Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Jibot is the robot who lives in the #joiito channel. He was originally developed by rvr and became a group effort. With everyone hacking on him, he had gotten a bit flakey. termie with the help of a few others totally refactored him and now jibot is really happy. Thank you termie!

Jibot has a wiki page, a blog and a sourceforge page for the code.


Dear Joi,

I know this seems like an odd place to put this comment, but I'd like to get your personal opinion on the horrible treatment the three surviving hostages from Iraq are getting from your countrymen.

See here:
NYT article

It is in times like this, that I find it very difficult to remain politically correct and respect other cultural nuances.

Personally, I find the response of the Japanese to these people's plight to be the ones who are acting shamefully, not these poor people who just survived a horrible ordeal, and who were there because of a higher humanitarian calling that transcends cultural hangups.

Paul, when I have a minute I'll try to write something about this.

Perhaps the woman could be said to have a "higher humanitarian calling," but the two guys were adventure tourists who were mischaracterized in the Western press (e.g. the "freelance photographer" was a guy with a camera, the other guy was a guy with a blog). These three were interviewed several times by various news organizations on video before departure, and they did not present themselves very well; thus the lack of sympathy for their self-imposed predicament.

I admire the way the government and people of Japan reacted, since it sent a strong message that attempts at intimidating the country or in imposing Spanish-style "regime change" don't work any better than "Black Hawk down" tactics work.


I agree with you generally about the war, and feel America's decision to circumvent UN diplomacy, and pre-emptively invade to morally bankrupt. I suppose I'm referring specifically to the young women who was there researching spent Uranium shells effects on the Iraqi people. I think that is not onlu humanitarian, but takes a lot of damn guts.

I'm not trying to diss the Japanese either, who I also respect, it is only this particular cultural reaction, that I have such a hard time understanding.

"Researching spent uranium shells' effects": this is not something that can be investigated by a Japanese aid worker. It's a question of epidemiology, since the effects, if they exist, would emerge over time and be subtle and difficult to distinguish from other causes. The anti-spent uranium religion is just that: a religion. A good primer on how something like this would have to be researched can be found in the book, "Science on Trial," which reviews the supposed problems caused by silicon breast implants and how science was warped to support untenable claims.

Back to the NY Times article: reread it critically. It contains two types of information: (1) facts, and (2) the reporter's amateur anthropo-sociological musings. For instance, the government is charging them for the cost of the charter: Fact. Japanese have reacted badly to the kids (musing based on talking to maybe three people) due to their rejection of the tribe (musing based on undergraduate anthro course 15 years ago).

My take on the whole thing, living here, is that the kids were a bunch of jerks, made the mistake of showing their jerkiness on national media before leaving, and were treated as such people would be treated in any culture. Tribal concerns may have played a part with more sympathetic characters, but it never reached the level for that to kick in with these three.

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Jibot 0.6 from Blogging in the wind
April 24, 2004 10:33 PM

Joi Ito announces in his page that: «Jibot is the robot who lives in the #joiito channel. He was originally developed by rvr and became a group effort. With everyone hacking on him, he had gotten a bit flakey. termie with the help of a few others tota... Read More