Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

June 2004 Archives

3.5 hours until TypePad Japan is launchesd. Yay!

Student smashes SMS record

A Singaporean student looks to have smashed the world record for high speed text messaging.

Kimberly Yeo, 23, managed to send a 160-character SMS message in just 43.24 seconds.

It knocked more than 20 seconds off the official record of 67 seconds held by Briton James Trusler.

That's like 36 words per minute.

Do you still think this thumb keyboard is silly?

via Seth Godin

flickr, a photo management/social network/community/chat service just integrated Creative Commons so you can choose a license for a photo when you upload this. This is awesome. flickr integrates photos into your chat so that you can plop photos into a chat room from your shoe-box and copy photos into your shoe-box from a conversation. People can comment on the photos, etc. It's probably the best integration of photos in conversation that I've ever seen and now with Creative Commons, it should make feel safer and more fluid.

Nice job Stewart!

Last night, I attended an Izu Conference dinner and the guest speaker was Yasuhiro Yamashita. Yamashita is the former Japanese judoka Olympic gold medalist and he is currently teaching at Tokai University and is on the board of the International Judo Federation. He's quite a star in Japan and he talked about Judo and globalization.

He started off the talk by showing an interview with Vladimir Putin on Japanese TV. Putin talked about his love of Judo and how he had been a street urchin looking for a way to be tougher when he started Judo, but that Judo taught him "the way" and helped make him what he is today. Putin also mentioned how the art of using the strength of the opponent against themselves was an important method even in politics. There was footage of Putin at his Judo dojo at his home in Russia. Both of Putin's daughters are studying Judo as well.

Yamashita talked about how Putin's love of Judo was what helped break the ice for Koizumi's relationship with Putin and how they had met at the dojo before Koizumi's meeting with Putin in Japan.

Yamashita also mentioned that Chairman Okuda of Toyota was also a Judo enthusiast.

Yamashita urged people to support Judo. He said he was also a poorly behaved young man and that Judo helped him learn values and discipline. He jokingly said that although many of the young Judo students may look like misbehaved youths, just imagine how much worse it would be if they were in the streets.

The Izu Conference is an annual IBM Japan sponsored meeting/retreat. This dinner was kind of an alumni meeting. Here are some of my notes from last year's annual meeting where the topic was the US.

I originally saw this article in the IHT, but found it online on E-Commerce News.

Howard W. French
China's Web Police Send Mixed Message

...Internet cafe users in China have long been subject to an extraordinary range of controls. They include cameras placed discreetly throughout the establishments to monitor and identify users and Web masters, and Internet cafe managers who keep an eye on user activity, whether electronically or by patrolling the premises.

The average Internet user, meanwhile, neither sees nor, in many cases, suspects the activities of a force widely estimated to number as many as 30,000 Internet police officers. Experts on China's Internet say the officers are constantly engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with equally determined Web surfers, blocking access to sites that the government considers politically offensive, monitoring users who visit other politically sensitive sites and killing off discussion threads on Internet bulletin boards.


Asked if the privacy of Internet users could be infringed, the official said that the Shanghai government had noted the issue, but added that "Internet bars are public areas, and some experts say that what one says in a public area should not be considered private."

"Some experts say".. ;-) Some experts will say anything.

Seriously though, I can only see how this will get worse for both sides. Obviously the "arms vendors" will make money in the cat-and-mouse game, but can China afford to ramp up the Internet police force as China gets more and more wired/wireless. I wonder how long this "control" can continue and how much it's going to cost them. I guess that for now, they believe the control is worth the price.

In an update on the new Induce Act that I blogged about earlier, Orlowski makes an interesting observation about why the IT lobby lost Hatch who is leading this bill and who used to be "on our side."

Orlowski - The Register
Dirty rotten inducers - the law the IT world deserves?

...Well, perhaps it's a combination of all these factors. Perhaps too, the brief flood of speculative capital into the technology industry in the 1980s and 1990s convinced IT people they didn't have an exalted place in society. For a time, they did, and even now many seem to think so. And underneath, there's the hunch that the market will sort everything out, or the belief that every problem can be solved with technology. Whatever the reasons, the fightback against the RIAA and the MPAA has been as effective as the proverbial one-legged man in a backsid- kicking competition. The entertainment industry should be thankful it has opponents so inept.


Opportunity knocked

We mention this only because the good Senator Hatch personifies the missed opportunity. He once shared the view of many involved in the technology sector today that the RIAA could not be trusted to clean up its act, and that alternative compensation systems that ended "piracy" could prove to be very popular. That was in 2000.

At around the same time, the EFF was campaigning for Napster to be legalized, without offering any suggestions as to how the artists might be paid - thus surrendering its moral authority on the issue. Meanwhile, the RIAA was courting and flattering Senator Hatch.

At a special gala awards dinner early in 2001 hosted by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Hatch was awarded a "Hero Award" and the diners heard Nashville star Natalie Grant perform one of his songs, "I Am Not Alone", Joe Menn reported in his book about Napster, All The Rave [Reg review]

If turning a Senator is this easy, why couldn't the techies do it?

I find Orlowski too negative sometimes and his critical view on blogs and Emergent Democracy have always bothered me, but I think he makes some good points about the weakness of the "Internet lobby" in this piece. Many of us are aware of this to varying degrees, but I think we need to keep reminding ourselves that much of the time, we're talking to ourselves. More importantly, we need to figure out how to become more effective. I think the EFF is doing great stuff, but how can we make it even better?

When writing my last entry, I remembered a question that some people ask me. Why choose the Creative Commons license that allows people to use content free for commercial use? I think people have some sort of instinctive reaction toward the notion that someone could "exploit" their work to make money. One question to ask is, will you make less money because of it or more? They have to give you attribution so more people will know about you and your work. I would rather have people copy and quote my blog without worrying about asking for permission. I would love to appear in commercial magazines, books, websites and newspapers. Yes, fair use allows these people to quote me without asking permission, but fair use must be defended in court and some countries don't even have fair use. As a practical matter, fair use really only gets you the right to hire a lawyer. The CC license allows people to use stuff from my blog without fear because they know my intention and it is clear legally as well.

The next question is, then why not make it completely free? A good way to understand this is to look at the differences between the GNU Free Document License that Wikipedia uses and the by-sa (attribution share-alike) Creative Commons license Wikitravel uses. There is some overlap and lots of nuances, but generally speaking the GNU license is more about creating an ever growing body of work which must remain free and allows commercial reprinting with limitations basically in order to allow people to charge for reprinting the document. The Wikipedia copyright page says:

The goal of Wikipedia is to create an information source in an encyclopedia format that is freely available. The license we use grants free access to our content in the same sense as free software is licensed freely. This principle is known as copyleft. That is to say, Wikipedia content can be copied, modified, and redistributed so long as the new version grants the same freedoms to others and acknowledges the authors of the Wikipedia article used (a direct link back to the article satisfies our author credit requirement). Wikipedia articles therefore will remain free forever and can be used by anybody subject to certain restrictions, most of which serve to ensure that freedom.
Wikitravel has a page on why they didn't choose the GNU Free Document License.
The GFDL was developed to support making Free Content versions of software manuals, textbooks, and other large references. Its requirements for what you have to distribute with a document under the GFDL -- such a copy of the GFDL and a changelog, as well as "transparent" (i.e. source) versions if you distribute over 100 copies -- aren't really all that onerous for large volumes of text.

But for Wikitravel, we really want to have each article redistributable on its own. Wikitravel articles can be as small as 1-2 printed pages. For such small documents, it just doesn't make sense to require people to pass out another 10 pages of legalese text, as well as floppy disks or CDs full of Wiki markup.

Consider these small "publishers" who would distribute stacks of photocopied printouts of Wikitravel articles:

• Local tourist offices
• Hotels or guesthouses
• Helpful travellers
• Teachers
• Exchange student programs
• Wedding or event planners

Burdening these publishers with restrictions meant for software documentation or textbooks would mean that they'd either ignore our license -- a bad precedent to set -- or, more likely, just not use our work.

We make our content Free so we can collaborate on this wiki, but also because we want it to be seen and used. We can't serve travellers with useful information if they can't get to that information in the first place.

A lightweight alternative

The license we've chosen, the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0, is much easier and more lightweight. We think that using the Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0 license (by-sa) meets our goal of having copyleft protection on Wikitravel content, without putting an excessive burden on small publishers. All that needs to be included are copyright notices and the URL of the license; this can be done in a short paragraph at the end of the article.

The big downside of not using the GFDL is that GFDL content -- like Wikipedia articles -- cannot be included in Wikitravel articles. This is a restriction of the GFDL -- you're not allowed to change the license for the content, unless you're the original copyright holder. This is kind of a pain for contributors, but we figured it was better to make it easy for users and distributors to comply with our license.

Creative Commons is planning to issue a new revision of their suite of licenses some time in the winter of 2003-2004. Compatibility with other Free licenses is "a top priority", and we can expect that some time after that version change, articles created on Wikitravel can be distributed under the GFDL. So, even though we can't include GFDL work into Wikitravel, other Free Content authors can include Wikitravel content into their work.

In Wikipedia's case, the main use case is having it available online and I think for that the GFDL works best. In the case of Wikitravel where they would like to see their work expand into the physical world in small bits, I think the CC by-sa works well. I think they both picked the right licenses.

They point out one of the biggest problems with many of these copyleft licenses. They usually require the creator of a derivative work or the distributor to use the same license and even if the work can be tampered with, the license can not. This makes it hard if not impossible to mix with other licenses. The "share-alike" attribute in the CC license the Wikitravel uses serves this function and is similar to GPL and GFDL licenses in this regard. This is important in keeping the "spirit" of the original intent going and in the case of Wikipedia and Wikitravel which are group efforts, this is quite important. In my case, I would rather allow people who use my works to have maximum freedom so I have not included "share-alike" to my license. This allows people to mix my content with other types of licenses.

Creative Commons Weblog
CC Search Plugins

Earlier today Steve Griffin announced a CC Search Sidebar for Mozilla-Based Browsers. Previously Steve has worked on a C# API for CC metadata.

A mycroft search plugin for the CC search engine is also available.


The mycroft plugin adds a new search engine to those available from the Mozilla Firefox toolbar.

Very nice. It's still a tad slow, but definitely shows where we are headed with this. Imagine Google images and Napster on CC. You could find sound-clips for your family album, images for your presentation and movie clips for your class project, all without worrying about copyright infringement or asking permission. Conversely, you could upload content and find it quickly integrated into courseware in other countries and DJ tapes and your creative content would travel freely as long as people gave you credit. These are the sorts of tools that CC needs to really go viral. Thanks Steve!

PS For CC newbies: There are a variety of licenses to choose from so the artists can select what sorts of rights they would like to grant. Free for non-commercial use with attribution is quite common. This blog is free for commercial use as well as long as I get credit.

"On Tuesday, Cheney, serving in his role as president of the Senate, appeared in the chamber for a photo session. A chance meeting with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, became an argument about Cheney's ties to Halliburton Co., an international energy services corporation, and President Bush's judicial nominees. The exchange ended when Cheney offered some crass advice.

'Fuck yourself,' said the man who is a heartbeat from the presidency."

...Even if the Senate were in session, the vice president, though constitutionally the president of the Senate, is an executive branch official and therefore free to use whatever language he likes."

And this is the administration that's trying to prevent you from saying "fuck" on TV.

I don't think I've ever told a business associate to "fuck yourself", but I guess I've never been accused of corruption by an associate either. On the other hand, I can't imagine ever calling my company a super-duper company...

Boing Boing via A Great Notion


CHENEY: Well, I expressed myself rather forcefully, felt better after I had done it.

CAVUTO: All right. Now, did you use the "F" word?


CHENEY: Yes, that's not the kind of language I ordinarily use. But...


CAVUTO: Do you have any regrets?

CHENEY: No. I said it, and I felt that...

via Meta-Roj

AlterNet: EnviroHealth: Condom Wars

Lethal new regulations from President Bush's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, quietly issued with no fanfare last week, complete the right-wing Republicans' goal of gutting HIV-prevention education in the United States. In place of effective, disease-preventing safe-sex education, little will soon remain except failed programs that denounce condom use, while teaching abstinence as the only way to prevent the spread of AIDS. And those abstinence-only programs, researchers say, actually increase the risk of contracting AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Reminds me of this billboard.

via Bopuc

James continues the SD tradition. Loic takes photos. Rock on brothers.

UPDATE Loic SD's Liz.

On the 10th, one of my good friends, Mannojo Nomura of the 300-year old Izumi school of kyogen passed away suddenly. He was 44. His father and grandfather were both Japanese living national treasures and he was scheduled to take his grandfather's Manzo Nomura title in January. Our family house in Iwate used to have a no/kyogen theater and we had hosted his family in the past many years before I was born. A few years ago, Mannojo and I met up through Enjin 01, a cultural non-profit organization that we are both on the board of. He was always very cheerful and thoughtful and we talked a lot about rebuilding our family relationship. We had planned to travel to Iwate together soon. I'm really going to miss him...

Last week the grandmother in the house next door passed away and we had the first funeral in our little village. The village is still mourning the loss. Although I didn't know the woman, I can feel the mourning in the air.

Then, the day before yesterday, Kazuo Sato, the CEO of Net One Systems passed away. I met Mr. Sato through Osamu Sawada who used to be our COO at Neoteny. Mr. Sawada will be taking the CEO role now at Net One Systems. Mr. Sato and I met several times and I remember him being extremely driven and generous. We had agreed to go to dinner sometime and discussed working together more closely, but we had both been busy and hadn't gotten around to it. Net One Systems is one of the largest and fastest growing network solution providers and Mr. Sato is famous for building the extremely successful company with his focus and strength of character.

I'm sorry for clumping three obituaries together in one post, but they're all fresh in my mind right now...

Tantek, who worked on IE for the Mac at Microsoft has given notice to Microsoft that he will be joining us at Technorati. Welcome aboard!

Dan Gillmor
Congress Goes After Peer to Peer


I hadn't been taking some proposed new copyright legislation very seriously, mainly because it's logically absurd on its face. But the "Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act of 2004" (PDF) seems to be moving so quickly that we have to pay attention now.

It's basically a bill that can make the creation of technology that could possibly be used for "piracy" illegal. More on Dan's blog. Please take a look. It's quite absurd and dangerous. If it's moving quickly, I think we need to mobilize against it as soon as possible. Japan always gets hand-me-downs of ugly US bills so please stop it!

UPDATE - a scenario of what would be illegal:

Here's EFF's hypothetical complaint against Apple (for making the iPod) C|Net (for reviewing the iPod), and Toshiba (for supplying hard drives for iPods).

this is the constitution on DRM

So jump over here to where you can purchase an electronic version of the Constitution, fitted very nicely to a Microsoft Reader (not Mac compatible), and protected quite completely with DRM. The description says you're not permitted to print it. The reader reviews report you're permitted to print it twice a year. And don't try to hack the code to print it more than twice -- until Boucher's H.R. 107 passes at least. (Though the ranking is higher than for my book. Maybe free fails after all?) (Thanks Paul!)

Now who in their right mind would buy a copy of the US constitution in a form that they couldn't freely print? Or maybe they're going to try to get the government to stop distributing for free. ;-p

Some people have been critical about the lack of fact checking and vetting I do before I post an article or a link. I've argued that my posts are really the beginning of a discussion and not a definitive assertion or the final word. I really think about my blog as a group effort with the people who comment here.

I was reading Yochai Benkler's paper, "Coase's Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm", (which I highly recommend) and saw a reference to this from Slashdot's FAQ which I think sums up my feelings as well.

Q: How do you verify the accuracy of Slashdot stories?

A: We don't. You do. :) If something seems outrageous, we might look for some corroboration, but as a rule, we regard this as the responsibility of the submitter and the audience. This is why it's important to read comments. You might find something that refutes, or supports, the story in the main.

Agreed, a blog is a bit different from slashdot, but please. Read the comments. That's where most of the really interesting stuff goes on.

A paper by Felix Oberholzer of Harvard Business School and Koleman Strumpf of UNC Chapel Hill shows strong evidence that file-sharing has "statistically indistinguishable from zero" effect on CD sales and the RIAA decides to sue 482 more people for sharing copyright music on peer-to-peer networks. This brings the number of people sued by the RIAA for file-sharing to 3,429. I guess that if you can't convince everyone, you can always try to scare people into submission.

But it looks like the RIAA will have event MORE reasons to sue people. They're trying to "criminalize the act of inducing another to commit a copyright violation."

Better late then never. The State Department announced Tuesday that their report that terror has been decreasing was in fact incorrect. Terror actually ROSE in 2003. However, they are still arguing that they are "winning the war on terror." (AP/NY Times - Amended Report Shows Terror Rose in 2003)

On our home front, the Japanese diet passed the controversial pension bill (the pension that 1/3 of the cabinet members have been shown to have evaded at some point). It is shown that an inflated fertility rate was used for the bill to show rosier numbers and lower, more accurate numbers that had been finalized for more than 2 weeks by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry were withheld. Public sentiment has already been very negative about the pension system. The government had been pushing this new bill, were paying commissions to retired bureaucrats to collect such pensions from normal citizens, and the politicians themselves not paying. Now this. (Japan Times -
Inflated fertility rate used for pension bills

What surprises me is the stupidity of these lies. Neither of these lies were likely to remain unchallenged. Did these people believe that they could just fudge numbers to make some false short-term point. Amazing.

Dan Gillmor
Iran's Net Censorship
Hoder points me to "Stop Censoring Us" -- a site about the increasing level of government intervention in what was emerging as relatively free speech in Iran. I'm not sure what individuals outside Iran can do about this except to offer support to the Iranians who want to speak their minds.
I once sat next to a guy from Sun Federal, a Sun Microsystems subsidiary, who was on his way back from selling a filtering system to a government. I think that most of this censorship technology is built in the US. I guess it makes sense, but it's interesting that there is very little discussion about this. (At least as far as I know...)

Cory's excellent drm rant which he presented at Microsoft Research has now been wikified to allow people to comment and add to it. Excellent.

Dan Gillmor
Ray Bradbury's Bizarre Complaint

Ray Bradbury is one of the great science fiction writers. But in his advancing years he's also acting in a fairly petty manner.

The author of the brilliant novel "Fahrenheit 451" is claiming to anyone who'll listen (AP) that Michael Moore has somehow committed an act of intellectual theft by naming his new movie "Fahrenheit 9/11" without asking permission.

Don't you hate it when your favorite writers do, write or say stupid things?

This reminds me of the horror of reading Orson Scott Card's homophobic essay, "Homosexual "Marriage" and Civilization".

Andrew is trying to draft Bruce Springsteen, an outspoken critic of war, to perform at Giants Stadium (which he has reserved) September 1, the day of the Republican National Convention. Andrew wants you to sign his petition.

Bush vs Bruce live would be definitely be something worth watching.

via ejovi

This is a pre-dinner/party for Supernova 2004 at the Santa Clara Westin June 24-25. (But you can come to the party if you're not attending the conference!) Joi will be in Tokyo, but with us in spirit -- and perhaps more directly....

Location and Time

2232 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95050
Tel: (408) 248-9747

Wednesday, June 23
Cocktails at 6:00pm; dinner starting at 7:00pm

See the wiki for more details and to sign up. I can't make it, but am trying to sort out a way to be there virtually. ;-)

On the plane returning from Helsinki to Tokyo, I read an op-ed in the International Herald Tribune, Dare We Call It Genocide? Please click the link and read it. It's short, but an important perspective. People gloss over statistics and even vivid first-hand accounts like this in text often fail to get our attention. In fact, I remember thinking about blogging this article, but it slipped my mind after I returned to Japan.

This morning I saw Tears of the Sun starring Bruce Willis. This movie is about a heroic extraction mission in Nigeria with ethnic cleansing as a backdrop. The movie itself and its message were not that interesting, but the scene where people are being murdered and raped by soldiers struck me emotionally and created a visual image for me of the atrocities in Sudan. It sparked me to search for and post the link above.

I think it's important to realize that motion pictures and videos have an incredible impact on us emotionally. We've discussed the risks of racial stereotyping in motion pictures and some people have criticized me for citing shallow movies about important issues. It is clear that movies play a huge role in helping us (accurately or not) understand and care about cultures.

One thing I've noticed is that amateur films and flash are being used quite effectively in political jokes and commentary on the Net. There are copyright issues with many of the works, but I believe that video blogging, (or whatever you want to call grassroots video production and sharing) can play a very important role in raising awareness on issues such as the genocide in Sudan.

Maybe we need to get Witness and Passion of the Present working together if they aren't already. Ethan?

A Business 2.0 article did a very good job describing Creative Commons and the "sharing economy" which they believe is a multi-billion dollar industry. As I approach companies about trying to adopt creative commons, free software or investment in basic open research and innovation, I am struck by the lack of understanding of the value of sharing and contributing to the commons. It makes a lot of sense to me, but I wonder if it might be useful to try to collect material and generate some addition material that describes the benefits of sharing from a business and economics perspective.

Lawrence Lessig describes the argument very well in Free Culture, but I think that a rigorous business treatment would help the business guys a lot. The think the argument can be made that open protocols such as TCP/IP and http have enabled a great deal of business to happen and if either had been "owned" or patented, we would not have the Internet today. I'm sure IBM can make a strong case about the value of Linux which it has embraced so wholeheartedly. I recently met business researchers in St. Gallen who were displacing management consultants by allowing companies to participate in academics studies about their management that would be contributed to open research. I think there are many arguments about contributing to the commons and how the commons creates a foundation upon which we can build.

I'm going to try to collect papers and articles about this. If anyone has any good references or ideas, please add them to the wiki page I just set up.

Are there any good books about this? I think this is such an important topic that if I had time to write a book, this is what I would want to write it about...

See you later Helsinki and thanks for the reindeer and the midsummer nights.

On my way back to Japan. Looking forward to being home for a few weeks...

I had fun with some photoshopping last night, but this morning someone showed me a site of a photoshop-a-rama on the new MEP from Finland, Alexander Stubb. Too bad most blogs don't allow images in comments anymore. It's such a ... "creative" form of communication. ;-)

New Movable Type pricing and licensing up on the Six Apart site. Thanks to everyone for the support and feedback.

Dan Gillmor
DirecTV Reins in the Legal Attack Dogs

In one of the uglier "intellectual property" abuses, DirecTV has been suing people for possession of tools it claims can be used to get TV shows without paying for them. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society have challenged the satellite TV company on this conduct, and on Monday DirecTV agreed to modify its approach, according to this press release, which says in part:

The company will no longer pursue people solely for purchasing smart card readers, writers, general-purpose programmers, and general-purpose emulators. It will maintain this policy into the forseeable future and file lawsuits only against people it suspects of actually pirating its satellite signal. DirecTV will, however, continue to investigate purchasers of devices that are often primarily designed for satellite signal interception, nicknamed “bootloaders” and “unloopers.”

DirecTV also agreed to change its pre-lawsuit demand letters to explain in detail how innocent recipients can get DirecTV to drop their cases. The company also promised that it will investigate every substantive claim of innocence it receives. If purchasers provide sufficient evidence demonstrating that they did not use their devices for signal theft, DirecTV will dismiss their cases. EFF and CIS will monitor reports of this process to confirm that innocent device purchasers are having their cases dismissed.

Perhaps DirecTV saw some writing on the wall. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court has ruled that the company can't sue solely because someone possesses such equipment.
These are the kinds of stories that make me sometimes wish I lived in America. Good job EFF and Stanford Law School.

Bruce Schneier has written an interesting article discussing the accusation of Ahmed Chalabi of informing Iran that the US had broken its codes and when Iran knew that the NSA was cracking their codes. He digs into the history of Crypto AG, the NSA and Iran. He links to an article about Hans Buehler, the Crypto AG salesman who was arrested by Iran in 1992 on suspicion that Crypto AG had installed back doors in its encryption machines. There is no conclusion, but this story reminds me of Crytonomicon and the interesting world of information, misinformation and spying.

Got a new Nokia 7610. Short review on my stuff blog.

Nokia asked me to be a guest speaker at their annual press event, Nokia Connection 2004. I was the only outside speaker and they told me I could say what I wanted. What a treat. ;-)

A summary of my presentation:

sharing++ open++ customer_oriented++ user_empowering++ blogs ++

DRM-- "pipes"-- "terminal devices"-- traditional_marketing--

Rebecca is blogging from about the Japan sessions at the World Economic Forum meeting going on right now in Seoul. The theme seems to be about recovery. This year at Davos, I was in the audience and Rebecca was moderating a similar panel. Unfortunately, I'm not there this time to heckle. ;-)

Rebecca blogs:

World Economic Forum Blog
... However he [Takenaka] also said that further agressive reforms are necessary if Japan is to pull itself fully and completely out of its decade-long economic slump. He said that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is fully committed to such aggressive reform.


Takenaka concludes: "There is no excuse to postpone the reform, or to stop the reform at this moment." He says the greatest fundamental danger to economic expansion is a "kind of complacency." People who say that further reforms are unnecessary because the economy has improved are "totally wrong." Japan, he says, now has an opportunity to create a "virtuous cycle" of reform and growth.


At the Annual Meeting in Davos this past January, I moderated a panel titled Making Japan's Recovery Last . Panelists were generally optimistic that the recovery could be sustained, as long as the government continued with structural reforms. However some members of the audience including venture capitalist and WEF GLT Joi Ito expressed concern that the economic upturn would be used as an excuse not to forge ahead with tough reforms. It appears that Takenaka is determined not to let that happen. He says he has the Prime Minister's support. But what about the rest of the Japanese bureaucracy?

I hope Takenaka is right. I'm still quite concerned that economic recovery will cause people to be complacent about reform, but as Rebecca points out, the drivers for the current recovery might be different from the past. I suppose that if Takenaka and Koizumi continue to focus on this aggressive reform at home, we might have a chance.

Thanks Maja, Per and Max for your incredible hospitality. Totally amazing visit with the perfect balance of chilling, business and touring around Stockholm and the archipelago.

It was also nice meeting Ludovic, Erik, Dimo, Jon, Kim, David, and Roine at the meetup today. (Did I miss anyone?) Thanks for the overview of the Swedish Net community. Look forward to seeing more blogs from Sweden soon!

At the airport on my way back to Helsinki now...

Congratulations to Alan Kay for being awarded the 2004 Kyoto Prize in addition to the ACM Turing Prize and the NAE Draper Prize earlier. He's really "cleaning up" this year. This is cool. He deserves it.

Hope this helps the Squeak project too!

more info on the Kyoto Prize

Help EFF stamp out stupid patents! Know of any stupid patents being used to hurt the little guys? Send them to the EFF. What a great project.

Electronic Frontier Foundation
Enter the Patent Busting Contest!

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Patent Busting Project is here to protect you from dangerously bad patents. And you can help us pick which patents we're going to bust first!

We're currently seeking nominations for ten patents that deserve to be revoked because they are invalid. Sadly, we don't have the resources to challenge every stupid patent out there. In order to qualify for our ten most-wanted list, a patent must be software or Internet-related and there must be a good reason to suspect that the patent claims are invalid. We're especially interested in patents that target tools of free expression, such as streaming media, blogging tools, and voice over IP (VoIP) technology. Most importantly, the patent-holder must be aggressively enforcing its patent and suing (or threatening to sue) alleged infringers. We're particularly interested in cases where the patent-holder is trying to force small businesses, individuals, nonprofits, and consumers to pay licensing fees. Deadline to enter is June 23.

On June 30, the Patent Busting Project's team of tough lawyers and brainy geeks will announce the contest winners – or losers, depending on how you look at it. And that's when the real fight for great justice begins. We'll be needing your help to research prior art for each patent and offer your technical expertise or historical knowledge. Using a legal process called "reexamination," the Patent Busting Project will ultimately go to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and attempt to take those bad patents off the books.

via Boing Boing

Dan Gillmor blogs about a suit filed by a consumer group against mobile phone carriers which "lock" phones. The argument by the mobile carriers is that they subsidize part of the cost of the phone and therefore have the right to now allow customers to use the phone with other carriers. Dan makes some good arguments about why this may be a red herring. It will be interesting to see how this suit turns out.

In the mean time, a quick Google search will provide links to lots of people offering services and information about unlocking phones.

From a Japanese perspective, I'm quite envious that at least you're using open standards and have the option of unlocking phones. We can't even imagine using our current Docomo phones on any other network.

24 Hour Dotcom
Creating a Dotcom in 24 Hours

Right now we are at the Wizards of OS conference in Berlin to make a performance art/business project. The mission is to create a dotcom business from scratch in 24 hours. That means designing and programming a complete and useful web application, recruiting people, doing marketing, creating investment programs and much more. After 24 hours, the complete business will be sold on an eBay auction, and everyone involved will be rich!

Funny real-time project going on right now. ;-)

I'm really sorry. I made a mistake in the date for the meet up in Stockholm. I said the 12th, but I meant the 13th. Can people still meet tomorrow (13) instead of today (12)? Please let me know here or on the wiki. Sorry!!

If you have already planned to go to Stockholm today, I suggest you drop by the official bloggers meet up today...

OMG. I met Guido van Rossum this morning. Guido is the father of python, my favorite only programming language. He was in Helsinki meeting with the Nokia folks working on python Symbian phones. He will be talking to developers later today.

I have a long history with python. The Ultraseek search engine by Steve Kirsch at Infoseek was written in python and many of the people in Digital Garage which I was co-CEO of at the time were developing the Japanese version and working in python. Later, Cyrus et al at Digital Garage use Zope, a python package to build a commerce site. More recently, I learned python using Dive Into Python by Mark Pilgrim as my tutorial and I wrote the first useful script in my life, Technobot. In the process of writing the script, I went for help on #python on Freenode which regenerated my interest in IRC and led to the birth of #joiito. I owe a lot to python and therefore to Guido. So thanks!

I'm at Eva Baudet's office right now helping her get her blog started. (She's writing her first post now.) She's a member of the Finnish Parliament and a member of the Swedish People's Party. She's a fellow GLT and I met her first in Davos. I've been coming to Finland almost every month these days and Eva's been educating me about Finnish and European politics. Finally I get to teach HER something. ;-)

Good luck on your blog Eva, and I hope you can keep it going!

Thanks to Boris for the design.

Japan Today
Chips may be implanted in imported dogs to prevent rabies

TOKYO — Japan plans to implant microchips under the skin of imported dogs in order to prevent rabies from making inroads into the country, government officials said Tuesday.

The plan intended for strict individual recognition of imported dogs was confirmed the same day at a meeting on the nation's quarantine system against rabies of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the officials said. (Kyodo News)

via Louis

I wonder when we'll be start getting records in our chips instead of stamps in our passports...

I'm thinking about getting together with a few bloggers in Stockholm on Sunday. Maybe for lunch, maybe in the afternoon. Please take a look at the wiki page if you are interested.

Sorry about the short notice.

Update: Meeting at noon on the 13th at Kulturhuset. See you there! (If you're coming, please sign up on the wiki page.)

Had a "lovely" time in London. Goodbye and thanks for all the chips.

I'm off to Finland today. I'll be giving a talk at the EVA conference tomorrow.

Wired News Leaves Door Open -- a site that both hosts independent music and uses a peer-review process to identify hot bands -- is offering the Creative Commons Music Sharing License to artists who want to distribute their tunes for free, the company said Monday.

Nice. GarageBand is one of the biggest legal mp3 sites and it's cool that they are offering a CC license to their artists. Alternative distribution of music using CC licenses is clearly a good idea and helps people understand the whole Free Culture concept. I really do believe that the issue will become more and more about how to gain attention, not how to charge for delivery. It is changing from a delivery problem to a discovery problem as storage and bandwidth become commodities. Discovery is cheap only when you have a monopoly on people's attention. Obviously, media companies like Clear Channel are trying to keep that monopoly, but I think users are going to dump those locked up modes as new modes of discovery become available. I think that the main way to get attention will be to become part of the conversation and you can only do that if you promote active sharing of your music and content.

Sorry about the light blogging. Have been a bit distracted with my travels.

British Midland lost my bag on a direct flight from Naples to Heathrow. Unsure who's fault it was, but no apology (not that I expected one) from anyone. Luckily, it arrived that night.

Staying at the Park Lane Hotel on Piccadilly. Looked like a nice room at first glance, but the fax machine was broken, room safe broken (they've tried to fix it 3 times, still broken), drippy faucet, door lock broken (took 24 hours to fix), wifi in room, but a credit card based T-Mobile network with spotty coverage in my room.

The room is much better than many places I've stayed, but it would be SO MUCH better if they just had their shit together a bit more. (Maybe it's because I'm using mileage to pay for the room...)
Anyway, I expected much better from a "five star" London hotel. What a pity. I'm never going to stay at this hotel again.

On the bright side, I've gotten to meet a bunch of the UK bloggers and so far the food is MUCH BETTER than I remember it from visiting years ago.

People have been auctioning Google gmail invitations on eBay. Jonas has set up a gmail invitation exchange for people who donate invitations and for people willing to do something "good" in exchange for an invite.

It's not free, however. If you're interested in one, comment here and let me know what you're willing to do for it. Not to me (though I am more than ready to trade for a few good massages), but to someone else. A random act of kindness, maybe? Work in a soup kitchen? Help out at a needle exchange? Or maybe you're doing that already - you'd be the ideal recipient.

I'm about to leave Naples. I had a wonderful time. The total chaos of the city, the extremely warm and interesting people, the great food and the wonderful weather was just delightful. I'm sure I only scratched the surface, but I really enjoyed the Napolitan style. I only wish I could speak Italian.

I was also excited to meet all of the interesting people and the level of civil activism that could easily be sparked into an even more vibrant blogging community.

One thing that was confusing to me was that everyone says "Naples" when they're speaking in English. Why don't they say "Napoli"? Dean Martin says "Napoli", why do even the Italians say "Naples". Strange. In Japanese, we say "Napoli", "Torino" and "Milano" not, Naples, Turin and Milan.

I'm off in a few minutes for the UK. Look forward to meeting the folks there.

Special thanks to Derrick and his hosts for letting me use their place and to Giuseppe for inviting me!

Nigritude Ultramarine. Here you go Anil.

A post about using NoteTaker, Ecto and TypePad together. Can't wait to try it.

I heard from one of our hosts last night that when driving in Naples, "there are three kinds of red lights. Some you must stop at or you will die. Some provide advice to be careful. Others are merely decoration." Seriously though, I have never seen so many drivers completely ignore traffic lights in my life.

Incredible - Perhaps Not True

Somebody tell me that the Patent office hasn't actually granted Microsoft's application for a patent on double-clicking.

This is why I don't like software patents.

Cory @ Boing Boing
Enron traders gloating about screwing California

CBS has got hold of tapes of conversations between Enron employees during the California rolling blackouts. The conversations are amazing, basically a bunch of crooks gloating about the savage rogering they're giving to the people of California and how much money they're making. This has put fresh fire into the bellies of lawmakers who have renewed their vows to decapitate Enron's management and stake their heads on pikes outside of every polling place before election day.

Employee 1: "All the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?

Employee 2: "Yeah, Grandma Millie man.

Employee 1: "Yeah, now she wants her f-----g money back for all the power you've charged right up, jammed right up her a—for f-----g $250 a megawatt hour."


(via Making Light)

Sometimes I worry about privacy and security. Sometime I wonder if it is good that Japan does not have "discovery" (in the legal sense). Then I see stuff like this and I'm glad we have investigative journalism and they have the right to make such things public.

Dan Gilmor blogs about this too.

Xeni @ Boing Boing
More on blocked sites for .mil websurfers

Following up on this BoingBoing post about rumors that access to TheMemoryHole is being blocked on military computers in Iraq...

[John continues:]If the request was denied due to the Content Filter configuration is a sentence fragment, but with The content category reported is Gen. News. and If you feel this site was blocked in error, please contact the Help Desk the meaning is clear enough. For whatever reason, "General News" is not fit for our troops. I've been meaning to send her a list of links and ask her if she'd be willing to try to access them (Newsweek? New York Times? Common Dreams? [a conservative site]? [another conservative site]?) I'm also curious what other kinds of sites she can't visit (geek news? music news? yahoo? wikipedia?) and whether she's prohibited from visiting these sites at work because she's /at work/, or if she's encouraged not to pursue the news in general.

Zaku, can you or anyone in the military in Iraq corroborate this or look into this?

Thanks to all of the newspapers that picked up the somewhat embarrassingly nice article by Yuri Kageyama of AP. AP syndication is really amazing.

One thing. The article doesn't contain links to Six Apart, Movable Type and TypePad mentioned in the article.

I'm going to try to help plan a dinner/party that I can't attend. David Beckemeyer et al to are working on Heckelbot so I can be there virtually. The dinner/party is scheduled for June 23, the day before Supernova 2004 at the Westin in Santa Clara. I ALWAYS go to Supernova, but this year I just can't make it since I have to be in Tokyo for a shareholders meeting.

Here a wiki page for the planning.

Speaking of Supernova, I'm hoping I will be able to participate in the conference via rigged Hecklebot as well. Stay tuned for more on this. ;-)

Going to Naples today, the UK on the 6th, Helsinki on the 9th, Stockholm on the 11th, back to Helsinki on the 13th and back to Tokyo on the 17th. Speaking at Culture Digitali on the 4th and the EVA conference in Helsinki on the 10th. Meetups in Naples on the 5th and UK on the 6th. See you then!

Thanks to everyone who gave me ideas for stuff to do in Europe this trip!

In the comments on an earlier post on this blog about an artist suspected by the FBI of bioterrorism, there was a great deal of speculation about the incident and the facts. (Read the link above to my previous post for the background.) I emailed the artist, Steven Kurtz, asking him for the facts, and here is his reply.

Deleted by request.

Many people talked to me about this incident and strongly support the FBI's position on this. I still don't know enough details on the FBI's handling of the matter, but I DO think biotech as art is a legitimate form of art. At Ars Electronica, we did a whole festival on Life Science as art. Artists, including Steve, publish their works, talk about the impact, and often teach. Terrorists do not.

One famous example of biotech art is the bioluminescent rabbit created by genetic engineering, adding genes from a jellyfish to a rabbit to make it glow in the dark. This created a great deal of controversy and debate. It was the intention of the artist to cause this debate with an extremely tangible project.

I believe this form of expression is important and mistaking artistic expression for something else is a great risk to society. However, I suppose it would be prudent for artists to be aware of the risks involved in handling the "supplies" they use for their art.

Spirit of America is a somewhat grassroots, and quickly growing project to promote humanitarian aid in Iraq. It's interesting to note that both people for and against the war have signed on with their support. Dan Gillmor says, "Marc Danziger, a.k.a. the 'Armed Liberal' Web logger, supported the war in Iraq. Britt Blaser, a Howard Dean campaign adviser, did not." Both Marc and Britt are supporting this effort.

Dan also writes, "'It seemed if you could essentially aggregate requests and syndicate those to potential donors, mainly using the Net and electronic outreach, you could respond with speed and on a scale to really make a difference,' Hake said," in an interview with the founder. Jeff Jarvis says, "I have been wanting to bring more citizens' media to Iraq -- blogging tools translated into Arabic and free blog hosting, for example. I now hope we can accomplish this via SoA," which I think is interesting.

I think this is an excellent example of the use of technology and grass roots organization to see if we can do right, something that top-down methods seem to be failing at. It's also an interesting attempt at citizen-to-citizen communications. Lets hope it works better than leader-to-leader communications.


Smart Mobs
Wave Messaging

From the company that pioneered text messaging, picture messaging and multimedia messaging, comes new innovation - Wave Messaging, or Light Messaging, according to a Nokia press release

By waving the Nokia 3220 camera phone from side to side, the LED lights of the Nokia Xpress-on FunShell light up to "write" a message that appears to float in mid-air.

Related articles on airtexting-type technologies:

-- In March 2003, the WSJ reported from CeBIT about a phone called Kurv, made by Kyocera Wireless Corp which featured airtexting: "The company believes airtexting will be one of it's most popular features, especialy in night clubs. To airtext, you type in a text like 'call me' then wave it back and forth in the air. As the phone moves, a row of blinking red lights along the top of the phone leaves the phrase trailing behind it."

-- A company called Wildseed actually tested airtexting with teenagers.

If they made an airtexting enabled BlackBerry, I wonder if they would allow them in Congress. With the massive penetration of BlackBerries (NYT - A BlackBerry Throbs, and a Wonk Has a Date), it would be like a chorus of Hecklebots. Anyway, I want one. Forget night clubs, imaging having one in the audience during talks.

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