Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

A very obvious thing that I keep forgetting. Blogging standards are not nearly as important as AIDS, global warming, peace in the Middle East and poverty. Having said that understanding blogging does have a lot to do with my perspective on the commons, democracy and the future of media. Debates on the web about details and going to conferences with lots of bloggers can lead to a narrowing of perspective. Conferences like Brainstorm where 9 out of 10 people ask me, "what's blogging?" is essential for me to keep my perspective. ;-)


Joi, right on. of the people I know at Harvard didn't know anything about blogs until they met me. They're smart people, some are geniuses. In technology we often fall into the trap of believing that we have so much to teach the world, without realizing the world has so much more to teach us. Dave

Dvorak (in his own way) challenged bloggers here. Blogging Technologies have a lot of potential for social change but still function as BBSs and/or coffee table disucussion vehicles. I'll bet the ratio of bloggers registered to vote is lower than the general population's. The awareness of perspective does little without action, doesn't have to be fulltime but needs to exist. Be well -

Forging workable blog standards. It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.

Agree, blogs are not usually associated with the most urgent problems facing humanity. On the other hand, blogs are another form of conversation, of developing networks, sharing knowledge, and reaching consensus – that which makes us human, in the first place.

Joi, glad you caught that. I still maintain that this, (whatever you choose to call it) is not a conversation and I still dont see that a bunch of people publishing their diaries and linking to friends can effect any real social change at all.

Have to agree with Chris B above, to a certain extent.
The Weblog- it`s about democracy, it`s the power of the people, it`s freedom of information, it's the development of new communities etc etc etc...
...or is it just a web page with someone`s opinions on it?

"Forging workable blog standards. It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it."
I'm inclined to ask - do they really? What will happen if Joi decides to drop his fight to get blog standards recognized?

I think the most important thing about blogs is that they begin to get everyday people into the business of creating something again.

We've been stuck in a cycle of consumerism that has been almost entirely one way: Media -> Consumer. Now, blogs and things are creating a way for people to find their voices again.

I think that this will be a process that takes some time, and the actual content on blogs now is not really indicative of the importance of the medium itself. People are learning how to create again, and that's the important thing. They will, in time, learn to do it in a better way than ranting about their pet peeves.

This is the social revolution part. It's not going to be anything incredible. It's not going to engender huge political upheavals... The only thing that's going to change is attitude; people are going to gain the attitude that their ideas are worth putting down in words or music, or whatever, and hopefully this will create a much more varied and interesting mix of content for the world to enjoy. There will be fewer couch potatos.

"It's just a passing fad..."
"It's just a bunch of people publicizing the books they just read and their favourite recipes."
"No different from BBSs that have been around for years."

And then this voice in the wilderness: "By the end of the decade, 'what's your email address?' will replace 'what's your fax number?'"

The year was 1993. The discussion was concerning this newly publicized thing called the Internet. The voice in the wilderness was mine, several years before I got involved with this crazy McLuhan stuff.

Anyone who thinks that the specific constructs unique to blogs are not changing anything are not paying attention. Blogs are indeed a different medium from web pages, and we know this because the effect of blogs on us are different than the effect of "ordinary," relatively static web pages. (This is canon McLuhan, btw.)

There are indeed significant problems facing the world. But one of them is the unawareness of the effects on us, of the various things (of which technology is but one set) we conceive and create.

Bzzzt. Sorry. We had guestbook.cgi back in the old days which did about the same thing as this. The only new thing I can see about "blogs" is that there is some client side software to make publishing easier. Of course Netscape Gold (among other products) did that when they introduced Composer.

Some people like to use the example of people in warzones "blogging the truth" to show how this stuff is new and good. Guess what? That goes back to the USENET days (as in the USENET before what we now call the Internet). One example I know of was the NYXFER collective which served as a distribution point for correspondants in warzones or countries with lots of censorship. Look them up at

Cannon McLuhan, eh? Nice technique to look like you are citing a respected academic without actually doing so. I applaud your enthusiastic vision of the wonders of technology, but I prefer to observe change in hindsight. Feel free to say that I don't "get it" if you like. I'd be happy to be convinced that this is something new, but I have yet to see any convincing evidence, just alot of hype.

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Joi Ito is attending a Blogging Conference called Brainstorm and has confronted himself on his perspective here.... Read More