Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

August 2004 Archives

Skype for Mac is out. Yay!

Warning to conservative readers: partisan thoughts below

I don't think I'm going to have the fortitude to watch the Republican Convention. I know that makes me a small person, but I just can't take it.
I'm getting some blow-by-blow commentary from Mitch via IM right now and I can understand David's feelings.
Mitch on IM
Mitch: sorry, distracted by the glaring whiteness of the RNconvention. no people with any color while Rudy talks
Mitch: pretty wretched talk -- it is ugly in several dimensions, suggesting anyone who disagrees with Bush is an appeaser
Mitch: he literally just said "either you are with us or with the terrorists"
Mitch: and followed by comparing Bush to Churchill
Mitch: Rudy is sure he's Churchillian
Regarding David's post, Mitch says, "too many years as a reporter -- I can watch anything."

The Feature
Encouraging Cameraphone Use -- For Less Than Encouraging Reasons

Instead of banning them, Chinese authorities have creatively adapted cameraphones as yet another tool to control its citizens, if the latest allegations prove to be true. Authorities there reportedly threatened pro-democracy radio talk show hosts, after which they all quit. This didn't involve cameraphones until new reports emerged that authorities have contacted the families of callers to these shows still living on the mainland. They have been told to convince their relatives to vote for pro-Beijing candidates and then snap a picture of their ballots with a cameraphone to send back proof.

Of course we should all have seen this coming. I remember when I got my first camera phone, I got one for Mizuka and myself. Our relationship was still pretty "fresh". That week, I went on an trip to Kyoto with a small group of older Japanese businessman friends. "So... where are you? Can you send me a picture?" "Ummm... sure. OK. Here." Yes, there are simple ways to get around this by preparing photos or doctoring stuff, but it's obvious that the privacy issue for camera phones isn't just the subjects being photographed, but the owners of the phones as well.

We've updated Lots of new features and a new look. More info on Dave's site.

I've never actually picked up and read The New York Post. I first heard about it when their front page story was: "Kerry's Choice, Dem picks Gephardt as VP candidate" and now this.

Reader Mike Harris says, "The New York Post is reporting that it was spray paint, instead of a water-soluble chalk mixture. Users might want to ask that they correct their reporting. The online edition/news editor's name is Chris Shaw, at"
I wonder where they get their facts?

Xeni Jardin @ Boing Boing
RNC protests: Bikes Against Bush organizer arrested

A post on an indymedia website says activist Joshua Kinberg -- inventor of a wireless, bike-mounted, dot-matrix printer for spraying protest messages in the street -- was arrested yesterday at the RNC in NYC. At the time, he was reportedly being interviewed by Ron Reagan, covering the convention for MNSBC.

Kinberg's invention allows users to spray messages transmitted to the bike-printer by way of the 'Net or SMS. They're painted in a water-soluble chalk solution that washes away with water (not spray-paint, as misreported elsewhere). Link to indymedia post, Link to previous BB post about Bikes Against Bush, Link to August 02 Wired News story with background on Kinberg's invention, Link to yesterday's NYT piece on Bikes Against Bush, and link to a torrent identified as video coverage of the incident, via DV Guide. (Thanks, Patricia and el norm)

I think I saw this device at Ars Electronica a few years ago. I have a feeling that at the time it wasn't mounted on a bike. I remember thinking, "What a cool idea. I wonder if it will ever be used for something useful." I love it when political art projects/proposals get put into real world action. It's too bad that they confiscated the bike before it was used "in the wild." I wonder whether this bogus arrest will end up getting this project more press than if they hadn't arrested him...

Al Fasoldt, staff writer at The Post-Standard in Syracuse, writes about how untrustworthy Wikipedia is based on an oh-so-trustworthy email from a librarian. Mr. Fasoldt asserts that Wikipedia is not a verifiable authority and that it is it is not trustworthy. Mike from Techdirt tries to explain Wikipedia to Mr. Fasoldt and receives insults in return. For those of you who haven't yet taken a good look at Wikipedia, you should. It is a community built encyclopedia where anyone can edit any of the 300,000+ articles in it. The fact that anyone can edit the pages appears to be why people like Mr. Fasoldt question its authority, but that is that exact reason that it has authority. Any comments that are extreme or not true just do not survive on Wikipedia. In fact, on very heated topics, you can see the back and forth negotiation of wordings by people with different views on a topic until, in many cases, a neutral and mutually agreeable wording is put in place and all parties are satisfied. Tradition authority is gained through a combination of talent, hard work and politics. Wikipedia and many open source projects gain their authority through the collective scrutiny of thousands of people. Although it depends a bit on the field, the question is whether something is more likely to be true coming from a source whose resume sounds authoritative or a source that has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people (with the ability to comment) and has survived.

I believe that Wikipedia is helping to revive the encyclopedia as a form and it hurts me to hear such ignorant criticisms. Having said that, Kara Swisher of the Wall Street Journal, Dan Gillmor of the Mercury News and many others have already written tons about Wikipedia so maybe I'm overreacting to an isolated case of ignorance and insulting the knowledge of my readers in the process...

Anyway, I was on the jury which gave Wikipedia the Golden Nica this year, the highest prize in the Digital Communities category for Prix Ars Electronica. I will be going to Linz, Austria next week to attend the festival and will be meeting the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales. More on Wikipedia then.

via Boing Boing

AP via CNN
9/11 toy found inside candy bags

Wholesaler recalls 14,000 bags it bought from Miami import firm

MIAMI, Florida (AP) -- Small toys showing an airplane flying into the World Trade Center were packed inside more than 14,000 bags of candy and sent to small groceries around the country before being recalled.

First NROjr and now this. For some reason, all of my posts today are about the US government and the last two are very weird messages to kids...

via Adam

Since I can't get onto the GW site, I guess I have to settle for the site. The NRO?

National Reconnaissance Office
The NRO designs, builds and operates the nation's reconnaissance satellites. NRO products, provided to an expanding list of customers like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Department of Defense (DoD), can warn of potential trouble spots around the world, help plan military operations, and monitor the environment.

As part of the 14-member Intelligence Community, the NRO plays a primary role in achieving information superiority for the U. S. Government and Armed Forces.

So what is NROjr? It's a "A fun site to engage children in the wonders of science, math and space in a fun and interactive manner," brought to you by the NRO. (Make sure you have your sound turned on to enjoy the full experience. And all this time I thought Ernie actually worked for Sesame Street... although I guess he was recently heard singing Orkutworld.)

via Karl

The US Transporation Security Administration (TSA) announced that CAPPS II, the controversial passenger profiling system is back looking a bit more shy and sporting a new name, "Secure Flight." It still sounds bad and they'll start testing it within the next 30-60 days.

via Kevin @ EFF: Deep Links

I still can't see the George W Bush site from Japan. I wonder if the Japanese are blocking Bush or Bush is blocking Japan... ;-)

via Jim

CNN has invited Technorati back to provide real time analysis of bloggers blogging about the Republican National Convention. Thanks CNN! More on Sifry's Alerts.

David Weinberger blogs about George Bush denouncing 527 groups. David links to Roji pointing out that this is a serious flip-flop from his original position.

David's point is that on the one hand, the 527 groups represent a way to buy influence. On the other hand, limiting the ability for a 527 group to be formed and express a point of view is limiting free speech.

I think the reason we have this conflict is the nature of media today. It shouldn't cost millions of dollars to get your message out; the system should be transparent enough so we know who is behind those messages; and most importantly, those messages should spark dialog and lies and stupidity should be smacked down as fast as urban legends on snopes. The problem with allowing money to buy "free speech" is that the speech is asymmetrical and not deliberative. ...yet.

10,000,000 people doing radio taiso
picture via Kampo
One of the participants of Fat Club uploaded an mp3 of radio taiso (morning radio exercise show) and I just set it to my alarm clock sound. radio taiso was banned by the US Occupation after WWII along with shogi (Japanese chess), all martial arts and a bunch of other things that were considered militaristic. I remember hearing a story on the radio that the original radio taiso came from the US. When life insurance just started as a business in the US, there was an uproar about "betting on people's lives." As part of a PR campaign, the life insurance companies started broadcasting exercise programs on the radio to make people more healthy. This culture migrated to Japan where now every morning millions of people exercise to radio taiso...

Here is the mp3 of chorus 1 of radio taiso.

Does anyone know if this story about the US insurance companies is true or not?

The Kampo home page has little animations like the one above and a full explanation (in Japanese) on how to do these exercises properly.

As someone who was heavily involved in introducing the theory of CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions) to Japanese ad agencies, I've been spending a lot of time recently thinking about what comes next after Google AdSense. Ross tried CPI (Cost Per Influence), trying to come up with an index that included the influence of the blogger or site where the ad was placed. This reminded me of the "branding value" or cluster value argument. Also, the idea would be that an influential blog would trigger a word of mouth diffusion. Anyway, inspired by Ross, John Batelle came up with a really cool idea. He writes about sell side ads where bloggers could copy ads that they saw into their blogs if they liked them. The ads would have information about what sorts of sites they could be posted on and other instructions. They would "phone home" to the advertiser who would pay the blogger for the impressions or clickthrus or whatever. The idea is that it would be viral and publisher driven, rather than advertiser driven. It would be set up so that the advertiser could track which site a blogger copied the ad from so that that they could track the diffusion pattern as well.

Anyway, awesome idea. Lets build it!

Ernest Miller @ Copyfight
Patenting Punctuation (Ernest Miller)

Well, it seems that someone has patented some new forms of punctuation: WIPO Patent Publication No. WO9219458:

Using two new punctuation marks, the question comma and the exclamation comma: and respectively, inquisitiveness and exclamation may be expressed within a written sentence structure, so that thoughts may be more easily and clearly conveyed to readers. The new punctuation marks are for use within a written sentence between words as a comma, but with more feeling or inquisitiveness.Seems that this is sort of an addition to the faddish punctuation known as the Interrobang.
via I/P Updates

This reminds me a bit of when Despair, Inc. trademarked the frowny emoticon ":-("

ecto, the blogging client developed by Adriaan at my company Kula has just released the beta of the next version which has "What You See Is Almost What You Get" (wysiawyg). This means that you can now do things like drag, drop, resize images into posts. You can also create links, change font information and lots of other stuff without looking at or dealing with html. (More info on the ecto blog.) ecto 2.0 has a bunch of other cool features. Adriaan says it should be ready for general release of the OS X version in about two weeks. Until then... gloat.. gloat...

In December, I announced that I quit drinking. I got a flurry of comments of support. Several of us who had decided to be sober, thought a group blog about quitting drinking would be interesting so we started We Quit Drinking, the blog. Soon, due to some weird Google magic, the blog became the first result for "quit drinking". A wide variety of people who were looking for support and help dropped in and commented. Jonas, who among other things works with addiction as a counselor, decided that a more private space, a message board requiring login might make sense so he created the WQD Forums. He announced today that WQD Forums has hit 100 members and have become a vibrant community of people who are in various stages of sobriety sharing and supporting. Since that day in December, I've received sooo much input and advice. Thank you. Some of it has been very useful and some, frankly, not so helpful. I have been to a few AA meetings and have really enjoyed them. On the other hand, I have not yet passed the first step, "Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable." At the meeting I said, "I think I have a problem, but I don't yet believe that I am powerless or that my life has become unmanagable." The interesting thing is, no one was upset. One AA'er later said, "In AA, we call that 'a quart short'". I think I will still drop into AA meetings because I love the stories and the comfortable atmosphere of sharing, but until I get to Step One somehow, I don't think I can really be a true member. It's been quite a journey hearing the wide variety of opinions about drinking. I've decided on the few advisors and approaches that I think work for me now in helping manage myself. My opinion may change and if I finally believe that I am powerless and my life has become unmanagable, I know I can always count on AA, which I now believe has an incredible power to save people from alcoholism. If you thinking you have a problem or know you have a problem, try dropping by WQD Forums and join us in our emerging community.

I have my PowerBook on my insTand next to my bed with a clock screen saver alarm clock. Usually, I wake up before my alarm goes off and wake up the computer instead. As soon as my status on my IM clients goes from idle to available, I get a little flurry of requests for contact. "Did you see my email?" "When can we talk?" "Don't forget our conference call coming up." "We're on a conference call right now you might want to join." I queue up these real-time requests like some sort of air traffic controller, put on my headset hooked up to my Vonage phone and get started. Today, I started the morning with an conference call on the fly with a few people on a one of the many free conference call bridges. During the call, I got an IM that I might want to drop into another conference call in progress. After my first call, I joined the second conference call which was already well on its way. I got the URL of the wiki page of the agenda and notes via IM, scanned them, and made a few comments. Then I was off again to my next call which I had queued with someone on IRC.

My question is, am I a weirdo or an edge case for how people will work once we all have IM and voice and conference calls are free.

I remember when I was Chairman of Infoseek Japan, I would get a weekly list of the top 100 search words. I remember loving this list. You could see watch trends and stuff, but mostly it made you realize just how sick people were. When I was around, the only US search term that beat adult content phrases was "Olympics" and the only Japanese query was "Tamagocchi" when it was all the rage.

Now uber-gadget-hacker Phillip Torrone has brought this experience to the street via the Search Engline Belt Buckle. It uses the SearchSpy service which shows real search queries and is provided by Dogpile, the metasearch engine.

I suppose this is slightly more useful than an RSS feed of my weight, but definitely harder to build.

I blogged earlier about the sale of 25% of the stock of Craigslist to eBay. Out of context, some people might not understand why this requires explaining or someone with a casual understanding might think Craig sold out. Here's some more context. (And no, Craig has not "sold out".)

Craig is a very unique individual and this interview and his site are a testament to that. In March, on the way to SXSW, I was with a group which had an airline nightmare at SFO. Craig negotiated with the extremely unhelpful Mesa Airlines for the whole group of us and was amazingly effective. I was moved by how he insisted that we were a group and was not willing to settle for anything that left anyone behind.

Cory Doctorow @ Boing Boing
Craig of Craigslist interview
Wired Magazine ran an interview this month with Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist and an all-round mensch:

Google's touchy-feely corporate mantra is "Don't be evil." What's yours?

Give people a break.

A break from what?

A break from how difficult our lives are. It's like, if you're walking out of your apartment building and somebody is coming the other way with an armful of groceries, you hold the door. It feels good - it's the neighborly thing to do. And our species survives by cooperating.

What poses the major threat to that survival?

Kleptocrats and sociopathic organizations that have the almighty dollar as their only goal.


Wow! A USB weight sensor. Now we can automatically add our weight to the sidebar and make RSS feeds of our weight changes. Who wants to write the mt-weightsensor plugin?

via Daiji

Current Mood: chipper
Current Weight: heavy
Listening to: You Trip Me Up by The Jesus and Mary Chain from the album Psychocandy

Donna Wentworth @ EFF Deep Links
Army Okays Computer Spying

JetBlue ignited a huge privacy scandal when the news broke that the airline secretly provided more than 5 million passenger records to Torch Concepts, a military contractor. Yet the Army Inspector General Agency concluded [PDF] that JetBlue did not violate the Privacy Act. The reason: Torch never looked up individuals by name, but instead used a computer to dig through and analyze their private information.

This is quite disturbing. I guess this means that taking massive amounts of data and crunching through them to create "profiles" is OK. I wonder how small the clusters can be? Can they, for instance, profile companies, race, occupation, address or other kind of groupings for profiling?

There was a case in Japan where the Japanese government kept a list of Freedom of Information Act requesters in a list on a network with their backgrounds and this was found to be "legal".

I don't know enough about the JetBlue case to make a judgment on just how bad I think it is, but it seems to be part of a larger trend pushing the limits of the law.

The folks at Ars Electronica have translated a shortened version of Jon Lebkowsky's edited version of my Emergent Democracy paper into German. It will appear in this year's book for Ars Electronica. Thanks for coordinating this Ingrid and thanks for the translation Susanne!

Yesterday, Mutsumi in our office told me half a dozen times that I looked "bigger". I'd been thinking about how to lose some weight and I remembered Fat Club because Jane linked to a Fat Club entry on her blog. For some reason, I seem to be able to motivate myself to lose weight when I'm competing. I asked everyone in our office if they wanted to join Fat Club 2004. Kuri, Jim and Nob agreed to participate. The race is to see who can lose 10% of their body weight first and sustain it for one week. The last one in has to be a slave to the winner for a day. Slave rights can be sold or rented. We decided to set up a private wiki to organize this event.

Mizuka bought a fancy scale awhile ago hinting that I should probably lose some weight. I jumped on it this morning and it told me that I had the body of a 49 year old. (I'm 38.) The fancy scale uses Bioelectric Impedance to measure your body fat and calculates basal metabolism, body fat percentage, muscle percentage, internal body fat level, your body mass index and your body age equivalent. Let me just say it was very motivating. This new scale has 6 contacts, two for your hands and 4 for your feet and seems more accurate than some of the older models.

UPI via The Washington Times reports that the Weather Underground are planning some action during the RNC. UPI says:

United Press International
"These people are trained in kidnapping techniques, bombmaking and building improvised munitions," the source said. "They're very bad people..."
Someone who asked not to be named emailed me and says that they heard that, "it's planned on being a nonviolent action. Something about leaflets and random covert protesters." If this is indeed the case, there is a pretty high likelihood of some really wound up police running into some pretty innocent people. If you are at risk of looking like a risk to the police, make sure you read about your rights. (344k ZIPped PDF on via Boing Boing
UPDATE: An anonymous tipster sez "this pamphlet was done by the wonderful Katya Komisaruk over at the Just Cause Law Collective. At her site,, there's the pamphlet and tons of other info about how to not lose your rights when dealing with the po. (Including Komsiaruk's book, set up much like the pamphlet, 'Beat the Heat.' Komisaruk applied and was accepted to Harvard Law School while in federal prison for anti-nuke demonstrations. She went to HLS while on parole and graduated with honors. Now she's one of the most active anarchist lawyers in the U.S."

UPDATE: Anonymous old media journalist who thinks the UPI story is bunk: "my theory is that the republicans are going to have their own anarchists there a la the reichstag fire...."

Pierre Omidyar the founder of eBay has a new project called the Omidyar Network. They just invested in SocialText, a wiki company that I've invested in and am on the board of. Pierre blogs about the Omidyar network and the investment in Socialtext. If you have heard of the Omidyar Network:

We believe every individual
has the power to make a difference.

We exist for one single purpose:
So that more and more people discover their own
power to make good things happen.

We are actively building a network of participants
because we know we can't do this alone.

Other investors in this Series A funding include Reid Hoffman, Mark Pincus and Jun Makihara. Full story on Socialtext page. Congrats and thanks to all involved.

Mizuka just asked me if I had heard about some guy who was busted for making tons of money trading stocks who claims to be a time-traveler. The story was that he would show them the time-machine if they let him go. She said her Japanese friends were talking about it. I laughed and checked Google News with an assortment of keywords with no results. I wandered over to #joiito. Soon enough nichlas came up with a link to a WWN article from March, 2003 about the story. Just as I was wondering if this was something to blog about, KevinMarks page-slapped us with the entry from April 2003 debunking the story.

I would really love to see the path that this silly story took over the last 1 1/2 years to get from WWN to me via the Japanese girls gossip network.

test press of Communicate with notes from Mark
I've been thinking about audio files lately. There are lots of interesting audio blogs these days and I realized that putting audio interviews for my sharing economy research online would be a neat thing to do. For the last month or so, I've been diving into audio gear and software. (I'll write about all this in another post when I figure out what I'm doing.) During this journey into gadgets past, I stumbled into my vinyl records from my DJ days. Most are promotional records that Rockpool sent me when I was reporting my charts to them, but many were from Mark Stephens. Mark Stephens was my mentor and one of my best friends. He was also the first person I knew who died of AIDS. Mark received tons of promos and he would share some of the good stuff with me. He would jot things down on the record jackets or on little post-its. Since I stopped spinning records, I've allowed several DJs as well as my second-cousin Cornelius to go through my record collection and take what they wanted. What I have now is a 1000+ record collection, almost all from 1988-1990, 90% crap, with very high sentimental value. What do I do with them? I looked into software to convert vinyl to mp3's but it looked like a real pain. The other idea I had was browse my vinyl for stuff I liked, scan the notes and try to find the music on a file sharing network. I should know the answer to this question, but is this illegal?

I seem to be getting into these diary-like entries these days, but digging through old vinyl and reading the little notes from Mark brought back a lot of memories. I'm struggling with how to bring some of those memories into the medium I have today.

Image from Gary Turner
OK He wasn't almost arrested, but he was told that he couldn't be use computer within range of the open wifi network of the public library by a policeman. The officer cites some law against it and describes all of the terrible things Reverend AKMA could be doing. When AKMA asks whether this was a state or federal law, the officer says, "It’s a federal law, sir; a Secret Service agent came and explained it to us.”

Anyway, it's worth reading his entire post. What law is this officer referring to and how can we undo damage that misinformed (if there is no such law) Secret Service agents are causing? If it were me or some other less pious person, I'm sure the policeman might not have been as nice.

I have been doing my blog reading and writing primarily with Net News Wire for my reading and Ecto for my writing. A simply copy paste will paste html which is a very good start for a blog post. The biggest problem is the multi-author blogs. I bugged Boing Boing about it, and they put the name of the author in the text, even though it was already in their creator tag. This makes it much easier for me because the name of the author is in the html when I copy from Net News Wire. So Brent, and other news reader developers... I have a feature request if you haven't done it already. Can you please figure out an easy way to allow me to copy the name of the author and view the name of the author in the post? Also, for people working on syndication formats, keep in mind that in the case of group blogs, the author is important and I think some of the templates don't automatically add the authors.

Adam Curry samples a portion of Halley's interview with me on Memory Lane on his Daily Source Code Aug 17 2004 - (1.2MB mp3 of relevant section). I'm talking about how I showed the chairman of NHK (Japan's public broadcast network) a video that I downloaded from Adam Curry's MTV.COM. I think this was around 1994 or 1995... It was one of the few video files on the net at the time. I used to show this video all the time and I told this to Adam when I met him at Bloggercon. He said he wanted a copy of the video and I thought I might have it around, but I looked and I don't have it. Sorry Adam! Does anyone else have it? It's a bit of Internet nostalgia and history that would be fun to have. Unfortunately, I think this predates

Warning: rambling diary style entry to follow

Jonah, a friend of Neeru and Joshua emailed me that he was going to be in Japan and wanted to talk about Eyebeam, a very cool art R&D project he is working on. He was leaving the day after I came back to Japan so we decided to meet for lunch at the airport. I printed out Andrea and Jonah's picture from Andrea's photo blog, taped it into my moleskine notebook and headed for the airport. I've been mastering the shortcuts from my house to the airport since I make the trip so often. Today, I found a new little shortcut where I take a right at the rice vending machine and cut through miles of rice paddies and skip the traffic lights on the main road. I love zooming through the rice paddies looking for crop circles until you run into oncoming traffic and have to maneuver just right or fall into the ditch. Anyway, I met Andrea and Jonah at the airport and took Jonah to have a quick bite at Sushi Iwa while Andrea made some phone calls.

The conversation was really interesting and we had an amazing number of common interests. When we were talking about diffusion patterns of ideas and links across blogs, he mentioned that he had helped a new television show use blogs. He explained that there was a new TV series called "Good Girls Don't" and he helped them set up a blog for Jane, one of the characters. How cool. He then started explaining about the character and a funny interaction she had with Instapundit. Holy synchronicity. I suddenly realized that this Jane was the same Jane who had linked to my blog post about no more alcohol until I lose more weight. I had just been reading her blog this morning totally perplexed about the most random link in my Technorati cosmos in quite awhile. I hadn't read the "about" page so I hadn't realized she was a fictitious character. Anyway, so weird, funny and... bloggy. I wish my favorite TV characters had blogs and that they randomly linked to me.

The AP reports that the IOC bars athletes, coaches from writing first-hand accounts This reminds me of the (now defunct) rule that companies couldn't report earnings and other reports on the Internet until after newspapers had time to print. This was supposed prevent an "unfair advantage" for people who use the Internet. Protecting traditional journalists by muzzling first-hand reports from athletes and coaches is so wrong and stupid.

via Smartmobs

teach your children well, at gunpoint
ap via abc news, august 20, 2004
Justice Says Guns-Drawn School Raid Legal

A guns-drawn raid at a high school last year did not violate civil rights laws and the case is closed, the U.S. Justice Department said.


Fifteen officers entered Stratford High School's main hallway and ordered 130 students to the floor Nov. 5 of last year. They used plastic ties to handcuff 18 students and school officials opened and searched 17 book bags using a drug dog.

Police found no drugs or weapons, but the raid frightened children, provoked marches and lawsuits and brought national media attention and the resignation of the school's longtime principal.

the original story is covered here with video. the memory hole has more, including an unidentified person in what appears to be a military uniform.

This is one incident that I can't imagine happening in Japan... at least not yet. I wonder what this sort of "police state" behavior does to children.

I'm at SFO on my way back to Tokyo. It definitely feels like Silicon Valley is "waking up" again. Hopefully, we've learned from our mistakes and the "recovery" will be a better managed one. See you again from Japan.

Reverend AKMA has an interesting post on the front-page story claim that someone has discovered the cave of John the Baptist and why he isn't into archaeology anymore.

This story reflects several problematic tendencies in the popular (biblical) archaeological market. We get their textual siblings over in literary historiography, so I’m not casting stones only at the other interpreters. But there have been heaps of hermits (I just spent way too much time trying to devise a collective noun for anchorites) in the Judean wilderness about whom we know absolutely nothing. We happen to know a little about one of them: John. So when an archaeologist finds a hermit’s cave that fits what we might expect John’s cave to have looked like, someone draws the inference that it actually was John’s cave.
Go AKMA! The image of heaps of hermits reminds me a bit of Life of Brian. ;-)
Xeni @ Boing Boing
EFF wins Grokster
Big news: The EFF prevails in the long-fought Grokster case. Court decision is available here (PDF). Link to 9th Circuit Court of appeals ruling in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer v. Grokster, issued August 19, 2004.
This is great news. Congrats to the whole EFF team who worked on this!

More on Corante: Powerful Language from the MGM v. Grokster Decision
- Posted by Jason Schultz


Creative Commons Weblog
Wired presents a Creative Commons benefit in NYC, Sept 21st

Tuesday, September 21, 2004, Wired Magazine will throw a benefit for Creative Commons featuring a concert by David Byrne (with the Tosca Strings) and Gilberto Gil. It will take place at 8PM at The Town Hall in New York City. Proceeds from the concert will go to support the non-profit efforts of Creative Commons.

Tickets are available now from Ticketmaster or, after September 1st, at the Town Hall box office. If you're in NYC and want to help support the work of the Creative Commons, come on out and enjoy a great concert.

Be there or be square.

The post by Xeni about Stealth Lynndie-ing reminded me of a story I heard recently from a unnamed source involved in Israeli and Palestinian relations. Apparently after an official meeting, an Israeli and Palestinian were having coffee and the Israeli asked the Palestinian to tell him a joke. Here is the joke the Palestinian told:

So there's this young guy from Hebron (I guess they make fun of people from Hebron...). He goes to the PLO and says he wants to become a suicide bomber. The PLO gives him a gun, a belt-bomb and a cell phone and tell him to call when he's found some Jews. He kid goes out and finds a Jew and calls. "Hey I found one, I found one!" "One? You have to fine more. Find a group." The kid call back later and say, "I found a dozen Jews!" "No no... like a lot. Find a disco with a bunch of young Jewish kids." The kid continues. "I'm at a disco with a LOT of Jewish young people!" "Go for it!" And the young man from Hebron pulls out his gun and shoots himself in the head.

What's amazing to me is that even in, and maybe more often in, the most cruel of human situations, humor exists and even thrives. This joke, told by a Palestinian to an Israeli really highlights one of my favorite Shimon Peres quotes: "We are just two tragedies meeting in the same place at the same time."

Xeni @ Boing Boing
What are the cool kids in Harajuku wearing?


Glad you asked. Link to an online photo gallery with street snapshots from Harajuku station in Tokyo. (Thanks, Todd!)

Pete sent me this picture. Marc, were you in Harajuku recently?

UPDATE: Brian reports in the comments that the picture is not Marc, but Sailor Bubba.

The first ChangeThis manifestos are up. They're definitely worth reading and commenting on. I have the honor of being one of the advisors who gets to read them and make comments before they come out.

EFF Deeplinks
E-Voting Mistake Caught on Paper

In news at once frightening and reassuring, a Sequoia electronic voting machine suffered a very public failure last week during a live demo. The machine worked fine with an English-language ballot, but failed to record votes with the Spanish-language ballot.

I still think electronic voting is a bad idea. Here is yet another example of a failure.

I was interviewed by Halley Suitt for Memory Lane. Memory Lane is Halley's new program on IT Conversations. Halley writes about the program on her blog.

Chatango is a lightweight flash based chat program that lets you put a chat window on your web page. If I'm online, you can chat with me. Otherwise you can leave me a message. I'm going to try it out in this post. If it proves to be useful, I'll give it a more thorough testing in my sidebar.

This button should let you know if I'm online or not.

eBay Acquires Minority Interest in craigslist

SAN FRANCISCO & SAN JOSE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 13, 2004--eBay, The World's Online Marketplace (Nasdaq:EBAY) (, and craigslist, an online community featuring classifieds and forums (, announced today that eBay has acquired a preexisting minority ownership interest in craigslist of approximately 25%. The resulting relationship will allow eBay and craigslist to share expertise, resources, and creativity on behalf of online communities everywhere.

Craig shares his account of this about it on his blog. Craig mentions on his blog that it was a former employee who sold his shares to eBay and that the company was not sold or money invested into craigslist.

I can imagine some people complaining about this, but I think this is a good direction for craigslist to go. Congrats to all involved. I look forward to seeing how these communities will interact and how eBay helps craigslist and vice versa.

Cryptome is one of my primary sources of documents that get released to the public through a variety of sources. I link to it quite often from my blog. ABC News questions the value of the public's right to know, vs the risk of "helping the enemy." I have a feeling that terrorists are pretty good at using the Internet and probably already have access to most of the stuff on Cryptome. I think that it could be argued that they are helping terrorists by making the information so easy to find, but I personally think that Cryptome and other sites like it are important in fighting against the natural tendency to hide behind secrecy.

AP @ San Jose Mercury News
Calif. Supreme Court voids gay marriages in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO - The California Supreme Court on Thursday voided the nearly 4,000 same-sex marriages sanctioned in San Francisco this year and ruled unanimously that the mayor overstepped his authority by issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

In February I remember all of the happiness when the Mayor decided to allow same sex marriages in San Francisco. I had friends who were married that day and even saw the line of happy couples lined up at City Hall. At the time Dan Gillmor voiced concern that Mayor Newsom had overstepped his the bounds of his executive power when he declared a state law prohibiting same sex marriages unconstitutional. Larry Lessig chimed in and wrote that at times the executive must push those bounds if they believe something to be genuinely unconstitutional. The last paragraph in Lessig's post has an important caveat.
One critical caveat: The rule of law requires some coordination. So if a court decides that a law is constitutional, while an executive has the right to disagree, and even push to have the decision changed, it is important that the executive follow the law at least with respect to that case.
...Thus, if California courts decide the marriage law is not unconstitutional, then Newsom should then obey that law as ultimately interpreted.

It's been nice to spend time at home, but I'm off again today to Wasatch, Utah to a retreat and then to San Francisco for a short visit. It's the summer obon season so the airport's probably pretty busy today. So I may check again at the airport, but if not, see you on the other side.

I'm going to end up in the mountains in Wasatch for a few days so depending on the connectivity, you may not hear from me for a few days...

UPDATE: I'm at the United lounge in Narita and the wifi here is free now (yay!) but they are blocking the ports for IRC and MSN Messenger. (boo!)

I use MSN Instant Messenger, AIM, Yahoo, ICQ and Jabber and generally tried to keep groups of friends distributed across the different networks so that I wouldn't run into the buddy list limit. Today I hit my AIM buddy list limit. I think the limit is 150. For some reason, people aren't supposed to have more than 150 friends. Now, every time I want to add a friend on AIM, I have to delete someone else. I guess this might be good discipline, but I think this is a stupid feature/bug.

An interesting survey based project to try to answer the question of whether the cost of what the MPAA and RIAA does exceeds their forgone revenues to piracy.

Extreme Democracy is a book being edited by Jon Lebkowsky and Mitch Ratcliffe. They've just put the book online in a blog format. The book will included a version of my Emergent Democracy paper edited by Jon. I really need to write another version of this paper that incorporates all of the new stuff and feedback that I've received...

Adina has put up a wiki page with additional thoughts on the book.

Over the years I've become quite friendly with many professional journalists. It's interesting that two of my best friends are journalists and they both have told me, "the only bad thing about becoming your friend is that I can't write about you any more." As a blogger, I don't think I have any trouble writing about my friends if I explain my relationship. The issue of professionalism aside, I think the first person tone of blogging makes it easier to write about your friends in the context of providing information. It's probably much harder or impossible to write about your friends objectively in third person.

China Photos
via Reuters
The New York Times has an interesting story about the rowdy anti-Japanese crowds at the recent Asian Cup soccer match in China between China and Japan.
The New York Times
"Kill! Kill! Kill!" the Chinese fans yelled. Or, echoing a patriotic song from another era, they shouted, roughly: "May a big sword chop off the Japanese heads!"
What's surprising is not that there were anti-Japanese sentiments, but that the article asserts that such sentiments are on the rise. According to the article, "... increasingly, the most strident criticism of Japan now comes from a generation born long after the end of the war, which in China is known as the War of Resistance against Japan." My impression is that most of the anti-Chinese sentiment in Japan is fueled by people like Governor Ishihara of Tokyo who remember the war, and not young post-war Japanese. (UPDATE: Mizuka just told me that there were a bunch of right-wing Japanese demonstrating in Kasumigaseki yesterday and they were mostly young.) There is a revisionist movement in Japan, but I have heard only 0.3% of school actually ended up using the controversial revised texts and the movement is considered a failure. However, I don't have a good sense of whether anti-Chinese sentiments are increasing or decreasing, but they are clearly here as I've blogged about in the past.

The "new anti-Japanese" in China represent a bad trend. At the Brainstorm conference in 2002, I heard Shimon Peres say, "What can you learn from History? Very little... History was written with red ink, wth bloodshed. We should educate our children how to imagine, not how to remember." I think his words are extremely relevant.

The article also quotes a Mr. Lu saying, "Like many young Chinese, he believes Japan is returning to militarism. 'I want China to be strong again,' Mr. Lu said at lunch the day before the game. He said China needed to be strong so it would not again succumb to foreign invaders." This is also quite an odd image. At a recent conference I went to, it was clear that the American no longer viewed Japan as a military threat. At this conference, it was pointed out that since Japan is aging so quickly, it can not be motivated very strongly to grow its military. Most countries which expanded security forces were usually countries that had a lot of young people. It was noted that the Kim Jon Il said during his trip across Russia on the train, that he had "too many people." This is one reason why he might be happier to send troops to war than Japan where there are so few young people.

In other news on the topic, it appears Japanese hackers went after a Chinese site and now the Chinese hackers are retaliating.

BBC News
Accident at Japan nuclear plant

Monday, 9 August, 2004, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK

At least four people have been killed in the worst ever accident at a Japanese nuclear power plant.

Ooops. Why is it that I don't trust them when they say stuff like, "In the aftermath of the accident, no evacuation order was given to residents living near the plant, and city official Nobutake Masaki denied there was any danger to the surrounding area." This is probably because they lie. At least some people are brave enough to blow the whistle.


Cory @ Boing Boing
Hello Kitty flashlight for Doom 3

Doom 3 has only just come out and already the modders are revving up their engines. My favorite so far: a Hello Kitty flashlight mod that makes your gun's built-in light cast a kawaii beam on the objects it alights upon. Link

(via Oblomovka)

Doom modder culture has become truly sophisticated. ;-) How very Boing Boing.

I get this feeling that the diffusion of new services and technologies such as blogs and social network services are not normal. Normal diffusion patterns are sort of bell curves that track mass media attention and other factors including effort on the supply side. With social network systems, there seem to be regional explosions of users. Orkut now has more Brazilians than Americans and I have yet to hear a good explanation of why. There are very uneven proportion of bloggers in different regions. The last I looked, Poland and Iran seem to have an unnaturally high number of blogs. Does the digital word of mouth nature of social software make it's diffusion faster (viral) and non-linear? Is the diffusion of other technologies in these markets and segments that are networked also change?

Is there anyone doing good work in this area? I'm sure marketers have their theories on this. I can imagine anthropologists and sociologists also studying this. What is the right way to study this?

It has already been widely reported that music publisher Ludlow Music has threatened copyright litigation against JibJab for their animation "This Land" which uses Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land." Corante, Boing Boing and NPR report that the kids like JibJab. Wendy Seltzer makes an interesting point that when Congress passed the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, they said it was "for the children." Wendy says, "It's worth remembering, again, that artists and copyright holders aren't always the same people."

Last night I went to see fireworks. There were approximately 22,000 fireworks ignited and an expected turnout of about 320,000 people. You could pay 30,000 yen (around 300 dollars) and get a special seat as a sponsor. Otherwise, you could, like the 320,000 or so other people, find a nice spot and watch the fireworks for free. In fact, there were two other fireworks festivals (Japanese love fireworks) going on within view of the nice spot in the park that we had chosen.

Fireworks shows in Japan are sponsored by companies and local governments. The sponsors usually get the best seats and they are thanked over the PA system for the people watching the show up close. For 99% of the people who watch the fireworks from far away, the sponsors are invisible. These people are, to use Hollywood's favorite word, "stealing" this content. They don't view ads, they don't pay. They do consume a lot of beer, buy stuff in local shops which pay taxes and generally feel good about the "public good" they've just been a part of. Like me, they take pictures and videos of the fireworks and post them to the web and send them to their friends.

I wonder if there is some sort of equivalent business model for other content businesses. Charge a small number of people a large amount of money and give it to 99% of the people for free. Get sponsored by companies and other organizations like local governments that benefit from the secondary consumption increase and follow-on derivative works creation and sharing.

I did an interview for NPR's summer reading series where we are supposed to talk about books to read over the summer. I ended up talking mostly about blogs. ;-) It's about a month old.

What do YOU recommend we read this summer?

UPDATE: Here are my notes on Orientalism by Edward Said, thoughts after reading Science In Action by Bruno Latour, and my short review of We the Media by Dan Gillmor.

Declan McCullagh
Sheriff misusing FBI computer can't be sued

A federal appeals court said this week that the sheriff of Shawnee County, Kan., could not be sued for snooping through an FBI database for dirt on political enemies.

Oh yay. The FBI's Interstate Identification Index (III) he abused has 50.5 million people. I wonder what happens when they have even better information on people. So much of the law protects the police and assumes they are "good". In Japan, when I talk about the possibility of cases like this, people laugh.

Information collected about people by the government is and will be increasingly used for political ends. We need to work on measures to investigate and punish such abuses and fundamentally reconsider the cost benefit of creating such databases prone to abuse.

via Dan Gillmor

I had a breakfast meeting with Professor Hirotaka Takeuchi about my doctorate program and I was taking notes in my moleskine notebook. I was jotting down just names and keywords and I think the professor thought it was a bit odd. I realized that taking notes with the intention of googling everything later is very different than taking complete notes. I had never noticed that I had started doing this.

President George W. Bush

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.

Ooops. A Freudian slip?

via George via IP

UPDATE: mp3 file of this from Lauren Weinstein's blog.

"The New York Times is my blog" Markoff just IMed me with this funny comment from Slashdot about Dan Gillmor's We the Media. I would have gotten more defensive if it weren't so funny.
Anyway, keep laughing Markoff. Just you wait and see. ;-)

Yes... I did photoshop out the end of his AIM nickname.

mural_piece1 mural_license_closeup

These pictures taken by Brad Neuberg

Mona Caron has created a beautiful mural on Church street near Market in San Francisco with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 License. So cool. More pictures on Brad Neuberg's site and her site.

via Creative Commons Weblog

Dan Gillmor's , We the Media was published under a Creative Commons license. You can download the entire book in PDF format on the O'Reilly page. It's an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 License.


Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds has sent an open letter to Thomas Kean, the Chairman of the 9/11 Commission continuing to up the ante on allegations of a massive coverup.

August 1, 2004


Dear Chairman Kean:

Unfortunately, I find your report seriously flawed in its failure to address serious intelligence issues that I am aware of, which have been confirmed, and which as a witness to the commission, I made you aware of. Thus, I must assume that other serious issues that I am not aware of were in the same manner omitted from your report.

Considering what is at stake, our national security, we are entitled to demand answers to unanswered questions, and to ask for clarification of issues that were ignored and/or omitted from the report.

Thanks to Richard for the tip

I know people are tired of this story, but this post gives us some closure on the discussion in my previous flippant post about the Hyote.

Boing Boing
Hyote captured alive!

The Hyote, a magical mystery animal that's been running around central Maryland, has apparently been captured. (Previous post here.) Amazingly though, this Hyote--a male red fox with sarcoptic mange, according to veterinarians--is most likely the offspring of the larger animal caught on video last month. Once the baby Hyote is well again, animal control will release it back into the wild. Link (Thanks, Soupie!)

Mimi Ito (my sister) has some interesting research about mobile phone and Japanese youths on the Vodaphone site.

Ironically via Gen Kanai (Mimi never tells me anything)

Jason Calacanis claims to have discovered that for $300 to $400, you can buy an editorial on, one of the most popular blogs. In an email exchange with Jason, a sales person Gogi (who Drew, who runs Fark explains is a 3rd party ad sales rep) writes:

However, if you look at any news source, they are influenced by PR agencies, wine & dine’s and similar events. Take a look at the Graydon Carter as example #1. I challenge you to find a pure editorial voice in news today.

Also, its not news, its ;-) We run stories that we know are false, run satire, try not to let our personal political views affect the content and often include adult-natured items in the daily roundup. We don’t hold ourselves to the same standards as the NYT, and I would urge you not to either.

Just as we're trying to prove how "pure" bloggers are, it appears that maybe one of our own has "sold out". As Jason points out, it wouldn't have been bad if the purchased editorials were marked as advertising. I agree with Jason, that people probably would have happily clicked on them if they looked interesting. What sucks is that they didn't disclose this before.

Drew Curtis posts a comment on Jason's blog explaining that Gogi doesn't represent Fark. He says, "I am personally not interested in compromising the quality of the site, hence no pop-up ads or take-overs." but doesn't really deny the editorial sponsorship issue directly and Jason says he is not convinced until he hears from Gogi.

It's unclear at this point, whether Fark really is selling editorials and how much influence this Gogi guy has, but 1) the email from Gogi is pretty bad and 2) it would be nice for Drew to explain his policy. Some of the Fark readers commenting on Jason's blog says to cut Drew some slack...

Dave has posted an update on the situation at Technorati. Quick summary: Fixed a bunch of things to get the CNN thing done on time, but broke some other things in the process. We're very sorry. Apologies also for being unresponsive. Thank you very much for your feedback and patience and we'll try harder to address the issues.

Team America - World Police, from the creators of South Park. "Putting the 'F' back in freedom". Coming October 2004

via Juche

Dan Gillmor's We the Media has hit the selves. O'Reilly, the publisher, has created a blog for it. I just posted my review on

Hugh, aka Gapingvoid has a great post on creativity. He's one of the few artists/cartoonists who have taken advantage of blogs and has been successful in creating his own back of a business card cartoon format.

I use a blog card designed by him.

David Weinberger video blogs a reply to Charles Cooper's article at CNET.

Charles Cooper criticizes the credentialed DNC bloggers as bad journalists and David responds. If the text of his response had been in his post, I might not have watched the video, but after watching the video, I realized that it was worth it. I keep forgetting how funny David is in full motion. ;-)

I made a BitTorrent torrent of the 11MB Quicktime version of the post. The torrent is here. I'm still trying to debug my tracker so I'd appreciate comments about any success or failure you have with this torrent. Thanks!

John Perry Barlow, former Grateful Dead lyricist and Republican city council chairman has an interesting idea.

Dancing in the Streets: Revolution with a Smile

...Maureen Dowd recently observed that the Republicans had become so obsessed with rejecting the 60's ethic of doing it if it feels good that they have taken up an ethic of doing it if it makes someone else feel bad. Moreover, the GOP strategy of basing their root-level organization on Hot Protestantism has infused their ranks with a lot of chilly Puritanism, which, as H.L. Mencken defined it, is "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, is having a good time."

...So, to that end, I propose the following: I want to organize a cadre of 20 to 50 of us. I want to dress us in suits and other plain pedestrian attire and salt us among the sidewalk multitudes in Republican-rich zones. At a predetermined moment, one of us will produce a boom-box and crank it up with something danceable. Suddenly, about a third of the people on the sidewalk, miscellaneously distributed in the general throng, will start dancing like crazy and continue to do so for for about a minute. Then we will stop, melt back into the pedestrian flow, and go to another location to erupt there.

As always, the full text of his essay is a great read, but this idea of discombobulation as protest is funny and seems appropriate as well. I wonder if we can map "I don't think it's funny" split. I wonder if this would constitute "terrorism". I guess it might depend on what they were dancing to.

The Passion of the Present
A failure of will

Forces from across the world are poised to help the people of Darfur, but no nation has the will to move forward.

We are in a tragic and signal moment, a catalytic moment, where the world sees the need, has the means, and yet continues to experience a failure of will.

...Now it is the public's turn. It is our turn. The time is now for our action. We must ask our leaders to act now, not in 30 days.

All key elements are in place, except the will to launch the rescue of Darfur in earnest.

A call to action that you should all read. This is "low hanging fruit" on the "lets do something good today" tree. Take some action today.

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