Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

September 2004 Archives

Technology Review
Japanese Schools Use Computer Chips to Keep Tabs on Children

TOKYO (AP) - Cutting class just got harder but schools are safer thanks to computer chips that help track students, Japanese officials say.

Some schools here this month began trial runs in which students carry chips that have tiny antennae and can be traced by radio, with some of the kids attaching the tags to their backpacks.

The chips send signals to receivers at school gates. A computer in the system shows when a student enters or leaves.

School officials say rising concerns about student safety prompted the idea.

But student safety is still MUCH better than the rest of the world. Elementary school first graders still take public transportation to school by themselves. I think tagging is a bit over the top.
"And the kids love it - they think it's cool," he added.
Yeah. Right...

And when are they going to start tagging everyone else...

via Smart Mobs

Cory @ Boing Boing
ACLU and EFF strike down part of PATRIOT Act

EFF has helped the ACLU overturn one of the worst elements of the USA PATRIOT Act, the "National Security Letters," which were secret warrants that the Justice Department could write for itself without judicial oversight and then bind the recipients to indefinite silence. That's right: secret, no-oversight warrants with perpetual gag-orders. The ACLU brought suit against the DoJ on this one, and we filed briefs on their side, and today, a federal court struck down this part of PATRIOT as unconstitutional. BooYAH.

"Today's ruling is an important victory for the Bill of Rights, and a critical step toward reigning in the unconstitutional reach of the Patriot Act," said Kurt
Opsahl, EFF staff attorney. "The Court recognized that judicial oversight and the freedom to discuss our government's activities both online and offline are fundamental safeguards to civil liberties, and should not be thrown aside."
Once again I wish we had the EFF and the ACLU in Japan. Or rather, the kind of people and government that would encourage the creation such organizations. The US government is capable of insanity like the US PATRIOT Act, but it also has corrective mechanisms which work. Anyway, good going folks!

Gary Lerhaupt
Uncovered: The War on Iraq - Interviews Torrent

In a follow-up to the licensing of the Outfoxed movie under a Creative Commons license, Robert Greenwald has also agreed to release the interviews from his previous movie, Uncovered: The War on Iraq under the Creative Commons. The files can be downloaded directly (also available in higher quality format) from, or you can join the torrent hosted on at uncovered_interviews.torrent.

Hopefully we can match the over 700 downloads of Outfoxed that its torrent has already generated. Either way, the truth is free.

(free as in beer AND as in freedom)

Yay! Thanks Gary! And hats off to Robert Greenwald for actually doing what Moore talked about with F 9/11. I think that P2P and political documentaries is an amazing new channel for political activism and free speech.

Click photo for higher
resolution on flickr

I just got my picture taken with my second cousin Keigo. Keigo is aka Cornelius and is a pretty well known musician. The picture for a magazine called Brutus and the series is about cool people and their relationship with someone else. So I was the "someone else" for this article. The photo was taken by Kishin Shinoyama who is well known for his portraits. His confidence and efficiency were quite amazing. He found this cool spot to take the photo in our offices in 5 minutes. Then he set up his 8X10 camera took polaroids of three poses. He seemed to only take one or two actual photos of each set up. It was all over in like five or ten minutes.

He gave me one of the polaroids and signed it for me upon request and said that I could post this on my blog.

Today was my first day of school. The requirement for getting an university email, intranet and wifi account requires a course in netiquette. The course focused on "don't spread viruses." OK.

I showed up a few minutes late as Professor Takeuchi was talking about how tardiness would not be tolerated. (Sorry Professor Takeuchi!) Strike one. I sat in my student chair feeling very guilty.

Next was the session where we were going to get our accounts.

Instructor A: "So does everyone have have ICS IT Handbook?"

I didn't have one.

Me: "No. I didn't get one. Can I have one?"

Scarier instructor B: "Why don't you have one?"

Me: "I didn't get one. Where do we get one."

Scarier instructor B: "Sit down and share with someone." (scowl)

Me: "Umm.. OK."

So we were instructed on how to log in, change our password, etc. I finished a bit early and was messing around with my profiles. I noticed a place on the intranet where we could upload our picture. I started googling around for a good image to use when...

Scarier instructor B: "Are you following the instructor?"

I had clearly been profiled as a problem student by this point.

I turns out that there are only 3 DBA students and I was the only one attending today so I was put in another class. That's why I didn't have the handbook. Scarier instructor B didn't know this so I guess it's not her fault for scowling. But sitting in a classroom being scolded by instructors brought back a lot of memories. ;-) I'm going to have to get used to it and try to fit in a bit better... for now.

Esther scooped me and announced that she is investing in flickr. So am I. I haven't been blogging about flickr too much, even though I'm addicted because I wanted to wait to announce this first. I'm just a passive investor, but wanted to disclose this relationship.

You can see my photos on my flickr photo page. You can even subscribe to it in RSS 2.0 or Atom. Remember to check out the Tags page. There is also my personal tags page. Things have been getting very taggy around here ever since I started using

Thanks for the opportunity to invest Stewart and Caterina.

During Ars Electronica in Linz, I got a chance to hang out with Michael from I would have blogged about this earlier, but they have been having server problems and they wanted me to wait until they had stabilized the situation. has been around for awhile now and they've even been covered in Wired so many of you may already know about them. It is a music site based on collaborative filtering. Using one of the many Audioscrobbler plugins, you can set your music player to upload the titles of the music you are playing to their site. This starts to create your profile. You can also go to the site and browse songs and artists and add them to your profile. It will recommend similar artists and also show other fans of those artists. You can browse the profiles of those fans as well. Eventually, you will have enough songs in your profile for it to calculate your neighborhood. These are other members with similar taste. It's quite uncanny how similar some people's taste in music can be. You can visit these people, see what they are listening to, send them messages or add them as friends.

Once you have a healthy neighborhood and profile, the next thing you do is start listening to the radio. is MCPS/PRS registered and has a paid license to broadcast music internationally from the UK. Only music registered with MCPS/PRS or registered directly with will be streamed, but you can listen to your own music collection, anyone else's music collection or your profile neighborhood as an mp3 stream. The web based player window will show the name of the artists, the track, the cover art, the person who's profile it is coming from and a button for "love", "ban", "skip". Anything you like will be added to your profile.

You can configure to use your local You can buy most of the albums you browse on Amazon. In addition, labels can sign up on and sell music directly via downloads. Labels can set their own price. The collaborative filter allows labels to target new songs into the clusters that are most likely to be receptive to a track and the collaborative filter takes over after that.

I think this is an amazing synthesis of traditional business models from the music industry and collaborative filters. I also love how your music becomes your identity. My page shows what I'm listening to and what I kind of music I like most.

DISCLOSURE: I don't have any official relationship with yet, but I'm currently talking to them a lot and giving them my feedback and thoughts.

Michael, let me know if I got the facts right.

Lessig blogs about a very important case:

A district court in the Southern District of New York has struck down the anti-bootlegging provision of the copyright act.

Here's another Iraq war video. This one appears to be a strike on a group of people walking down a street in Fallujah. Does anyone else have more information on this video? Has it been aired on any TV network?

If they are civilians, it's quite disturbing. The "aw dude" in the audio doesn't seem like a very appropriate reaction.

The embedded Windows Media Player window didn't work for me in Firefox on OS X, but worked fine in Internet Explorer. You can also use this link to view it directly in Windows Media Player.

Via Paul

As of yesterday, Wikipedia is inaccessible from most of China. It appears to be inaccessible from 11 out of 12 points in China. It was blocked for a few days back in June or so, but this block appears to be broader than the last one. Hope this one gets resolved quickly too.

Yes. Yet another social networking site... I decided to play with this one for awhile before blogging it to make sure it was significantly different. I think it is. Plazes takes your IP address and tries to figure out where you are asks for the address of where you are and maps it to the MAC address of the router you are connected to. If you are in a new "plaze" you can register it by entering the address, uploading pictures, making comments. You can see who is online and where they are. You can see people by how far away they are from you. I imagine that once it gets going, most common hang outs will have lots of comments and pictures and you will be able to find people in your vicinity to hook up with. It's a bit like a laptop version of dodgeball. I'm "Joi" on Plazes.

And in other YASNS news, I finally got my wallop (Microsoft Research's SNS) invitation. I'm "Joi" there as well.

Ever wanted to take digital pictures from a kite? Phillip Torrone who brought us the Search Engine Belt Buckles shows us how. He makes it sound so easy.

In a few hours I'll be leaving New York to go back to Japan. Met so many interesting people this trip and the weather was beautiful. Thanks!

Sorry about the light blogging. I've been a bit busy in New York. Here's something to to fill the void. Presenting, The Horn Guy (Windows Media Player)

from eBaum's World via Scott

The concert tonight was amazing. I hope people got a chance to watch the video feed. Gil/Byrne were amazing and were eventually able to get a house full of somewhat tired old people on their feet and dancing. It was also amazing to realize how much Talking Heads songs were a part of my DNA... anyway. Maybe more when I'm less tired. Need to go to bed.

Oh, and David Byrne dedicated "Road to Nowhere" to the Repbulicans.

Adina has a nice essay about why participants in what Benkler calls commons-based peer production are not necessarily communists. If you don't have time to read Benkler's 80 page Coase's Peguin paper, I suggest you read Adina's essay which picks up some important points that you don't get in the abstract.

Wall Street Journal
This Compilation CD Is Meant To Be Copied and Shared

September 20, 2004

For more than a year, the music industry has held firm on its zero-tolerance position on online file swapping, suing 4,679 alleged digital pirates to drive its point home.

But now, 16 high-profile artists, many of them signed to the same global music companies that have brought the lawsuits, are participating in a project that will allow music lovers to freely copy and trade some new songs without risking legal retaliation.

Next month, songs by the Beastie Boys, David Byrne and 14 others will appear on a compilation CD whose contents are meant to be copied freely online, remixed or sampled by other artists for use in their own new recordings. "The Wired CD: Rip. Sample. Mash. Share." was compiled by the editors of Wired magazine, of San Francisco, as an experimental implementation of a new kind of intellectual-property license called Creative Commons. About 750,000 copies of the disc are to be distributed free with the magazine's November issue. The disc also will be handed out to audience members at a benefit concert by Mr. Byrne and others tomorrow night in New York.

The CD will include:

Beastie Boys - 'Now Get Busy'
David Byrne - 'My Fair Lady'
Zap Mama - 'Wadidyusay?'
My Morning Jacket - 'One Big Holiday'
Spoon - 'Revenge!'
Gilberto Gil - 'Oslodum'
Dan the Automator - 'Relaxation Spa Treatment'
Le Tigre - 'Fake French'
Paul Westerberg - 'Looking Up in Heaven'
Cornelius - 'Wataridori 2'
Matmos - 'Action at a Distance'

Thanks to Chris and everyone at Wired for pulling this together. See you tonight at the concert!

via Lessig

Main WaterField bag that I put everything else into
I realized today when I was packing that just about everything I pack is in a little sub-bag. I'm not normally an anal person, but having bags in bags with a proper place for every cable and plug helps me structure my packing and pack without thinking too hard. One of the most important components of this system is my WaterField bag gear. I've been using these bags for awhile since Reid turned me on to them, but I keep buying every new specialized pouch they come out with. I'm an addict...

I also LOVE the Eagle Creek Pack-It Folders that keep your shirts together and has this cool plastic thing that helps you fold your shirts.

I'm off to New York today to attend the Creative Commons board meeting and go to the Creative Commons benefit concert organized by Wired Magazine. Hope to see you there!

UPDATE: At airport now. It was very crowded getting through. I was looking through my passport while waiting in line and I noticed that on my last trip the old U.S. Immigrations stamp I used to get when entering the US changed to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Similar, but definitely has a different ring to it.

Also, I've been stuck waiting in line enough these days and have started always choosing lines where if possible both adjacent lanes are closed. I've found that I have a 50/50 or so chance of having the lane next to me open up and shorted our particular line by 1/2. In many airports like Narita, there are two lanes per block and it's worth it to check whether a line is a double line or a single line since sometimes they get mashed together...

Anyway, at least I'm on free wifi with a power cable.

Wikipedia has just announced that it has reached one million articles. Congratulations Wikipedians! Wikipedia is in more than 100 languages with 14 currently having over 10,000 articles. It is ranked one of the ten most popular reference sites on the Internet according to (trumping Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and the LA Times). At the current rate of growth, Wikipedia will double in size again by next spring.

Wikipedia is a volunteer effort supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Please contribute to their fundraising effort.

Coincidentally, this is the 3000th post on this blog.

Kamelopedia, originally a German parody of Wikipedia, has launched in English. Kamelopedia uses the same MediaWiki software that Wikipedia uses, but it is a joke encyclopedia based on puns and mistakes. Wikipedia has an english language description of Kamelopedia. I just signed up, but I'm not sure which is more fun... trying to be funny, or writing in the Wikipedia deadpan tone about something that is funny. (I'm working on this style on the Stealth Disco article.) There is also the Wikipedia Bad jokes and other deleted nonsense page.

via Jimbo

Seth and Xeni write about this new American monster pickup truck, the CXT. According to Xeni it is "about 2 feet taller x 4 feet longer than the honkin' Hummer H2. Which, btw, it could tow along with that yacht, if need be." (MSNBC article and debut site)

I just bought a 10 year old Daihatsu HiJet pickup truck. I got it because it's small enough to drive on the narrow paths between the rice fields. It can carry as much gravel or dirt as I would be willing to move on any given day. Just about every single neighbor has one of these little pickup trucks. And no, I didn't buy it just to fit in... although I think it helps. I think my HiJet is about 130" long and about 45 horsepower. (approximately 1/2 the length and 1/5 the horsepower of the CXT)

That CXT would be completely useless in my village. So you can keep your gas guzzling monstrosity and whatever weird culture that created it. I'm happy with the spartan aesthetics of my little HiJet. (Web page about Kei class Japanese trucks)

USA Today
Fliers face tighter screening for explosives

WASHINGTON — Starting Monday, the government will intensify airport screening...

More discretion. TSA screeners will be given greater authority to refer passengers for extra scrutiny if clothing looks bulky, misshapen or otherwise suspicious. Some passengers also will receive expanded pat-downs when screeners consider it warranted. Currently, they concentrate mostly on arms and legs. Now, they'll be able to pat other areas if they look suspicious. TSA spokeswoman Yolanda Clark would not elaborate, citing security.

...Critics say additional pat-downs could make some people, especially young women, feel uncomfortable.

Just in time for my trip to the US next week...

via Cory @ Boing Boing

Graph of Bush vs Kerry on Iowa Electronic Markets
The Iowa Electronic Markets are real-money futures markets in which contract payoffs depend on economic and political events such as elections. These markets are operated by faculty at the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business as part of our research and teaching mission.
Jimbo told me about IEM when I met him in Linz. A paper (PDF) describes the past elections and how the markets have been amazingly good at predicting their outcomes. IEM has a current market quote which is updated every 15 minutes. As of this posting, it is 40.6%/59.4% Kerry/Bush.

On IRC, crw, just pointed out a blog post on The SaltwaterPizza that used Google to see how many people said they were voting for one candidate or the other. The sample size was 104,789. This gave 46.8%/53.2% Kerry/Bush.

The results are disappointing for those of us who are hoping Kerry will win, but these alternatives to traditional polls are very interesting none the less.

Hoder reports government crackdowns on reformist websites and bloggers.

Dr. Mark Petrovic and David Beckemeyer at Earthlink R&D have developed a proof of concept P2P application using SIP called SIPshare. SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol and is one of the key technologies for the open standards around Voice over IP (VoIP). This application is pure P2P use of SIP. It is completely decentralized. According to David Beckemeyer this project is quite important.

David Beckemeyer in email
This may not sound like that big of a deal, as file sharing has been done, but I think this is a really big event. It's not about file sharing. Nobody is really going to use the demo app Mark built. It's about demonstrating that pure P2P can be done over SIP and that SIP is about more than just voice and video.

In some sense, the SIP wars to me are about sneaking in some aspects of the original "stupid network" baack into the NAT hell we've created. If we can do what it takes to get NAT boxes to support SIP (be consistent in how they do NAT so the edges can use STUN et al), then we have reclamied the ability to have individually addressable nodes, where we use SIP as the new IP network almost. This may be getting carried away, but anyway...

SIP has been waylaid in regulatory and execution problems in the past and many people have written it off as a non-starter. I'm seeing more and more companies who are actually using it for cool stuff and proving that it's ready for prime time now. If you written off SIP and haven't taken a look at what people doing with it for the last six months, I suggest you take another look.

via David Beckemeyer

Two years ago I marched in protest against the Japan National ID. Last year, after we failed, a few cities and prefectures resisted. Yokohama took the position that the bill was illegal because it required privacy protection and the privacy bill had not passed. They allowed citizens to opt out and an whopping 24% of their citizens opted out. Now that the privacy bill of the central government is in place, Yokohama is being forced to "normalize" with the central government. Last year, I accepted an appoint to the Yokoyama personal information protection committee which would oversee their integration of the national ID system with the hope that I could help them in their resistance. Today, almost a year after the first meeting, I spent the afternoon in what was basically a rubber stamp session. We voiced our opinions, but at this point there really wasn't much choice. These inquiry committee are constitutionally defined organs for people to interact with the law making process, but I felt more like a cog with a rubber stamp than a participant in a democracy.

Metroblogging Tokyo just launched. I'm a contributor, but I haven't written anything yet.
torrentocracy - blog
Outfoxed Torrent (torrentocracy exclusive)

In working with Lawrence Lessig, Robert Greenwald has agreed to release the interviews within Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism under a Creative Commons non-commercial license (press release). This means that among the rights now granted, interviews balancing out the fair journalism of Fox News can freely be used as anyone sees fit. To see the full movie, you can purchase the Outfoxed DVD or check it out in theaters.

Torrentocracy (along with has exclusive initial access to distribute these interviews in their digital form due to the work undertaken to promote a TV-connected, public domain, internet based media distribution network. The torrent file to start your Outfoxed download can be found at For more information on how to use bit torrent peer-to-peer filesharing to download this, go here. If you were a Torrentocracy user, you could already be downloading Outfoxed to your television.

Here's some serious substantial non-infringing use of P2P. I bought the DVD and watched Outfoxed. Definitely worth buying the DVD, but being able to download and use the interviews from the documentary is a great contribution to the commons. It will be interesting to see how people remix this stuff.

Creative Commons
Developing Nations license launched

Today the Creative Commons launched a new standalone license, dubbed Developing Nations. The deed lays it out simply: it's an attribution-only license that applies within developing nations. The legal code defines developing nations as "any nation that is not classified as a 'high-income economy' by the World Bank." which according to the World Bank's site means it does not apply in these countries.

This license can be used in a few ways. It can be combined with something currently licensed under a more restrictive license, so that your photographs could be protected from commercial use in the United States, but if it also carried a Developing Nations license, those same photos could be used commerically in say, Brazil. You might also be a musician or photographer that wants to maintain full copyright in North America and Western Europe, but welcome use by others in the countries of Southeast Asia. More information can be found in today's press release.

This is a very important development. People have been asking for this. Many people choose non-commercial use because they worry about NBC or CBS ripping off their work. This provides the ability for countries with less Internet penetration to allow local entrepreneurs to print and distribute things that would not reach many of these people otherwise.

For those of you who can't make the Creative Commons benefit concert in New York next week, WIRED will present a Webcast of the show by David Byrne and Gilberto Gil, LIVE from the Town Hall, at 8 pm EST on September 21st.
For those of you who WILL be there. I'll be there too.

Insert-Coin blogged a time lapse movie of our Eccosys web cam which was in my apartment in 1995. Talk about a walk down memory lane.

My new wiki using Socialtext (based on the open source Kwiki) is up and running. We've implemented a login if you want to edit as a short term fix for wiki spam. We will convert it to self-registration soon, but for now, if you want an account, email Adina and she'll set you up.

The old Moin Moin wiki is eventually going to be shut down and is already being infested by spam as the attention on it wanes. If there is anything on the old wiki that you'd like to keep, please move it over to the new wiki. Jon L will be doing the Emergent Democracy pages so contact him if you can help on those. For other pages, if it is going to take a long time, just put a note on the Moin Moin page that you're working on moving it over so people don't step on your work. Lets make this an opportunity to refactor some of the stuff.

There is a script and some help on converting Moin Moin pages to Socialtext on my wiki.


Last night, I saw Lian ai zhong de Bao Bei, or "Baober in Love" directed by Shaohong Li. It was a shocking, emotional and amazing love story set in Beijing. The movie captures the stark contrast of the rich and ultra-modern with the poor and traditional parts of the city. Having just spent a few days wandering from ultra-modern buildings to streets with bombed out buildings and meeting some of the young and rich in Beijing, the movie seemed to capture the strange cultural situation that people must be facing in China right now with the explosive growth in the economy. The love story is extremely painful and I think many of my peers had a hard time with it, but I thought the intensity set a tone that I think represents the whiplash the culture must be going through.

The movie reminded me a bit of one of my other favorite films, Swallowtail Butterfly, which is also a story of a young girl raised by hookers in a multicultural/chanpon underground part of Tokyo.

If you liked either one of these films, I would recommend the other.

From Christian Lindholm who is in charge of Lifeblog at Nokia:
Lifeblog will blog to TypePad - some reflections

Our team today announced that we are partnering with Six Apart to make TypePad the preferred destination when you blog from Lifeblog.


I was wondering why so many of my favorite feeds weren't coming into my news reader and I realized (duh!) that I'm in China and Blogger and TypePad are blocked. It's one thing blogging about it from Japan, it's another thing actually being blocked and realizing how much of my world just sort of disappears. There are proxy servers, but I hear that even then, if you use one for too long, they get tracked down and blocked literally while you're surfing...

It looks like my backlog of email has reached a critical level. I will try to get to it in the next few days, but apologies to people waiting for replies from me.

We just had a very interesting meeting with Michael Song, managing director of Taihe Rye Music. He is Chinese, but spent six years at Texas A&M and returned to China in 1996 to work in the budding music scene in China. He is in the agency business and represents the #1 male musician in China.

He explained that the legal music CD business in China is about 5%. In other words, 95% of the CDs on the market are pirate copies. He said that it was the teenagers who were passionate about the artists and liked to hang out in the record shops that tended to buy the legal CDs. Even in the top artists, CD sales only represented 30% or so of their income, while less known musicians actually lost money on CDs. The CDs are important, however, as a marketing and promotion vehicle.

Because the mass media is state owned, it is difficult to use the mass media for promoting artists. For this reason, it appears that the successful artists in China tend to be more talented, singer songwriters who tend to be popular longer compared to artists in markets such as Hong Kong and Taiwan where pop idol style artists are highly promoted and often lack talent or long term potential.

He told us that his artists got revenue share deals with percentages a bit worse than their counterparts in the US, but much better than in Japan. Most of the revenue comes from advertising/endorsements and concerts, but he is aggressively working on new business models involving alternative media such as the Internet and mobile devices.

My "take-away" was that in a market where the record industry basically doesn't function, artists and agents are going to be pushing the cutting edge of music business models and might in fact discover the post DRM/RIAA business model before Hollywood does. Obviously, it helps to have a huge growing market such as China, but I think it would make sense for artists and music industry people to keep an eye on China for breakthroughs in the music business.

When I was at Linz, a bunch of people made me provide a list of all of the applications that I'm running on my Mac. I realize I do this to people too. I've seen people make lists of their favorite applications on their blogs, but I realized that it might be better to do on a wiki. I've made a list of my favorite applications. Feel free to click on any of the application links and comment on the page for the application. Also, feel free to make a similar page for yourself and list YOUR favorite applications. If we can get a bunch of people on the wiki with their lists, it might end up being an interesting resource.

Is there something like this elsewhere already?

It's been nice hanging out in Linz meeting all of the cool people here. I'm off to Beijing today via Frankfurt and Narita. I have a feeling this multi-airport flight is going to suck. Anyway, maybe see you along the way if I can find some wifi.


I said I had a feeling it would suck and it is sucking.

Airport - Linz, Austria
Gate Agent: Our computer is broken. I can't check you through to your final destination.
Me: OK, but please check my bag through to Bejing via Tokyo.
Gate Agent: My computer is down. I have to look up the codes by hand. What country is Tokyo in.
Me: Japan
Gate Agent: Beijing is also in Japan.
Me: No, China.
Gate Agent: OK. (scribbles down codes and flights on luggage tag.)
Announcement at Gate
The flight to Frankfurt has been delayed
Airport - Frankfurt, Germany
Me: (after running through Frankfurt airport and finding the proper check-in counter after 2 counters forwarding me to another one...) Can you check me through to Beijing. The computer was broken in Linz.
Gate Agent: Your reservation has been cancelled.
Me: ??!
Gate Agent: Let me talk to my colleagues... The computer in Linz was broken.
Me: Yes. I know.
Gate Agent: I will book you through to Beijing.
Arrival Gate - Narita, Japan
Gate Agent: Are you Mr. Ito?
Me: Yes.
Gate Agent: Can I see your luggage tag?
Me: Yes. (hands her luggage tag)
Gate Agent: hmmm... (squinting at hand written scribbles) This isn't the code for the Beijing airport. And the flight number is not correct.
Gate Agent2: That's the code for the city of Beijing, not the airport. It should probably be OK. And that SORT OF looks like a "9"... Sir, you'll be fine.
Me: (doesn't look very fine...)
I'm in Narita now wondering if my bag is really going to show up.


My bag and I have arrived safely in Beijing and even gprs seems to work fine!

As usual, there were a lot of PowerBooks at this conference. Interestingly, Esther Dyson, Lawrence Lessig, Bruce Sterling and I were the only people I noticed who had stickers on our PowerBooks. Other people who I know who have stickers on their PowerBooks are Mena Trott and Cory Doctorow. I wonder what this means? What do those of us who are willing to vandalize our pristine PowerBooks with stickers have in common?

Anyway, just an observation...

I was just on a panel with Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales, the founder of Wikipedia. We've been talking the last few days about communities and it turns out the #wikipedia IRC channel is about the same size as #joiito. (approx 100 people online. Wikipedia has many other sub channels though so in aggregate they are much bigger...) Anyway, Jimmy noticed that I didn't have a Wikipedia article and he decided to go to his community and see if he could get an article written while we were on the channel.

-- Jimbo has joined #wikipedia
Jimbo: Just a fun experiment...
Jimbo: Joichi Ito is here at this conference, on the same panel with me.
Jimbo: But we apparently have no article about him.
Jimbo: A challenge: in the next hour, how good of an article can we create?
Member1: '''Joichi Ito''' is a [[person]]. {{bio-stub}}
Jimbo: Yes, he uses wikipedia too. But he's famous and important and we need a bio.
Jimbo: I have to go, because our panel is about to start again...
Jimob: But please, remind people as they wander in here, and let's see what happens.
Member2: who the fuck is Joichi Ito
Member3: Member2: write an article and find out
Member2: Jimbo can write the article if it's so important
Member3: someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed today
Member1: The easy way out would be to grab an article from another page, cross out the name and write 'Joichi Ito' over it in crayon
It's the same on my channel, but leadership/foundership has nothing to do with authority. In fact, trying to exercise authority often has exactly the opposite effect. The article did end up getting written though. ;-)

IBM History Flow visualization of the "Islam" article on Wikipedia.
I think the gaps are where the page has been erased and restored.
See the IBM History Flow page for more details and examples.
I think this has been mentioned in the press already, but I confirmed with Jimmy Wales that a study done by IBM (The group that did the history flow work) tried to measure how quickly vandalism on Wikipedia was identified and corrected. They searched for pages where suddenly all of the content disappeared or a huge amount was deleted. They found that the median time for such a page to be restored was 5 minutes. This did not take into the account the process that where Wikipedians often refactor or move pages and redirect them which would show a similar behavior. So the median time is probably less than 5 minutes. In the context of our discussion about Wikipedia authority, I think this is quite an interesting and impressive statistic.

When Jim gave me my first Moleskine notebook, I didn't realize that I would become part of the Moleskine mania. Since then, I see these notebooks everywhere. I have recently been added to the fan blog, moleskinerie. Antoin has some interesting thoughts on the narrative and branding by Mondo e Mondo, the Italian firm making these things.

Interesting chart showing how terror alerts in the US seems to coincide with drops in Bush's approval ratings.

via JuliusBlog

Christoph Wimmer asks where I got my "I )( Wi-Fi" bumpersticker. I got it from It's a very cool site with lots of great bumpersticks. Part of the money is donated to a variety of non-profits. This bumpersticker benefits Creative Commons.

The "I )( Wi-Fi" bumper sticker can be found on the Tech Culture page.

Britney Spears's fans don't think the pop star's chewed gum is "Toxic" - they're buying wads of it on eBay. There are more than two dozen auctions of used gum on eBay, each claiming their product has been spit out by the 22-year-old singer. Prices go as high as $14,000, but most are for significantly less. Though there is no way to verify the authenticity of the various wads, many postings include photos of a small piece of chewed gum, a copy of a ticket stub from the "place of finding" and a personal story of procurement.
eeeww... I wonder what people do with this used gum when they buy it. Or maybe I shouldn't ask...
Ars Electronica , the oldest, largest, and most prominent art and technology festival in the world, today launched a web site inviting participants to make predictions about the next 25 years, year by year, and to vote on predictions already posted.
Looks interesting. Give it a try.
Ars Electronica 2004
Video Streams

In addition to the proceeding of the Ars Electronica Gala, the panels of the TIMESHIFT Symposium and the Prix Forum as well as the speech by Itsuo Sakane, the Re-inventing Radio Symposium and the launch of Creative Commons Austria will be available online as video streams.

The program is online here. I'll be on the DISRUPTION panel.

Now listening to: Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols

I reported back in September 2003 that an Indian newspaper reported a local company receiving an outsourcing contract from the Republicans for fund-raising calls. The Republicans denied this at the time. Dvorak has an update.

The Telegraph - Calcutta
Indian voices in Bush pitch - Geography error blows lid off campaign outsourcing

The Texas outfit may have actually got away with its outsourcing exercise if it had not been for the poor training given to Indian telemarketers who handled the job. Sources here said the India-based operation was exposed when one American who received a fund-raising phone call on behalf of the Republican Victory Committee wanted to know where the call was coming from.

“The Washington DC of Virginia,” the caller answered. Washington, the US capital, is actually in DC, short for District of Columbia, and Virginia is its neighbouring state.

I personally have nothing against outsourcing to India, but it probably looks bad for the RNC.

Philadelphia is considering investing $10M to blanket 135 square miles with wifi coverage.

I agree with David Weinberger that the wifi project in Philadelphia is a good thing. Like David, I hear and understand the arguments against government running things that businesses can do, but I think that in the case of some of the low cost basic infrastructure like this, I think municipal governments can often deploy and run it just fine. I think that we need to start thinking of parts of our network as assets like roads, which can and should be run by government.

I will add that in most cases I believe in free markets and competition for this sort of thing.

The NYC police are reported to have a weapon-like acoustic device called an LRAD at the RNC protests.

Here is a picture from Indymedia.

Earlier this month, the New York Police Department showed off a machine called the Long Range Acoustic Device, developed for the military and capable of blasting at an earsplitting 150 decibels -- as loud as a firecracker, a jet engine taking off or artillery fire at 500 feet, according to the Noise Center at the League for the Hard of Hearing. The NYPD said it would use the machine to direct crowds to safety if there's a terrorist attack or remind protesters where they're allowed to march. Police said they wouldn't use the earsplitting screeching noise feature at the convention. "It's only to communicate in large crowds," Inspector Thomas Graham of the police department's crowd control unit said.

via Xeni @ Boing Boing - more on Boing Boing

John Perry Barlow promised to organize dancemobs to disrupt the RNC and he has. He sends a quick update from the dancemob front lines.

I'm at an airport lounge in Frankfurt Airport and just had a weird experience. There was a huge line and passport control to get into the terminal with my departure gate for my next flight. I decided to go to the lounge. It was sort of a long walk, but when I arrived and asked how to get to my gate, they said it was around the corner - with no security or passport control. Somehow I just "walked around" the passport control.

Now I realize that this is inter-terminal passport control so I have no idea what sort of border it represents, but being able to walk around it seems a bit weird to me...

UDPATE: Although two different people at the lounge assured me it was only minutes away and I didn't have to go through passport control, I somehow got routed back the way I came and though passport control. I asked several times since I was very skeptical. So I either didn't listen to their directions carefully, they were pulling my leg, or they were wrong. Anyway, sorry about the misfire.

Inspired by Maciej's anti-audioblogging manifesto, I started working on an audioblogger mashup. I'm not very good at this yet, but here's what I've got so far. (1.8 MB mp3).

I'm going to keep working on this, but if anyone wants to pitch in and give me a hand... hint hint...

UPDATE: I'm taking this down because Maciej says it's freaking him out. ;-)

I'm off to Linz, Austria in a few hours. I'll be attending Ars Electronica. My schedule in Linz is on my wiki. After that, I'm going to Beijing. My travel schedule for the year is also on my wiki.

See you all there., a video of a Kerry kigurumi performance on the guitar. Pretty neat, but not sure if this will really convince people to vote for Kerry. ;-)

Japan Today
Creator of file-sharing software pleads not guilty to piracy

KYOTO — The creator of a program for anonymous file-sharing over the Internet pleaded not guilty on Wednesday at the Kyoto District Court to the charge that he developed the software knowing it would facilitate Internet piracy.

Isamu Kaneko, 34, who developed the Winny peer-to-peer file-sharing program, is the first person in Japan to stand trial for creating software that can be used for the unauthorized reproduction of movies and video games over the Internet.

In the US, they are trying to pass a law making it illegal to induce people to break copyright law. In Japan, they act like such a law already exists. I hope the Japanese take a look at the recent US 9th Circuit Court ruling in favor of Grokster. It is a really bad idea to be going after the creators of technology. P2P is a VERY important technology for the future of file sharing and its application goes way beyond merely pirating commercial content. P2P architecture will enable communities to create file sharing networks without having to invest in and build centralized file servers which can be extremely expensive. It also prevents the creator of large audio and video files from having to pay for all of the bandwidth to share their work.

As PCs become more powerful and hard disks cheaper, sharing of video produced by amateurs will be a very important use for broadband Internet. P2P makes the most sense for sharing these files and banning P2P will stunt the growth of this market. It will also stunt the development of the use of large multimedia files in citizen journalism.

See the FreeKaneko site for how you can help the Isamu Kaneko.

Maciej has posted an audioblogging manifesto about why he thinks audioblogging is a stupid idea. Very funny. He makes good points, but I'm not convinced that audioblogging doesn't have a future. Listening to his audioblog makes me want to make a mashup of all of the audiobloggers he mentions. ;-) (4.1MB mp3 / text version)

We (Six Apart) released Movable Type 3.1 today. Some important new features including a dynamic pages and sub-categories. It comes with a plugin pack which includes MTBlackList 2.0. MTBlackList 2.0 is my favorite comment spam zapper. (More on Mena's Corner.)

George Soros responds to Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert's insinuation that Soros received funding from drug money.

via New York Daily News
You know, I don't know where George Soros gets his money. I don't know where -- if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from," Hastert mused. An astonished Chris Wallace asked: "Excuse me?" The Speaker went on: "Well, that's what he's been for a number years -- George Soros has been for legalizing drugs in this country. So, I mean, he's got a lot of ancillary interests out there." Wallace: "You think he may be getting money from the drug cartel?" Hastert: "I'm saying I don't know where groups - could be people who support this type of thing. I'm saying we don't know."
George Soros
You do a discredit to yourself and to the dignity of your office by engaging in these dishonest smear tactics. You should be ashamed.

For the Speaker of the House of Representatives, even in the midst of an election season, to descend to a level of political discourse where innuendo and slander replace reason, truth and argument is unacceptable.

This past Sunday, on national television, you suggested that I might be a criminal simply because I have exercised my First Amendment rights to dissent from the policies of the Bush administration...

I must respectfully insist that you either substantiate these claims -- which you cannot do because they are false -- or publicly apologize for attempting to defame my character and damage my reputation.

PDF of Letter from Soros

via Cory @ Boing Boing

UPDATE: Video of the show on The Daily Recycler via Talking Points Memo.

Cory @ Boing Boing
Friendster cans coder for blogging

Joyce Park is a coder who worked at Friendster, leading the charge to re-engineer the poky, Java-based back-end with fast PHP. She blogged about it, got slashdotted, got written up in the press -- and got fired. Even though there was nothing confidential in her blog posts, the new CEO shitcanned her.

[I]t's especially ironic because Friendster, of course, is a company that is all about getting people to reveal information about themselves...
Link, Link to Jeremy Zawodny's instructions for resigning from Friendster

(Thanks, Jeffreyp!)

I can't find any more information on this story, but this sounds like pretty crappy behavior on Friendster's side. I haven't used Friendster in months. Maybe it's time to drop out.

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