Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Yesterday, I got lost running around looking for the building where I was supposed to be on the panel. The street was numbered so that they they started from one on one side of the street, go all the way to the end of the street and turn around and continue to increase in number on the other side of the street. So the highest number and the lowest number are across the street from each other. This was very disorienting and very inconvenient since I started on the wrong side of the street and I was trying to go to building #1. I was carry a very heavy bag with my computer, but I scurried down the street to try to get to the panel on time. I got them just in time. No one was there. )panic( Then people slowly started showing up. They had wine, food, dessert, espresso, and finally the panel started about one hour late. OK. My fault. When in Rome...

So today. I showed up a whole hour late, trying to game the system properly. Little did I know that a special rule applies for early morning meetings. It was a 9AM panel. I arrived at 10. A few people were here chatting in the hall. The organizer seemed relaxed and said we'd be starting in a bit. It's 10:30 AM now. Most of the panel have arrived, but we're still short. Anyway, I should probably just relax and enjoy it. I'm not complaining. I'm just observing how utterly different it is from Japan where I get scolded for starting my press conferences 2 minutes late...


Starting a Press Conference on time in Italy can be actually seen as rude, since it does not take into consideration the needs of those who are late... Whoever for some strange reason is on time, comes prepared, and has something to read, or work to catch up with, and will never complain that he or she has to wait for the others to come.

Yes, it is indeed very different from country to country. My experience, in Europe anyway, is that the further south you move the more relaxed people are about being on time for meetings. Italy is thus very relaxed in this matter ;)

Hi joi
I'm from milan and i live in rome since 4 years..
I could imagine how you can feel here.
Rome it's simply another world.

You should try India, next. Heard of IST?

Indian Stretchable Time.

Hey Joi!
Still surprised of Italian standards after the Naples conference? :)

Nice to have you in Italy again!

It seems to me that the convention is that the time stated is the time you should leave home to get to the event, rather than the time you should arrive at. For early-morning events as you say, a special rule applies and the time stated is the time you should set your alarm-clock to.

A system where special rules apply (you can be 1 hour late for a meeting) simply means you have no regard for the other person's time and is rude. Cultural differences aside, what happended to respecting people and treating them like they are important?

Joi, I had the same "trouble" when in Spain 2 years ago. I was there for 6 months and it took me about half of that to understand the system.

This is usually how it went: The Germans, Finns and Swedes were the ones usually were exactly on the time, the further south you go on the map of Europe, the later they arrived :)

I guess this comes from the fact that you can't expect a person to wait for 30 minutes in Finland in -20 degrees celsius temperatures if you have a meeting arranged, thus the exact times ;-)

Never, ever schedule a meeting with a German immediately after a meeting with a Frenchman. You *will* be late to the second meeting, and your host will *not* be amused.

The other way around works fine.