Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

November 2003 Archives

Meeting Marko's dad »

Read more of Goffman's "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" thinking about how I consciously and sub-consciously show or hide facets of my identity depending on the context. Today, Marko introduced me to his mother and father. His father is Martti Ahtisaari, the former President of Finland and a very well known global diplomat famous for his skill in crisis management. I had heard a lot about his father and was looking forward to meeting him in person. As I was taking my morning shower, I was watching myself thinking about what I was going to talk about with him, trying to imagine what things would be interesting and how those things would affect his opinion of me. It was an odd thing. I consciously watched a lot of the things that I do sub-consciously and realized how much I was actually managing and presenting my identity. What might we have in common? Do I want to talk more or listen more? Do I need to impress him? A lot of things were going through my mind.Having said that, the shower rehearsal wasn't really necessary and we had a very comfortable breakfast. I found Mr. Ahtisaari to be a down-to-earth and receptive person with an extremely positive global outlook. I also had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Ahtisaari. I can see where Marko gets that "Mr. Diplomat" style. ;-)

Accent chameleoning »

This relates to my last post. In an email exchange, someone mentioned that their friend switched to broken English when speaking to their foreign friends. When asked why, she replied that otherwise they would think she was elitist.I find that my English language accent is SO affected by who I'm talking to that it's embarrassing and I'm self-conscious about it. I sometimes try to resist it, but it happens. I see other people doing this too, but I find mine particularly bad. It is obviously happening in my sub-conscious, but it might have something to do with the "girls playing dumb" thing.

Do girls play dumb just to let guys show off? »

Goffman wrote this in 1959. Is this true today?GoffmanAmerican college girls did, and no doubt do, play down their intelligence, skills, and determinativeness when in the presence of datable boys, thereby manifesting a profound psychic discipline in spite of their international reputation for flightiness. These performers are reported to allow their boy friends to explain things to them tediously that they already know; they conceal proficiency in mathematics from their less able consorts; they lose ping-pong games just before the ending.Mirra KomarovskyOne of the nicest techniques is to spell long words incorrectly once in a while. My boy friend seems to get a great kick out of it and writes back, 'Honey, you certainly don't know how to spell.'According to the marketing talk on bowling alleys that I heard the other day, there is a funny behavior that is quite common. The guys try very hard to impress girls at the bowling alley and they start out OK, usually doing better than the girls at the beginning. These guys start to get tense and begin to perform more poorly towards the end. The girls, on the other hand, start to get the hang of it, remain relaxed (which is important for bowling) and usually win at the end, leaving the guy grumpy. Many bowling alleys have ping-pong tables which allow the guy to try to regain their pride and allow the girls to give it back.A Meta Note: reading a book while thinking about what to blog is a slow, but interesting way to read a book. I hope you don't mind if I continue to share short passages that trigger weird musings...

Dan's got RSS on his Treo 600 »

OK I've got gadget envy. Dan blogs about his RSS feed on his Treo 600 and says he wants a client that lets him blog easily from it too. Anyone know of anything good? Ado, want to port Kung-Log to PalmOS?

Erving Goffman describes Dvorak »

Mimi and danah both refer to Erving Goffman's book, "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" so I've started reading it with digital identities and blogging in mind.GoffmanIt should be understood that the cynic, with all of his professional disinvolvement, may obtain unprofessional pleasures from his masquerade, experiencing a kind of gleeful spiritual aggression from the fact that he can toy at will with something his audience must take seriously.This TOTALLY reminded me of Dvorak. He always as a gleeful look when he talks about his performances.GoffmanIt is not assumed, of course, that all cynical performers are interested in deluding their audiences for purposes of what is called "self-interest" or private gain. A cynical individual may delude his audience for what he considers to be their own good, or for the good of the community, etc.Dvorak again. By the way, I love Dvorak and think he's hilarious, but it's watching the performance that I love.

Lockers lower churn for Japanese love hotels »

I was listening to a marketing presentation the other day and learned an interesting fact. As most of you know, Japanese homes are very small so even married couples often go to "love hotels" to make love. Churn was high and customer retention was traditionally very low because most couples like to experiment with all of the interesting features in the variety of hotels. Recently some love hotels started providing rental lockers, which at first sounds a bit counter-intuitive. Married couples found it convenient to store adult toys and other things that they didn't want their children to find in these lockers. These lockers created a relationship between the customer and the hotel and dramatically increased customer retention. Now these lockers are used to store all sorts of "Not Safe For Home" things.Apparently, lockers in almost any industry are a great way to lower churn.

Off to Helsinki »

Off to visit Marko in Helsinki.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin parody blog »

Larry Page and Sergey Brin Parody BlogI've wanted to do a blog for ages but Sergey couldn't manage to set up MovableType. Apparently it's "Just too difficult".Anyway, the other day he suggested that it would be a thousand times easier to just buy we did.Via Aaron Swartz on the Google Weblog

Docomo phones will become your wallet »

Sony and Docomo have announced that they are working together to put contactless IC chips in phones. Sony's FeliCa (type C contactless IC chip) is slowly becoming a defacto standard in Japan. (The government is backing a different standard, type B.) Currently the Japan Railways, AM/PM and others are using it for payments. Many companies use it for company ID's. The problem is that you can't see how much is left in your card and it's a pain to "charge" the card with more money. Putting it on a phone lets you download money from your bank and see how much is left. I worry about the privacy and security issues, but connecting an RF payment system with a phone totally makes sense.I have a theory that Docomo has to become an identity/payment company and dump the voice and other bit-pushing businesses and go flat rate or free on the network. Docomo should buy a credit card company and use the bit-pushing business as a stick when collecting money. There are some regulations regarding payment businesses that make it difficult, but I'm sure the government would waive this if there was enough of a social need. Right now, the transaction business that credit card companies do doesn't make money. This has driven credit card companies to become loan companies that lobby the government to allow them to charge crazy interest rates. These interest rates cause people to end up in debt hell and commit suicide. If Docomo replaced credit cards as the primary non-cash transaction, credit system and could use network service termination to lower the collection costs, I bet they could make enough money on the transaction business to cover the bit-pushing.Docomo is Japan's biggest mobile carrier that does about $8B / yr in data revenues.

Being vicariously giddy on a good day »

Cory just had the best day of his writing career. danah was a "giddy little girl" yesterday. I get vicariously giddy when my friends are giddy on a good day. As Cory points out, his day was the best day "so far". That's key. Wouldn't it suck if you started your life with the best day ever and it kept getting worse? Much better to start with the bad days and have each day get better.Does this mean that people who are born into luxury have a harder time having a good life than someone who starts out below average and ends up developing a great life? I guess it depends on what makes you happy.The mundane parameters of my life (money, attention, health...) are cycling like crazy, but I definitely feel like my life continues to get better. I would say that the primary source of happiness for me is the quality of the human beings I get to spend time with. Although many of my favorite people have passed away, I think I am hanging out with more interesting people today than any other point in my life.So in the spirit of the weird American holiday thank you. All of you.

John Patrick on blogging »

Interview in eWeek with John Patrick on blogging. John Patrick, the former vice president of Internet technology at IBM, is an old friend and an advisory board member of Neoteny. He helped IBM embrace the Internet. He's a great voice in this discussion because he's very familiar with corporate CIO behavior.Via Gen Kanai

Voices in my head »

I'm chatting with Loic right now. Loic has a very distinct French accent. I hear his voice in my head. I've always had a problem reading and I think it's because I tend to hear text rather than read it directly. The interesting thing is that when I know the voice of the author, I hear the author's voice. The voice can cause a very emotional reaction. The other day, when I was reading an email, I got so excited I even noticed a taste. It was a kind of email induced synesthesia. With iChat, maybe because of the real-time nature and the icon/face, the voice seems much more clear.Am I crazy?

I hope my cosplay didn't start all of this... »

Andy Baio pointed out that maybe my costume party influenced the cover of the bloggers book. Hmm... What a scary thought. At least that would make Kuri-chan the guy with the poo-poo on his head...

Mimi's bento moblog »

Xeni chats with my sister Mimi on NPR and Mimi talks about her bento moblog. The bento moblog reminds me of when my mother used to make bento for me when I was growing up in Birmingham, Michigan. I was HORRIFIED when she would pack onigiri for me because everyone would make fun of my rice ball or call it a bomb. Yikes.

danah in the NYT »

I've recently been communicating with danah quite a bit about her identity related work. She's got a very unique research style which I identify with. I like to immerse myself in what I'm trying to learn and use myself as the test subject. It must be harder to do this as an academic, but danah seems to be able to do it. She immerses herself, but leave enough room to be objective. Good article about her and her work in the New York Times.

Cosplay or costume? »

Speaking of cosplay, I wonder if my "costume party" last year was actually cosplay. Hmm....

compelling environmental movie »

danah boydcompelling environmental movie Say whatever you want about Leonardo. But global warming movie is a really beautiful and compelling little reminder to the masses in a non-aggressive way. WATCH IT.Yup. Great movie. Watch it.

The Memoirs of Joi Ito »

Someone sent me a copy of "The Memoirs of Joi Ito". It came in from Canada without a return-address. (My assistant opened it.) It's a book based on The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes with all of the references to Sherlock Holmes replaced by "Joi Ito". It's from which lets you create customized books like this. You can also customize the dedication. This books says:Dedicated to the world's most famous detective, who has yet to be discovered, a legend in his own mind, J.I.I first thought it might be an advertisement from the company, but with this snarky dedication, I decided it must be someone I know. I asked Boris, the main joker I know in Canada, but it wasn't him. Was it you AG?Anyway, haha. Very funny. ;-p

Creative Commons Moving Image Contest deadline approaching »

The Creative Commons Moving Image Contest deadline is December 31st. Don't miss it!

Spider Jerusalem »

Speaking of Journalists, Spider Jerusalem from the Transmetropolitan series rocks. Thanks to Warren Ellis for making him and Cory for turning me on to Transmetropolitan.

Can you tell a coder from a cannibal? »

The Programing Language Inventor or Serial Killer? Quiz.Can you tell a coder from a cannibal? Try to work out which of the following spent their time hacking computers, and which preferred hacking away at corpses instead.Funny.Via Markoff

Sabrina »

Xeni wonders about Sabrina. It must be a cultural thing. Seems perfectly normal to me... ;-)Governor Tanaka of Nagano dressed up as a "yashii"copyright Kyodo News

Do you have a shagbile? »

Another great line from "the effects of mobile telephones on social and individual life" by Dr. Sadie Plant.Dr. Sadie Plant several people confessed to using two mobile handsets, one for general use and the other for affairs; one respondent in London referred to the latter as a shagbile.

Mobile phone body language »

My sister just sent me a link to "the effects of mobile telephones on social and individual life" by Dr. Sadie Plant, a report for Motorola.Just reading it now... There is a section on the body language of people on mobile phones. Do you adopt the speakeasy pose or the spacemaker pose? Do you have the firm grip or the light touch? Do you have the scan or the gaze. ;-) I wonder what you can tell about the person by how they interact with their mobile phones...I'm a spacemaker-scanner with the light touch usually... but I think it changes based on my environment.

Nokia rocks on »

I'm watching the Nokia Capital Markets broadcast right now. It's a 30 minute break and they are playing what might be classified as "light-metal rock"... very cool/weird. Definitely edgy.

Me, myself and I »

I was reading danah boyd's paper, "Faceted Id/entity: Managing Representation in a Digital World" again and in it she says: danah boydAdam Smith (1976/1790) separates identity into the object versus acting self, while Mead (1934) refers to me versus I.This reminded me of something that I've always wondered if anyone had studied academically.In Japan, we have many pronouns for "I". I personally use several of them. I use ore when I want to be casual and assertive. I use boku when I am casual and humble. I use watakushi when I am formal and assertive, and I use watashi when I am formal but less assertive. There are others. Each one has a different set of memories and social situations where I assert myself. It's a different "I" even though the "me" may be different. My theory is that Japanese can more easily navigate and deal with the multi-faceted identity that danah talks about in her paper because we have so many names for ourselves. Does this make sense?Are there other languages that have a plethora of "I" pronouns? Does anyone know of any academic work in this area?

What's At Stake? »

Interesting multi-author pseudonymous political/US-election-related blog called "What's At Stake?". Reminds me of Locke and Demosthenes from Ender's Game.

ECD Video on the hydrogen economy »

I've written about the Hydrogen Economy before, but I just uploaded a 100MB Quicktime Movie from ECD about hydrogen fuel storage technology and the hydrogen economy. Features Stanford R. Ovshinsky (CEO/founder of ECD) and Bob Stemple (Chairman of ECD and former chairman of GM). ECD invented Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries (NiMH). The basic phenomenon of NiMH is a solid material that can absorb hydrogen. It is quite stable. The battery works by storing and releasing hydrogen inside of a closed container to store and release electrical energy. Similar materials can be used to store hydrogen fuel as well as to convert hydrogen to electricity in the form of a fuel cell.The problem is fuel cells are still a ways away, storage is difficult and the infrastructure for production and distribution is not in place. ECD's solution, which I think makes the most sense is to use their solid storage system for storage and distribution, make a hybrid vehicle that uses a hydrogen combustion engine and a battery. Long term, we should switch from making hydrogen from fossil fuels and put in place a solar powered electrolysis network. The first phase looks like: fossil fuels->hydrogen->solid storage based distribution->hydrogen combustion->batteries->electricity->power. This will get us started. Eventually it should go to solar->hydrogen->solid storage based distribution->fuel cells->electricity->power.I used to work for ECD and am still involved with the company so I'm a bit biased. ;-)

Reverend AKMA can't prove that Jesus wasn't half-dolphin »

Reverend AKMA can't prove that Jesus wasn't half-dolphin.Via adamhill on #joiito

Dvorak on blogs »

Oh cool! Dvorak is bashing blogs again. It must be that time of year again. He probably needs more traffic.Oops. I broke my promise not to make fun of journalists who don't blog... But I'll make an exception for journalists who like to tease me too.UPDATE: Steve Gillmor takes the bait and responds to Dvorak.

Six Apart Announces First License of its TypePad Personal Weblogging Service to NIFTY, one of Japan's Leading ISP's »

The Trotts shaking hands with the CEO of Nifty, Mr. FurukawaSix Apart Announces First License of its TypePad Personal Weblogging Service to NIFTY, one of Japan's Leading ISP's. Good job!

Six Apart Gathering tomorrow in Tokyo »

Six Apart gathering tomorrow at 3pm. See you there! (Sign up on the Six Apart page.)

My position on the US »

I just received an email from one of my best friends urging me to stop fueling disinformation and anti-Americanism. He also urged me to stop comparing the US to Nazi Germany. I've also had some private email exchanges with some conservatives about some of the issues I've written about lately. I've started feeling like a politician trying to keep my liberal and conservative friend happy by mostly posting questions, posting notes of other people's comments and quoting people. Now that I'm being urged from both sides, I guess I should clarify my own position.Here is where I stand. What I'm mainly against is the conservative media in the US and the right wing one-liners like "bomb Iraq to democracy" which I saw on a lot of conservative web sites before the invasion of Iraq. I remember very clearly Colin Powell's speech at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. I was moved by the speech. He made me feel like maybe it was the right decision to go into Iraq... but he hung his whole argument on WMD. I still have not been convinced that the invasion on Iraq was the right decision, but I'm probably willing to hear arguments more than my more liberal friends.What disturbs me the most about this administration is the drift towards secrecy, the Patriot Act and profiling with the assistance of advanced technology. I think that is REALLY BAD and I am not convinced that profiling really works.Regarding my quote of Pastor Martin Niemöller... I'm not comparing the US to Nazi Germany. It's an eloquent statement about the necessity to look out for human rights, even those of people who are not in your tribe. I think human rights are at risk globally. It's easy to see abuses and say things about human rights abuses in other countries, but I'm just urging American to watch out for the stuff happening right under your noses.Although I am a liberal, I find some of the anti-American stuff a bit over-board and I find some of the conservatives arguing convincingly on many issues. I may become emotional at times, but I'm trying to keep my thinking above the emotional level. I will try to present what I believe is a balanced view here and I want to thank all of the people who have posted here and sent me thoughtful disagreements and urgings. (Although some of the disagreements have been not-so-thoughtful.)

Notes on discussion about the US and Japan at the Izu Conference »

I just posted my rather rough notes about from the discussion at the Izu Conference about the US and Japan on the Chanpon blog.I haven't yet put together the identity analysis part. I need to noodle a bit more on this.

Identity and cultural context »

I had an iChat with my sister Mimi last night. (Luna and Eamon are my niece and and nephew 3 and 5)iChat with MimiMimi: It's so funny... watching Luna and Eamon. they are sure that they are going to get married. They were both so crushed when we broke it to them that it is not the way it works, though now Luna's latest is that she is going to marry her best friend haleyJoi: heheMimi: kids are so great because they don't buy the societal expectations yet;-) I thought this was great. I've been thinking a lot about identity after danah boyd helped connect my notions of identity on the level of privacy and security and identity on the level of my personal identity as a Japanese/American chanponite. I promise to post my notes from this weekend which will put a sharper point on this from a Japanese identity perspective, but what is amazing as you start to deconstruct the notions of identity is how contextual, cultural and artificial it is. I think that approaching the issue of identity from a technical perspective or a "productivity tool" perspective is the wrong approach and that we have to listen to the sociologist and anthropologists in this space A LOT MORE before we get too far down the road.Lucky for me I've got a sister in this space too. ;-)

Technorati growing pains »

David Sifry writes about growing pains at Technorati. He apologizes for the slow response, but assures us he's on the case.

SurfControl protects you from viewing this site »

Dan Gillmor writes about how censorware blocks his site. It's blocking mine too.Dan GillmorSimon Phipps alerts me that one of the big censorware outfits, SurfControl, is blocking this and other blogs as a default setting for some customers. He points to Jon Udell's report of a surrealistic conversation with a company salesdroid upon his own such discovery. Good grief.SurfControl puts all blogs under Usenet, a fairly bizarre characterization of the genre, but par for the course for the censorware mavens. They tend to sweep big categories into their filter, and then let you try to find your own way to escape.

Opening speech by Koji Murata »

Yesterday's discussions opened with a speech by Murata-sensei about the US. Here are some of my notes.His main point was that the Japanese do not understand the US and should study more before making assumptions and decisions about the US.

Japanese troops in Iraq »

It's likely that Japan will send troops to Iraq. 60% of the people are against it, yet 60% of the people support Koizumi who has vowed to send the troops. It's likely that some of the soldiers will die. The question that is on everyone's mind is how many dead Japanese soldiers will it take before Koizumi's cabinet unwinds.

Why Japanese don't trust the military »

Just had an interesting lunch conversation about the Japanese military. There is a famous Japanese military head. (I didn't catch the name...) who wrote a book about the retreat from China. In it he remembers the military leaving all of the Japanese civilians behind. Okinawa was similar, where the military used the civilians as shields and ran away. This is in contrast to the image from the US where the battle of Iwo Jima and others cast the Japanese military is tough and stick-to-your-guns type. I think Iwojima was a anomaly because the tunnel network required on the island caused the US to underestimate the strength of the resistance.The Japanese remember the military as a cowardly and powerful and remember the police state during wartime Japan and do not want to relive it.I asked another question that came up during the Japan Society meeting about why the Japanese have so much difficulty accepting war responsibility compared to Germany. Japan was united under the Emperor and at the end of the day, all Japanese are guilty whereas in Germany they could blame it on the Nazis. Also, Japan was never invaded so people don't remember the war much, whereas Germany and other countries who were invaded with land forces remember family being killed, etc. There are other reasons, but these were rather interesting.I will post my notes the main session in a bit.

Off to Izu to join the Izu Conference »

I'm off to attend the 22nd annual Izu Conference. It's a conference sponsored by IBM with a great deal of history. It's about an equal number of business people, bureaucrats, politicians and academics and has a fairly balanced male/female ratio. It's usually around 50 people. It's basically the same members each year with a few new members added each year. The membership represents people who seemed to be chosen for being clued in, not for being just famous our powerful. I already confirmed that I can blog about stuff we talk about there. This year's topic is what we think of the US. ;-)

A global democracy »

One thing that I am struck by, having been at several conferences lately where we have had discussions about US foreign policy is the inability for foreigners to affect US foreign policy. The US seems ready to ignore the UN and the rest of the world when they disagree with it.So let me get this right. The US is going to become the world's policeman and will bomb the bad guys into democracy. The US will become so rich and powerful that there will no longer be hatred and wars? The US will become the one nation to rule them all and American culture bind them?In this scenario the US is kind of like a super state, but only American citizens can vote, right? Only American citizens have rights. What does this mean exactly?I think that the US needs to seriously consider the consequences of alienating the rest of the world and trying to become a super-class global citizen and ruler of the world without a significant change in its attitude towards other nations and other cultures. We are in an integrated world where it is impossible to isolate yourself economically, culturally or even militarily.I'm not (yet) asking to be allowed to participate in the US elections, but I do think it is important to understand just how important it is for the US to get along with its neighbors. The only way to get along with people is to understand them and talk to them. The tragedy of the human psychological tendency to not care about cultures and people who you don't know or are different from you is something we can no longer tolerate.I think the US is going down the slippery slope of becoming one of the most hated nations in the world when it still possible for it to be one of the most loved nation if only it learned to listen to, respect and understand the rest of us.I guess my point is that we need some sort of global democracy that is inclusive of everyone which embraces diversity. I know I'm oversimplifying the issues, but I've been quiet the last few days so I felt like a rant. ;-)

Wiki page to track journalists »

I recently talked to someone who talked to a journalist off the record and was quoted anyway. This happens to me too. I think it might be interesting if we could figure out a way to share our experiences with specific journalists. I got the idea from reading Dan Gillmor's book about how the defense department posts full transcripts of interviews on its web site so people can read the context in which statements are made. Maybe we can link to or upload such transcripts as well. Hopefully, this will help make journalists a bit more honest and give the honest ones a bit more credit. I'm going to try to start it on a wiki page, but we may have to move it to something more structured depending on how it goes. Obviously, positive feedback about journalists is also something that we should track.

Who will be left when they finally come for you »

The lack of activity in the US in protesting the treatment of foreign national at the borders, the extradition of foreign nationals to countries known to torture and disinterest in the the profiling and secret arrests of Americans of Middle Eastern descent is disconcerting.Remember, some day they may come looking for you.Pastor Martin NiemöllerFirst they came for the Jewsand I did not speak outbecause I was not a Jew.Then they came for the Communistsand I did not speak outbecause I was not a Communist.Then they came for the trade unionistsand I did not speak outbecause I was not a trade unionist.Then they came for meand there was no one leftto speak out for me.

Thanks for last night everyone »

Had a fun dinner and drinks list night. Thanks for organizing everything Jacob. Jay has some pictures posted.

Mailbox overflow »

I think it may be due to the press I got this month, but my mailbox has been totally overloaded with a variety requests. I've tried to go back and follow up with people who have sent me email, but I think I've missed a bunch. If you've sent me email about something and haven't received a reply, can you either put yourself in my Public To Do List or continue to ping me? I know this is rude, but not replying is more rude. I try to reply to everything I get, so if you've been ignored, it is accidental. Sorry.

Speaking of false positives »

Speaking of false positives, I'm also against blacklists because they can also cause false positives that are difficult to correct. Smartmobs was blacklisted by Verio and it took Roland two months of hell to get it sorted out.I know I use a blacklist for my comment filtering. It's a stop-gap measure until someone figures out a better solution.

Becoming a cranky old man »

Many of the old men I know are cranky. They are often cranky because they've been fighting long battles. Battles about technology, battles about politics, battles about education, all kind of battles. Most old men have their hot buttons that trigger a rush of memories of these battles. When most old men talk to each other, they sense these hot buttons and generally avoid each other's hot buttons. The rule about avoiding religion and politics as dinner topics comes from the fact that there are many hot buttons in these areas.Last night I was one of these cranky old men. We were talking about terrorism and profiling. I am a veteran of many battles on privacy and security. I didn't realize how much of a cranky old man I'd become until a friend of mine last night kept pushing that hot button with the opinion that profiling was a good thing and that a few false positives were worth the cost to protect America. I got completely emotional and ruined the tone of the friendly dinner conversation. The problem with a dinner conversation is usually there is some alcohol involved which clouds memory (access to facts stored in cranky old brain) and logical thinking, and you can't page slap people with your previous arguments. As a cranky old man last night I realized how difficult it was for me to have casual conversation about a hot button topic and how difficult it was to have a rigorous discussion about complicated topics when I didn't have access to a method of providing context. I felt like I was just beating my chest to show I felt strongly about the issue...I think this issue of having difficulty engaging in a discussion with someone on a topic you understand well where you have a strong opinion is an issue that many academics face. This forces them to climb their ivory towers and engage in esoteric debates in an esoteric language with their peers and not reach down to the average person. This is also why many academics avoid publishing in popular media.I wonder if there is a solution to this problem. I think layers of blogs is one thing that helps. I consult with a number of academic sources to come up with my somewhat simplistic assertions about certain issues. Others write about it even more casually on their blogs. If things are attributed correctly, one can usually drill down to the source (although many academics sources are still not online). Sometimes it works the other way around. I write about something casually and accidentally trigger a bunch of hot buttons which ends up providing more context and rigor.The scary thing is, I can see myself starting to want to only have discussions with people where we read each other's blogs, a sort of blogademic.

Watch the eclipse on the web »

It's daytime here, but I'm watching the eclipse on the web.Thanks for the link Victor!

US warplanes rumored to be flying over Scotland to possibly bomb someone else »

ilind.netNovember 5, 2003 - WednesdayThe following is from Information Clearing House today."Note: Unconfirmed Report"Can any of our Scottish readers verify the following report:Since Saturday, people in the Highlands of Scotland have been witnessing large movements of US warplanes overhead. Experienced observers say the large numbers are reminiscent of those that preceded the bombing of Iraq in 1998 and military strikes against Libya in the 1980's, as well as the first Gulf War.It is thought that the planes have flown on a route over the North Pole to bases in Europe and the Mediterranean. The size and scale of the movement suggests that the US may be preparing to strike against a country in the Middle East in the next week to ten days. I have been getting a lot of email referring to this report. If you have information in relation to the above, please email me at"Has anyone seen this or know of any other information about this? Is the US about to attack someone else?Via Markoff

Urging people to vote »

Getting ready to give speech. The guy next to my is Jun Maki who played the producer of the photo shoot in Lost in TranslationTomorrow is the general election for the Japanese parliament's Lower House. Mizuka and I joined the Governor of Nagano, Yasuo Tanaka, Shigeaki Saegusa (the conductor), Jun Maki (the copywriter who appears in Lost in Translation as the producer of the photo shoot), Yoichiro Kawaguchi (computer graphics professor), Hajime Takano (journalist) and many others in a two hour march through Ginza urging people go and vote tomorrow. It was called the senkyo ni ikouzei! movement. Our march was a nonpartisan effort to get people to vote regardless of their politics. We handed out leaflets, waved flags and made speeches on street corners. I made a speech about how most Japanese believe something needs to change yet do not feel they have any impact. I argued that Yasuo Tanaka showed that politicians can cause change and that voters can elect such officials. I stressed that you get the politicians you deserve and that if we wanted a democracy in Japan, people were going to have to vote.It was a hot day, but people were very receptive. It was clear they were happy to see Yasuo Tanaka and unlike the time we were handing out leaflets protesting the National ID, the percentage of people willing to take them from you was much higher.Also, the opposition party of Japan, the Democratic Party of Japan has announced a "shadow cabinet" appointing Yasuo Tanaka the minister in charge of decentralization. Ishihara, the mayor of Tokyo has spoken out against this.Here is a 11.3MB Quicktime Movie of Mizuka and I trying to hand out flyers.

Junjiro Hara starts blogging »

Junjiro Hara is a well known reporter at the Asahi Shimbun who I've known for many years. He is retiring this year and has decided to start blogging and continue his mission as a journalist to change Japan. His blog is in Japanese. I think he is one of the first professional mass media journalists to start officially blogging.Blog on Hara-san!

Dinner on the 11th in San Francisco »

I'm in San Francisco from November 11 for 48 hours. I'm free for dinner on the 11th. Sign up on the wiki page if you're interested in getting together. I'm arriving on that day so I may be a bit tired, but I'd be happy to meet up with everyone.Jacob Levy has agreed to help organize it. Thanks Jacob.

Inhaling nanodust »

Reading in the New York Times about the health hazards of inhaling carbon nanotubes reminded me of Snowcrash. I wonder what would happen if you inhaled these RFID's.

Where am I? »

I was just looking at my United Airlines mileage online and realized that I'll hit the 100,000 mile mark with United on this next trip I'm making. Looking at my travel patterns, it seems to be tracking my network that has expanded over the last few years through people I've met online. My body is like a packet that's chasing around the bits.I've also started getting invitations just about every day to parties all over the world. "Just in case you're in the neighborhood." This is really weird. The funny thing is, sometimes I am in the neighborhood. I wake up each morning often not sure what city I'm in or in a mild panic because the city I was in in my dream is not the city I'm in right now.I know many people who travel more than I do, but I'd been pretty grounded for the last few years so this year has been a fresh experience for me. Connectivity like my Danger Sidekick, wifi in airports, IRC, my blog, wiki and all of the other social software stuff has made travel a much more enjoyable experience. I feel like I have friends in every region, I'm rarely lonely, and with IM and IRC, there are always a bunch of friends to hang out with while I wait in airports or take cabs around town. The fingerprinting and possible harassment at the US border is the sand in the vaseline. (And I don't remember where I got that metaphor, but I like it. Someone used it in reference to copy protection I think.)

Notes from second day of Japan Society roundtable »

The session on the second day of the Japan Society roundtable was amazing. It was so full of interesting opinions by so many experts that I really had very little to add. I uncharacteristically just sat there and took notes.Here are some of the notes.

Maher Arar, a Canadian, arrested and deported by the US government to be tortured in Syria »

Maher Arar, a dual Canadian-Syrian citizen was arrested at a stopover in JFK in New York and deported to Syria by the US government. It seems to be unclear how they decided he was a "suspected terrorist" but it took close to a year in a prison in Syria and a lot of torture for them to decide that he was OK to be sent back to Canada. Obviously, it's probably easier for a Syrian national to get on a "list" than a Japanese, but this really scary. They say he had had a relationship with another suspected terrorist who is also being imprisoned and tortured now in Syria. He says he barely knew the guy.So what does this mean for us? If we meet someone, we should not "become friendly" with them until we are certain that they are not a suspected terrorist. What does this mean? We need to make sure they don't hang out with other suspected terrorists. So if you believe in six degrees, it's likely at some point you will be a suspected terrorist.How do they know if you hang out with someone? Friendster? LinkedIn? Your email? We need to be VERY careful about the privacy of not just the content of our communication, but the privacy of who we are in touch with, often called sigint, or signal intelligence.Seriously though, this will cause a chilling effect on meeting, calling, emailing or otherwise "being in touch with" anyone who you don't know very well that could land you on the "suspected terrorist" list.For articles about the Maher Arar case, just do a google news search. The article where he finally talks to the media directly is here.

Dean is asking YOU whether he should decline federal matching funds »

The Dean campaign has an important choice to make. He has to either choose to accept US federal matching funds and have his spending capped at $45 million or waive the funds and be allowed to raise and spend more. Bush is raising $200 million from large companies. With the incredible grassroots fund raising so far, Dean should probably waive the matching funds and go for it, he is asking on his blog and via email to all 484,000 members of his campaign what THEY think he should do.Howard DeanThis decision is no longer mine to make. This is a campaign of the people, by the people and for the people. Your successful effort of raising a historic amount of money through small contributions has made this choice possible. This is why I am putting this decision in your hands.I am asking you to vote on what kind of a campaign we will conduct from this point forward. No matter how well intentioned both our options are – the choice is difficult: do we choose option (a) to fund our campaign ourselves and decline matching funds, or do we choose option (b) and accept federal matching funds and the spending limits?You will receive a ballot via email on Thursday and have until midnight Friday to vote. The results will be announced on Saturday.This is really amazing. This is so grassroots and activating. Way to go folks!Via Jim Moore who was in Burlington with Dean volunteers. Jim has a great entry about this.

Fast Company article by Seth Godin on "the posse" »

Seth Godin did an article for Fast Company about how I use my blog and IRC and am adapting my work-style to the social software. His perspective is interesting. I hadn't thought of it as a "virtual organization". I'm also glad he got this part right:Seth GodinIt's important, though, to not think of this as Joi's powerful new network or Joi's group. "Joi Ito is no longer a name, it's a place," he says. He coordinates a collective, one in which he's a member, not the chief.Thanks Seth!

Japan Society Roundtable - New Currents in Japanese National Identity »

Participated in an interesting roundtable discussion this morning organized by the Japan Society. I was told I could write about it but I couldn't attribute quotes without permission.There were representatives from the US, China, Taiwan and Korea.

New design »

Boris just finished the redesign of this site. What you you think? Thanks Boris!

Karatsukunchi »

We went to the Karatsukunchi festival near Fukuoka. We had an great meal including the incredibly rare kue fish. I uploaded some pictures of our meal. There were 14 floats that went past our restaurant. I've uploaded a 2MB mov file.

Congratulations Full Professor AKMA! »

AKMA just got promoted to full professor. Congratulations!Via Joho the Blog

John Edwards to guest blog at Larry's place »

Senator John Edwards, a presidential candidate will start guest blogging on Lessig's blog Monday. The announcement is here. Very cool.

US to install fingerprinting devices in airports »

The Associated PressU.S. Unveils ID SystemWASHINGTON (AP) -- The public got its first look Tuesday at fingerprinting and photo equipment that will be installed at 115 airports and 14 seaports to check identities of millions of foreign visitors.The equipment, which goes into use Jan. 5, will allow inspectors to check identities of visitors against those on terrorist watch lists.[...]The system consists of a small box that digitally scans fingerprints and a spherical computer camera that snaps pictures. It will be used for the estimated 24 million foreigners traveling on tourist, business and student visas who enter through an airport or seaport.I wonder what they're going to use this data for? I wonder if they are going to "share" it with other governments. If they start putting these things all over the place, the risk to someone getting on some "list" will not be limited to just being harassed entering the US.

Why George Bush Sr. didn't occupy Iraq »

George Herbert Walker Bushfrom his memoir, "A World Transformed"(1998)Trying to eliminate Saddam...would have incurredincalculable human and political costs.Apprehending him was probably impossible.... Wewould have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, ineffect, rule Iraq.... there was no viable "exitstrategy" we could see, violating another of ourprinciples. Furthermore, we had beenself-consciously trying to set a pattern forhandling aggression in the post-Cold War world.Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterallyexceeding the United Nations' mandate, would havedestroyed the precedent of international responseto aggression that we hoped to establish. Had wegone the invasion route, the United States couldconceivably still be an occupying power in abitterly hostile land.I wonder if his son read this?Via Markoff

Ishihara says the Koreans ASKED the Japanese to rule them... »

The Japan TimesIshihara unrepentant over slurKoreans asked to be ruled by Japan, governor insistsAn unrepentant Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara on Friday reiterated claims that Koreans had chosen Japanese rule rather than face Chinese or Russian governance when Japan annexed the Korean Peninsula in 1910.Speaking at a regular news conference, Ishihara again claimed that political leaders on the Korean Peninsula had made the decision to accept Japanese rule, which lasted until Japan's defeat in World War II in 1945.According to Ishihara, Japan ruled its colony in a better fashion than Western nations, such as France, the Netherlands and the United States.Ugh.

Enjin 01 open college in Saga »

Asaba-san writing tonpa scriptI'm in Saga right now participating in the "Open College in Saga" organized by Enjin 01. Enjin is a non-profit organization that I participated in starting. I have been a bit delinquent in my participation at the board meetings recently, but I'm still a Vice Representative Secretariat Member of this group. It's an organization of diverse cultural figures and we do a variety of activities. We have seminars, we lobby the government on important policy issues and we organize events in different regions. Last year we did an event at Koyasan. This year, we came to Saga prefecture in Kyushuu. A bunch of us "cultural figures" organized panels and asked local citizens to join us in a discussion.I moderated a panel on democracy and Japan. My panel was Mr. Morimoto, a former Defense official, Mr. Hato, a management consultant and Mr. Takano, an independent journalist. I think it was the consensus of the group that Japan was not a democracy in the typical sense but really much more like a socialist country. Mr. Hato said he was always appalled when people blamed schools, the government and other organs of the state for their problems. Mr. Takano talked about a front page article in the left-wing newspaper of 1000 students marching in Tokyo protesting the fact that they can't get jobs. ;-)

The Dalai Lama's dinner speech »

Went to the Dalai Lama dinner speech today. I'm on the supporters board for his visit to Tokyo. This is the second time. I think the first time was more important because he was having difficulty getting into Japan, but this year it was much easier. He's not yet as popular in Japan as he is in the US, but he is gaining greater and greater support in Japan. The dinner guests were quite an interesting cross-section of Japanese business, political, religious, academic and entertainment related society. Just like las time he was very playful and inspiring.Today he told us that he will be visiting Ise Jingu, one of the oldest and most famous Shinto shrines. He will do the sanpai, a Shinto ceremonial visit there. He talked a lot about "Human Values" and "Religious Harmony" and "Emotional Religious Relationship." His visit to and honor of a Shinto shrine is part of this push for religious harmony. He talked about the importance of "Global Responsibility" and the necessity for everyone to realize that we are all physically and mentally the same. "Alright, maybe a BIT different physically," he conceded. But he stressed the importance of understanding the huge similarities rather than on focusing on the differences.At the end, he took questions and answers. A young Japanese man talked about how he was trying to change the world one person at a time and how he hoped Japan would plan in important role in bringing religion and science, East and West together. He asked whether it was OK to make a movie about how the Dalai Lama was reborn in Japan to help lead this movement.The Dalai Lama smiled and said that the Dalai Lama Institution existed only as long as the people of Tibet felt it was necessary. He has a prayer that as long as his soul was active, he would dedicate himself to helping human-kind everywhere. He said that if for some reason the people of Tibet decided that they didn't need a Dalai Lama any longer and he could find suitable parents in Japan, it was quite possible that he would be reborn in Japan to carry on his mission to help human-kind.It was obvious that the security team and the hotel hated that he walked through the crowd instead of leaving from the back exit that they were trying to usher him to, but he worked the crowd. Better than any politician I've ever seen. His hand-shakes were obviously much more sincere than most politicians (I should compare, but the image was similar) and everyone who had shaken his hand was left kind of stunned.One other interesting note was that he talked in Tibetan and there was a translator to Japanese... but when he got excited, he spoke in English. ;-)Monk Matsunaga of Koyasan was at my table so it was fun to talk about how excited I from my visit to Koyasan. Matsunaga-san told me that the Dalai Lama had visited his temple in Koyasan.
Whiplash by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe
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