Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

December 2004 Archives

Bloggers without borders has just launch. Here's the first post from Jonas.

Tsunami Outreach

Submitted by Jonas M Luster on Thu, 2004-12-30 05:23.

We have found our compassion in this one. Yet, one thing remains and is badly needed, says a friend of mine who just arrived in Sri Lanka and will be contributing what he learned in eight years in Uniform. People. Not the odd-job bystander, not the “activist”, and certainly not the journalist. What is needed most, today, are qualified specialists. Demolitions experts to safely destroy dangerous structures, Doctors, guys and gals who know how to handle a syringe or a gun. The latter is needed more and more as the looting increases and food and medical supplies are being raided by black marketers.

A Tale of the Uh-Oh's: Amelia Takes A Fall

At the dawn of this psychotic decade, I proposed, on instinct, that we should call it the Uh-Oh's. Decades need names. How else are we map their unique zeitgeists in our subsequent reflections on them? Imagine, for example, how awkward our historical recollections would become if we could not refer to "the 60's," a decade which needed no adjective, unlike, say, "the Roaring 20's?" The name is the frame, and the frame says it all.

I totally agree. I have several uh-oh's going on right now and see several longer-term uh-oh's developing. It's really hard to stay positive right now without trying to convince yourself that it's cyclical and the next decade will be better. I agree that the "Uh-Oh's" is a good name for this decade.

In the post, Barlow writes about his daughter Amelia's accident. I hope you get well soon Amelia.

I'm off to LA. See you on the other side. I hope.

My apologies for not blogging much substantive stuff. 21C3 is like no other conference I've been to. There are thousands of people. The center is open 24 hours a days with food 24 hours a day. People are sleeping in the halls and there is activity 24 hours a day. In a way, it is the perfect conference for jet laggy people like me. I can sleep when I want to, wander over at 3AM and there are people there hacking, talking and working. I've met some incredibly interesting people and have put faces behind a bunch of projects I've thought about and talked about, like the Liquid Democracy guys. I've been popping in and out of the sessions which are also great, but I lack the depth to be able to blog them in a meaningful way so I'll try to round up some links after I settle down.

The biggest problem is the lack of wifi network connectivity. I guess it's there, but it's either overloaded or being hacked or something. I had planned to put an IRC backchannel up during my talk (apologies to anyone who was waiting in the channel) but the connectivity in my room wasn't working. I've resorted to gprs, which means I'm doing email once a day and not reading any other blogs. I feel like I'm in a network black-out. Which is a bit ironic.

Anyway, I leave tomorrow. I'll try to blog once before then, but if I don't thanks Tim and everyone at CCC for an unforgettable experience. Also, special thanks to Jimbo and the Wikipedians for taking care of me and letting me hang out with them.

Fortune Magazine's David Kirkpatrick and Daniel Roth have just posted an excellent article about blogging. There are interviews with the usual suspects. A lot of the stories will be familiar to heavy blog readers but it's a great summary of what's going on and a "must send" link to people you know who still don't understand blogs. Extra credit for making the article accessible with a permalink and no registration. Minus points for not linking to the bloggers they interview. Apparently the print version has lots of cool charts so I'm going to pick up the newsstand version too.

Ross Rader writes a passionate response to the ITU "Beyond Internet Governance" paper. This is the struggle/debate that we face today and good for Ross for articulating the position many people have but are either not in a position to say or are not informed enough to say. I would be very interested to hear the ITU's response to Ross.

I'll off to Berlin in a few hours. I'm going to the 21st Chaos Communication Congress. I will be speaking about the State of Emergent Democracy. (I am working on my talking points on my wiki.) I usually print out the conference schedule in case the immigration officer wants to know what I am going to be doing in their country, but I noticed that the schedule has stuff like: Lockpicking, Bluetooth Hacking, GameCube Hacking, Hidden Data in Internet Published Documents, Practical Mac OS X Insecurity, SAP R/3 Protocol Reverse Engineering... Maybe I won't carry a printout of this schedule after all. There is a How to Survive page on the wiki about how to lock down your computer for use on the network at the conference. Very good advice for anyone going to any conference with an open LAN, but a bit ominous when you are going to be a conference attended by a lot of serious hackers. I have tried feebly to prepare, but please be nice to me.

It looks like there will be a whole platoon of Wikipedians and some Croquet folks too. Lots of people I haven't seen for awhile as well. Looking forward to seeing everyone. See you soon on the other side.

From today's paper...

Tegucigalpa, Honduras (AP) - Unknown assailants opened fire this week on a public bus in northern Honduras, killing at least 23 passengers and wounding 16 others ... The assailants left a note that said they represented a revolutionary group that opposes the death penalty...

Beijing (AFP) - The Chinese authorities have sentenced two Hong Kong men to death for smuggling digital player components into the southeastern city of Xiamen...

I don't want to be judgmental or anything, but killing 23 people to protest the death penalty and sentencing to death people for smuggling digital player components both seem a bit extreme to me...

iMorpheus has a great blog called the Gokurousama blog.

Gokurousama means "Thank you for your troubles" in Japanese and it is also the name of this blog. Gokurousama celebrates and recognizes the hard work of others.
I say gokurousama when I get out of taxis, when someone as completed a chore or when I pass a gardner. It's similar to, but slightly different from another great Japanese word, otsukaresama. Otsukaresama is less about thanks but still acknowledging someone for some hard work. This is often said when toasting after a hard day of work or after working together on a hard project. Interestingly, working hard together is often considered more important than winning. This, in a way, is the backbone of the socialist work ethic that drives Japan. But I digress...

The Gokurousama blog and the pictures on it are a very good way to understand the Japanese way of gokurousama. It's also the spirit behind good service and a very nice way to show appreciation of good service. A simple gokurosama will go a long way and is much more respectful than flipping someone a hundred yen coin. iMorpheus has also started a Gokurousama flickr group and has linked the group to the blog so that others can post. You can learn more about it on his blog.

The next time you watch an old Samurai or Yakuza movie, listen for the boss say, "Gokurojyaaa" to one of the henchmen after he returns from killing a foe. ;-p

It's 6AM Christmas morning in Japan right now. Today I'm reflecting on the past year and thinking about the future and I'm thinking about Global Voices. Hopefully most of you are with your family with some time to relax, think about priorities and reflect. I'm sure there are a lot of TV shows about "Peace on earth, goodwill to men," and you've probably sent and received a lot of UNICEF Christmas cards. You should be in the perfect mood to think about Global Voices. In the past, we had to rely on TV shows to try to feel empathy for people in other countries and organizations such as UNICEF to try to give our support to humanitarian efforts. These were and are noble efforts. However, at our fingertips, we have the ability to reach out and speak to, build bridges with and interact with those people we have been "wishing well" to in the abstract for all of these years. We have a long way to go before we are able to hear the voices of everyone on earth, but I believe that providing voices and building bridges is essential for the World Peace we all wish for.

We have changed the "Global Voices Manifesto" to "Global Voices Covenant 0.2". We have edited it for awhile on the wiki, but this version is frozen.

I'm not normally a very religious person, but I feel pretty religious about this.

Global Voices Covenant 0.2
We believe in free speech: in protecting the right to speak -- and the right to listen. We believe in universal access to the tools of speech.

To that end, we want to enable everyone who wants to speak to have the means to speak -- and everyone who wants to hear that speech, the means to listen to it.

Thanks to new tools, speech need no longer be controlled by those who own the means of publishing and distribution, or by governments that would restrict thought and communication. Now, anyone can wield the power of the press. Everyone can tell their stories to the world.

We want to build bridges across the gulfs of culture and language that divide people, so as to understand each other more fully. We want to work together more effectively, and act more powerfully.

We believe in the power of direct connection. The bond between individuals from different worlds is personal, political and powerful. We believe conversation across boundaries is essential to a future that is free, fair, prosperous and sustainable - for all citizens of this planet.

While we continue to work and speak as individuals, we also want to identify and promote our shared interests and goals. We pledge to respect, assist, teach, learn from, and listen to one other.

We are Global Voices.

We're trying to translated it into other languages. If you have some time over the holidays and feel like helping out, please jump in. You can come to the #globalvoices IRC channel on Freenode or just go to the wiki and add a translation there. Any of language links in red have not been done yet. You can also edit one that has been translated if you find any errors or to go the "talk" section of that wiki page to talk about the translation.

Please take a look at the Global Voices blog. We're looking for additional people and projects to hook up with so let us know if you can contribute to Global Voices or have a project that could tie in with Global Voices.

PS I'm not sending any Christmas or New Years cards this year because I don't want to kill any more trees (and I'm lazy). I'm not sending email greetings because mass mailings are becoming indistinguishable from spam. Instead, I offer this blog entry. For the more personal touch, I'm relying on my birthday reminder to remind me to say hi to my friends in a way that distributes the work across the year.

UPDATE: Says _sj_ our translation expert. "Translate a few lines or a paragraph or put up a bad translation and leave a note above it saying it is incomplete."

I stupidly got a 10 year passport (instead of a 5 year) which is now approaching the final year in its life. It has become reasonably tattered. In particular, there is a corner of the passport cover just where the row of OCR characters starts. This corner is also the closest to my picture. It started as a minor peel. However, several immigration officers have picked at it trying to see if it was a fake (making it worse). Each time a brutal agent swipes it through the OCR scanner, it gets a little worse. I figure a little bit of glue would help protect this corner of my passport, but I wonder if putting glue on my passport to mend a tattered corner is some sort of crime... I googled around and couldn't find anything. All I found was an article about a Chinese woman who was thrown in jail for trying to enter the US with a tattered passport. Yikes!

The Oregonian
In their latest outrage, they jailed a Chinese businesswoman, whose misfortune -- and only crime -- was to arrive at the Portland International Airport with a tattered passport.

Portland immigration inspectors deemed Guo Liming's passport "suspicious." They forced her to strip to her underwear, searched her, interrogated her, handcuffed her for transport to The Dalles and jailed her for two nights -- before concluding [how inconvenient for them] that her passport was valid.

The problem is, getting a replacement passport in Japan requires giving up the one you have for a period longer than I am able to be in Japan for awhile.

Does anyone know anything about whether it would be dumb to try to put glue on my passport and if not, what sort of glue I should use? Basically, the corner is peeling into 3 layers. The cover, the paper and the lamination inside...

Barlow blogs about his day in court trying to defend his 4th Amendment rights. The judge ruled against him, but it's just the first step in a much longer process. Good luck Barlow.

EFF's staff technologist Seth David Schoen, danah boyd and Rob Kiser and also posted their accounts.

Chris updates some figures from his original article where he had written that "57% of Amazon's book sales are of books not available in stores". He writes in an update, "I've now spoken to Jeff Bezos (and others) about this. He doesn't have a hard figure for the percentage of sales of products not available offline, but reckons that it's closer to 25-30%. That would put it in line with Netflix's and Rhapsody's figures." There is an interesting discussion going on in the comments as well.

The glass is half empty: Americans and Civil Rights for Muslims

The Media and Society Research Group of Cornell University conducted a survey in November of Americans with respect to their attitudes towards Muslims. Nearly half (44%) of respondents favored restricting the civil rights of Muslims in some way. The press release, with links to the report, is available at [link]

My next question is, of the 56% of the people who didn't favor restricting the civil rights of Muslims, what percentage are going to do anything about trying to stop this trend?

Feet Up!
More Nokia Python

It looks like people haven’t been slow to get using Nokia’s Python project, and Matt Croydon has been collating projects and news on his Python for Series 60 wiki page.

Seeing as there’s no central clearing house(other than Forum Nokia) for Nokia Python projects right now, I reckon this is as good a focal point as any.

The official public release of Python on Series 60 just came out on the 22nd of December. You can get it on Forum Nokia site.

Rebecca blogs about the first BloggerCorps success story. BloggerCorps is project to try to hook up local bloggers with important local projects who need help from bloggers. It's a great idea which just needs a bit more momentum I think. It ties in well with the Global Voices stuff. (The first version of the manifesto is done.)

Chris Anderson is writing a book about The Long Tail which started as one of my favorite articles that he wrote for Wired. He has also started a blog about the Long Tail. The original article is online at Wired.

Liz has announced her new Lab for Social Computing at RIT over on Many-2-Many. I'm excited to be on the advisory board and look forward to seeing some great work from lab.

Technorati and Digital Garage just announced that they will work together to set up Technorati Japan which will be established as a subsidiary of Digital Garage and will distribute Technorati services in Japan. I am a co-founder and former co-CEO of Digital Garage. Digital Garage was a company that Kaoru Hayashi and I established in 1994 and we merged his advertising business and my Internet business together. We ran the company together and did a bunch of things like bring Infoseek to Japan. I later left the company to help run Infoseek Japan when it was spun out. This is the first real work I've done with Digital Garage since I left. It is really deja vu. When we brought Infoseek to Japan, people didn't understand the concept of ad impressions and we had to do a lot of teaching. We had to explain that impressions and clickthroughs could be measured unlike sponsorships and ads in magazines.

With Technorati Japan, we're going to go through a similar process again, this time explaining that it's now about conversations. We need to explain that companies and people can see what other people are saying in real time and participate in the conversations, and that it's not about banner ads anymore. I'm also excited that we will soon have a Japanese Technorati site for all of the Japanese bloggers.

We hope to get the service running sometime next year, but we're going to get started right away trying to get people to understand what this real live web and conversation stuff is all about.

Obviously, Japan is just the first step in our international strategy, but it's nice being able to do it with a team that I know and trust. It's also fun watching my old family meet and work with my new family. And last but not least, welcome to our family Gen. Gen left Sony and joined Digital Garage to work on Technorati Japan.

Dave has blogged about this too.

Hugh has a great post about "The Happy Troll". I've been thinking about this recently as well and I think he hits the nail on the head. This blog is my living room and if you can't behave, I'll ban you. It's not about censorship. I just don't have time to deal with all of the "Happy Trolls". Maybe I should put together a new comment policy that deals with the notion of "The Happy Troll."

Six Apart Japan together with Softbank just started selling Movable Type in a box. Actually, it's a folder. Anyway, it's doing surprising well and is currently ranked #1 on Softbank's ECBuyers online store right now. Sorry if this sounds boastful, but we're pretty stoked.

I just got the following message on Orkut.

Limit reached for number of friends

You have 1024 friends. You can only have up to 1000 friends. Before you can add more friends, you need to remove friends.

Partially because I was getting sick of social networks systems, partially because they were trying to be "exclusive" with invite only and partially because it was easy, I took the policy of saying yes to every friend request that didn't look like a fakester. Now I've found the edge of Orkut. According to Orkut, you can only have 1000 friends. I guess that's OK compared to the 150 or so for AIM. This error message reminds me a bit of real life. I know need to forget someone every time I meet someone I want to remember because I'm having a buffer overflow on my people recognition memory.

Now the question is... What do I do with my Orkut network now that I'm "done"?

There is now a draft of the Global Voices manifesto on Hoder's wiki. It will eventually be moved, but we're working on it there for now. Here is the current draft.

We believe in free speech, both in protecting the right to speak and extending access to the tools of speech. We define speech broadly to include many media that facilitate expression.

The broadest right of free speech has always extended primarily to those who owned technology for publishing and distribution, beginning with the printing press. It is now possible for anyone to publish and have access to a distribution channel via the Internet. It is our goal that everyone who wants to speak can be heard.

We believe in the power of direct connection and the freedom to connect. The bond between individuals from different worlds is personal, political and powerful.

We seek to create bridges that cross the gulfs that have traditionally divided us. When we cross these gulfs, we understand each other more fully, work together more effectively, and act more powerfully. With these bridges, we can do together what we could only dream of doing alone.

Direct connection is its own reward. However, in a world full of challenges, it is also the best path to building a future that is freer, fairer, more sustainable and more prosperous.

While we’re all committed to our own work as individuals, we also recognize our common interest and goals. We each speak for ourselves, but we’re all in this together. We pledge to respect, listen to, assist, and learn from one other. We are Global Voices.

What do you think? You can also comment on Ethan's post on the Global Voices blog about this draft.

First the Special Edition U2 iPod. Now this. ;-)

via Michael

Seth blogs about the top 1,000 things for a 13 year old third grader to learn. I agree with him. The most important thing I learned in school was how to touch type.

UPDATE: Thanks to Liz for pointing out that Seth said 3rd graders, not 13 year olds. Sorry!

UPDATE 2: Ado says that Seth's post originally said 13 year old...

Does anyone use my blogroll? People seem to like the random faces, but I have a feeling people don't look at the blogroll. I admit it's rather hidden, but it's become unwieldy.

Susan Crawford quotes an essay by John W. Patterson called "Thermodynamics and Evolution", part of a volume of scientific responses to creationism. She ties it neatly to Internet governance at the end.

Susan Crawford
Here is Patterson's conclusion:

"In reality, ... the 'uphill' processes associated with life not only are compatible with entropy and the second law, but actually depend on them for the energy fluxes off of which they feed. Numerous other kinds of backward processes in simpler, nonliving systems also proceed in this way, and do so in complete accord with the second law."

This all ties to internet governance. A sufficiently open net will tend towards order, not chaos -- and will do so on its own, with no external pilot.

Just reading the conclusion, you might think she's making a techno-utopian quantum leap, but the idea of open systems allowing evolution and order and seeming to defy entropy is any interesting one. Order can emerge in a system with increasing chaos around it if the system is open. I don't think being merely open guarantees that it will tend towards order. On the other hand, closed systems will tend to become disordered and the best way to maintain order in such a system is to move very slowly...

EPIC 2014

In the year 2014, The New York Times has gone offlne.

The Fourth Estate's fortunes have waned.

What happened to the news?

And what is EPIC?

An image of the future of journalism as a historical movie. Well done and rather interesting perspective on how it might go wrong.

Took a few tries to get it to load.

via Dean and Jessica

New York Times
Google Is Adding Major Libraries to Its Database


Google, the operator of the world's most popular Internet search service, plans to announce an agreement today with some of the nation's leading research libraries and Oxford University to begin converting their holdings into digital files that would be freely searchable over the Web.

It may be only a step on a long road toward the long-predicted global virtual library. But the collaboration of Google and research institutions that also include Harvard, the University of Michigan, Stanford and the New York Public Library is a major stride in an ambitious Internet effort by various parties. The goal is to expand the Web beyond its current valuable, if eclectic, body of material and create a digital card catalog and searchable library for the world's books, scholarly papers and special collections.

Harvard Pilot Project with Google

I just got a university-wide email regarding a pilot project that Harvard is starting with Google. It looks like Google will also be joining with other universities in this project, which will begin the work of digitizing, and in the case of public domain works providing public access to, the contents of the Harvard library system.

Sounds good. Now if only we can figure out a way to get more of the books, particularly those which are out of print, into the public domain.

OhmyNews International interviews Dan Gillmor about his new project.

via Howard's

We just finished an ICANN telephone board meeting. The resolutions have been posted to the ICANN web site. The resolutions were posted just a few hours after the meeting completed. Good hustle folks. (People have complained about the delay.)

I did not participate in discussions about or vote on the .mobi application because of my relationship with Nokia.

Ryan Naraine at eWeek who has been covering the AOL Instant Messenger account suspension SNAFU just contacted me to ask if my account had been restored. Apparently he was talking to AOL and they had said that the accounts had been restored. I checked and I still got the "Your screen name has been suspended and cannot be used to log in" error. Ryan contacted AOL and they fixed my account somehow. AOL didn't explain exactly why I was suspended and how I was cleared, but it appears that for now my account is back. Thanks Ryan. Is anyone else still having trouble? I assume that since I had to have them fix me manually, that there are probably others who haven't been restored. Or maybe they thought I was under 13 or something.


AOL Fixes IM Glitch
By Ryan Naraine
December 13, 2004


On Monday morning, some affected users reported receiving the error messages about accounts being suspended, but these were described by AOL as minor kinks that were still being ironed out.

Donna Wentworth @ Copyfight
ACS Sues Google Over "Scholar" Trademark

Because when we think about scholarship and online research, we think about the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Or maybe not.

Story here.


As Jon Stewart would say... Please stop. Can't we just get along. Ugh.

I participated in the Global Voices session at the Berkman Center and promised earlier to post my thoughts. The bad news is that we didn't get far enough to come up with a conclusive plan, but the good news is that I think we have enough momentum to move forward. The discuss was quite sober and practical and was not nearly as techno-utopian as we are often criticized of being and often tend to get.

I think the key difference between this meeting and others that I have attended was the large number of mediums (Wikipedia, OhmyNews, traditional journalism, human rights organizations, bloggers, TV and radio) as well as the strong regional diversity (Iraq, Iran, Malaysia, Kenya, Korea, China, Japan, Pakistan, US and many others). Most of the people in the room were already members of a variety of organizations and projects so we tried to find a common ground. I think that we came to a consensus that freedom of speech and providing voice was extremely important and this could and should take various forms. We agreed to commit to working together to help each other in our efforts. I'll post more when we are a bit more organized, but you can see the discussion we are having on the blog, see a partial list of the participants on Hoder's wiki (it will be moved to a permanent place soon), see a log of the real-time transcripts provided by SJ and join us on #globalvoices on Freenode to chat. There are more resources on the blog. Sorry it's a bit disorganized right now. We will try to organize it more soon. One of the things we hope to do is be much more inclusive of ways to participate and not focus on any one mode. This will complicate things a bit, but I think it's worth it.

I just got back to Japan after a few weeks abroad. It's the longest trip away from Japan that I've taken in awhile. When I was in the waiting area before boarding the plane, which was mostly Japanese, I noticed that the Japanese people seemed peculiar. I remember feeling this in the past after long trips. It's like suddenly I'm aware of weird Japanese body language, fashion, behaviors and facial expressions. It made me self-conscious too. I'm sure this is a pretty common phenomenon, but it was odd because it was disproportionately stronger compared to a one week trip away. Maybe it's because I was in Paris, South Africa, San Francisco and Boston before returning and the variety of cultures scrambled my cultural blinders. It was also strange reading the International Herald Tribune on China's anger over recent statements by Japanese about ramping up their military while watching the Japanese news in the plane talk about the same thing from their perspective. It was like having two cultural identities coexisting in my head. Somewhere over the arctic, both cultures seemed mighty peculiar.

I'm at Logan Airport on my way back to Tokyo. It was great meeting everyone and thanks for the very stimulating discussions. I'll try to write up some of my thoughts on my flight back.

I just got through security at Logan and I didn't notice until the guy at the security check looked at my boarding pass and said, "you have been selected by the airline for additional screening." Yikes. I looked at my ticket and it had the dreaded "SSSS" on it. Crap. It wasn't that awful. I got a pat-down and a very thorough examination of my carry-on bag. I wonder how I was selected for additional screening. I hope I haven't been added to some list that will haunt me forever. I wonder if it's something I blogged. Or maybe it's something I said at the conference. Or maybe it's who I was hanging around with in Boston. ;-p

"The bill, which President Bush is expected to sign, would make it a crime to videotape or photograph the naked or underwear-covered private parts of a person without consent when the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Conviction could lead to a fine of not more than $100,000 or imprisonment for up to one year, or both."

via Emily at Smart Mobs

I wonder what they're going to do about mobloggin' Aibos...

On a more serious note, although "it carves out exceptions for law enforcement, intelligence and prison work," what does this mean exactly? How about private security cameras? I remember hearing about ISPs where the sysadmin had parties where they would drink beer while reading user email. I'm sure there is a security camera version of this.

U.S. Constitution: Fourth Amendment
Fourth Amendment - Search and Seizure

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Barlow has gone public with his fight for his 4th Amendment rights. Please read the story on his blog. I commend Barlow for discussing this in public and for fighting for his rights since you lose rights that you don't fight for, even if it's embarrassing or painful. It is generally true of all forms of fighting for privacy related rights. It's often very difficult since you get cast as someone who might "need privacy more than others." You also lose your privacy when you fight for it in public. You may not agree with Barlow's judgement if he was indeed carrying drugs, but Americans should be worried if they lose their 4th amendment rights.

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION : He doesn't say that the allegations are necessarily true.

Following up an earlier post about how my AOL Instant Messenger account is hosed...

eWeek has another update. eWeek interviews David Ferris from a market-research company who says, "One of the things that ought to happen is that companies need to be prepared to pay for more reliable service, but they're generally not prepared to do so." Ooo. Scary. Actually, maybe that should read "companies need to prepare to run their own IM servers that use interoperable standards." I wonder if AOL is thinking of charging for IM. This reminds me of a comment by someone from AOL at a conference that I recently participated in. I was suggesting that "presence" should be free and interoperable and people should try to make money building applications on top of "presence". The person from AOL said, "users will pay if they have no choice." Instant Messenger is a very good example of bad technology from the bubble era when people like AOL had double digit market share of Internet users. Why can't AOL users message MSN users? Because they have tried to keep users in a walled garden. This is exactly why the total number of AOL users hasn't been growing and their market share is shriveling. The Internet is ABOUT choice and interoperability. This whole idea of making walled gardens and trying to charge them because "they don't have a choice" is so misguided that it actually doesn't make business sense. The main reasons I was using AIM was because of iChat. Does anyone know why Apple went with iChat instead of something open like Jabber? Maybe this glitch is a good thing. Maybe "all this grief for no revenue" will cause AOL to charge money for IM and drive their users away to Jabber. Quick, someone write a better Jabber client.

Dan Gillmor blogs that he is leaving the San Jose Mercury News next month to work on a citizen-journalism project. Awesome. Practice what you preach. Good luck Dan and let us know more about your new project when you can.

joho - I'm VERY excited about the possibilities. E.g., OhMyGillmor.

I'm off to Boston today to participate in the About Internet & Society 2004: Votes, Bits & Bytes conference at the Berkman Center. Lots of interesting folks seem to be coming. The theme of the meeting is:

How are technologies changing politics, both in the U.S. and abroad? The purpose of this conference is to take a skeptical, results-oriented look at the current state of politics after the 2004 election and from an international perspective in terms of issue-based campaigns, emerging business models, and new tools that affect politics both online and off. The conference will focus on the following questions:

- Has "citizenship" changed in the online era?
- Are online business models helpful guides for politics and political organizing?
- What international examples are promising?
- Did the web affect the 2004 election?

My session will be at 4PM on Saturday. I'm participating in the Global Voices Online section which has a blog where we've been discussing the issues already. The conference starts today and goes until Saturday. If you're in Boston and are interested in this topic, I suggest you think about dropping by. Look forward to seeing everyone there!

UPDATE: The conference is supposed to be webcast. It doesn't seem to be working for me right now, but it might just be me.

UPDATE 2: Just set up #harvardbits on Freenode if anyone wants to backchannel.

EFF Deeplinks
Artists Agree -- P2P Lawsuits Are Not the Answer

Cynthia Webb of the Washington Post synthesizes the discussion about the new Pew study [PDF] reporting that while many artists believe file sharing should be illegal, they don't necessarily believe that 1.) it's actually hurting them, 2.) the RIAA lawsuits are doing anything to help the situation

Interesting report and another blow to the RIAA's argument that they are doing it for the artists.

I'm getting an error that says "Your account is currently suspended" when I try to log into my joiitosk AIM account. Does anyone know what this error means and how I resolve it?

Update: Article in eWeek about this, but it doesn't say whether AOL is going to give us our accounts back. Thanks to Cours for the link.

James Seng and Elliot Noss have interesting responses to an anonymous post on Susan Crawford's blog calling for the reformation of the Internet. Read the anonymous post first, then Elliot, then James. They all represent a small view into the diversity of intelligent opinions on the future of the ICANN.

I'm now at Frankfurt airport waiting for my connection to fly to San Francisco. I slept through most of the 12 hour flight here catching up on my nearly no sleep week in Cape Town. As I've said before, I'll try to pick topics as I get my head around them and blog them, but it feels like I learned more during this one week at the ICANN meeting in Cape Town than I've ever learned in a single week. The scary thing is, the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. People who participate in ICANN come from government, politics, civil society, academia, law, technology, business, NGOs and just about every other kind of group you could imagine. They come from developing nations and developed nations. It was the most diverse group I've ever seen. People wear 3 piece suits, t-shits, traditional dress from their countries and everything in between. It reminded me of scenes from science fiction movies of intergalactic meetings.

The conference is organized so that different constituencies have closed as well as open meetings about their issues. There are cross-constituency meetings where different constituencies discuss issues with each other, and there are public forums where everyone is present. The tone and style of each of the constituencies were extremely different, but I was struck by how civilized the discussions were considering how diverse people's backgrounds and views were. Obviously some people had agendas and some people were frustrated with many things, but everyone there seemed to be really committed to doing the right thing for the Internet. I met with many people who were critical about some of ICANNs positions and all of them were very patient in explaining their positions and sending me additional materials to study. (Special thanks to those of you who sat down with me and walked me through issues.) During the Public Forums, there was an open mic and many people spoke for many hours, very eloquently about their positions. This was also very enlightening. I do think that getting the web casting more organized, having more information online to help people understand the issues and creating more ways for people to participate without being physically present is something we need to work on. Also, with all of the acronyms and history, it's quite hard for a newbie like me and probably for most people to understand the context of many of the discussions. I think we need to make it easier for people to get up to speed and participate in the dialog.

It is an extremely important time for ICANN and for the Internet. Even though the focus is names and numbers, the issues being debated in this context will have a broad impact on how the Internet operates. There are many critical issues that have to be resolved over the next few years. If you really care about how the Internet impacts your life, I urge you to get involved. Getting involved means understanding the issues, participating in mailing lists, reading and writing white papers and getting others to think about the issues. You don't have to be technical. Many of the issues involve the social, economic and political impact of technical and operational policies. (I know some of you are wondering when I'm actually going to start talking about the issues... It will be when I have something non-ignorant to say.)

It looks like I have lots to learn and a lot of work ahead of me. I had some discussions with the ICANN staff and board about my blogging and everyone has been very supportive and encouraging. I will try to blog as much as possible. I think the only real constraint that I have will be in areas where I have privileged and confidential information or where we have an odd relationship. For example, since there is an ongoing litigation with Verisign, I won't be blogging about how they suck like I used to. I will try to reset biases and try to consider all of these important issues with an open mind and more rigor. My thoughts about Verisign will be expressed as official comments during board meetings. I'll have to leave reporting about them and other off-limits areas to the rest of you.

We just finished the board meeting where I was officially appointed to the board of ICANN. In addition, I was appointed to the Audit Committee, the Committee on Reconsideration and the Finance Committee.

The Audit committee is "responsible for (1) recommending the selection of external auditors to the Board, (2) receiving, reviewing, and forwarding to the Board the annual financial report of the external auditors, and (3) such other matters as may warrant its attention."

The Committee on Reconsideration is "responsible for handling requests for reconsideration of ICANN Board and staff actions. Consisting of five Directors, the Reconsideration Committee has the authority to investigate and evaluate requests for reconsideration and to make recommendations to the Board of Directors, which ultimately determines how to resolve such requests." Anyone can lodge a reconsideration request by sending email to A reconsideration is basically a complaint about some staff or board action or inaction. Now that we have an Ombudsman, Frank Fowlie, if the reconsideration response is not satisfactory, you can escalate to him.

The Finance Committee is "responsible for consulting with the President on ICANN's annual budget process; reviewing and making recommendations on the annual budget submitted by the President; and developing and recommending long range financial objectives for ICANN."

UPI via The Washington Times

Tenet calls for Internet security


The way the Internet was built might be part of the problem, he said. Its open architecture allows Web surfing, but that openness makes the system vulnerable, Mr. Tenet said.

Access to networks like the World Wide Web might need to be limited to those who can show they take security seriously, he said.

If the Internet were not open, it would no longer be the Internet. it is exactly the "vulnerabilities" that Tenet refers to that allows the Internet to promote free speech, innovation and growth without asking permission, getting licenses or being controlled by governments and monopolies. Shutting down or closing the open Internet in the name of fear and terror would do more damage to global democracy and innovation than any real damage it would have on terrorists. Of course terrorists use the Internet, but so does everyone else. I think people underestimate how much damage certain types of "control" can have on the future of the Internet. Either Tenet was ignorant of the nature of the Internet or it is yet another calculated push towards turning the Internet into another version of the telephone networks or cable TV...

Does Tenet have any influence on policy anymore?

Susan Crawford mentioned this during her remarks at the public forum at ICANN. Are there any other news agencies reporting this story?

The scribes at this ICANN meeting are amazing. They are using steno keyboards to type what people are saying in realtime and it is being projected on a big screen. What is amazing is that they are typing in English, even when the speakers are speaking French. I wish I could pipe the text into the IRC channel. I wonder if there is a way to get the scribe text via jabber or something...

UPDATE: Someone noticed that the "jp" macro completes to "Jon Postel" so they can been seen quickly fixing it when the Japanese are speaking. ;-)

I talked to the scribes (is that the correct name for people who do this?) and I confirmed that jp completes to Jon Postel. ;-) A few more interesting facts. The two have their own custom dictionaries and they are different. They have a little PDA as a backup connected to the keyboards.

If you have an AOL Instant Messenger account, try messaging SantaClaus.

via Snowchyld

Susan Crawford is providing very good blow by blow coverage of the ICANN meeting on her blog. My apologies for not blogging anything substantive. I'm still doing a lot of listening and don't have enough context make intelligent statements. I'll try to write a summary after the entire meeting. Anyone else blogging ICANN?

It would be great if all of the different constituents would blog since ICANN can only be understood by listening to all of the perspectives.

Also, as I posted earlier, the meeting is being webcast. There are a bunch of public forum meetings with an open mic for anyone to ask questions to ICANN staff and board which is quite interesting. I wonder if there is a "newbie guide to ICANN" since many meetings require context to understand. I'm hanging out on #icann on when I'm in the meetings and I will try get answers to any questions that I am capable of answering.

American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.


What was a marginal network is now an Ummah-wide movement of fighting groups. Not only has there been a proliferation of “terrorist” groups: the unifying context of a shared cause creates a sense of affiliation across the many cultural and sectarian boundaries that divide Islam.
We knew this would be true, but this comes from a US Defense Science Board under the US Secretary of Defense. The report also explains that it is not America's freedoms that they hate (as many Americans believe), but America's foreign policy.

via rojisan via The Guardian

I am extremely psyched to have been invited to speak at the Chaos Computer Club's 21st Chaos Communication Congress on December 27th to 29th, 2004 at Berliner Congress Center, Berlin, Germany. I will speaking on day 2. There are lots of really interesting speakers including Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia on day 1, Donatella Della Ratta about Arab media also on day 2. Also, don't miss the eight annual German Lockpicking Championships. Anyway, it looks like an amazing event so if you're in Europe and feeling materialistic and boring after Christmas, come on over to Berlin and join us. I heard there will be a gaggle of Wikipedians hanging out having a parallel developers meeting as well.

The 21C3 has a blog and a wiki. The schedule is available in various formats.

Reporters Without Borders says that that China has started blocking Google News just a few weeks after Google started self-censorship on their search results.

via We The Media

David Pescovitz @ Boing Boing
Blog defined

Meriam-Webster declared yesterday that based on lookups in their online dictionary, the "#1 Word of the Year for 2004" is (drumroll and eyeroll)... "blog."

Blog noun [short for Weblog] (1999) : a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.

Also-rans include "incumbent,""insurgent,""hurricane," and "peloton," defined as the "main body of riders in a bicycle race."
Now stop complaining about how stupid "blog" sounds.

Meetings in the main auditorium at the ICANN meeting in Cape Town, South Africa December 1-5 are being webcast.

Right now, the Workshop on the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is on.

I will be hanging out on #icann on when I'm available.

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