Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

January 2004 Archives

Bruce Schneier
Slouching toward Big Brother

Rarely do we discuss how little identification has to do with security, and how broad surveillance of everyone doesn't really prevent terrorism.

Bruce writes about how security is a trade-off and how what we're giving up is not worth what we're getting in the war on terror through surveillance in the United States.

David Isenberg blogs about the "Bellhead" background of Roy Neel, Howard Dean's new campaign manager.

danah has finally posted her long awaited rant on Orkut. Orkut, in case you don't know, is the social networking site developed by a guy at Google. Orkut also means "orgasm" in Finnish. I've been through so many of these now that I'm playing around. When it's running, it's fast so I'm adding everyone I recognize, (I guess danah would call this "misbehaving") and trying to beat Marc Canter in my local game of "king of the mountain." Lucky for me, he's been thrown in jail. Orkut's kind of like... people surfing. As danah says, I do not yet know what I'm going to do when I get there, but I'm sure there'll be another toy to play with by then. ;-)

Joking aside, it's a nice interface and seems to aggregate a lot of features from other similar services, but I agree with danah's points.

We're getting ready to roll out version 2.0 of the Creative Commons licenses. Please let us know what you think.

Versioning -- Public Review Begins

I just received this by email from a friend.


Attached is actual night-vision footage shot from a U.S. Apache attack helicopter engaging Iraqis, whom allegedly were attempting to launch a Stinger missile at the Apache. The Apache responds with approximately one-hundred rounds of 30mm cannon fire, which is, ironically, the least powerful weapons system onboard the helicopter. The footage has been "dumbed down" to VHS resolution before conversion to MPEG, since the actual night-vision system on the Apache provides a much sharper and more detailed image.

I realize that the targets were probably a threat to the helicopter and the actions within the rules of engagement, but it is disturbing none the less.

UPDATE: The server load was getting to high so I removed the direct link to the file. You can get it via bit torrent. (4.65 MB mpeg bit torrent file) If you don't know what bit torrent is or don't have it, check out the web page.

UPDATE 2: The video was aired on abc news and is available on their site. via davee

UDPATE 3: Here is a torrent of the full mission.

I had the opportunity to be invited to a dinner with Steven Spielberg last night. We talked about Memoirs of a Geisha which Steven's studio, Dreamworks, will be producing. I imagined the difficulty of getting it right. It appeared that Steven and his team are going to work hard on this. The book has been criticized by some in Japan as either revealing too much, or emphasizing one aspect that doesn't reflect the geisha today. Other people love the book. I think they have a challenge and am eagerly looking forward to how it comes out.

My sister is teaching a class on how cultures are portrayed in movies and we talked yesterday about how many American movies are about Americans going to foreign cultures and "conquering" them. Even Kill Bill, which was one of my favorite movies this year, might have been more fun if it focused on the American obsession with oriental things, rather than setting it in Japan where the American triumph over the Japanese ended up being more highlighted. I'm generally a sucker for a good laugh so I loved Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, but my sister asks in the comments of our Chanpon blog

I found myself wondering what the film would have been like given a Japanese-American protagonist? Or what if they were not pampered ruling class hipster Americans staying at the most expensive hotel in Tokyo, but visitors of the more pedestrian tourist type? I also find myself thinking of visitors like Justin who resolutely refuse to take difference for granted and wander reckelessly through the most unpaved backstreets of Tokyo, confronting surprised Japanese in charmingly broken Japanese. What would a view of this kind of "othered" Tokyo subjectivity look like?
In Davos, I heard that soldiers going to Iraq watched The Battle of Algiers, which is a movie about how the French foreign legion tortures and mistreats the population, eventually turning their allies into enemies. My discussion with Shekhar Kapur about his decision to direct Long Walk to Freedom was also extremely thought provoking. I also remembered today, the opening of "Pearl Harbor" in Tokyo Dome. I got a weird chill when the over 30,000 Japanese in the audience cheered during the scene at the end where they bomb Tokyo.

Cultural understanding is one of the biggest problems facing us today and movies have a huge impact on how we understand culture. Movie makers, more than ever, have an opportunity and responsibility to help us understand each other.

Three chief executive officer participants at the World Economic Forum prepare public Internet blogs about their experiences in the ultra-exclusive retreat of the world's wealthy and powerful. Seated from left to right Loic Le Meur, CEO of Ublog, a Paris-based blog company; Yat Siu, CEO of Outblaze, a Hong Kong-based email service company and Joichi Ito, CEO of Neoteny Company Limited, a Japan-based venture capital firm.

No... I'm not about to punch Loic. My fist is an expression of our solidarity. -- Joi
Thomas Crampton's article in the International Herald Tribune about us blogging Davos just came out. The IHT may be a good blog, but it sure does take a long time to post articles...
Thomas Crampton @ IHT
With bloggers inside, Davos secrets are out
Tell-all accounts proliferate on the Web

DAVOS, Switzerland This year the barbarians were not protesting at the gates of the World Economic Forum; they were inside and blogging.

I remember learning this lesson in the past. NEVER TRUST GATE AGENTS. My Lufthansa flight from Zurich to Munich was over an hour delayed. My transfer for my flight to Tokyo was very short and I thought I would miss my flight so I asked them to route me through Frankfurt. They told me all flights out of Munich were late and I would be OK. We arrived in Munich and we walked off the plane and were told to walk up an escalator going the wrong direction. Then at the top of the escalator, the door was locked and we had a pile-up. I heard cussing in a variety of languages. It was funny. We got out and all of the displays for connecting flights were blank.

I went to the gate, and of course the flight had left. I went to the service counter and I got the "are you stupid?" look and was told that I should take the next flight to Frankfurt.

Anyway, I better go board my next flight on my Lufthansa hub-a-thon...

I had a few ginger ales with Shekhar Kapur, a well known Indian film director. We talked about the life, the universe and everything. We talked about what it takes to direct a good film and how Shekhar chose which films to direct.

He talked about being asked to direct "Long Walk to Freedom" about the life of Nelson Mandela. He said he turned it down. He understood about inequality and prejudice from his experiences in India and being Indian, but that he didn't think he would ever truly understand the extreme conditions of apartheid. He would never truly understand the rage of being treated as a completely different class of human being by the white man.

Later, in Hollywood, in the office of an important studio exec, Shekhar explained that he had turned down the offer to direct "Long Walk to Freedom". The exec told Shekhar that he thought that it was a good idea since people weren't interested in a story about the struggles of a black man.

Shekhar was infuriated by the comment, but contained it and kept a straight face. He excused himself and went to the rest room. From the rest room, he called his agent and told him to accept the deal. Shekhar was now able to feel the rage and his passion for the film had developed.

It is very difficult to get the cultural passions right in a movie. Usually the culture is the backdrop of a story or the story is about how American culture triumph over other cultures. Shekhar's insistence on understanding the cultural passion that would be core to a movie was impressive and something that more directors would strive for when making movies about other cultures.

I sat next to Sir Martin Rees at dinner last night. He is the Royal Astronomer of the UK and the Master of Trinity College. I met him last year at the same dinner. He's amazingly smart and funny.

Ever since I'd posted my entry on aviation and global warming, I've been trying to figure out how to get to the bottom of this issue. The journalists told me that they just cited experts and the trick was to find good experts. I figured Sir Martin Rees would probably have an educated and balanced view.

Sir Martin Rees told me that he thought it was probably true that global warming was happening and that CO2 emissions contributed to it. He said that his main concern with global warming with the possibility that something non-linear would happen. In other words, his worry was not just the melting of the ice caps or the increased heat, but that this would cause something unpredictable and significant, such as a change in the circulation of the oceans.

He talked about some of the interesting mail he got. He said that he once got contacted by a cryogenic company which wanted his opinion on the idea of "the end of involuntary death" by freezing yourself before you die. When he replied that he'd rather be buried in a cemetery than a freezer in Calfornia, the company posted on their web site that "Rees is a deathist".

In a controversial book that he wrote called "Our Final Hour" he says that there is a 50/50 chance that our civilization will end this century. He mentioned that the original title of the book was "Our Final Century?" The British publishers took out the question mark and made it "Our Final Century". Then the US publishers change it to "Our Final Hour". ;-)

The dinner was off the record. "Nothing leaves this room. Just like Las Vegas." But I received permission from Sir Martin Rees to blog his comments. Sir Martin, if you see this and I've quoted you in error, please let me know. I don't have your email address.

The World Economic Forum has posted a pdf summary of the blogging panel. As usual, the tone isn't the same as what I experienced and they got most of what I said, but I think my emphasis was a bit different. I hope Loic gets his video transcript up so you can decide interpret it yourself.

billmon at Whiskey Bar is blogging from Davos. I wonder who he/she is. I looked up "Bill Mon" and last name "Billmon" in the directory and I couldn't find a listing. I couldn't find his/her real name on the blog either. Is Whiskey Bar a pseudonymous blog by a professional journalist?

Thanks for the link Abe. I think billmon is presenting an interesting view. I'm focused primarily on hanging out with people I like and going to sessions that I'm interested in so billmon's view is probably a good way to see another side of Davos.

danah's always talking about privilege and I've started to think about this more consciously than before. Just about everyone here in Davos is privileged. Some have been born into privilege and some have gained it through their work. Some people carry their privilege well, others don't. There are people who seem to gloat in and flaunt their privilege, constantly bragging and doing the nudge-nudge-wink-wink. Others carry it naturally. Others seem to feel bad or strange having been chosen to be among the privileged. Some seem to guiltily enjoy the privilege.

Some seem to believe that the privilege they have comes with the responsibility to use it to help others, while others seem to think that privilege is something they deserve to use for their own personal gain.

It's interesting to watch. I wish I could do a survey of all of the people here and ask questions like, "Do you think you deserve the privilege you have, and why?" "What do you intend to do with the privilege and do you think you owe it to the world to focus your energies on helping those without privilege?" Then there are deeper questions about whether people are helping underprivileged people to gain more recognition, out of guilt, out of love, out of a sense of responsibility or some other reason.

I haven't attended any of the philanthropy sessions, but maybe that's what they talk about.

I personally think I deserve some of the privilege that I've gained, but that there are many who don't have as much privilege as I do who deserve it more. I think I owe a lot of my privilege to where I was born, the way my mother raised me, the people I've met and an odd combination of networking skills. I do feel extremely responsible for using the privilege that I currently have to solve as many of the world's problems as possible. I continue to remind myself that the particular serious of events that have put me in the position that I am in has more to do with the people around me than anything else and I owe it to them to carry this privilege well.

Helmut Newton, Who Remade Fashion Photography, Dies at 83 - NYT

I first met Helmut and his wife at Timothy Leary's house. Tim and Helmut were good friends. (I guess that would mean that Tim would be 83 if he were alive now...) They were the same age and even wore the same tennis shoes. I remember Helmut and as a funny and really cool guy.

When I was working on Indian Runner, we asked him to do some of the photography for the movie and I remember hanging out with him in Omaha, Nebraska where we were shooting the film. I remember helping him find "corn-fed beauties of the Midwest" during his free time. He had this amazing talent for making women feel beautiful and capturing this on film.

I had always loved landscape photography since I was a child, but Helmut was the one who got me interested in portraits and helped me appreciate the amazing talent required to take portraits.

I'm going to miss you Helmut. Say hi to Tim for me if you see him.

I've been invited to be say something at the Social Computing Symposium at Microsoft. I'm looking forward to hanging out with some of my favorite people. (Maybe the first opportunity for me to speak at the same conference as my sister too...) I'm REALLY interested in what Microsoft is thinking about this space, and it appears that they are doing a lot of thinking.

japanpanelbeckyRebecca MacKinnon is moderating a Japan panel this year.

Last year, when I was on a Japan panel and MC'ing the Japan dinner, Japan was still looking dismal and my role as risk taking agitator was a good card for the Japanese to play to try to show that they were trying to change.

This year, the economy is "recovering" and the panel is populated by more of the old-school participants who are cautiously trying to explain the "turn-around" and how the "recovery" will continue.

I think the consensus is that the engine of the recovery is the restructuring of private companies and that the government policy and reforms are the oil.

I personally think that we need more fundamental changes in Japan, but I think that the incentive to make big changes will decrease as long as this fragile recovery continues. I think it's probably more constructive for me to spend my efforts on global issues and blogging until Japan needs my subversive energy again. ;-)

Comment from the audience: It's not the number of women in the women in the Japanese workforce, but rather their role in the workforce.

UPDATE: Ack! Rebecca glared at me, I shook my head, but she called on me for a comment anyway. I asked whether the more painful reforms are going to get less attention now that people are focused on the recover and making people feel comfortable.

One of the panel members disagreed with me and asserted that with political will, many of the fundamental changes will continue to happen and might even be easier.

Hmm... maybe in some areas, but I doubt it. Maybe I should have defined "fundamental changes."

Introduced Thomas to Sergey. Joi helping his fellow "journalist"...
Thomas Crampton is a fellow GLT and journalist for the International Herald Tribune. I've been hanging out with his a lot this trip, trying to learn more about how journalists work and think. For instance, I asked him about how he deals with issues such as global warming where it is so difficult to understand the first sources and we have to rely so heavily on experts and reports which often conflict. I've also been watching how he interviews people and teases out quotes and threads and focuses his discussion in a way that tries to gather evidence for a story that's developing in his head while at the same time keeping open opportunities for new ideas. (Just like good bloggers do. ;-) )

He's now working on a story about bloggers and he's been interviewing the bloggers at Davos. He's been asking a lot of questions about how we view ourselves, our ethics and what blogging means. It's very interesting on many levels because I'm interviewing him about journalism, he's interviewing me about blogging and I'm watching him interact with people, efficiently gathering information to construct a story. I'm looking forward to seeing how Tom's article turns out and how he manages to take the spaghetti of conversations and turns it into a piece of journalism.

In the process of developing the story about blogs, he quickly picked up the importance of Google and asked me to introduce him to Sergey. We both asked him questions about Google and blogs and I am happy to report that Sergey thinks that blogs may highlight some general issues with page ranking that need to be dealt with to continue to increase the accuracy of page rank, but that he didn't seem to think that blogs were "noise" or that they were getting artificially high page rank. Sergey didn't seem think think that blogs should be treated any differently than any other type of web page. This concurs with the opinion that Larry Page gave me the when I asked him about this last year.

So sorry Andrew, it doesn't look like blogs will be filtered from Google any time soon, and until the media starts to become more permalink friendly, I think the role of blogs in providing information and opinion on the Internet will continue to increase. The good news is that I realize that the questions that many bloggers are asking themselves about ethics and justice are the same questions that editors and journalists are asking themselves.

UPDATE: I was walking with Tom and got a few choice quotes from him. "Reality is good. It's earthy." And in response to my comment about whether I should pull my punches on journalists, he says, "no, poke 'em in the eyes." ;-)

Yesterday was the blogging panel at Davos. Jay Rosen was the moderator and the panelists were Orville H. Schell, Loic Le Meur, yours truly and Hubert Burda. You all already know Loic and Jay I'm sure. Orville is the Dean of the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and was at the Media Leaders discussion the day before too. He's got some great perspectives and his positive and insightful view on blogs was encouraging. Hubert Burda is the CEO of Hubert Burda Media, one of the largest media conglomerates in Europe and I was extremely impressed by his positive and open view on blogs and media. In other words, we had a great panel.

Jay kicked it off by saying that we were going to ignore the official title, "Will Mainstream Media Co-Opt Blogs and the Internet". ;-)

I explained that blogging meant a lot of things. There was the technology of blogging, the act of blogging and what journalists were talking about most of the time. I explained the power-law and asserted my position that the head of the curve, or the more popular blogs, were like an amplifier and that I agreed with many people who believe that the "tail" or the more personal blogs was where most of the interesting stuff was going on. I talked about Ross Mayfield's layers and the idea that a lot of interesting sources could be filtered by special interest groups, through a social layer and to the amplifier where maybe they can connect, merge with mass media to a certain extent. Because of the the media orientation of the panel and the audience, we decided to focus on the impact that blogging had on journalism and media.

Loic said he thought blogging was like "open sourcing" himself. Which I thought was an interesting way to look at it. He used his metaphor about how he thought blogging will do to the traditional media what Napster did to the music industry. He clarified that he meant that it would allow people to share information peer to peer instead of going through traditional distribution. The difference was that people could more easily create content for blogs than music.

Mr. Burda had a lot of great insights and talked about how collapsing business models and changes were all part of the game and that he and the others needed to let go and adapt. He made a point that he would be interested to see more blogs focusing on things like science instead of typically popular stuff like politics.

I think we all agreed that the ability for blogs to talk with and become one with the audience was key.

What was interesting was the number of people from the mass media in the audience who still seemed to think that blogs were either just poor quality news or that bloggers were just wannabe journalists. One person from a newspaper said that she thought blogs would just become incubators for journalists. I (emotionally) asserted that the mass media and blogs were not the same. Many bloggers (such as myself) are blogging, not for the money, but for a passion which embodies what I believe is part of the heart and soul of journalism. We are not encumbered by the pressures of advertising, marketing and the burden of having to sell print media. It's insulting to think that all bloggers just want to be journalists for print media. I pointed out that big media had a role and that their ability to protect their journalists from litigation and to fund particularly expensive investigations and stories was something we can't do, but the notion that we're just little versions of them was absurd.

Jay chimed in and pointed out that blogs are much more similar to the spirit of the "freedom of the press" referred to in the US constitution. IE citizens with presses.

I'm on a narrow band connection so I will add links after I get to a wifi connection.

Everyone in Davos is a CEO or some other fairly senior title. I've found myself introducing myself at sessions as "a blogger" much/most of the time. It still amazing me how few people know what blogging is. Calling myself a "blogger" seems to be the fastest way for me to get the "what is a blog" discussion going. ;-)

Chatting with Ethan of Geekcorps and Gillian of Witness conspiring to blogifying developing nations and organzations doing human rights work.

Ethan and Gillian are educating me on doing human rights and technology work in developing nations and I'm trying to help integrate blogging into their work. The stuff that they're doing is SO important, I think it's a great application for the blog amplifier.

Ethan's convinced me to visit Africa. Geekcorps sends geek volunteers into developing nations to work on technology projects. Ethan was an Internet entrepreneur turned social entrepreneur.

Gillian has been an activist her whole life, first as a high school Amnesty International chapter leader, then as an attorney, then as a investigative documentary producer. Just listening to her talk about all of the things she's done is so inspiring and is making me feel like a couch potato blogger.

This morning, we had a breakfast between the Global Leaders for Tomorrow, Social Entrepreneurs and Religious Leaders. I got a great table with a broad range of people from developing nations, religious leaders, economists, and entrepreneurs.

We started out the discussion talking about the nature of money. We talked about how greed and the idea that more money means more happiness is compulsive behavior and the notion that more money makes you more happy may hold true in developing nations, but is not necessarily true in developed nations. We talked about how this notion of more money means more happiness may be contributing to some of the problems in society. One representative of a global financial organization talked about how similar to the "poverty line", maybe there should be a "greed line". An economist pointed out that there was a book written about economy as a religion where the author asserted that pollution should be moved to developing nations because poor people were worth less in a purely economic model. Obviously, this is not right, and we asked the religious leaders to address some of the issues such as caring, giving and happiness.

Religions are memories of history, rich with ritual and values. They need to create a double language, one for internal dialog and another to share ideas with others. One point I made was that many religions were designed for environments where people were still struggling to survive and the focus was on rituals and believes for such an environment. Many religions focused keeping people alive rather than providing them with a primary religious experience. For environments where the struggle to survive is not as big of an issue, it might be that religions need to help support people more with things such as their obsessions and ethics.

It was noted that people who live in developing nations still needed money and that it was important. However, it was pointed out that many of the economic values have a detrimental effect on developing nations such as promoting crime. It was also noted that many churches in developing nations focus on promotion economic values. (Join the church, get rich.) The notion of sharing and sacrifice which are very important values that religions promote are often subverted to raise money for the churches.

David Green of Project Impact in India talked about how he performs cataract surgery in India. He provides 1/3 of the procedures for free, 1/3 for a low cost and 1/3 for a high price. The rich pay the high price for first class service, but the basic operation is the same. He is able to subsidize the operation for the poor and still make money. He is so successful that instead of paying $300 for the lenses, he was able to create a manufacturing operation and lower the cost to $4 a lens and has become the second largest manufacturer in the world. He provided this as an example of a good economic model can provide a great deal of good.

Scott Mackinney criticizes me in a comment on my blog about the damage I am causing to the environment with all of my air travel. I actually have been feeling a bit guilty about that and have been wondering where aviation is going to go from here.

On the one hand, in some areas, air travel is becoming cheaper and there are even people talking about small, low-cost private planes becoming more common.

A Feb 2000 GAO report warns that the damage to the environment from the emissions from aviation is particularly high because it is emitted into the upper atmosphere and that increased damage due to increases in travel can not be offset by technological advances. A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of experts affiliated with the UN warned that the share of global warming caused by air traffic could increase from 3.5% in 1992 to 17% in 2050.

We clearly have a problem here. In an IHT article that I can not seem to find a link to, I read that one of the possibilities was to fly lower where there would be more turbulence, but less damage. I've also heard about the idea of levying high taxes for air travel. In any event, the air travel utopia story seems a bit flawed and if we would get up off our asses and really do something about global warming (which we must) one of the first hit probably should be our global aviation habits.

I WAS going to write about this before, but hadn't been able to gather enough sources. (Honest! ;-) ) I still don't think I have enough information to have an educated opinion. Any pointers to more resources would be greatly appreciated.

Sun always has a huge presence at Davos. They always rent a special house right across from the Congress Center and are a big sponsor. They add that special irreverence to the meeting and John Gage is always the life of the party. This year, there is no sign of them. I wonder what happened.

And guess who rented the Sun House... Microsoft. I wonder if Bill Gates is trying to make a point. :-p

I'm at a dinner where we're talking about spam. There are high level execs from many of the companies involved in email. One person said that he thought we've seen the worst of spam and that it's getting better. It's too bad I can't quote people with attribution, because I think this is a totally unreasonable position.

We've now moved on to Internet governance and as usual, I haven't heard a single opinion that convinces me that email isn't broken and that it isn't just getting worse. We talked about pay to send, better filters, re-inventing smtp, regulations... all of the usual. Yet another fruitless discussion about spam. (yafudas). 17% of legitimate email is not delivered. 81% of people in a recent survey are afraid of false positives.

Hugh just sent me another one... ;-)
Yossi was making fun of me for sitting here blogging blogging blogging...

The Media Leaders Community session was a closed session with the CEOs and editors from the top media organizations. The representatives were all people who struggled with the issues of running a media business while trying to maintain editorial integrity. A variety of regions and organizational structures were represented including TV, magazines, newspaper, for profit and non-profit.

The session was held in a circle and was broken into two session. I was one of the few "outsiders" who were invited to participate, my chance to open my mouth was the second session. the first session was, "The Double Life and Information Ethics: The Challenge of Managing News and People" and the second session was, "Rethinking the Net – Internet Media Strategy, Wireless, Bloggers and Others."

Generally speaking, the media leaders talked a lot about the struggle to maintain editorial integrity in a world of increasing government and advertiser pressure. Clearly, the business of running media companies conflicted in many ways with editorial integrity. There was some debate about whether embedded journalism in the war was a good thing or a bad thing and the role of TV, photojournalism and print. One the one had, the need for TV to have images caused them to jump at the opportunity to send in cameras with the troops. It was argued that the good media were able to use these assets without compromising their editorial integrity while others clearly were unable to retain their integrity.

It was interesting hearing about how important the hiring and mentoring of journalists was and how difficult it was to find serious journalists. Last night I had dinner with some serious journalists who covered war, pestilence, and other hard-core topics in very remote regions and was impressed by their vision and ethics. The ability for editors to find, vet then manage these journalists appears to be an art.

Everyone seemed quite enthusiastic about the Internet as a "good thing" but people were not sure about the business model.

People started talking about how they were measuring traffic and that's when I jumped in and talked about how traffic was a second order or third order analysis and that looking at who was linking to articles and who was linking to them and what they were saying was much more interesting than traffic.

I gave my standard rant about how the first person voice of bloggers can help people care about the issues and "assets" in under-covered regions can help the resource issues that media companies face.

They talked about the "noise" of the Internet and the brand of print media, but I explained that there were many ways that blogs managed reputation and that these tools continued to become more refined. I explained that some blogs played the role of journalist providing new content in specific focused areas, while other blogs provided the editor role with a broader focus linking to other blogs and media sites. I talked about triangulation and how choosing a few key blogs as your entry into your view of the Net was a very good way to get a balanced view of the traditional media, something that the point/counterpoint media currently has difficulty providing.

I explained that many of the media sites in other countries were receiving more visibility in the US and other countries from bloggers linking to them. I explained that media sites could do things like permalinks, trackbacks, ping pingers, syndication and other things to make them much more blog friendly. Being friendly with bloggers was going to be essential for them, I opined.

I think that I was generally well received and I think many of the participants will be reading blogs and looking at aggregators tonight.

I'm in a meeting with the WEF Media Leaders. Its a few dozen people consisting of the editors-in-chief and CEOs of a variety of major media organizations from around the world.

I'm going to talk about the role of blogs and how we might work together. I'm going to talk about how blogs can address the issue of getting people to care about about things by providing a voice to people who don't have a voice and can provide additional resources, which seems to be one of the issues that many of these media companies have.

I will also try to talk to the big media companies about designing their online presence to be more blogger friendly.

I'll try to post notes here. The rules for this meeting are "off the record for background and not for attribution unless explicit permission to quote is granted by each speaker concerned."

I've also gotten the opportunity to hear some of the concerns that are facing these media leaders today and will summarize my notes later.

I'm in a car on my way from Zurich to Davos happily blogging on my T-Mobile gprs connection that is roaming over Sunrize in Switzerland. When I landed, I had trouble connecting to Swisscom, but "611" and two rings later, I was connected to a friendly T-Mobile support person speaking in English and she gave me other roaming partners to try. Sunrize connected without a hitch. In Hawaii, Frankfurt, Helsinki and a little hiccup, but one call later in Switzerland, T-Mobile has consistently kept me connected. Also, the support people have been EXCELLENT and I haven't had to wait more than a few minutes on the phone.

I'm a happy camper and I'm SOO glad I didn't pick ATT.

The new Technorati beta site is up. It's really fast.

Sorry about the terse post. I'm in Frankfurt airport about to board a flight to Zurich. On PowerBook-bluetooth->Nokia 6600-gprs->T-Mobile.

Larry Lessig comments on Adam Thierer's latest missive from Cato.

gapingvoid and I are going to collaborate on combing our twisted humor and his cartoon skills...

Now that I'm awake from the hotel spam. I guess I should channel my annoyance into at least one more blog entry.

Comment spam is becoming more "sophisticated". Originally, my policy was to erase stuff that linked to commercial sites if they didn't add to the dialog in the comments. Now comment spammers are actually trying to contribute to the discussion, but still leaving links to their commercial sites. It is much harder to identify as spam. Only by looking at the site that is linked do you realize that it's probably spam.

This is sort of the social equivalent to hanging out at someone's party and handing out flyers for penis enlargers at the end of the party.

The problem is, I've always had people who post on my blog partially to promote themselves and their own sites. There are some borderline sites that the spammers are promoting that don't have to do with pharma, sex or gambling. So where do we draw the line?

The new version 2.661 of Movable Type has a feature that allows you to throttle the number of comments from a single IP address over a certain (configurable) time period. It also causes a redirect before linking to the web page of a commenter. (Prevents google juice from being transfered to commenter.) These features are like banning flyers at parties or only allowing a person participate in one discussion at a time at a party. I think this will help, but the question turns into a question that we are faced with in real life. What do we do about people who are blatantly self-promoting in a context where you are allowing anyone to speak freely?

I am awake at 3:45 AM (Helsinki time) because the fire alarm went off in the hallway. (I'm in the Radisson SAS Seaside Hotel in Helsinki.) Then the TV turned on. (Yay! A message.) The TV started flashing "Fire Alarm" and blaring, "Please remain calm. We are investigating the cause." The volume steadily got louder until the TV was full blast. (I couldn't turn down the volume.) Then the TV suddenly turned off. The alarm in the hallway continued. Then turned off. Then turned on. And off... over and over for awhile. Finally the alarm stopped. Either the operator of the TV emergency notification system was burned alive or they had forgotten to tell us to "it was nothing." Finally, I called down to the front desk and they said, "oh, it was nothing." Doh. This is the second false hotel fire alarm in 6 months or so. What a drag. This is sort of like hotel spam. Well, not really, but it's really annoying.

My declaration to AKMA DID flash through my head though...

Update FYI:

Poor writing style, like bad manners, makes someone appear less intelligent than they are. Writing style, like manners, can be learned in many ways. Reading and writing a lot is the first step. Having people critique your writing is probably the next best thing. There are many basic writing mistakes that people make, which can easily be avoided by being aware of them.

I have never been a great writer and I am self-concious about my writing style. If you are serious about your blogging, I think that time spent polishing your writing style is well worth the investment.

My favorite reference is the Chicago Manual of Style.

Some web pages:

Special thanks to my editors on #joiito.

Rebecca MacKinnon, the Tokyo bureau chief of CNN and fellow GLT is taking leave-of-absence to be a media fellow at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard. We've talked a lot in the past about blogging and the future of journalism and I'm happy that she's going to jump out and take a bird's eye view of all this at what I think is the perfect time to be taking a bird's eye view of journalism.

Rebecca has started a blog. Good luck and welcome to our world. ;-)

I wrote a bit about her before when I visited CNN in Tokyo.

I've always had a hard time describing what I do. Recently, depending on the context, I've started calling myself a social entrepreneur. I first heard it in the context of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.

Here is a Stanford Business School definition of Social Entrepreneurship.

via CommonMe

This seems to be making its rounds on the Net right now.

via Louis via Lane

Italian Corporation
· You have two cows but you don’t know where they are.
· While ambling around, you see a beautiful woman.
· You break for lunch.
· Life is good.

Russian Corporation
· You have two cows.
· You have some vodka.
· You count them and learn you have five cows.
· You have some more vodka.
· You count them and learn you have 42 cows.
· The mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.

Taliban Corporation
· You have all the cows in Afghanistan, which are two.
· You can’t milk them because you can’t touch the cow’s private parts.
· Then you kill them and claim a US bomb blew them up while they were in the hospital.

Polish Corporation
· You have two cows.
· Employees are regularly maimed and killed attempting to milk them.

Florida Corporation
· You have a black cow and a brown cow.
· Everyone votes for the best looking one.
· Some of the people who like the brown one best, vote for the black one.
· Some people vote for both.
· Some people vote for neither.
· Some people can’t figure out how to vote at all.
· Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which is the best-looking one.

New York Corporation
· You have fifteen million cows.
· You have to choose which one will be the leader of the herd, so you pick some fat cow from Arkansas

Marko points out three mistakes in the moral mathematics of blogging that Clay has been writing about and articulates very clearly some key weaknesses in the arguments.

The first mistake – lets call it the “Natural Social Institutions” view – is the simplistic but widely held view that the patterns resulting from the operation of freely forming networks are acceptable because the rules of operation of these networks are in some sense natural.
The second mistake – lets call it the “Links from Nowhere” view – claims that link choices are made under full information about available options and fully formed values or preferences over those options. We should also reject this view. Autonomous linking choices are always informed by incomplete information and incomplete values and preferences. There are in fact no links from nowhere.
The third mistake – lets call it the “Forced Compensation” view – claims that the only way to address the unacceptable degree of inequality that results from the operation of a freely forming network is to “force” people to change their linking behavior. This is a far too narrow view of the means available to influence the distributions that arise.
Marko ends by asking some more questions about justice.
What arrangements of inequality are preferable over others from the point of view of justice? How do we justify to each other the rules, architectures and tools we adopt in the blogging world?

In answering these questions we should look back to understand the present. John Rawls put the task description well: “The task is to articulate a public conception of justice that all can live with who regard their person and relation to society in a certain way. And though doing this may involve settling theoretical difficulties, the practical social task is primary.”

A public conception of justice for freely forming networks. That could be our shared goal.

You should read the entire entry on Marko's blog.

Perl on Nokia phones? Sounds cool to me!

via skimpizu

I've been trying to push against Clay's assertion that blogs exhibit a power law and that power laws cause inequality. You can't "fix" the system without breaking it. We've gone back and forth in different places and I THINK I've boiled it down to a few key points for me.

When Clay uses the word "inequality" he means "not the same" and indeed, in a fair system, the outcomes will usually be inequal. I won't argue with that. What my question was was whether the rules were fair and whether we could counteract the current bias towards those in positions of privilege and amplify those opinions that are currently underrepresented.

I think the notion of trying to modify or influence the system to push it towards a particular outcome sounds like regulation and hits a negative chord with the free market libertarian types on the Net. I am also against unnecessary regulation. However, I do think that we can and should try to influence the architecture to push towards an outcome that we believe in. I think this is the nature of politics.

Clay talks about the power law in his paper, Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality. As most of you are aware, power laws are a type of distribution exhibited by large networks that grow where people are allowed to link freely. Since new sites tend to link to sites that already exist or are famous, the links aggregate to the well known sites making the "rich richer". The power law shows that even with fair rules, the outcome will be very inequal.

Recently, Marko and I blogged about blogs and justice in the context of the power law. Clay recently blogged this:

We can and should talk about the type of inequality we want — right now, for example, most of the high-flow webloggers are men. We can ask why that is, whether we should do anything about it, and if so, what? We can’t ask how we can level out the difference between the high-flow end of the popularity curve and the rest of us, or at least we can’t ask that unless we are advocating the destruction of the blogosphere. The interesting and hard question is “Since there is to be inequality, how shall it be arranged?”

I think we are going to see an explosion in work designed to alter the construction and effects of this inevitable inequality (viz Sifry’s experiments on moving recent blogs up the Technorati list) and I am optimistic about this change, as I believe the concentration of real thought and energy on what is actually possible, as opposed to cycles wasted on utopian declations, will be tremendously productive.

So I'm glad Clay is willing to consider what we might do about the fact that the most influential blogs are by people in positions of privilege.

In Linked Albert-Laszlo talks a lot about power laws and makes a few interesting points. First of all, power laws on the web make two assumptions, that the network is growing and that people tend to link to sites that have the most links. Laszlo cites work by Paul Krapivsky and Sid Redner from Boston University, working with Francois Leyvraz from Mexico,

generalized preferential attachment to account for the possibility that linking to a node would not be simply proportional to the number of links the node has but would follow some more complicated function. They found that such efforts can destroy the power law characterizing the network.
He goes on to talk about Google coming in as a latecomer in the search game and how "fitness" or the likelihood that someone will link to you is not entirely determined by your existing position on the power law curve and that a site worthy of connecting to can quickly scale the power law curve if it exhibits exceptional fitness. All disruptive technologies and innovations break power law curves by exhibiting exceptional fitness.

If you think about the power law as themes or ideas instead of people and you think about fitness as the level in which an idea resonates with people, the power law could be viewed as an amplifier for ideas and memes that are sufficiently interesting. Because fitness so influences a nodes ability to climb the power law, I think the notion that I described in the Emergent Democracy paper, where the tail of the curve is where the creativity happens and the power law is how an idea whose time has come goes main stream still makes sense. I think the key to making the system "fair" is to make sure the tail is as inclusive as possible and to try to encourage technology and norms to value fitness over simply linking to those who are popular. As Ross shows in his three layers of creative, social and political, I think the power law is the final amplification part. In fact, the tail of the power law, the creative layer and the social layer where the initial deliberation occurs might be where we should be focusing our energies.

I have a feeling that the blog power law is like a real-time amplifier. I think it is key to note that nodes that lose the fitness that got them there in the first place retire very quickly and that fitness is amplified in scale-free networks. If we architect blogs to allow the amplifier to be sensitive to positive fitness and quickly retire irrelevant blogs, it will be a good amplifier. If the Technorati top 100 is the Marshall amp, maybe we should be talking about the guitar?

I'm at Narita airport about to leave for Helsinki. Hawaii -> Tokyo -> Helsinki is really traveling in the wrong direction. I'll see you all on the other side...

David Weinberger describes how the Cato Institute's analysis of the Dean Net policy is wrong.

Michael Powell wants to crack down on profanity in the US and the Brazilians arrest this pilot (via antti) for flipping them the finger. "He made an internationally known obscene gesture when he was being photographed by the Federal Police," according to the article. With all of the increased reason for profanity directed against establishment, I can see how a global war on profanity is essential for the security interests of the civilized world. :-p

In my pursuit to understand Bo better, I'm reading a book that Barak gave me called How to Speak Dog. It's really a great book about how to to communicate with your dog. Stanley Coren makes an interesting assertion about our co-evolution with dogs.

Stanley Coren
It is well established that the primitive humans who survived to become our forefathers formed an early relationship with dogs. Compare our success to that of the Neanderthals, who never got along with dogs, and who ultimately died out. Some evolutionary theorists have suggested that the survival of our ancestors had to do with the fact that our cooperative partnership with dogs made us more efficient hunters than Neanderthals2. With the dog's more acute sensory systems, finding game was easier.
Here is where the serious speculation begins. These theorists suggest that since these early humans now had dogs to do the tracking, they no longer needed the facial structures that would allow them to detect faint scents. This, then, allowed our early ancestors to evolve more flexible facial features, which were capable of shaping more complex sounds. In other words, our prehistoric association with dogs, who would do the smelling for us, gave us the ability to create speech.
2. J.M. Allman, Evolving Brains. New York: Freeman, 1999.
Thanks Bo!

Very cool work by Cassidy Curtis.

Graffiti Archaeology is the study of graffiti-covered walls as they change over time. The project is a timelapse collage, made of photos of San Francisco graffiti taken by many different photographers from 1998 to the present.

Using the grafarc explorer, you can visit some of San Francisco's classic spots, see what they looked like in the past, and explore how they have changed over the years.

via danah boyd (her site is down right now)

And even more racism...

Kevin Marks
RIAA's fake cops harrass based on racial stereotypes

'A large percentage [of the vendors] are of a Hispanic nature,' Langley said. 'Today hes Jose Rodriguez, tomorrow hes Raul something or other, and tomorrow after that hes something else. These people change their identity all the time. A pictures worth a thousand words.'
Langley is Western regional coordinator for the RIAA Anti-Piracy Unit.
I feel sorry for Sir Howard Stringer. I'm glad I don't have to hang out with people like the RIAA. (tech dirt on how Sir Howard might save Sony Music)

I wonder just how much racism in the name of "profiling" will be tolerated. Since the RIAA links piracy to terrorism, I suppose they'll expect us to tolerate a lot.

Salon article on media pushed by Republicans and anonymous Democrats to paint a bad picture of Dean. (via metafilter) In the mean time, Dean rocks our world on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine. Here's the CNN synopsis of the interview. (via Rick Klau)

Here's another racist influential leader ranting, this time about genocide.

"There will be a purge on God’s orders, and evil will be eliminated like shadows," the Unification Church leader Rev. Sun Myong Moon, the owner and primary funder of money-losing right-wing Washington Times, said last week. (The comments were posted online by Rev. Moon’s webmaster and picked up by blogger John Gorenfeld.) "Gays will be eliminated, the 3 Israels will unite. If not then they will be burned. We do not know what kind of world God will bring but this is what happens. It will be greater than the communist purge but at God’s orders."

Via metafilter

The Bush in 30 seconds winners have just been posted.

UPDATE: ad may not pass CBS's "standards". Hmm... via Dan Gillmor

Thanks to Boris and chicgeek for making me a new moblog. I ripped off the "crop it square" look from TypePad and Boris and chicgeek figured out that categories made sense and rewrote the scripts. Boris did the design with his usual magic and chicgeek did the coding. Thanks a lot guys. It looks/works MUCH better. It's officially upgraded from version .2 alpha straight to version 2. ;-)

Shigefumi Matsuzawa, Govenor of Kangawa during a speech campaigning for the Nov. 9 House of Representatives election
Foreigners are a bunch of sneaky thieves. As Ishihara has cracked down on them, they've all flowed into Kanagawa.
If anyone has any grand unified theories as to why Japanese politicians often say such dumbass things in public, I'd love to hear.
Because they can get away with it and the media doesn't call them on it.

Blog blog blog...

Hugh aka gapingvoid, one of my favorite online cartoonists, let me pick a cartoon and sent me 500 business cards with my contact info on once side, and this image on the other. After getting a stack of 500 cards that say, "You are the most important person in my Life" I realized the irony and realized that maybe I chose the wrong phrase. ;-p

I do think his idea of cartoons on business cards is a cool idea.

So what I need is a bunch of different cards ranging from "You are the most important person in my Life" to "Talk to the hand." Then I can choose which cards to give to people. This would be the intentional physical version of what Cory doesn't like about social software.

Of course, I would only give "Talk to the hand" to someone as a joke... really.

Many people seem to think I'm a woman because my name is rather gender neutral if not feminine. I am a short, straight, 37-year-old, Japanese guy who lives in Japan. I've noticed some people are very careful not to reveal their gender on their blogs. Others are clear. Others probably fake it. I'm sure danah can give us a list of people for whom it is much more complicated than "are your male or female." Anyway, I suppose I should make it more clear, but where? Picture in my "about section"?

UPDATE: I just posted a picture. I hope this helps. I just realized how few pictures I have of myself...

I'm off again to the Sony Open Forum tomorrow. It's an annual event. The main event is Sony's sponsorship of a golf tournament, but there is also a small forum where Chairman Idei invites executives of Sony and several other people to discuss some of the key topics for the year. Last year I was invited to speak about the future of Japan. This year I'm going to be talking about media consumption and the future of media. My talk will kick off a discussion session. The conference itself is not public, but I'm assuming my comments are. I've put my talking notes on my wiki and Kevin Marks, Roger Wood and danah boyd have contributed some thoughts on a page about media consumption. The actual talk isn't for a few more days so any thoughts you might have would be greatly appreciated. Please add them to the wiki. Thanks!

It's $100 to register and you can register even if you're not attending ETech. I'll be doing a session with Ethan Zuckerman on International stuff.

Emergent Democracy Worldwide
Joichi Ito, Founder and CEO, Neoteny
Ethan Zuckerman, Founder, Geekcorps
Time: 3:30pm - 4:15pm
Location: California Ballroom C

While we're building great new tools to build communities, we've done very little to ensure that people around the world have access to them. And even when we've made it possible for people in developing nations to speak, we've done little to ensure that anyone listens. How do we ensure that the "Second Superpower" Jim Moore proposes includes the poor as well as the rich? When a new democratic structure emerges from highly-wired westerners, how do we ensure it's fair and just for those currently unwired? The answer is more complex than bridging the so-called "digital divide" - it involves bridging countless cultural divides. Emerging technologies make it easier than ever to bring first-person perspectives, as well as images, movies and music to people in other nations - is this enough to bring cultures together and ensure they care about one another?

The New York Times Upfront asked me to contribute a short piece to a point/counterpoint they were having on download. (I would defend downloading, of course.) I thought I managed to write a pretty good piece, especially for its size and audience, in a couple days. But then I found out my piece was cut because the Times had decided not to tell kids to break the law. So, from the graveyard, here it is.

Stealing is wrong. But downloading isn’t stealing. If I shoplift an album from my local record store, no one else can buy it. But when I download a song, no one loses it and another person gets it. There’s no ethical problem.

Music companies blame a fifteen percent drop in sales since 2000 on downloading. But over the same period, there was a recession, a price hike, a 25% cut in new releases, and a lack of popular new artists. Factoring all that in, maybe downloading increases sales. And 90% of the catalog of the major labels isn’t for sale anymore. The Internet is the only way to hear this music.

Even if downloading did hurt sales, that doesn’t make it unethical. Libraries and video stores (neither of which pay per rental) hurt sales too. Is it unethical to use them?

Downloading may be illegal. But 60 million people used Napster and only 50 million voted for Bush or Gore. We live in a democracy. If the people want to share files then the law should be changed to let them.

And there’s a fair way to change it. A Harvard professor found that a $60/yr. charge for broadband users would make up for all lost revenues. The government would give it to the affected artists and, in return, make downloading legal, sparking easier-to-use systems and more shared music. The artists get more money and you get more music. What’s unethical about that?

Footnotes and lots of comments on Aaron's site.

Ecto, the OS X blogging client by Adriaan (disclosure: Adriaan works for me) is out for beta testing. Check it out.

Tim Oren cites a poll by the Washington Post showing that the Internet has not helped Dean close the popularity gap with Bush. He says:

But those who think the removal of big media means the newly empowered wil start singing 'Kumbaya' and turn into anti-Bush, anti-war 'emergent democracy' citizens are indulging in wishful thinking, and we now have evidence to that effect. (Yes, I'm looking at you, Joi.) These newly empowered participants actually have to be persuaded. And that's a very good thing, too.
I agree. There is still a lot we need to do. I think we have to look at our successes and try to repeat them and amplify them. We have to acknowledge our failures and try not to repeat them. I never said this was going to be easy. Also, "emergence" sounds a bit lazy, as if it will "just happen." I never asserted this. Emergence is much harder. It is about creating technical and social systems that allow emergence and these can not be designed literally like most hierarchical system, but require active feedback, architectural tweaking and lots and lots of iterations before emergence really happens. I'm excited by the progress and not surprised that we haven't hit mainstream yet.

I would also like to add that I think big media still has a huge role and figuring out the role of blogs in the context of big media is one of the things that I am actively thinking about right now.

Fifteen "bush in 30 second" ads on MoveOn.Org. "a political advertising contest sponsored by voter fund."

I'm going to reply to some of the comments on the items, but I thought I'd post this thought I had this morning in the context of the discussion about dichotomies and money/privilege.

It is interesting to note that 90% of people interviewed in the US think that people around them respect entrepreneurs while only 10% of people interviewed felt the same way about entrepreneurs. The culture of the US was build during a primarily industrial revolution oriented social backdrop. Japan, however, built a great deal of its culture during the backdrop of an agrarian society.

The traditional caste system in Japan had the Emperor at the top, and the nobles next, then the warrior/samuri, then the clergy, then the artisans and farmers and below them came the merchants and tradesmen. Money was considered a zero-sum game, the people involved not being considered to be contributing a great deal of value to society. Farmers and artisans were clearly working and producers in the community. During the hundreds of years of peace in Japan, the nobility, the warrior class and the clergy played the role of the intellectual and the cultural class.

My mother, who was raised in a privileged family was not allowed to touch money until she was 18. She has a servant who took care of the payments. In Kyoto, I don't pay cash at many of the places I go, it is discreetly billed to me later. During the Edo period an interesting shift happened. The wars stopped and the warrior class had less to do. Culture blossomed as did trade. The merchant class gained power and helped drive the economy of Japan, but they were not rewarded with the same kind of cultural/social status that their American counterparts were. This stigma about being rich, making money and having financial power survives in Japan today and is in fact one of the big reasons that Japan continues to have structural problems and entrepreneurship is so weak.

The other notable point is that those who traditionally wielded power have lost their power. The nobles lost most of their money either during the Edo period or during the War. (Our family lost its property during the Meiji Restoration, lost its factories during the war, lost its money from giving all of the money to the war in the form of war bonds and gifts, lost its swords and family heirlooms to the US occupation forces, and finally lost just about everything under the current tax system that is basically designed to eliminate family wealth within a few generations. All that was left by the time I got there was our foolish pride.) The current ruling political party of Japan was funded by the Japanese gangster and the CIA in an effort to stomp out the left-wing and the ethics of those in power have become twisted caricatures of the original traditions.

One important Japanese businessman once told me. Power in Japan is not about having money yourself. It is about having the influence to move money.

Disclaimer: I am not supporting or condoning the Japanese here, but making a generalization and an observation about role of money in society which contrasts with what American's might believe.

I disagree somewhat with Adina. I think that traffic is similar to attention. Attention is not the same as power or money, but it is sought after in the same way and in some ways is something that money can't buy and is actually more valuable and difficult to gain. Having said that, it's not about the traffic. Just like it's not about money, or attention. Money, attention and traffic do not, at the end of the day, make you happy. It is associated with privilege and power. I've met many people who have privilege and power (and money and attention and traffic) who are not happy. One of the problems with happiness through score cards is that it's like playing a video game. It's quite an empty happiness that is similar to the empty happiness of fulfilling a craving or an obsession. Most (not all) of the extremely wealthy people I know are obsessed with money and think about it all the time. If you're smart and you are obsessed with money, you can usually become wealthy. Most of the happy people I know are not obsessed with money. Most of them think about money just enough so that they don't have to worry about money. But money's nice to have, just like power is nice to have. But more than enough is often too much. Once you have too much money, power or attention you become obsessed and the fear of losing it alone can make you unhappy. Money, power and attention are addictive and dangerous.

I don't talk about these things very often because speaking from a position of privilege, it's not very convincing, but most of my power, attention, money and other "assets" are a result of my obsessions. These obsessions drive me to focus in excess. I am now exploring my obsessions. I wonder what this is going to do to me. Obsession is a demon which can help you gain many things, but has many corrosive side effects and in the end often leads you away from happiness. I wonder what I would be like without my obsessions?

I've been accused of using binary logic and am still having a very difficult time understanding the problem with it. Anne Galloway's blog has very high quality readership so I am fascinated by the discussion, but I still need some help understanding. Anne, I hate to highjack the comments section on your blog entry, but I have a feeling I'm still missing a very important point.

I am turning off comments on the this item on my blog. If you have thoughts, please post them in context on Anne's blog.

Lest anyone lull themselves into the belief that the left has taken an uncontested lead in the bad-mouthing-the-oppostion derby, I submit the following from an Iowa anti-Dean ad being run by The Club for Growth, a PAC which describes itself as "one of the nation’s leading free-market political advocacy organizations."

In a current press release on their web site, they announce an ad that began running today on Des Moines, Iowa broadcast stations and on cable news channels, for which they have budgeted over $100,000 during this phase of the campaign. For for those who can't stream the ad from here, it goes like this:

"A dignified older couple walks out of a barber shop. An off-screen announcer asks what they think of Howard Dean’s plan to raise taxes on a typical family by $1,900.

"Without hesitation, the husband responds: 'What do I think? Well, I think Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading…'

"His wife continues: '…body piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont where it belongs.'"

If you hang out on #joiito or are interested in learning more and plan to be at ETech, please vote for, sign up for and contribute ideas to the session we are planning. We're going to try to play with RFID's and the Jeannie's cafe idea and we need a head-count so please sign up early if you're interested. Hopefully Hecklebot will be there as well.

Ev writes about Google's new quicklink for whois. If you search for "whois [domain]" on Google you will get a link to a search on's Global Whois service for the domain name. I guess this is useful for people who won't touch a command line, but I don't think I'd ever use it. I will continue to open a terminal window and type "whois". That way I can continue to see whois spam too. ;-)

$ whois

Whois Server Version 1.3

Domain names in the .com and .net domains can now be registered
with many different competing registrars. Go to
for detailed information.


Eeewwww... What ARE YOU THINKING Apple Computer?

I just ordered it anyway, but this is crazy. Microsoft Office is the last thing in the world I'd want to compare iLife with.

via Zeitgeist

My last blog entry about blogs and justice was a bit theoretical and ended with more questions than answers. Maybe it was confusing. Let me try to be specific. I think blogging will go beyond text and by blogging I mean the whole space that includes all sorts of micro-publishing of micro-content in a highly linked and low-cost way. This includes camera phones, video and audio. There are many things going on right now that will be sand in the vaseline from a technology perspective. Most types of DRM will suck for micro-content distribution. So will things like the broadcast flag. The whole notion of architecting systems for streaming video on demand goes against architecting systems for sharing. These technology and policy decisions will greatly affect the ease in which we publish and share information in the future.

When else can we do? At the last GLT Annual meeting Ethan Zukerman raised an important question during a talk moderated by Richard Smith, the Chairman and Editor in Chief of Newsweek. He asked why the mass media didn't cover Africa more. To summarize, Mr. Smith answered that they were a business and had to print things that people cared about and that they had resource constraints that made it difficult for them to cover remote regions. Resource constraints and caring. Mr. Smith seemed genuinely distressed by the inability to report about things the he believed people SHOULD care about. In Aspen the year before last, Jack Kemp said an interesting thing, "It doesn't matter what you know if you don't care." I agree, and generally people don't care to learn about things they don't care about.

I think blogs can help on both points. There are lots of people in these countries that can help provide voice if enabled with some technology and some support. Witness provides a video voice to people who are oppressed in remote regions of the world. Take a look at the videos. Tell me if you still don't care. Salam Pax our Blogger in Iraq provided a real human voice before the invasion of Iraq. This human voice helped me care about Iraq much more than a statistical body count reported in the New York Times ever could. I'm hoping that Creative Commons licenses will allow musicians in remote regions to share music and culture directly so they have a voice, rather than being mined by studios and commercial interests and being turned into an mere ethnic overtone in an otherwise typically commercial business. I think blogs and technologies that allow people to produce and share information help greatly on the "make people care" part of the equation.

On the "we are resource constrained" part of the media equation, blogs can help too. Ethan Zukerman is planning his second trip to Africa with GLTs and other opinion leaders. I hope to join him on the trip after that. Ethan has been working very hard to try to provide technical support to NGO and other people working in Africa. As I propose in my Emergent Democracy paper, I think that there is a way for information to emerge from regions though several layers of blogs. A group of bloggers focused on Africa, working with people like Witness to try to identify issues, getting first hand sources and dialog onto the Net is the first step. We don't need a lot of these bloggers and they probably won't be your average person, but with a few well positioned bloggers in these regions, these regions can be "lit up" with a human voice and feed culture into our collective consciousness. These bloggers would keep in touch with sources and provide a network similar to the way in which a journalist creates a local network of sources and experts.

I think that bloggers can work closely with the mass media. Richard Smith expressed his interest in hooking up with bloggers and other sources with access to information that his journalists could use. The bloggers who are in or care about regions that are not well-covered by traditional media could become sources for traditional journalists and support by providing an audience that cares and resources at a very low cost.

These are just some examples of things that we can be doing to help make blogs provide real value to society, rather than becoming an echo-chamber for local values or chat rooms to promote new media assets.

So when Clay's asserts that:

I can’t imagine a system that would right the obvious but hard to quantify injustice of the weblog world that wouldn’t also destroy its dynamism.
I guess if the primary focus of a good system is to be just, I can imagine it trying to make technology more inclusive and thinking beyond the market of the privileged that danah refers to.

Lou Marinoff described one definition of Justice as "doing the right thing at the right time." He continued by explaining that it means you have to define "right thing".

There are at least eleven ways of being right.
  1. deontology - rules tell us what is right and wrong
  2. teleology - The end justifies (or sanctifies) the means
  3. virtue ethics - goodness comes from virtues, which are like habits
  4. humanistic existentialism - what we choose to do determines what we value
  5. nihilistic existentialism - "God is dead." And we killed him. So all moral bets are off
  6. analytic ethics - "Goodness" cannot be defined or analyzed
  7. correlative ethics - every right entails an obligation, and vice-versa
  8. sociobiology - ideas of "right" and "wrong" are motivated by our genes
  9. feminist ethics - women have different moral priorities: e.g. ethics of caring
  10. legal moralism - if it's legal, it's ethical
  11. meta-ethical relativism - each situation has its own unique ethical dimension

Aeons ago, Clay asserted that power-laws existed in blogs and that it was in-equal but fair. Maybe he is basically being a deontologists with a bit of legal moralism thrown in. The rules are fair so it's OK. Marko (a philosopher among other things) asks the question, "So the interesting question this raises is: What are the principles if satisfied that would show the blogging world to be a just institutional structure? And the meta-level question: How would we justify these principles to each other?" I know that Marko is an expert on "justice" and my simple explanation above is far to simple, but this dialog about whether blogs are fair, good or just forces us to examine what we mean by fair, right and just. I think that in order for us to justify these principles, we might need to define Virtue. (Since defining "right" is so difficult.) According to Lou:

Aristotle said that Virtue is the Golden Mean between two extremes. It was all about balance. "Rational" comes from "ratio". The idea was to triangulate from two extremes of vice. For example, Courage is the mean between cowardice and rashness.
I know Dave Winer likes the word "triangulation" and the blogs are good at that. Is it possible that blogs can help us get out of the echo chamber and achieve the Aristotelian Virtue of the Golden Mean? (I know many people disagree with this, but I continue to believe as I argued in my Emergent Democracy paper that this is possible.) danah expresses her opinion that blogs are not an equalizing technology and that it is the a technology for the privileged. To her, fair (and probably just) isn't about having rules that are difficult to game, but rather about being available and designed to promote equality. She is probably more of a teleologist with a bit of correlative ethics and feminism thrown in. (Sorry, just playing with the labels a bit. Don't mind me.)

To finally tie it into the discussion about technological determinism vs social constructivism, I think we need to be aware that we have an active effect on how the architecture of this technology evolves. I don't think we can yet "show the blogging world to be a just institutional structure", but rather we can try to determine what is just and strive to make the blogging world into something we feel is just. This requires us to dive into some of the questions that even Aristotle didn't answer. What is right? What is just? Hopefully the tools themselves will help guide this discussion, but rather than be nihilistic or deterministic, I think we should be actively involved in a dialog that best represents a consensus of our views. In order for this to be just, we must try be as inclusive as possible of everyone and on this I agree with danah. The tool is not yet inclusive. I think that blogs are right in many ways, but are far from right in many others. How can we try to make blogs as right and just as possible. I think that this is the question that faces us today.

For those of you who continue to argue that most blogs and links between blogs are an echo chamber, go to Barlow's blog and take a look. Barlow has stepped out of his Barlowfriendz mailing list into a community which includes the Barlowenemiez. Barlow eloquently discusses the experience of stepping out of the echo chamber.

I remember when everyone shouted into their cell phones and thought that their batteries drained faster when they made long distance phones. I remember when people (who now have cell phones) swore to me that they'd never have a cell phone. I remember when cell phones looked more like military radios. I think it's fine to gripe about technology, but I would warn those people who swear they'll never use a technology. Technology evolves and so do social norms.

We've been having a dialog recently about the relationship between social norms and technology. I think this is part of the same dialog. New technologies disrupt our habits and our norms and what we feel comfortable with. I am an early adopter type who uses every technology possible and I try to wrap my life around it all. Some people try the technology and point out the tensions. Some people ignore the technology. Technology evolves along with the social norms. When it works well, we end up with a technology that contributes to society in some way and becomes a seamless part of our social norms. When it doesn't work well it either damages society or does not integrate and is discarded.

Being the techno-utopian optimist that I am, I think that writing off Skype and IM as annoying is a big mistake. They are what military radios were to the cell phones of today. I think it's important to take what David Weinberger and danah have to say about the tensions they create and thinking about how to make presence more granular, how to make it easier to manage the emission of your presence information and control access to you. What DOES free VoIP really mean? Can it be a background thing that allows us to continue to focus on our work instead of being an interruption? I am very excited by IM and VoIP and think that the tensions and the annoyances they are creating is a good a reason as any to dive into the privacy, identity, presence and interop issues that we've been talking about for so long. The more annoying it becomes, the more people will care about these issues.

I don't know if it is just me or the entire service, but, my mail host/spam filter was down for about 11 hours yesterday and has been down most of today. (Still down.) It appears that it is bouncing my mail with a error 500. If you have sent me any important mail in the last day or two, please send it to jito(at) or IM me at joi_ito(at)

This is the first time I haven't had access to my mail server directly and BOY IS IT FRUSTRATING. I'm going to take a look at moving my mail back under my own control. This really sucks. Does anyone know someone at All I have is a silly support email for them. I wish they had IM support like Earthlink. Ugh.

UPDATE: I'm starting to get really upset now... Why don't they even have an outage statement on their web page or their support page. Hello!?!

UPDATE 2: First of all. Thanks to everyone for their constructive comments. I DO have backup routes to divert my email, but the problem is that the server kept going up and coming down so I never knew when to "throw the switch". I don't like to keep backups spooling my mail because I travel a lot and I can't afford to download redundant mail or allow mailboxes to overflow. (I guess I could auto-delete old backup mail... hmm...)

Also, in the comments people pointed out that their CEO, Phil Goldman, recently passed away and might have something to do with this. I feel very bad about this and didn't realize it at the time. For this reason I have decided to cut them some slack.

Anyway, although my email to support@mailblocks didn't get a response and a call at night didn't reach anyone, I just called and stayed on the line past all of the messages about entering the extension number of the person you want to reach (of course I know no one there) and that I should email support messages (I did several times), I reached a human being. She was nice and when I told her that I was having problems she said that she had heard people were having problems and agreed to pass me over to tech support. The tech support guy was a pleasant guy and he told me that app1, my server, was having hardware problems and that although they didn't know when it would be fixed, that they were working on it. I suggested to him that they have an "outages" page with ETA's of when things might be fixed so they could calm people like me down and help us figure out whether we should be waiting or diverting our email. He said he had received this suggestion from several people they were considering it.

So, my position right now is that I still like the service very much and will continue using it. I will put better backups in place. They seem to be nice people, but they need to provide better support and I hope they figure this out.

FINAL (I HOPE) UPDATE: Seems to be working now. Switching back...

An interesting theory that facial expressions affect blood-flow to the brain and are not just results of emotions. The assertion is that these blood-flows affect our emotions. So SMILE! :-)

Zajonc, R. B., Emotion and Facial Efference: A Theory Reclaimed, Scince, 1985, 288, 15-2

He also asserted that elation follows the smile, not the opposite. The blood flow changes caused by contracting the facial muscles in the smile alter cerebral blood flow and cause an emotional change. He extends this reasoning to account for all kinds of other bizarre facial habits associated with emotions -- wrinkled forheads, rubbing one's eyes, hand on forehead, pulling earlobes, licking lips, etc.

Via Jonas

I'm giving a speech about the future of the Internet tomorrow afternoon from 2:30pm-3:30pm JST. The speech will be at the Rakuten New Year party. (Rakuten acquired Infoseek Japan and I am now on the Portal Group advisory committee.) I'll try to stream it, but it will be in Japanese. My slides are in English and I've put my outline on my wiki. Please feel free to add comments or links to examples on the wiki. The outline just lists the topics I will cover, but not what I'm going to say. ;-)

I'll be giving live demos of #joiito and IM so if you're around, I might ping you.

I'll be using keynote exported to QT inside of Safari with my examples loaded in tabs.

The latest version of the Keynote QT is here.

GRIPE : Keynote doesn't let you put hyperlinks in presentations. They should either figure out some way to embed Safari inside of a Keynote presentation or allow hyperlinks. Apple Computer presentations use two machines, one for browsing and one for Keynote. Doh. Not very user-friendly.

I will be streaming this if I have enough bandwidth. Copy and paste this URL into QuickTime rtsp:// (Warning. Japanese.)

UPDATE: Sorry folks. Didn't have a Net connection so couldn't connect to IRC or get Hecklebot working.

Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten, Masuda, CEO of CCC/Tsutaya and me. Photo by Ms. Noumura.

Come to think of it, this is a corollary to one of my favorite truisms: We judge ourselves by our intensions and others by their actions.

I've removed the CSS Stylesheets in my RSS feed until further notice. I'll let the discussions play out and will wait for the tool builders to decide what is best before I start pushing on this.

Thanks for all of the interesting feedback everyone.

My goal this year is to have fun in Davos. This will be my fourth World Economic Forum Annual Meeting and the third time that I will be attending it in Davos, Switzerland. (One year, it was in New York.) This year's meeting will be January 21-25. The meetings are always very interesting and I meet lots of people, but I don't usually have much of what I would call "fun". I don't know enough people and I get a little tired of meeting important person after important person who says, "so, what do you do?" It's very humbling to go to a conference where just about everyone is more important than you and has NO IDEA who you are, but it's tiring. The other problem is that for some reason, there is always a screw-up in my invitation and I end up registering the very last minute. There are never enough hotel rooms to go around so I always get stuck with the most inconvenient hotel room and find myself stomping through blizzards in a suit. This year is the same. At least I didn't end up in "hotel igloo" which is where people who end up not getting a room go.

I usually have fun at conferences by picking a few "conference buddies" to hang out with and share notes with. I'm hoping that this year a few of my GLT and Social Entrepreneur friends will be there who I can hang out with.

I will be speaking at two sessions. I will be participating in a discussion with the Club of Media Leaders -- a community of 30 editors in chief from leading global news outlets and topic will be "Rethinking the Net -- Internet Media Strategy, Wireless, Bloggers and Others" from 10.45 to 12.00 on the 21st of January. On Thursday the 22nd of January I will be on a panel titled Will Mainstream Media Co-opt Blogs and the Internet? which will be open to the general audience. If you're planning on coming to either of these, let me know so I can feel like at least someone else there knows what I'm talking about.

In any event, if you're going to be in Davos for the meeting and can/want to hang out, please drop me an email or post a comment here.

Now if only Google will direct people searching for "Fun in Davos" to this entry, we'll be all set. :-p

UPDATE: PLEASE stop sending me 419 Fraud mail. (I set up the email address above just for this entry and it is getting spammed by 419 Fraud email.)

Phillip Torrone, moblogger extraordinaire breathalyzer moblogs his NYE.

First of all, I'm glad I'm not an academic. I wouldn't have known what a technological determinist was or how insulted one could be being called such unless danah had explained this to me awhile ago. But... now that I am sensitized, I would have to respond to Lago's claim that we are assuming technological determinism by saying that we clearly are not. Many under-estimate the impact that technical decisions have on society. Lessig's book "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace" drives this point home. On the other hand, many technologists underestimate the impact that social norms have on technology. I think it's a process and a balance that we are striving to achieve, which is very difficult considering the completely different languages these worlds speak. Laws about technology and marketing of technologies are typically where the rubber meets the road, but this is very narrow and is like trying to have a love affair through litigation or polling. I THINK what we're trying to come up with is a method that allows everyone to participate in the process of developing technologies and norms. Social software and blogs are really an amazing example of a community where technologists and users are working closely together. Is there something we can learn from this process that we can apply more generally and expand?

Ross has a good roundup of posts about this thread.

In order to 1) mess around with TypePad more, 2) allow me to indulge my gadget obsession with complete abandonment and 3) experiment with multiple blogs, I've decided to start a blog about Joi Ito's Stuff. It is "a blog about stuff that I have, why I have it, what I'm doing with it and how I feel about it." I have no idea if this is a good idea or not, but starting blogs on New Year's Day seems like a good idea to me.

We Quit Drinking: A blog by and about people who have chosen to not drink alcohol. A new blog for a new year.

In my highly enlightened state this morning, I mused about the idea of a multi-author blog about resisting addiction. People could share their experience and we could also discuss the meta-issue of creating a network to support people who are trying to quit. I'm pretty set on getting this started today so I'm soliciting ideas before I kick it off. I need a name and a few key things to focus on. I guess that figuring out the URL is pretty important. Any ideas?

I just woke up from sleeping for 18 hours. I know some people who sleep 18 hours+ regularly, but for someone who averages 4-6 hours a day, 18 hours of sober sleep is quite a psychosomatic journey. I had had a full night's sleep the night before, but sitting in the sun cuddling Bo after a big huge brunch with Mizuka's family, their chatter turning into a comfortable drone in the background sent me into a deeeeeep sleep.

I just woke up and my brain is in a interesting state. I've had two espressos but I still can't type properly. I am quite disoriented, but I feel deeply happy and deeply thankful for a bunch of things. A lot of the "issues" I had been pondering now seem trivial and for some reason I seem to be taking a much longer term view on things. It literally feels like I've done a fresh install on my brain and it is now rebooting.

What a wonderful day. If I weren't feeling so merciful today, I would taunt those of you who have hang-overs today. ;-)

The Japanese holiday season is inverted compared to the US. Christmas is spent as a partying frenzy and as we approach the New Year things slow down. The days before New Year, we spend cleaning our houses and preparing osechi. Osechi is food that keeps well and tastes OK cold. Cooking a lot of osechi allowed the women (who typically did the cooking in the house) to take a break for a few days during the new year. The idea is to cook up a bunch of osechi, eat your noodles, go to the shrine, ask for good luck, and take a break. During the first few days of the new year, you visit family, eat osechi and basically chill out.

I think this is more efficient than the US form where you wake up drunk and hung over on in the New Year with a fuzzy recollection of a bunch of unrealistic New Years resolutions.

Yesterday, I helped Mizuka clean the house, she did most of the cooking (osechi is a bit of an art) and we had her family over for New Years osechi brunch. I passed out (sober) on the floor cuddling with Bo and slept for 18 hours.

As we start working on the details involved in the launch the sampling license over at Creative Commons, we find, as always, that God is in the details. The idea behind the sampling license is that many artists don't mind if their music is sampled by other artists as long as there is attribution. The Creative Commons is currently proposing two sampling licenses. The normal sampling license which allows other artists to transform the work even for commercial use, while prohibiting distribution of verbatim copies of the entire work. The Sampling-Plus license offers the same rights but allows verbatim sharing of the entire work for non-commercial purposes.

This license would help those genres of music that rely heavily on sampling which have been getting a beating recently by record company lawyers.

It starts to get a bit sticky when one begins to explore some of the extremes of what are called "moral rights". In the article 6bis of the Berne Convention, the "moral rights" of authors includes the "right of integrety: mutilation or distortion that would prejudice the author's honor or reputation is not permitted." These rights are not protected under US Copyright Law but many countries elsewhere protect this. The question is, when does a remix "prejudice the author's honor or reputation" and do the Creative Commons licenses allow people to use the works in ways that "prejudice the author's honor or reputation".

This is where The Kuleshov Effect comes in. danah boyd blogged about it today. The Kuleshov Effect is when an image is perceived very differently depending on what other content is juxtaposed with the image. The question that danah raises is, how much control should / can an artist have of the context in which their material is used? How much of this should be made explicit in the Creative Commons licenses and should there be a waiver of these "moral rights" in countries outside the US where such rights are actually protected.

I did a quick review of the 2003 stats for this site. Last time I posted my stats, Jeffrey Zeldman slammed my bad manners, but Cory thought it was fine and pointed out that he posts his stats ever new year. Liz points out in that thread that my site includes comments (and puts them in the same html as my entry for all of Google to index). Of the 8475 posts on my blog, 1247 are entries from me and 7288 are comments from YOU. This blog is more about community than a site with no participation.

A quick survey of people on #joiito about whether I should post stats also resulted in mixed reactions.

So, thus justified (and confused), I present (some of) my stats (in the continuation in an attempt to be a LITTLE PC).

And for the record, I don't feel inferior to sites that have more traffic than me and I don't chuckle at sites that have less.

This blog started 2003 with 5,000 page views a day and ended up with 28,000 page views a day. There were approximately 2.7 million sessions with 6.8 million page views for a total of 464 GB of blog viewing.

The Browser breakdown looked like this:

Internet Explorer21.72%
Mozilla Compatible Agent 5.20%
Radio UserLand3.38%

85% of you came directly to the site and 3% of you came from 1,210 people ended up here by searching for the term "best headphones" (hope you liked the Shure's!), 1,133 people ended up here by searching for "diet coke" (Sorry!) and 814 people ended up here searching for "stealth disco" (boy that was fun wasn't it?).

My RSS 2.0 feed was 24% of my page views, my html top page was 7% and my RSS 1.0 feed was 5.5%.

382 of you registered your name and birthday in my birthday database. (Thanks!)

37% of you came from .net, 19% from .com, 10% from .jp, 3% from .edu, 1% from .uk. .ca, .de, .au, .ch, and .nl and 21% from unknown (to me) domains.

Just got back from Munakata Shrine. This year we moved to a small village in Chiba and Mizuka and I decided to go to the local shrine to pay our New Years respects. At Munakata Shrine, we met many of our neighbors, clensed ourselves and payed our respects. I've just uploaded some photos.

Anyway, Happy New Year EVERYBODY!

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