Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I'm at Narita airport now on my to Seattle for a thingie at Microsoft. I hate the immigration at Seattle. I've had more bad experiences there than any other US port of entry I've ever been to. I've seen fathers deported because the checked "tourist" and mumbled something about visiting company friends and have had friends grilled for hours. I have also been treated rather poorly several times. I heard from someone that they trained immigration officers in Seattle. In any case, I'm not looking forward to it. I know my friends in the US State Department read this blog. {{waves to State Department readers}} If you don't see me blogging about landing safely in Seattle, do you mind giving Seattle immigrations a call to see if I'm stuck? Thanks.

Anyway, I'll probably see you soon from Seattle.

UPDATE: I took my chances with a sort of mean looking officer, but he turned out to be a gas. "Who are you here to see?" "Microsoft" "Why would you want to see THEM? [sarcastic smile]" "They asked me to speak" "Well, have a few sakes for me before you go on stage. hehe."

Unfortunately, he was so busy entertaining me that he forgot to stamp my customs papers and I got turned away at the exit and had to go back and get the stamp from him.

But it was funny and pleasant so I eat my words. I don't hate Seattle airport... right now.


My friend Akio was developing a lot of real estate in Thailand. When he came to Seattle to visit me, they did grill him for some time about his 20 or so stamps into Bangkok.

They haven't bothered me yet about all my trips to Hong Kong. But I seem to be good at getting through customs just about everywhere. I must just look legit. That may be my one skill.

If they let you out of lockdown in Redmond, give me a call. I'll make sure you eat well at least once while you're here.


I get into SeaTac at about 10:48am. If you're still in the airport then, give me a call.

Oops. I arrived at 8:45AM and am at the hotel already. Off to have some brunch at 11AM with people from #joiito. Call me if you want to join us.

At SeaTac the Seattle/Tacoma Airport the words "Microsoft" and "UPS" are magic. It's like saying "Sesame" and entering Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves treasure land ... ;)

I hate going through US immigration, and I'm an American citizen. But I have a foreign-issued passport that looks like it was glued together by the guy who forged the Hitler diaries, so it always gets strange looks. And I have a foreign wife, so we are never sure if we have to go through separate lines or if we can go together in the US citizen line (we are given different instructions each time).

My worst experiences have been at small airports (Cincinatti, Minneapolis) and JFK. My best experience was at Dulles... I guess they are used to strange passports there.

This event looks pretty cool. I was impressed with Lili Cheng at ETCon. Hope you'll post your usual thorough report on the shindig.

I had bad experience at Seattle airport immigration too. I was lead to back room and they searched every bagage of mine. I didn't think I said anything that trigger their interest (work in the US, etc), but had some part of paperwork unfilled, then they did search on me. I wondered what their motivation was.

then I heard same story that "Microsoft" is the magic word. well, I had no business with them yet so I didn't try yet.

and Dulles, it's very interesting. I got through immigration early in March, they scanned my fingers but didn't ask any questions. I even worried about they are overly depending on tech already.

just in case you do hate seatac again, ill arrange for it to be demolished, and a fast food style private air hub will take its place.

-governor smithy smith

I find complete candor and honesty the best solution to Customs and Immigration. I even listed a 1$ comb last time I went through. Tedious but I always sail through customs and besides what else do I have to do on International flights. The US is not the worst by far but if you ever go through Dubai use Merhaba. They can expedite a trip to Dubai amazingly. They open closed lines at Passport control so that you do not have to stand in line. Absolutely remarkable.
Best wishes,
Barry O’Connell

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