electronics and Enabling Technologies, whew, nice stack of pure hype. None of those have lived up to the promise. And now low-level Blogging groupware, as the saviour? Ahhh, well, matters little, but the skeptic-mode takes over post-Bubble. And I don't buy into this notion of a pre-Bubble. It was all glorious future fantasy, even before the money bags threw around money like rice at a wedding.

As they say in Missouri, show me...

Yes. Infoseek Japan is profitable. It was not a firesale. Rakuten bought Infoseek Japan from Disney for $81mm. PSINet Japan was profitable, although account for ISP's is a bit more difficult because you have lots of assets that depreciate over time.

Have not yet earned back the money from my investors at Neoteny yet. The last few years have been tough for venture investing. I have some companies that are doing poorly, but I also have some companies in my portfolio which are doing quite well. I still have $10mm left to invest so we'll see where we end up at the end of it.

Well, we can agree to disagree. I think this space is exciting and will make money.

I am wondering about your comments Steve - what exactly are you trying to say? Joi's article was on writing persona and on not taking offense easily. Your replies have completely avoided talking about this. Why? Just a few points:

  • "This is ALL just plumbing" - what exactly are you talking about? The 'net? Investing? Maybe multimedia? I'm pretty sure it's not journalism and avatars.
  • Joi (and others) have asked for constructive criticism on Emergent Democracy. I don't see any evidence in your comments of the 'constructive' part.
  • Blogs as hype? Bloggers as arrogant utopianists? Maybe someone should tell Google. Both their purchasing decisions and their search results presently seem quite pro-weblog.
  • Finally your ad hominem attacks on Joi and Marc, in which you question their business abilities and insinuate they are naive, spin-doctoring hippies, are pure magic. They are discussing how to deal with personal attacks, and you personally attack them! Yet Joi's replies to you have been non-aggressive and rational. You completely proved both Joi's and Marc's comments. Maybe you should re-read the article you're supposedly commenting on?

Your comments seem to be rants or quasi-flames, despite the smileys. The joy of personal publishing is that you can say what you like. However if you want to be listened to (and respected), you need to at least support your arguments. It also helps if you are willing to debate (hint: ad hominems are not a sign of this). Joi and Marc are both putting their money where their mouths are, I only see doom-and-gloom prophesying from you. Also please remember this is Joi's personal weblog. This isn't Neoteny's homepage, nor is he pretending to be impartial. He writes about what interests him, and even allows you to comment. What is it about Joi's openness you find so duplicitous?

My Mom used to tell me "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all". This could be better stated for the 'net as "telling people they're stupid and wrong is a bad way to go about persuading them, or even getting them to listen to you". (Constructively) critical comments welcomed!

PS prophesying is a cool word! I haven't used that in years :)

I'm to understand through reading the various comments that "certain" people don't like bloggers?? If that is the case fine. Seriously I don't like golf so I stay as far away from it as possible also spinach can't stand the stuff! But do I find it in my interest to ridicule those that do? As long as I've been blogging I've never understood the mentality that some have in bashing us. I have never proclaimed to be a journalist, I am a woman who writes with no purpose but to write. I write whatever pops into my head and i make no apology for that at all.
For you Steve to act like we are all here online for your pleasure is about the most egotistical of them all. You say we blog for ego value well what exactly do you think going around with your high and mighty attitude is called? Not everything is about you, me or anyone it's called the WORLD WIDE WEB baby and it's wide enough for all of us.

Joi so sorry darling to leave a damn book in your comments :P

I just hope there's some of that money left - by the time we get there!

Steve, your comments are some of the most intelligent ever written on this particular blog, and they may even be more on target than you realize. When Ito published his "Emergent Democracy" paper after his "Emergent Democracy Happening" and before his "Emergent Democracy Cocktail Party" and the many "Emergent Democracy Lunches" that have been reported here, I offered a set of questions and criticisms that were too much for him to handle, so he deflected them in a very interesting way.

First he said I was wrong, then he attacked me on his blog and stopped responding to me, and as a final measure he updated the paper, incorporating my comments, but without giving me credit. From that, I learned that Ito is at best a hypocrite, is not particularly honest, and that he's not really as stupid as he sounds.

So your reaction to his pie-in-the-sky Utopianism is completely appropriate from my experience: hold your nose and hang on to your wallet, because this is part of an agenda and there's no telling who the next target is going to be.

Mr. Bennett, please let me know where I have incorporated you comments in my paper without attribution. The most recent version of the paper can be found here:

Regarding Mr Bennett's comment:

This is ALL just plumbing, it is but infrastructure. The Bubble lifted it to self-important highs, and now the remaining fallout Bloggers, have the gall to think that their random low-readership scibbblings will usher in a perfect world, replacing World Governments with a new form of neocyberutopia 'Emerging' Democracy. - Steve Anderson

For intelligent comments, the meaning of these sentences is somewhat opaque. The first requires an antecedent. The second .. well I'm not sure if it is a sentence.

The rest of your comment actually helped me have a breakthrough. I now realise that when Joi writes about "Journalism and Avatars", this is actually a secret code for discussing "Emergent Democracy". Even better, "Emergent Democracy" (I like your liberal use of quotes btw - very Dr. Evil) is actually a secret code for 'arrogant web log writers replacing nation states and RULING THE WORLD muhahaha'. Those pesky geeks, the things they come up with eh?

Both of your comments are on an article mentioning Emergent Democracy and Utopian Ideals approximately zero times. How is any of this related to Journalism and Avatars? Am I missing something here?

As an aside Mr Bennett, ad hominem attacks are an admission of the weakness of one's argument or the lack of one's manners. Which reason causes you to use them so liberally?

PS Feel free to tell me to shut up Joi, I seem to be writing a lot.

Mr. Bennett, please let me know where I have incorporated you comments in my paper without attribution.

Don't play dumb, Ito - you know you did it.

Weird. I was thinking about the malice/stupidity quote just yesterday. My boss used to tell me that when I had tiffs with my coworkers.

After thinking about it, I told him that I'd rather work with malicious people than work with stupid people. At least the former had a plan (or maybe just a scheme), while the latter were unpredictable and dangerous because they had no rationale for their behavior.

Yes. Predictability and rationality goes a long way.

1 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Journalism and avatars.

TrackBack URL for this entry:

There's an interesting piece at Joi Ito's site concerning what persona a journalist has when writing professionally. He contrasts that... Read More