Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

January 2005 Archives

The New York Times says that VW is upset about the fake ad showing a suicide bomber and a Polo. I'm sure everyone has seen a reference to this in their local papers. (In a Japanese newspaper, they had a hand-drawn story-board of the ad.)

For your reference, Wizbang has links to the video.

And just for old time's sake, here are the pages for the Ford SportKa and the Nokia fake ads. (They have links to the videos.)

People used a lot of flash and video during the elections to express their views online. With more bandwidth and easier and easier video editing, video as a form of expression will continue to grow. It's interesting how the TV ad as a form is perfect for twisted humor because it is designed to be short and strong and people are used to the format.

Jeff Jarvis has blogged his thoughts on this.

What Can't I Do Today? (Donna Wentworth)

A Slashdotter, on Endangered Gizmos and the threat to harmless "me2me" uses:

At this point, I've accepted that there are things I do that may someday be considered a crime. ...:
  • Record TV shows from my DirecTV reciever that I pay a monthly subscription fee for into my computer using a Hauppauge PVR250 card for archival purposes (to show friends and family when they come over)
  • Rip all CDs that I buy to the infinitely more convenient Ogg Vorbis format so that I can listen to my music anywhere
  • Stream any audio or video from my house to wherever I happen to be using a VPN connection and broadbad. This means I can listen to my music collection, watch my DVDs or even DirecTV as long as I have an internet connection
  • Build custom digital media devices that don't have the limitations that commercial products do

...It's a wonder it's not illegal to use a hammer, nails, screwdriver, drywall, plaster and screws to build or modify your house any way you want.
Basically, the notion of "owning a song" when you buy it in some format is going to be over if Hollywood has any say. In the old days, if you had an album, you could tape it and listen to it in your car or anywhere you wanted to. You basically "owned the song." Now you own the song on your Mac/iPod. Or own the song on Microsoft... or own the DVD in Region 1... If you've purchased thousands of tracks on Apple Music Store and decide you're going to stop using iTunes and iPod, you're shit out of luck. Or if you have a thousand DVDs and you move from the US to Japan. Yes, there are workarounds, but they will try to make more and more laws to prohibit people from building workarounds.

So my question is... Does this INCREASE or DECREASE the likelihood that I'm going to want to build a massive music or movie collection?

The Japan Times
Promotion just for Japanese: supreme court

South Korean civil servant's suit fails

The Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned a high court ruling and supported the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's decision to bar a civil servant from taking a managerial promotion exam due to her South Korean nationality.

They are upholding a Tokyo ban on allowing foreigners to take positions of authority in public services. the ruling is "Based on the (constitutional) principle of national sovereignty and in view of the fact that the people should in the end be responsible for how the central and local governments govern, (the Constitution) should be viewed as presuming that Japanese nationals in principle will assume local civil service positions." This is basically a paranoid notion that involving foreigners in running the country or performing important national services is a threat to sovereignty and national security. She was a NURSE for God's sake. She is a second generation Korean, her father forced to leave Korea for Japan and her mother a Japanese national. I don't know what's worse, this sort of discrimination against foreign workers in Japan or the fact that many third generation Koreans can't even naturalize.

This reminds me a bit about Richard Curtis who joined the volunteer fire department in Kanazawa and became an a true member of the team, but cannot participating in official ceremonies or drive the fire trucks because he's not a Japanese citizen. (Mirror of WSJ article on him here.)

Ugh. We're going to figure out how to make foreigners more welcome in Japan before we turn into a bankrupt and forgotten country with a lot of starving old people.

Thanks Ado for the link to the JT article

Xeni @ Boing Boing
Jenna Bush, Spawn of Satan

Th Satannnnnn
Is it me, or is Jenna Bush holding up the sign of Satan next to her father's face in this photo? Choose picture #7 in this MSNBC slide show.
Here's the original MSNBC Link, and here's a link to a copy of the photo I saved locally (it's now offline at MSNBC) (thanks Jeremy)

Update: BB reader Charles Bestal says, "As a University of Texas student, we hear a good bit about the party animal around campus -- but it should be noted that she is most likely invoking the school's hand-sign (Hook 'em Horns, they say), rather than the devil, or her father."

The Houston Chronicle confirms that it was the University of Texas "Hook'em, Horns" but it appears to have offended some people in Norway.

Houston Chronicle
Norway reads something sinister in 'Hook 'em' sign

..."Sjokkhilsen fra Bush datter," read an outraged headline on Norwegian news Web site Nettavisen. Translated: "Shock greeting from Bush daughter."

...The "Hook 'em, Horns" that Bush flashed when The Eyes of Texas was played at the Black Tie and Boots gala Wednesday was misconstrued by some in Norway as a sign of the devil used by a musical scene that terrorized the country in the late 1980s and early '90s.

...Death metal's history
In Norway the horns carried a greater menace. The country has long been a hotbed of death metal, a subgenre of music with a sordid history of church burnings, murder, inadvertant bludgeonings (with sheep skulls), pet sacrifices and sundry behavior best described as anti-Christian. There the gesture has little to do with sports rivalries.

...Needless to say, Norway's more prudish contingent was aghast upon seeing the daughter of the American president flashing a sign associated with such behavior.

It could be worse ...
..."I suppose it can mean different things to different people in different parts of the world," Clark says. "I guess the Norwegians and Italians should be happy that our mascot was a longhorn and not a unicorn."

This sounds like something from a Douglas Adams book. Luckily it didn't mean anything offensive to our future Alien Overlords.

Thanks to Glenn to the Houston Chronicle link

UPDATE: David Weinberger's "Forgive me" gesture and "The Shocker" via AG.

People have been pinging me about this, so I guess I should post something about it. I'm not going to Davos this year. I wasn't invited this year. Not sure exactly why... But I'm in pretty good company... Anyway, I posted some thoughts on the Forum over on Omidyar Network which I'll post here as well.

Joi Ito
This may sound like sour grapes, but I didn't get invited to Davos this year, but after going for 4 years, I was also planning on possibly not going. It's great fun meeting old friends, but I'm finding many of the smaller conferences more interesting these days. A number of people I know are going to the World Social Forum this year instead. Having said that, I'm sure something will happen this year that makes me wish that I was there. Please say hi to everyone for me.
Joi, thanks for your insight. I'd be curious about your thoughts in terms of collective: has the WEF been a mechanism that enables actors to work more intelligently and in partnership across sectors? this is something i've been longing to understand better; there is a sense among participants at places like the World Social Forum that the WEF is exclusionary and serves only the interests of the multinationals. What seems most vital about the forum is the capacity to pool intelligence and coordinate action in a way that reduces global risk. is this happening?
Joi Ito
I think that a lot of the good things that happen at the forum on not intentional and not visible. It's bridge building across sectors. Although the forum has tried to be more and more inclusive, I think it has shifted away from its humble, somewhat academic roots to a conference where there is more participation by powerful people. Also, there is the official program, then there are special groups (like the Media Leaders group I spoke to last year) and then there are secret meetings. In many ways, it is more of a meeting place than a "movement" with something concrete to accomplish such as the WTO or G8, although I've never been to either.

I would disagree that it "only serves the interests of the multinationals" but it does have sponsors that allow it to exist and they obviously get special treatment and access. Having said that, the social entrepreneurs, for instance, include many legitimate social entrepreneurs who are doing a lot of great things that the forum enables in many ways.

So net-net, I would say the forum is a good thing, but I think your mileage may vary.

Finally, I would add... looking at the various lists of people who get invited and un-invited... the process, from my perspective, is close to random, athough there are clear biases. If you've never been invited, don't worry about it. Many many important and interesting people have never been invited. If you get invited and you've never been, give it a go, especially if you don't have to pay. If you go for a few years and get tired of it, you're not the only one.

Eric and I were chatting about how cool Garage Band was and we decided to try collaboration over the Internet. I grabbed some samples off of a talk Lawrence Lessig gave in Helsinki, laid down some beats and "started the car". The I passed it over to Eric. Eric laid down some more tracks, added effects, mixed it and sent it back to me. I added some metadata and posted it to (being processed now) and "Permission Granted" was born.

We just figured this out a few minutes ago, but I think Permission Granted will be a collaboration between Eric and me. We're "co-pilots". We'll mess around putting samples from talks and discussions to music. We're still sort of not-stupid-enough-to-be-funny, but not-good-enough-to-be-cool, but hopefully we'll the the hang of it soon.

Starting the car (2.25 MB mp3 / 2.70 MB ogg)

Update: Where we got the title of the track...

“why don’t you start the car, and i’ll jump in”, something i heard bob dylan say to tom petty on a tape of them drunkenly playing the lounge of a holiday inn one night when they were on tour together.

What happens when you 1) were thinking about stupid songs that you can't get out of your head, 2) are listening to the audio of Jimmy Wales talking about Wikipedia in Boston (audio and text transcripts here), 3) are chatting to wikipedians on IRC and 4) happen to have Garage Band open? This (800K mp3 / 870K ogg).

PS I would like to add that many wikipedians contributed links, sounds and feedback in the creation of this piece. It's amazing what you can do as a community. ;-P Just kidding, I can not take credit for the entire work, but I have no one to blame but myself.

UPDATE: Eric Haller just cleaned it up for me and now it sounds much better. 963K mp3

Halley interviews Dan Gillmor on Memory Lane. Two of my favorite people. Dan, as usual, presents a balanced view on blogging and journalism.

Silicon Valley 100 is a project by Auren Hoffman. I was lucky enough to make it on the list. The idea is to make a list of "connectors" and send them new gadgets and products to test. Newsweek just did a story about this. I think it is almost like an opt-in focus group. The obvious criticism would be these companies are trying to buy "buzz". The difference between this and some buzz creation companies is 1) it's not stealth 2) they don't tell you what to say. I checked with Auren and he says that we can write whatever we want about the products. When I get a product from Silicon Valley 100, I will state this clearly in any blog post that refers to it and will say what I think. I realize that the fact that we probably get to keep most of the products makes it a bit like bribery, but if it's crap, I'm sure most people will throw it away. I would be most interested in products that are still not on the market where our feedback could be incorporated in the product design. Then our feedback could be more constructive...

Anyway, I'd be curious on people's thoughts.

The first product is a brondell high-tech toilet seat. I told Auren, that this is one product that Japan is a world leader in. I blogged this before, but we have over 50% household penetration. The one in my house and in my office even has anti-stinky gas-gate like air filtration.

UPDATE: Just uploaded a 5 min 4.3 MB conversation with Auren Hoffman, the founder of the Silicon Valley 100.

UPDATE 2: Uploaded it to too. Maybe I should put my media files there instead since archive org does the file conversions for me too...

In case you missed it - the new Jib Jab...

A few weeks ago, there was an article in Scientific American "debunking" the myth of self-esteem. I've never been to therapy in the US so I don't have first hand experience, but my good friend John Vasconcellos is one of the founders of the movement and my impressions about the movement from him were that it was important and useful. John told me that he thought the definition that they used in the article was different from the one he was using. He said he would get back to me on his thoughts on the article. I found a thread on MetaFilter about this article so I participated in a discussion there. I was still having trouble thinking through the issue, so I turned to one of my favorite moral guides, Reverend AKMA. I decided to record the call and post it here in case anyone is interested in our chat. (37 min 33 MB mp3)

I think the net-net is that overvaluing or undervaluing yourself is bad. Ways to help people swung too far in either direction are good. The US probably suffers differently, than say Japan, because I think more people in Japan get self-esteem from craft or professionalism compared to the US where I believe self-esteem is more highly linked to money. Creating enclaves of people or communities to help people feel happy about their success measured by different parameters is a good thing and something the Net might be good for.

UPDATE 2: Audio available in a variety of formats on

tins ::: Rick Klau's weblog
Bonus goofy news item of the week: Paris Hilton’s Blackberry was hacked.

Quoth the source for this bombshell:

“It’s one thing to have people looking at your sex tapes, but having people reading your personal e-mails is a real invasion of privacy.”

Clearly, different people have different definitions for invasion of privacy.

Six Log
Support for nofollow

Recently, we’ve reached out to other blog tool vendors to try to coordinate information about comment spam techniques and behaviors. As part of these efforts, we’ve also begun to talk to search companies about enriching linking semantics to better indicate visitor-submitted content (like comments or TrackBacks).

The search team at Google approached us with the idea of flagging hyperlinks with a rel="nofollow" link attribute in order to alert their search spider that a particular link shouldn’t be factored into their PageRank calculations. The Yahoo and MSN search teams have also indicated they’d support this new spec, and we’ll be implementing and deploying this specification as quickly as possible across all of our platforms around the world.

This sounds like a good idea. Take a look at the whole post for more details, but your support would be greatly appreciated.

There is song called Dragostea Din Tei on the Disco-Zone CD by O-Zone. O-Zone was a little known Euro-dance act from Romania... until someone in Japan syched some flash to it. Then someone else. Here is the original music video. Then someone made a video. Suddenly, this CD is a hit and many of my friends are ordering it from Amazon. I bet they don't know what hit them.

This reminds me of the badger badger/potter potter meme and the Yatta meme. There is some peculiar element of certain songs that gets people's creative juices going. I think they have to be 1) silly, 2) in a foreign language, 3) have that "can't get it out of my head" element. It's the tip of the long tail wagging. Maybe artists should make synching rights available to encourage more of this creative behavior in a mainstream way... or maybe not. ;-P

UPDATE: Seth was just infected by email...

UPDATE 2: More on O-Zone from Stefan. "The funny-looking name Numanuma is actually a repetition of two Romanian words, 'nu ma' (or, to be correct, 'nu mă') that are part of the lyrics of O-Zone's smash hit 'Dragostea din tei' ('Love in the lime-tree'). More precisely, they're part of 'nu mă iei', which translates into 'you don't take me [away with you]'... Think of all the paraphernalia you can, from ubiquitous (and annoying) ringtones onwards... The raw matter (that is, the original O-Zone music) is renown for its supremely dimwitted lyrics..." I want the ringtone... ;-P

Hoder @ MetaFilter
Blogs help reform in Iran

Blogs contribute to political reform in Iran (New York Times): Former vice-president of Iran, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, said that he learned through the Internet about the huge gap between government officials and the younger generation.

"We do not understand each other and cannot have a dialogue," he said. "As government officials, we receive a lot of confidential reports about what goes on in society. But I have felt that I learned a lot more about people and the younger generation by reading their Web logs and receiving about 40 to 50 e-mails every day. This is so different than reading about society in those bulletins from behind our desks."

Now if only Japanese politicians would read blogs and learn about the huge gap between government officials and the younger generation.

Iranian bloggers have done an amazing job and I'm impressed that at least one politician is getting the message and even blogging himself.

Smart Mobs
Omidyar Network cooperation experiments, reputation system

The Omidyar Network reputation system is a new experiment in designing the social architecture of an online social network. We'll check back in a year and see how the architecture has influenced the Omidyar Network online community.

Something tells me that the $25,000 offered by the network to its members, to do whatever they agree to do, will energize the experiment.

When you join, you start with a feedback bank of 10 points. Your feedback bank can be given away, one point at a time, as either positive feedback or negative feedback to any member, workspace or discussion.

As you use, your feedback bank will increase, based on how you use, and what you do. You basically get more "credit" in your feedback bank the more you contribute. If you simply "lurk," which means you don't ever post a comment or start a discussion, etc., your feedback bank will grow far more slowly. If you are an active discussion participant, and you contribute to a group's workspace, your feedback bank will grow more quickly. In fact, even the act of giving feedback will help your feedback bank grow. If someone gives you positive feedback, both your score and your feedback bank will increase by one.

It will be interesting to see if the eBay like reputation system codification works in this situation. I just joined and will be lurking about. See you there.

Cook's Illustrated is by far my favorite recipe database with their extremely extensive and geeky/scientific approach to cooking. O'Reilly has now launched Gastronomy for Geeks. It's like a competition of cooks trying to be geeks and geeks trying to be cooks. Which reminds me... I need to go cook some lunch.

We have tags at Technorati now. Explanation about tags here. Interestingly, a lot of the tags are Japanese...

Chiara Fox . com
LinkedIn Craziness

Everyone at PeopleSoft is going a bit nuts with getting their networks up-to-date and whatnot. Not surprising since it's a little more than a month until the axe drops upon most folks here. Invitations to LinkedIn are flying around like nobody's business.

If you search for PeopleSoft employees who have joined in the last 30 days, you get over 3,700 results. There are 5,500 or so employees listed in total which is around half of their employees. It probably has something to do with the fact that 6,000 PeopleSoft employees are supposed to get the axe today.

I guess The LinkedIn PeopleSoft Alumni Network will probably be growing soon.

PeopleSoft® Alumni Network is a non-profit, volunteer-run, professional networking corporate alumni association for former PeopleSoft employees.

If you are currently employed by Oracle|PeopleSoft, you are not eligible to join the group unless you leave the company or receive a "pink slip".

Tn Palestinian Elections Ramallah 050

Getting out the vote in Ramallah

More photos are available in the new Palestinian Elections gallery.

Good luck and my cheers for everyone working on getting out the vote in Palestine!

Potter Potter...

And you won't get this unless you were part of the Badger Badger Badger infection awhile back.

via Eno

Jay Rosen questions whether Dan Rather has ACTUALLY learned his lesson.

A Short Letter to Dan Rather

"So I kind of resent your attitude toward your numerous critics who operate their own self-published sites on the Web. They were being more accurate than you were, much of the time. I don't speak for them, but I know my own archive." Plus: Lose the spokesperson, Dan. Hire your own blogger.

Dear Dan Rather: "Lest anyone have any doubt," you said in your statement yesterday, "I have read the report, I take it seriously, and I shall keep its lessons well in mind."

I'm afraid I still have my doubts. Perhaps these would be lessened if, for example, you had bothered to spell out which lessons you saw for yourself, and for CBS News in the review panel's report.

* Was it the lesson about the deadly consequences of dismissing criticism because you think you know the motivations of the critics?
* Was the lesson that a prudent journalist ought to fear and respect the fact-checking powers of the Internet?
* Or was it that by stretching yourself thin you had stretched thin the credibility of the very network you thought you were serving by taking so many assignments?
* Maybe the lesson is not to apologize when you think you did nothing wrong.

Dan Gillmor also chimes in.

UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis has more good stuff on this.

Ross Mayfield's Weblog
IBM Opens the Patent Market

Steve Lohr reports that IBM is open sourcing 500 patents.

John Kelly, the senior vice president for technology and intellectual property, called the patent contribution "the beginning of a new era in
how I.B.M. will manage intellectual property."

Perhaps for more than just IBM -- competitors may have to follow, um, suit.  While 500 patents is a drop in the bucket for the largest portfolio (40k), this is a significant move and part of a broader strategy to commoditize their inputs, pool risk, leverage a lead in services and change the game.

"This is exciting," said Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Stanford Law School and founder of the school's Center for Internet and Society. "It is I.B.M. making good on its commitment to encourage a different kind of software development and recognizing the burden that patents can impose."
Amazing things happen when self interest is in group interest.
Although I'd like to see what those patents actually are, but I do think this is interesting and good thing to see. They're not the first to take this strategy. I recall Intel doing something similar, pooling patents around development using their chips so that developers could more easily create software without bumping into each other. I think I remember that those were not Intel's patents, but the patents of the developers. ;-) But the strategy is similar. Companies fight for intellectual property protection for self-interest arguing that without it, people will not innovate. On the other hand, many platform providers know that patents often encumber innovation. With software patents in particular, I believe that they stifle innovation more than they create incentives, especially for small companies. It's nice to see patent giants like IBM taking steps like this.

UPDATE: More from former IBM Exec, John Patrick on this.

Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism
Arrogance at Apple
CNet: Apple suit foreshadows coming products.

Apple on Tuesday sued the publisher of Mac enthusiast site Think Secret and other unnamed individuals, alleging that recent postings on the site contain Apple trade secrets, according to court documents seen by CNET The suit, filed Tuesday in the Superior Court of Santa Clara County, Calif., aims to identify who is leaking the information and to get an injunction preventing further release of trade secrets. However, in filing the suit, Apple identifies specific articles that contain trade secrets, indicating that at least parts of those reports are on the mark.

This is disturbing on many grounds. Apple claims (see the end of the story) that it's not trying to suppress free speech. Bull. That's precisely what the company is doing here, well beyond keeping internal secrets.

This reeks of corporate misbehavior. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that Apple's only legitimate legal beef is with its employees or contractors who are leaking the information to Think Secret and other rumor sites.

I'm fairly sure of this: If the party leaking information to Think Secret had sent it, say, to the San Jose Mercury News or New York Times, and had those publications run the news, Apple wouldn't be suing them. Both have deep enough pockets to defend themselves.

This is my understanding too. Even if the source is "tainted" if a journalist receives the information unencumbered, they can print it. If this were not the case, there would be little recourse for whistle-blowers who usually are breaking some sort of contract at a local level for a higher good. Going after the news site is "pushing around the little guy" I think.

UPDATE: EFF is stepping in to help according to Boing Boing.

UPDATE with links from Donna Wentworth

EFF Is Not Representing Think Secret (Donna Wentworth)

The mistake is understandable. Here's our press release; EFF's clients are the publishers of AppleInsider and PowerPage. It's important to note that the facts in these cases are different.

Update: The New York Times has clearly written, informative coverage [reg. req.]; NewsFactor also has something solid.

Update #2: The legal documents are now up at the EFF site.

Seth's Blog
Is there a future in selling digital words?

Sanj points me to e-Books & Docs: Just in Time: Sony Talks About PSP [DOWNLOAD: PDF].

This is a special "flash report" from a reputatable firm. It costs $1,500. According to my favorite review:

If you were stunned by the shocking twist ending of "No PSP for the Holidays," well, you haven't seen anything yet! Quite possibly the best sequel ever written, "Sony Talks About PSP" takes everything you THOUGHT you knew about its predecessor and turns it on its head.

One page of data for $1,500.... certainly there is information out there that's worth that much. I think the interesting question is not "who would have the guts to charge this much?" or even, "who is stupid enough to buy this?" but, "are businesses or consumers willing to pay for a report in a medium that they've been trained should be free?"

Nobody has created a viable channel for selling this sort of information in a format like this. I wonder if they ever will.

I have participated in expensive report writing for companies, but usually it's fairly customized and often full of confidential stuff for limited distribution. $1500 for a PDF on Amazon about one product of one company is pretty amazing. I really would like to know how many of these they will sell.

I'll try to see if I can find a copy this week in Hawaii. Since Mr. Idei Kutaragi and Mr. Kutaragi will also be in Hawaii, I'll see if I can make my own version of "Sony Talks about PSP" here.

Maybe I can pre-sell a $1500 paper called "The market-size for $1500 PDFs" and later send the people a list others who ordered it. They can make a little community or something. Hmm... Maybe the list of people who buy the $1500 Sony report is more valuable than the report itself.
GM: a big company blogging

GM's vice chairman now has a blog. According to Neville Hobson, this is the first Fortune 100 company to do this. The interesting thing is not how revolutionary this blog is, but how ordinary it feels.

It's just a website where a guy who makes cars talks to people who buy 'em. They talk about the things car buyers might be interested in - interior trim, cup holders, SUV, insurance costs, the Saturn range, and so on.

It sounds "ordinary" and I think it's great. It really sounds like a voice. I've been trying to get the Sony execs to blog, so this is a timely example. Thanks for the link Antoin.

I'm off to Hawaii to the Sony Open Forum. It's a very small gathering of Sony executives, academics and business people who meet during the Sony Open in Hawaii, a PGA tournament. This is the third year I've been invited to go. I really suck a golf. I think I'm the only participant who isn't going to participate in the pro-am tournament. The first year, I promised I would learn to golf by the next year. Last year I made the same promise. I'm returning again, not a single step closer to being good enough to participate.

I've been asked to make some remarks to kick off the session on "Re-examining Threats and Opportunities of the Broadband Age". Here is a summary of what I think I'm going to talk about.

The proliferation of broadband into the home has dramatically changed the way people communicate and consume content. Hollywood and many copyright owners have focused on the illegal file sharing risk of broadband. They have focused on digital rights management technology and laws prohibiting file sharing and the creation of technology which enables file sharing. My view is that the success of the iPod and iTunes has been due to a focus on user experience and marketing INTO this new behavior. Content consumption has become an integral part of communications and community yet most content distribution systems are still isolated. Amateurs are also playing an increasing role in the creation, distribution and promotion of content. This new mode of creation, promotion and distribution of content is increasing diversity and there is evidence that it is increasing the overall market, albeit probably content in the "tail". Sony and others should shift their attention to the "tail" of the market, focusing on enabling new user behavior and increasing overall usability. The key is better services at lower prices, not copyright protection. In other words - great and cheap can compete with lousy and free.

I will also talk about Creative Commons and the idea that Sony should enable all of their devices with open systems to allow the creation, tagging and sharing of free content and that in the long run, the "sharing economy" may exceed the size of the commercial content industry.

Last year I talked about something similar, which you can imagine sparked a lively debate. I'm sure it will be interesting again this year.

Good article in BusinessWeek about the future of the New York Times. (Requires registration.) The Times is facing a crisis.

...NYT Co.'s stock is trading at about 40, down 25% from its high of 53.80 in mid-2002 and has trailed the shares of many other newspaper companies for a good year and a half. "Their numbers in this recovery are bordering on the abysmal," says Douglas Arthur, Morgan Stanley's (MWD ) senior publishing analyst.


There are those who contend that the paper has been permanently diminished, along with the rest of what now is dismissively known in some circles as "MSM," mainstream media.


Advertising accounts for almost all of the digital operation's revenues, but disagreement rages within the company over whether should emulate The Wall Street Journal and begin charging a subscription fee. Undoubtedly, many of the site's 18 million unique monthly visitors would flee if hit with a $39.95 or even a $9.95 monthly charge. One camp within the NYT Co. argues that such a massive loss of Web traffic would cost the Times dearly in the long run, both by shrinking the audience for its journalism and by depriving it of untold millions in ad revenue. The counterargument is that the Times would more than make up for lost ad dollars by boosting circulation revenue -- both from online fees and new print subscriptions paid for by people who now read for free on the Web.

Sulzberger declines to take a side in this debate, but sounds as if he is leaning toward a pay site. "It gets to the issue of how comfortable are we training a generation of readers to get quality information for free," he says. "That is troubling."

What's a platform agnostic to do? The New York Times, like all print publications, faces a quandary. A majority of the paper's readership now views the paper online, but the company still derives 90% of its revenues from newspapering. "The business model that seems to justify the expense of producing quality journalism is the one that isn't growing, and the one that is growing -- the Internet -- isn't producing enough revenue to produce journalism of the same quality," says John Battelle, a co-founder of Wired and other magazines and Web sites.

Interesting perspectives. Would people pay for the New York Times online? Some. I wouldn't. They have some great stuff and I read the paper version of the IHT and the NYT when I'm offline, like on an airplane, but there are so many free sources of information and ways to get to information online that the incremental value added by the New York Times on my news consumption habits wouldn't be worth the hassle and the price. I really believe there is great value in the brand and the organization that is the New York Times, but I'm not sure what the business model is. I'm sure the world is better off with The New York Times, but how do they survive? People can make fun of bloggers, but blogs are growing and the metrics show that The New York Times is not. Is the New York Times the only "MSM" doing poorly or is everyone in trouble?

I've said this before, but I believe there is a role for MSM and that blogging is not a replacement, but rather something that can support MSM by adding more voices, view points and feedback. On the other hand, from a business model perspective, I'm not sure how blogging can help MSM. It's really an amateur revolution and it's probably going to have to look like the sometimes awkward but sometimes successful dance that Open Source does with businesses in order to be successful.

via Susan Crawford (and NOT via browsing BusinessWeek)

Xeni @ Boing Boing Blog
Stop sketching, little girl -- those paintings are copyrighted!

Museum security guard told a child to stop sketching paintings in a museum -- because they're copyrighted.

It is standard operating procedure for students of art to learn by example by sketching masterpieces in an art museum. A budding artist in Durham found that the time honored tradition was challenged while seeking inspiration at the Matisse, Picasso and the School of Paris: Masterpieces from the Baltimore Museum of Art exhibit in Raleigh.

Over the weekend at the North Carolina Museum of Art there were works by Matisse, Picasso, Monet, Degas and some Illanas. Julia Illana is a second grader who was visiting the popular exhibit there with her parents and was sketching the paintings in her notebook. "I love to draw in my notebook," Illana said.

Her sketch of Picasso's Woman with Bangs, which came out pretty good, and Matisse's Large Reclining Nude got the promising artist into trouble with museum security. A museum guard told Julia's parents that sketching was prohibited because the great masterpieces are copyright protected, a concept that young Julia did not understand until her mother explained the term.

Link (Thanks, Cowicide)
If you follow the link, you will find that the museum realized its mistake and apologizes to the girl because, of course, there is no copyright infringement here. What is scary about this story is, just like the notion that ideas (vs the expression of ideas) can and should should be "owned", wrong ideas about copyright propagate very quickly like some bad urban legend and cause this sort of "ignorance creep."


Xeni @ Boing Boing
Bill Gates: Free Culture advocates = Commies

In an interview on, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates described free culture advocates as a "modern-day sort of communists." Well now.

Q: "In recent years, there's been a lot of people clamoring to reform and restrict intellectual-property rights. It started out with just a few people, but now there are a bunch of advocates saying, 'We've got to look at patents, we've got to look at copyrights.' What's driving this, and do you think intellectual-property laws need to be reformed?

A: "No, I'd say that of the world's economies, there's more that believe in intellectual property today than ever. There are fewer communists in the world today than there were. There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises. They don't think that those incentives should exist.

Lessig Blog
what a total (intellectual) disappointment this man is

If I had the time, and the money, I'd do the deep analysis that it would take to explain to myself why it is I constantly hope to be surprised by Mr. Gates. Yet I never am.

It's one thing to read this sort of thing from a studio exec, or head of a record label -- surrounded as they are by the sort that surround them. But the people I've met at Microsoft are miles beyond this sort of silliness. Does Mr. Gates not even talk to them?

More Gates "Creative Commies" propaganda on Boing Boing.

I'd be interested to know why Larry expected to be positively surprised by Mr. Gates.

UPDATE: Good response to Bill Gates from Glenn Otis Brown of Creative Commons.

Editor: Myself - Hoder
No more blogging and net-socializing

Friends in Iran, journalists and technicians, are saying that judiciary officials have ordered all major ISP to filter all blogging services including PersianBlog, BlogSpot, Blogger, BlogSky, and even BlogRolling. They have also ordered to filter Orkut, Yahoo Personal and some other popular dating and social networking websites.

Anyone know if TypePad or LiveJournal are being blocked? Is Google doing anything about this?

UPDATE from #joiito: [Catspaw] Joi: Livejournal and Typepad both accessible form the major Iranian ISPs

Sorry I couldn't say anything before, but the rumors are true. Six Apart has acquired Danga, the company that runs LiveJournal.

See the press release, the FAQ, Mena's Corner and Brad's post for more info. So I guess I better clean learn bml and make my LJ look a bit better.

Ernie the Attorney
Blogs are 'unsourced rantings' says former NY Times editor

From the 'Department of Supreme Irony' comes a statement by Howell Raines (the former Executive Editor of the New York Times) that blogging is 'unsourced ranting' (the link is to a article that links to an Atlantic Monthly article that you have to subscribe to in order to view).

First of all, Raines' statement is so completely ludicrous as to be laughable. Weblogs have a lot of shortcomings, but lack of sourcing isn't one of them. In fact, if you want to criticize weblogs you would do better to complain about the excess of linking to other sources and the dearth of original material. But the more important point is the one filled with irony. Here is Howell Raines, who lost his job at the NYT because he was at the helm during the Jayson Blair scandal, complaining about problems with 'sourcing.' You remember the Jayson Blair scandal don't you? He was a young rising star reporter who was Raines' 'golden boy' at the Times. It turned that the way that he rose quickly was by not wasting time doing the usual investigative grunt work; instead he completely fabricated stories and sources.

“Blogging is the Same as Stamp Collecting for the Semi-Retired”

I still keep running into references to New York Times’ technology reporter John Markoff’s off-handed remarks that he does a blog, it’s called “” In a recent conversation he told me that as far as he was concerned blogging is essentially the same as “stamp collecting” for the semi-retired.

We should have "funniest characterization of blogging by New York Times people" awards.

You can now query Technorati for advanced search terms such as tsunami AND ("red cross" OR "red crescent") and it will give you all of the blog posts in order by how long ago they were posted that include the word "tsunami" and either "red cross" or "red crescent". You can then click "Make this a Watchlist" and create an RSS feed so you can track all new posts that match that query in your news reader.

One Voice is a project lead by my friend Daniel Lubetzky. He is doing a lot of cutting edge work bringing peace to the Middle East particularly by trying to amplify the moderate voices of the people in Palestine and Israel. We have been bugging him to start a blog and he did. He's given us a scoop on his new blog.

The first-ever Get-Out-The-Vote Campaign in the Palestinian Authority, conducted by OneVoice-Palestine, is about to release a Public Service Announcement that will turn heads: it juxtaposes Sheikh Taysir al Tamimi, the Chief Palestinian Islamic Justice, and Father Attallah Hanna, the Patriarchite of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, with Richard Gere, the film star and humanitarian. They all encourage the Palestinian people to go out and vote. Sheikh Tamimi calls it a "religious and a national commandment" to participate in the elections.

The 1 minute ad will air on Palestinian National TV as well as on local Palestinian stations during the week prior to the Presidential elections.

I have a family crisis in Japan and need to return to Japan immediately. Apologies to people who I had been planning to meet this trip in San Francisco. I'll be back soon.

Some of us have been having an email exchange online about how we can help tsunami victims. Here is an email from Antoin that I found particularly interesting. It concurs with an IHT article I read the other day which said the biggest problem in many regions was not the volume of support but the coordination and the most limited resource was airspace, airstrips, and coordination.

Hi folks,

I've been staying with some Sri Lankan friends living in London. But they really don't know what to do. They are perplexed really.

There is a relief effort, and a lot of people are doing a lot of work, but you'd have to wonder whether this is thought out to any great extent. I can imagine what will happen. In a week or two, tents and medical equipment will show up in SL in large volumes, but by that stage they will be useless. At that stage, they will be beginning to look for things like building supplies. Medical supplies are being shipped from the UK, and this is certainly an important contribution, but perhaps the money and effort could be better focused. You could buy them cheaper in China or Singapore, and the flight time is much shorter.

According to the News Lanka newsletter, a paper for the Sinhalese community in the UK, the government is turning down aid teams from places like Israel, because they already have too many relief workers. Perhaps the Sri Lankan government mistakenly thought that these were 'amateur' relief workers who were being sent.

There is a lot of talk about not being able to afford response systems. In reality, there was no problem predicting the tsunamis by all accounts, at least as far as India and Sri Lanka were concerned. The problem was that the seismologists had no idea who they should call when they found out what was happening.

Now there are false alarms happening and it is difficult for ordinary people to get good information. TV footage in the UK showed people running, because they thought another tsunami was coming. But the information people were getting from the government was incorrect. This will eventually turn into the story about the boy who cried 'wolf' too many times.

There really has to be a better way of going about this.

I absolutely agree with what Jack has written about land title. There is no point in funding the rebuilding the homes of the people effected, if they do not have at least some sort of title on the land. Of course, this only represents a small proportion of the land masses we are talking about, but it would be a great place to start on sorting out land ownership in SE Asia.

Dan Gillmor who recently left the Merc has a new blog called Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism. Go Dan!

I'm off to San Francisco. I'm pretty busy as usual, but hopefully will see some of my friends. Thanks for all the fun in LA and special thanks to McUnixJr for driving me home from the party.

UPDATE: Thanks to Sean for driving me to the party and Justin for picking me up at the airport. ;-)

dog listening to podcasts

Originally uploaded by pt.

This is my favorite picture of the year...

New Year to all of you. I hope this year will be better than the last. With the tsunami and all of the uh-oh's of last year, I don't think I can really say "happy" anything right now. :-|

UPDATE: In Japan, there is a tradition that you don't send out New Years cards when you have had a death in the family the year before.

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