Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

June 2003 Archives

Meiji-era banking practice of personal guarantees cause of suicides »

Japanese banks have a tradition of taking personal guarantees for corporate loans from the businessmen as well as their families. For instance, I was personally on the hook for millions of dollars at one of my first companies, Digital Garage, until we secured enough outside financing to pay off our debt, which in Japan is often the only financing available to new companies.The Japan Times reports that this is a significant cause for the high suicide rate in Japan that I often write about. There are over 30,000 suicides a year in Japan, mostly be older men. It is more than three times the number of annual traffic accident deaths. The article describes people whose businesses go bankrupt or are unable to pay their debts and how this destroys the lives of loved ones and friends around them as banks run to collect from the guarantors. The people commit suicide in shame. Also, most people in Japan buy life insurance to cover most of their outstanding loans. The suicide, if executed properly will relieve these unintentional victims of the burden of paying off liabilities.I have personal guarantees on many loans and have actually had to cover several payments for friends and others that have defaulted on their loans. The fact that it is such common practice in Japan makes it a real sleeping problem that faces society here as the economy continues to get worse. Another big problem with these guarantees is that they are difficult to assess and make quantifying default risk for banks difficult. Credit assessments for individuals who are exposed to such guarantees is also very difficult.

Kabutoya-Ryokan »

Mizuka and I just got back from Kabutoya-ryokan. It's a very old building 18 generations old. It used to be a silk-worm/silk facility, but now it's an inn. Very old fashioned rooms. Traditional irori typed grill in your room. (See pictures on my moblog.) This morning they made mochi, a kind of Japanese pounded rice. I took some video that didn't turn out that great, but it's available here as a Quicktime Video Stream.

Sky-230DL Radar Detector with GPS »

Mizuka just bought a CellStar SKY-230DL radar detector. It's amazing. It has a GPS receiver built in. It knows where speed traps are and lets you know 2 km before you get there. (In Japan, we have automated speed traps that take your picture and send you the ticket in the mail.) It also lets you program new information. For the tunnel exit based traps, it lets you know before you enter the tunnel, etc. It also detects police radio and figures out whether they are heading towards you in the same direction or on the other side of the road. It has a variety of special warnings for stealth pulse radar detection, etc. These things have come a long way since the last radar detector I bought. This is a good thing since we're going on a road trip today.

NewsMonster OS X version ETA tomorrow »

I heard that the OS X version of NewsMonster, the RSS aggregator/reader was finished so I went to the site and paid for it. Kevin A. Burton, the author was on the #joiito IRC channel so I told him. He told me that there was another bug left in the OS X version that he needed to fix. He offered to give me my money back. I told him just to hurry up with the OS X version. He promised he would do it tomorrow. ;-) Very excited about trying NewsMonster...[16:15] burtonator | I will fix sifry's bug tonight... then OSX tomorrow

Dave Winer is tentatively supporting Echo »

Dave has written that he is tentatively supporting Echo. Echo is the name of the initiative to try to put disagreements about blogging standards aside and try to move forward. This is great news.Kudos, Dave!

request for praise of privacy report »

On June 11, we released a report on privacy technology and legistlation that was the product of a great deal of work by experts around the world. It was funded by the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications of Japan. I am urging them to make this an ongoing effort with annual updates. If you read the report and found it useful, please email me or post something here so I can pass on the praise to the Ministry. ;-)The report can be found on my wiki.

Emergent Democracy paper in Japan Media Review »

The Japan Media Review just ran an edited version of the Emergent Democracy paper. Thanks Michelle!

Good news from Larry about the Eric Eldred Act »

Larry's been proposing an idea called The Eric Eldred Act to require a $1 payment to extend copyright. This would cause most works which are out of print and currently unavailable to the public to fall into the public domain while at the same time protecting the copyright of people who are using copywritten work commercially. I think it's a great idea. Larry reports that Congresswoman Lofgren (D-CA) and Congressman Doolittle (R-CA) have agreed to introduce the bill. That's great news.Thanks to Victor for the heads up on this...

According to Sifry, the RSS controversy is over the name »

Dave Sifry, whose opinion I greatly respect, has been trying to get to the bottom of this RSS controversy. He has talked to Dave Winer on the phone in length and it appears that the issue is really the use of the name, "RSS". Please read the very interesting post (for those of you who care about RSS. ;-) ) by Sifry.

Aaron says "Time for Forward Motion" »

Aaron says "Time for Forward Motion" on weblog protocols. I agree.The RoadMap is on Sam's site.

Invested in Socialtext »

Ross just announced an angel round raise for Socialtext which I participated in. Ross and his crew are working on wikis in the workplace and other social software solutions and represent the cutting edge on a variety fronts.

Joined the advisory board of Mindjack »

I just joined the advisory board of Mindjack, a cool online digital culture magazine. Donald Melanson is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief and Dan Richards is the Senior Editor. The other advisory board members are Gareth Branwyn, Mark Frauenfelder, Mikki Halpin, Jon Lebkowsky, Howard Rheingold, Douglas Rushkoff.

Technorati hits 400K blogs, starts wiki »

Technorati just hit 400K blogs and Sifry's created a wiki for his developers.

Philip Greenspun's theory of why US stocks are going up »

Philip Greenspun blogs about the idea that stocks are going up in the US because more and more public domain is moving into the hands of large corporations. He gives the example of Disney being the beneficiary of the the copyright extension and the restriction on flying thru the airspace over Disneyland.Thanks to rvr and bluehaze on #joiito.

Sony FSV-PGX1 Portable File Server »

I just got my Sony FSV-PGX1 Portable File Server. It's an interesting device. It a little linux box that can run on batteries. It has nfs, samba, telnet, http and ftp. It has a 20G HD. There is a web interface or you can set it up with the little lcd display and arrow buttons on the box. If you get the cradle, there is an ethernet connector. The box has 802.11b built in. It's basically a file server. It can be set up as a DHCP access point, DHCP client or fixed IP address on both the ethernet and/or the wireless ports. It can be some sort of "bridge" although I haven't figured that out yet. Obviously many uses. Too bad it doesn't do rendezvous.Story on MobileTechNews

Party in DC July 7 »

It looks like most people other than Dan Gillmor prefer to have the party on the 7th at the beginning Supernova. I'd like to start closing in on the details. If you plan to be in the DC Area and would like to attend the party, please go to the Wiki Page and put your name in the wiki and vote on or suggest a venue if possible. You DO NOT have to be attending Supernova to attend this party.

email gone »

It looks like I may have lost all of my email from 07:00 thru 13:00 UTC/GMT or so June 20. If you sent something to me, please send it again. Sorry about the inconvenience.

Anatomy of a Well Formed Log Entry »

There is an interesting discussion going on over at Sam Ruby's wiki about the Anatomy of a Well Formed Log Entry. He blogged about the idea. This is an important discussion for setting standards.

Translation of Emergent Democracy Paper by Professor Shumpei Kumon of Glocom »

Professor Shumpei Kumon of Glocom has translated the Emergent Democracy Paper into Japanese and has been published it in their journal and is available online in PDF. I am a big fan of Professor Kumon and am honored that he has translated it himself.Glocom is also in charge of the Creative Commons localization in Japan.

Flash Mobs Take Manhattan »

Flash Mobs Take ManhattanVery cool social hack. Time sensitive. Check it out.Thanks to crysflame for the link on #joiito

On my way back to Tokyo »

2 great days in Finland. Nice seeing so many familiar faces and meeting a lot of new ones. See you all back in Japan. From a SURFNET PREMIERE airport kiosk in the Helsinki Airport...

Finland Photos »

I've uploaded some photos of Finland here, here and here.

Joined Creative Commons Board »

I was invited to join and accepted a position on the board of Creative Commons. I think that the work they are doing is EXTREMELY important for our future. I am honored to be a member of the team.Blog entry on the CC site and the the press release.

keyboard for the thumb-generation »

Kids in Japan can't type, but they can thumb. Maybe this will get those kids to use PC's....not.Thanks for the link Adriaan

Copyright extension and DMCA-like bill passed in Japan »

A bill just quietly passed in Japan. It extends copyright from 50 years to 70 years. Also, under-reported, is the fact that "circumvention of copy protecton or deterrence mechanisms" is now illegal and the defendant is responsible for proving innocence. I wish this legal spill-over from the US into Japan would stop. Especially for these REALLY STUPID laws. At least I have another project to work on in Japan. ;-PThanks for the heads-up Gohsuke.

Speed up your site - on my radar »

I just read about "Speed Up Your Site" by Andrew B. King on a klog apart who links to an entry in meryl's notes. Sounds like a cool book. I think I saw some references to it in some email I got, but I thought it was spam. It's kinda scary how my brain has associated certain words with spam so it filters phrases such as "speed up your site". On the other hand, I'm glad that my RSS feed can help those catch those things that fall through my inbox.

Off to Finland »

I'm off to Finland to hang out with Dan, Cory, Clay and others...2 nites... Short trip.

People talking about sex on IRC »

This morning, I received an email from a person whose opinion I respect informing me that my IRC channel #joiito was being used by people to promote pornography. I rushed over to IRC and interviewed the regulars. Yes, there were some lewd URL's posted. Yes, people were talking about sex. So what, they said.Then one of the regulars quoted David WeinbergerDavid WeinbergerI don't see the Web as socratic. I see it as connective, and socratic dialogue is only one form of connecting, and a pretty paltry one at that. Yelling, joking, teasing, provoking, criticizing, grieving, and flirting are all forms of connecting. So is simultaneous masturbation (no, I don't mean blogging). What makes the Web utopian (in some sense) is that it's connective, not that it's polite, rational or even intelligent.

Xeni Jardin starts a moblog »

Xeni Jardin is one of those people about who you'd think, "Gee, I wish Xeni had a moblog." Well, now she has one. She just started, but it's cool. She's inspiring me to increase my caption space and be a bit more funny and thoughtful on my annotations. She's going to push us all to be more interesting in our moblogs. ;-)

Blogstreet Blog Post Analysis »

Blog meta search has to figure out how to identify blog posts vs. web pages. Here's a beta service from Blogstreet. Blogs are different. They are made of blog-posts and not web-pages. So they have to be treated differently. The correct units when dealing with blogs are the blog-posts and their permalinks. Blog Post Analysis (BPA) is an attempt in building a platform for blog analytics by identifying and presenting the fundamental units of blogs, the blog-post.Maybe Veer can sell it to Google so they can filter blog posts. ;-)

A Report of Research on Privacy for Electronic Government »

We received funding from the Japanese government to produce a global report on privacy technology and legislation. The report is called "A Report of Research on Privacy for Electronic Government." We tried to get the best experts around the world to help us on this report. Please take a look at it. It is available for download in its entirety under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0 license.Wiki Page on Privacy Report

Anonymous parody of some of the "A-List" bloggers »

There is an anonymous parody of some of the "A-List" bloggers - "Simple Guide to the A-List Bloggers" on - on Scoble's site. I guess the "A-List" is defined as people worth wasting time writing a parody about. It's all very funny until you get to your part. ;-PI'm going to link to this so it's not all laughing "behind my back."Thanks to the dozens of people who told me to go read this on IRC. ;-)

Dinner with Ken Sakamura, father of TRON »

Had dinner tonight with Ken Sakamura, the father of TRON, the realtime embedded OS which is a dominant and essential part of most embedded systems in Japan today. He is also the Director of the Ubiquitous Networking Laboratory. He brought a bunch of amazing gadgets to dinner. The most impressive were the 0.2mm 128K RFID chips in a little vial.

posting IRC logs and testing emergent democracy »

While I was asleep, a debate raged on the IRC channel about whether IRC logs should be automatically turned into blog entries. kensanata pointed out that VotingIsEvil so I proposed a sort of deliberative democracy approach. Lets all have a discussion on wiki page and post our positions on the issue. The point would be to change your mind freely and try to sway the opinions of others and recruit them. Like neuronal recruitment. I don't feel strongly about this issue and it appeared quite controversial. I thought it would be a good experiment in emergent democracy on wikis. That and the emergent democracy of picking a party date. ;-)Boris writes about it here.

To Google, what is a blog? »

I haven't really commented on the "should blogs be in Google search results" debate, but one random question. What is a blog? What's the technical difference (from the perspective of a search engine) between my blog and The Register? I don't see how you can "filter" blogs. You can obviously change the page ranking mechanism to give certain types of sites an advantage or disadvantage, but I don't see how you can filter blogs. My blog is just a bunch of html created by a content management system.

Attention Concentration and becoming a place »

Had an interesting chat with Alex Schroeder on the #wiki IRC channel. We were talking about whether my #joiito channel was increasing concentration of attention, etc. Alex has written some interesting stuff on his wiki about Attention Concentration.

Reid responds to comments on LinkedIn Wiki Page »

Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn has just gone through and responded to many of the points raised in the LinkedIn wiki page. If you had posted comments and were waiting for him to respond, please go check out his comments. He has interspersed his comments in dialog in wiki style. Thanks to the people who posted comments and thanks to Reid for all of the thoughtful responses. Now my wiki is much smarter. ;-)

Lunch with President Roh of Korea »

President Roh of Korea is visiting Japan and I was invited to attend a lunch with him today. He has been in office for about 100 days and was widely reported as being the world's first "Internet President". I wrote about it in Feb. Since then, his popularity has gone from about 60% to 40% because of difficulties in execution of domestic financial policy and constantly changing positions on the US and other issues. His trip to Japan was also very controversial back in Korea because Japan just passed a new law broadening the powers of the Japanese military's ability to defend itself on Friday. Former victims of Japanese military occupation are very negative about any expansion of the Japanese military.I was very interested in how the Internet would play a part in his leadership and deliberations so I was anxious to meet him and ask him about Emergent Democracy. Unfortunately, the "lunch" turned out to be a pretty formal and huge lunch with 150 business leaders. There was only time for two questions and the people asking the questions were already pre-chosen. The discussion focused around free trade, helping each other's economies, China and about Korea trying to become a hub for Asia and a railroad gateway to Europe.Mark Norbom, the CEO of GE Capital was at my table and I hadn't seen him for a long time so that was nice. Also got to see Chairman Nishimuro of Toshiba who I'd also not seen for a long time. Other than generally schmoozing around, it wasn't much fun and there definitely wasn't any emergent anything going on as far as I could tell.

Technobot gets smarter and the plot thickens »

I've just upgraded my Technobot. It is run every 10 minutes on my server and goes to technorati, gets my cosomos, and does the following:Makes my technorati sidebar for my blogIf there are new inbound links, it sends the link info to to the following places:My computer via emailMy cellphone via i-mode email (just normal email)To me via JabberTo the #joiito channel on freenodeThis is yet another step in the rather blasphemous experiment to connect all of the social software I can find together into one big blob. It's rather interesting watching people discover or rediscover new communication modes and the new meta-modes that the connections enable. For instance, I think that wikis and IRC seem to work well together since wikis are an easy way to log some of the interesting things in the rather transient conversations on IRC. Blogs are cool in IRC because it's a nice way to find out more about each other or to link to things one has said without quoting it in IRC.Now I'm beginning to have the too-many-windows-to-focus-on-syndrome. Maybe I need another screen. ;-)Thanks to rvr for helping me with the irc stuff...

Testing TypePad Button Renderer »

Just testing the new TypePad Button Renderer... ;-)

Voting on the date for the party in DC »

There appears to be a conflict with a Supernova sponsors dinner on the originally planned date for the party on July the 8th in DC. We can either do it on the 7th or the 9th. I'm taking a vote on my wiki.

Lunch with Karl Dubost »

Olivier on the left and Karl on the rightHad lunch with Karl Dubost, the Conformance Manager of the W3C and Olivier Thereaux who also works for the W3C. I met Olivier once when he dropped by Moda when I was spinning records. Karl was visiting Japan and working with Olivier. Karl's well known to many of my friends and it was cool meeting him after having heard about him from so many people.Karl's job at the W3C includes making sure that the standards and the processes "conform" and are well-formed. He's kind of the standards guy for the standards guys.We talked about RSS, open API's and the balance between simple standards with low barriers to entry and strict and consensus based standards which have a higher "cost" associated with them. Karl talked about how they were trying to make some of the processes at the W3C simpler. I think we all agreed that it really depended on the stage and the type of standard when deciding what sort of process was best for standardization.We talked about the difficulty of getting developers in English speaking countries to think about internationalization issues. We agreed that we needed to keep pushing people to use UTF-8. I think we got over some of the initial negative reaction to UTF-8 in Japan and how we needed the developers in the US to start using UTF-8 so it will make our (I personally didn't do much) efforts worth it. Both Karl and I have our blogs set to UTF-8.

iCommons Japan »

The Creative Commons International Commons Japan page is up. Glocom porting the Creative Commons license to Japan.Thanks for the link Andreas!

JiBot on #joiito »

Victor R. Ruiz aka rvr on IRC has made a bot for that's hanging out on #joiito. The wiki page is here. It's written in python and uses cvs. I'm going to learn how to use cvs and will try to hack the bot this weekend...

4 1/2 mice at MacWorld for Kung-Log »

Kung-Log got 4 1/2 mice at MacWorld. Congrats Adriaan!

SO 505i »

Just got my SO505i yesterday.The good news first. It does flash. Hirata pointed out a 6K flash RSS reader written by Yasuhisa which SHOULD work on my phone. This will be very cool. The 1.3 Megapixel camera works and feels like a real digital camera. The screen faces out so that you can use it like a camera without opening the phone.The bad news. Emailing the 1280 x 960 images is impossible because of the size and because they phone doesn't let you even try making this silly mistake. It uses a new, yes a NEW memory stick format called Memory Stick Duo. I can't find it in stock anywhere and I need a NEW adapter for my Mac. Ugh.The address book still sucks for English speakers because there is only one tab for english names in the address book.Things that I MIGHT be able to get used to but are still weird: The antenna sticks out of your chin, the phone opens by twisting, not flipping, there is a little white LED that you can turn on and no flash. I can see how this might be more power efficient than a flash, but I haven't found it to be useful yet to light up subjects. Also, it's a bit big and heavy. It doesn't have GPS and location info so I'm sure I'll have GPS envy.Now I have to figure out how to thumbnail in python and add it to my moblog...UPDATE: I just found out that I can call and receive calls and talk without opening the phone. That's cool.

Karlin Lillington blogs about my presentation at St. Gallen »

Karlin Lillington was at my small session at the ISC conference in St. Gallen where I talked about Emergent Democracy. I think she was the only blogger at session and she's written a very nice piece about the session for The Irish Times. Thanks Karlin!

No-Shop Agreements »

A few people have questioned my assertion that no-shop agreements make sense. I'd like to clarify my position. I do agree that in some cases, they don't make sense, but here's where they make sense.

Party in DC July 7 »

Sounds like a party wants to happen in DC on July 7th. A bunch of us will be there for Supernova. I have set up a wiki page to plan the party. Looking for suggestions for places and volunteers to help organize it. Please post on the wiki.Update: There is a conflict with another dinner. Moved it to the 7th.

Public Domain Enhancement Act - IMPORTANT »

Larry's been pushing this idea for awhile now, but it's coming to a head. It's VERY important. You folks better get this passed in the US so we can push it in Japan. Please please please. It's a great idea and is so simple to argue for that we MUST all support it.reclaiming the public domainLawrence LessigWe have launched a petition to build support for the Public Domain Enhancement Act. That act would require American copyright holders to pay $1 fifty years after a work was published. If they pay the $1, the copyright continues. If they don’t, the work passes into the public domain. Historical estimates would suggest 98% of works would pass into the pubilc domain after 50 years. The Act would do a great deal to reclaim a public domain.This proposal has received a great deal of support. It is now facing some important lobbyists’ opposition. We need a public way to begin to demonstrate who the lobbyists don’t speak for. This is the first step. If you are an ally in at least this cause, please sign the petition. Please blog it, please email it, please spam it, please buy billboards about it — please do whatever you can. And most importantly, please help us explain its importance. There is a chance to do something significant here. But it will take a clearer, simpler voice than mine.

IRC meets Wiki »

So I created a wiki page for my irc channel. Now there is a guestbook for regulars and a section for limericks by Kevin Marks. Wikis work well with irc since irc is so transient and wikis can capture "those moments". ;-)

LDAP before you pontificate please »

So I just moved (actually Yusuf moved) my address book to an LDAP server. I thought it would be really cool until I realized that Address Book for the Mac SAYS it does LDAP, and it sort of does, but it doesn't do authentication. Blah. PLEASE PLEASE make address book smarter if you're going to make it the centerpiece of PIM on the Mac. Right now it's slow, doesn't LDAP properly and because Mail accesses it every time I send email, it makes me wait after every single email I send while I wait for address book to update.I'm almost inclined to go use Entourage if Apple doesn't fix this.

Apple people are... pontificatory »

I just learned a new word.AIM Friendster ChatroomJoi: Kevin, do you work at Apple?Kevin: YesJoi: There's something about people who work at Apple...Jeannie: What's FOAF?Jeannie: Marks, you got pontificatory about this once before, right?Joi: That's it. Apple people are pontificatoryI guess bloggers can be accused of being pontificatory too. Maybe I need a new un-pontificatory style sheet...

Happy birthday Larry! »

Happy Birthday Larry! According to my birthday bot, it's your birthday today. ;-)

Indian Runner reunions »

I spent the morning on IRC instead of reading my RSS feeds and thinking of something to blog. The most interesting thing that happened today was Eric Haller, who was a 2nd AD on Indian Runner dropped into IRC. Eric and I probably worked harder than many of the people on the movie. If I remember correctly, it was Eric's job to make the call sheets and put sheets under people's doors every night or something. I just remember working late and seeing him around a lot with a bunch of papers. I haven't seen him since 1991 or whenever it was that I was in Omaha working on Indian Runner. The movie was directed by Sean Penn. The executive producer, Thom Mount raised the money for the film from NHK the Japanese broadcast company. He hired me to work for him so that I could manage the relationship with the Japanese investors (keep them off his back) in exchange for "teaching me the rope." This basically meant that I got no sleep and had to do everything from ordering helicoptors taking care of the carpets for Thom's apartment. I was "Associate to Mr. Mount" in the credits. I show up in a tiny font at the end of the movie and can be seen for the first time at home now that I have a big display and Indian Runner is out on DVD.The interesting thing about movies is that people get together for a few months and work intensely. Then it's a wrap and everyone's off doing other things. It's like a compressed year in school together. I've kept in touch with many people that I worked with on Indian Runner. Thom's over at RKO, Mark Bisgeier has an entertainment law practice, Eric's got a blog and an art gallery, Jay Koiwai just sent me email. Hmm... Maybe I should make a movie crew reunion site. ;-pAnother random Indian Runnerism is that John Valenti, Jack Valenti's son, worked with me briefly. John is a cool guy who I kept in touch with for awhile, but have lost touch with recently. I wonder what John thinks of his father's position on DMCA...

#joiito on Freenode »

After the experience of being saved by Paul on irc, I've decided to get back into IRC. I'm going to start hanging out on Freenode in #joiito whenever I'm online so if you do IRC and want to chat, go to freenode and join #joiito.

Wiki Weirdness »

I'm having trouble with my wiki. My apache error log said "Premature end of script headers: moin.cgi". Testing moin.cgi, I get a python error saying that "SERVER_NAME" is not defined. Hmm... I wonder if someone changed the settings on the machine. I haven't done anything. The files all seem to be there. I've got to run to go give a talk, but I'll be back in a few hours to work on this problem. Until then my Wiki will be offline. My apologies. You can still get the TechnoBot source here.PS If anyone wants to help me debug this in a few hours (moinmoin/python/apache/freebsd) send me an email. ;-) jito@neoteny.comUPDATE: paulproteus on #moin helped fix the wiki. It's working now. Thanks Paul!! The first line in the cgi script was wrong. Now the BIG question is... how did it get changed in the middle of the night?

Commons in Japan? »

Karl-Friedrich Lenz proposes the idea of setting up a server to provide access to out-of-copyright works in Japan where copyright expires 50 years after the death of the author. This is an interesting idea. The question is, would this pressure the US to change their copyright law or pressure the US to pressure Japan to "harmonize" with the US?
Whiplash by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe

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