Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

February 2005 Archives

I helped out as a technical advisor for the movie The Negotiator that will come out in May. One of the things I did was help choose stickers for the laptops of the hackers. Thanks to everyone who sent me stickers and cleared the rights for me. I've uploaded pictures of the laptops as a set on flickr.

It's still unclear how much time they will get on the screen, but in the last two films, there were many scenes where people were talking over their open laptops and the Infoseek sticker took up half the movie screen. ;-)

UPDATE: Added poster and pictures from film to the flickr set.

This was posted using FlipClip a Japanese startup doing lots of mobile phone video stuff. This post was posted using the MetaWeblog API.

This feature is still in betatest. Maybe they can get them to make an aspect ratio feature so I can make myself look less chubby.

It would be nice if they included links to download the media files in various formats other than just the flash thingie.

Donna Wentworth @ Copyfight
Your ISP Knows You're a Dog

Fred von Lohmann, in a column on the importance of preserving anonymous speech on the Internet: "[R]emember, on the Internet, your ISP knows you're a dog, and your adversary is only a subpoena away from compromising your constitutionally protected right to bark anonymously."

Anonymity is a very important issue in the context of terrorism and the Internet and will be on the agenda for the Internet track of the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security that I am co-organizing. This is also an important issue in the context of ICANN's position on the importance of privacy and the whois database (the database of domain name owners and contact points). I still believe that there are definitely costs to anonymity, but stifling anonymous speech is a huge cost to democracy.

It's not only the EFF and people like myself who believe in anonymous free speech. The American Association for the Advancement of Science came out on the side of anonymity and said that, "this is not a fruitful area of regulation for now or in the future." Of course this was back in 1999. (Wired article on this report) As Fred says in his article, the founding fathers of the US published the Federalist Papers anonymously and were acutely aware of the necessity of protecting anonymity and tried to build that into the constitution. Today we are all chipping away at this right with the fear of copyright infringement, terrorism, child pornography and a variety of boogymen leading the charge.

The New York Times has a story on the kid who made the video of himself singing and dancing along to Dragostea Din Tei that I blogged about earlier. He is Gary Brolsma, 19, from New Jersey.

via Mimi

As I get more and more into Ableton Live I am beginning to feel the pain of being a digital musician these days. As a former DJ, I have lots of my favorite music in my head organized by what parts of what songs go well with others. Suddenly, I realize that what I can get away with on a turntable in a nightclub is a no-no when producing music. Record companies in the US have been winning cases against people who sample music. I can buy loops, use Creative Commons content and make my own sounds to use in the music, but what I am unable to do is use the melody, drum track or riff from my DJ days to invoke images and memories we associate with some of the classic songs. It's as if my several years of being a DJ and learning the beats has to be erased from my memory when thinking about how to express myself.

Luckily, there is more and more music with Creative Commons licenses, but it really feels like we're having to start from scratch, building a culture of music creation that encourages sharing and sampling the way we used to do it when samplers and sequencers entered the scene. Artists... please think about using the Creative Commons sampling license when you publish music so that you don't become an island sheltered from the creativity of future artists and DJs.

I just bought Live 4.1 from Ableton. I love it. It's the perfect music production software for DJ types like me. You can import sounds, midi files, effects and fine tune the loops and samples. The neat thing is that you then bind loops, tracks, effects and other things to keys or midi events and jam away live to your heart's delight laying down a recording that you can then go back and edit before you render it. It's a bit hard to explain. Take a look at the demo on their site.

Here's my first track using samples from Lessig, Jimmy Wales, Kenji Eno, Howard and others. ;-) (mixup1.mp3 1.9 MB mp3). It's a bit rough, but you get the idea.

I had dinner with Steve Crocker last night. I met him before through David Isenberg, but since he is the Security and Stability Advisory Committee Liaison to the ICANN board, I am getting a chance to hang out with him more these days. Among other things, he's well known for being the author of RFC 1.

His explained the software that his company Shinkuro produced and I tried it today. It solves a BUNCH of needs that I had. It's basically a very cryptographically robust, cross-platform collaboration tool. It allows you to create groups and share folders of files, has a shared chat space (like IRC) and allows you to share your desktop screen with other members of the group (yes, across platforms). The shared files are transfered in the background and edits to files are sent as diffs which can be accepted into the original by the recipient. There is also standard IM with your buddy list. The great thing is that all of the traffic is encrypted. 256 bit AES and 2048 bit RSA keys. Each message is encrypted with a unique key, and the key is transmitted under the RSA key. This is very important since I know for a fact that people sniff IM and other traffic at many of the conferences and public places.

The folder in the groups is really nifty. You drop files into a folder and you can see who has received the files and see any changes that are waiting for you. This seems so much more organized than the tons of attachments and updates I receive before board meetings and conference calls.

It seems similar to Groove in some ways, but is more lightweight and most importantly cross-platform. (Mac, Windows, Linux.)

You can download it at and for now it's free. If you register it, you will get all of the features. My id is jito! if you want to invite me to be your friend or into a group. As I've said before, I think email is dead and I'm always looking for things like this that help me survive the post-email era.

The Development Gateway Award is a prestigious award given to excellence in propagating ICT access, especially in the developing world. They've extended their deadline and are seeking additional nominations. I think $100K can go a long way, particularly in the developing world. If you know of anyone working on a suitable project, please pass this on.

From the press release:

Deadline Extended in $100,000 Development Gateway Award

Global Competition to Recognize Information Technology’s Role in Development

February 15, 2005 – The Development Gateway Foundation is extending the deadline in its global competition to reward outstanding achievement in using information and communication technologies (ICT) to improve people’s lives in developing countries. The new deadline for this year’s $100,000 Development Gateway Award is March 15.

“This competition is a global search for excellence, and we are taking every measure to find the highest-impact application of ICT to win this award,” said Development Gateway Chief Executive Officer Alan J. Rossi. “Then in June, we will profile the winner and runners-up to demonstrate for all to see the results that can be achieved using ICT to improve people’s lives.”

This year, as the number of Internet users worldwide surpasses the 1 billion mark, about half of those users will be in developing countries. “I strongly believe that access to ICT can change the lives of the poor dramatically, if we can ensure access to ICT for the poor,” said Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus, winner of the 2004 award.

Grameen Bank-Village Phone was chosen from over 200 nominees for the 2004 Development Gateway Award, then known as the Petersberg Prize. The award recognized Grameen’s innovation in combining microfinance and mobile telephone service to help create a new class of women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh who raised themselves from poverty while providing rural villages with essential communication services.

For the 2005 competition, please go to for more information and nomination forms. Nominations already submitted can continue to be updated at this site.

I received the following email and this attached Word document from the lawyer at It looks like a form letter to me. I have no idea what activity they think is illegal and I'm waiting to hear back from them. Has anyone else received this letter from them? See the word document for the slightly different letter in its full color all caps glory.

Kevin B. Jones, Esq.


TO: Registrant: Neoteny Co., Ltd. Plazamikado 3F 2-14-5, Akasaka Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0052 JP
RE: Domain name: ITO.COM

Administrative Contact: Ito, Joichi Plazamikado 3F 2-14-5, Akasaka Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0052 JP +81 3-5549-2270 Fax: +81 3-5549-2271
Technical Contact: Ito, Joichi 2-14-5, Akasaka Plazamikado 3F Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0052 JP
+81 3-5549-2270 Fax: +81 3-5549-2271

Kevin B. Jones, Esq.
Deputy General Counsel


If received by mistake, please inform of the erroneous transmission by immediately replying to the email and then delete the mail and its possible attachments without opening, copying, distributing or retaining any copies thereof.

For more information on see Google. I wonder if they got the letter too. ;-)

UPDATE: See Chilling Effects for a great site about how to understand and deal with these sorts of letters.

I'm on the bullet train from Tokyo headed for Kyoto to attend APRICOT. Unfortunately, I can only be there today and tomorrow. I'll be in and out of the sessions. If anyone wants to hook up, let me know.

Cory @ Boing Boing
Euro software patents: dead again! w00t!:

Aymeric sez, "I was at the Brussels demo [against software patents] today and the result, it appears, was slightly positive." That's an understatement: the software patent issue is dead again in the European Parliament and has to be rebooted from start if the other side wants to get it through!

The European Parliament has thrown out a bill that would have allowed software to be patented.

Politicians unanimously rejected the bill and now it must go through another round of consultation if it is to have a chance of becoming law.

During consultation the software patents bill could be substantially re-drafted or even scrapped.


(Thanks, Aymeric!)

This is great news. I wish Japan would listen to Europe on this issue.

Follow the link to Boing Boing for more information and updates.

Reuters via News.Com
Web-only album wins Grammy

LOS ANGELES--Jazz composer Maria Schneider took home a Grammy on Sunday for her album "Concert in the Garden," without selling a single copy in a record store.

In a recent meeting with some studio execs, to the question of whether they had ever seen any "real" music come out of Internet based alternative production models, they laughed and said no. To the question of whether it was possible in the future, they made a "unlikely" gesture. If getting a Grammy doesn't constitute a recognition of "real music" I don't know what does. I hope they don't miss this stunning example of their misguided arrogance.

via Juche

I'm listening to Andrew Odlyzko giving a talk right now about why Quality of Service (QoS) and real-time streaming is stupid. He showed a slide showing that P2P and other traffic are generally transmitting files at faster speeds than their bit rates. Basically, if you cache and buffer, you can have outages in the downloads and you'll usually be fine. I agree. I can see why carriers would want to spread the rumor that QoS is some feature that we have to have, but it's strange that so many researchers seem to think we will need QoS supported video streaming. Maybe they need to stop watching cable TV.

Just a day ago, I was in balmy Los Angeles noting how much the wonderful weather made me feel mellow and happy. Yesterday, I flew to Helsinki via Frankfurt and arrived at 5:30PM in pitch dark, freezing Finland and arrived at my hotel to find Marko and Jimbo waiting for me to go to Avantouinti. Avantouinti is ice-swimming which is often done in conjunction with sauna. Marko is a member of the 1337 sauna club, The Finnish Sauna Society, dedicated to the preservation of Finnish sauna culture. We went there and sat in the traditional smoke saunas packed full of naked Finnish men. Part of the sauna culture involves asking people if they'd like water poured on the hot stones when you are entering or leaving a sauna. In the particularly HOT sauna, the "yes" is followed by "ahhhh key toss (thank you) oooo heeeee". ;-) After some nice sauna we went avanto swimming. Swimming may be a bit of an exaggeration. We jumped into a hole in the ice from a pier clinging to a frozen rope. As we walked naked along the pier back to the sauna, I noticed the amazing scene of the frozen sea and the dimly glowing sky. I mentioned to Jimbo that walking naked and scenery like this was a unique combination. I think he was focused on his freezing feet, but he agreed.

I woke up at 3AM thinking icy thoughts and made a few edits on the Wikipeida Avantouinti article wishing there was an ice hole nearby...

Sorry for people who have read about avantouinti here before. This is my third time and I've blogged about it each time... (1 / 2)

The Socialtext team have upgraded joiwiki. It is still requires a username to edit, but we've added the ability to register online so you don't have to email us for an account. Fee free use it for anything that isn't illegal or spammy. Please note that the Creative Commons license for joiwiki is Attribution 2.0. The upgrade also includes the ability to integrate Technorati Cosmos and RSS feeds into pages. (Click edit and look at the source on either of the linked pages to see how you can do it for different URLs.) The edit window has also been upgraded.

Disclosure: I'm on the board of Socialtext

Tulsa paper threatens to sue blogger over posting excerpts of its stories and links to its site. Tulsa paper needs to get a clue.

Blogger Michael Bates: "I believe I have respected the World's copyrights within the fair-use exemption. Let the World name the specific articles in which it alleges that I have exceeded fair use. I have violated no law by directing readers to the Tulsa World's own website to read the Tulsa World's own content as the World itself presents it."

Hmm. Is this a job for the Media Bloggers Association?

via Rebecca

Reminds me a bit about the deep linking debate in years past, but even more stupid. Maybe a long time ago clueless people could get away with shaking their fist at fair use, but these days it just makes you look even more clueless. The Media Bloggers Association sounds like a good idea though. Maybe we can make a special hall of fame for stupid letters to bloggers.

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A special form of "toothing" for Valentine's day. Encode your bluetooth device with your preferences, choose some images and participate in Bluetooth Valentine's Day. See the site for more details.

via Sander

On my Japanese blog, I've been podcasting conversations with Kenji Eno, former game developer and now CEO of fyto. The last post was a silly remix of our conversations put to music. I didn't post it here because it was in Japanese, but he's fired back with podcasting.mp3, his revenge.

(Chat 1, Chat 2, Remix - On, podcasting - Kenji's revenge 6.7MB mp3)

Sorry about the light blogging. Have been a bit swamped during my travels. For now I present to you... kittengate.

For some more serious comments on the issue, see the comments on this post.

Make Logo3
MAKE is a mook (hybrid magazine/book) and a website for do-it-youself gadgety hacking published by O'Reilly. The team is my favorite do-it-yourself hacker Philip Torrone, Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing and Dale Dougherty from O'Reilly. Phillip tells me there will be a lot of audio and video coming, but it looks great already. Looking forward to getting my hands of the first issue and seeing what they have in store for us!
Cory @ Boing Boing Blog
Lessig portrayed on tonight's West Wing

Larry Lessig is appearing in tonight's episode of the West Wing! Or, rather, an actor playing Larry is appearing in etc etc and so on. Here's some spoilers

Here's Toby & Lessig's conversation (happening at the same time Igor & Vlad are having their conversation): Lessig says he picked up a few phrases -- the language isn't all that different from Polish. Toby notes that they're still eating lunch. Lessig says they love the roast beef. Toby says Lessig wasted the morning talking about a government system that'll never work for Belarus, & now he's given them an extended lunch break. Lessig doesn't think his discussion was a waste. Toby reminds him that the 2 delegates have to leave the WH on Friday w/ a set of laws to take back to Minsk. Lessig corrects him: it's not a set of laws, but a sense of the rule of law. Toby asks him if he's planning on writing a Constitution this week. Lessig asks him if he's familiar w/ Meyer v. State of Nebraska. Toby says Nebraska passed a law making it illegal to teaching anything other than English during WWI. Meyer wanted to teach German, & the Supreme Court declared the law was unconstitutional. Lessig asks where in the Constitution does it say you have a right to teach German in school. Toby: "Okay, & if Oliver Wendell Holmes were alive to serve as President of Belarus maybe they wouldn't need a constitution". Lessig says Holmes dissented on the case. Toby says the 2 delegates need a magna carta w/ real checks & powers. They need a "strong judiciary, a limited executive, a vital press". Lessig replies that a constitutional democracy only works if it reflects demoractic values already existing in the citizenry. Toby says the Belarusians lack those values. Lessig thinks that the most important job they have is to instill those values in the leaders through discussion & debate. Toby says he's talking about 8 people on a DC sightseeing trip. Does Lessig think he's going to reverse 50 years of brutal dictatorship by teaching those 8 people democratic values? Lessig says the 8 are all the President's men & they're teaching them how to scrutinize power. How many people does Toby think it takes? There's a pause, then Toby looks at Igor & Vlad. Then he looks past them & sees Gordon & Miss Universe. A note says, "Tick tock, tick tock".

(Thanks, Alex!)

I'm going to watch it with Larry today. I'll post any blogworthy reactions later. ;-)

UPDATE: It was fun watching Lessig watching Lessig. According to Larry, the screenwriter is a former student of Larry's and it is based on a true story. Larry was a constitutional law professor specializing in Eastern Europe before his recent focus on the Internet and copyright.

UPDATE 2: Lessig comments.

UPDATE 3: Video on Lisa Rein's Radar.

Howard Rheingold, Lisa Kimball and I had a telephone conversation to kickoff our keynote for OSN 2005. (17 min mp3 11.2 MB). It will soon be available in other formats on

I went to Akihabara last weekend with Gen, Jim and Boris looking for a PSP. There are rumors of production problems in China. In any event, they are in very short supply. I had heard that they could be found in some of the alleyways in Akihabara. We walked around for quite awhile but couldn't find one. Finally, Andrew came to our rescue and emailed me directions to a tiny shop in an alley that said on their web page that they had some in stock. After a bit of wandering around, we found the shop and I got my PSP.

First impressions. Very slick looking like in the ads, but the left buttons squeak on mine, which is unbecoming of such a hyper-designed product. Also, it is very glossy so fingerprints are very noticable. The graphics and sound are fabulous. I reunited with Ridge Racer, which I used to play a lot of the Play Station when it first came out. I can see myself wasting a lot of time again, but now mobile.

The other thing that surprised me was that when I popped the memory stick duo card out of my Sony DSC-M1 which takes mpeg movies and popped it into the PSP, it just worked. The movies played flawlessly. On the other hand, it's a bad sign that being able to move movies between two Sony devices is such a surprise. ;-)

engadget has a more thorough review and more importantly, a HOW-TO on how to get your DVDs to play on the PSP. iPSP allows great interoperability with the Mac.

I stopped playing video games several years ago after I completed BioHazard on the Play Station because I thought gaming was having too much of an impact on my productivity... but I couldn't resist the PSP.

Only in Japan. This had to happen. There is a Doraemon everything in Japan. For those of you who don't know Doraemon, he's the weird alien cat thingie anime character that has lot of weird magical things in his pouch. NTT once made a Doraemon phone. Now there is a Doraemon iPod mini. I still like the Doraemon telegram the best. I use it a lot. I sent on the the Governor of Nagano when he won the re-election.

via Andrew

Tomorrow is the official start of the Online Social Networks 2005 conference. It will be a gathering of some interesting people in the field in an online forum and they will be charging $35 if you sign up today and $50 after that. The conference goes from February 9 through the 23rd. For more information, see their website. I will be one of the keynotes and will also be on a panel on Extreme Democracy.

I'm not sure how much of the conference will be made "public" but I'm sure that's one of the first things we'll discuss.

We just had an IRC chat organized by Wikinews to talk about how bloggers and Wikinews could work together. If you don't know about Wikinews, it is an effort by the people behind Wikipedia to use many of the same principles behind Wikipedia to run a news site. They've had an early success with their scoop of the unrest in Belize.

Anyway, it was a very productive discussion. You can see the logs online. There is a page about Wikinews and Blog collaboration, but it's still pretty skimpy. A few ideas that came out:

Exchange IM addresses between active members in both communities to coordinate stories. (See page of IM addresses for Wikipedians.)

Create an RSS/Atom feed of new stories and hopefully for different tags from Wikinews.

MetaWeblog or Atom API to allow bloggers to post to some section of Wikinews using blogging tools.

Wikinews should accept trackbacks. They need someone to help write a trackback plugin for MediaWiki. Let them know if you can help.

I've gotten weird email asking me to pimp stuff for them on my blog in the past, but here's someone being asked to pimp American Express by someone saying they are a student studying advertising. He did a traceroute that showed that it might have come from Ogilvy & Mather. Ha! It's like whispering a secret to someone in a stadium wearing a hot microphone.

If it is O&M, it sounds like Bullshit Marketing. Be careful!

The term Bullshit Marketing summarizes methods where customers are not treated as empowered, smart and connected individuals, but as a dumb mass of idiots.

Via Nico

Did a Garage Band mix of one of Howard's talks at Stanford. (1.44MB mp3 / 1.66MB ogg)

I will be on the Prix Ars Electronica digital communities jury again next year. Please help us out by submitting work that you think meets the criteria below.

For the second time in 2005, Prix Ars Electronica will honor important achievements by digital communities. This category focuses attention on the wide-ranging social impact of the Internet as well as on the latest developments in the fields of social software, mobile communications and wireless networks.

The "Digital Communities" category is open to political, social, and cultural projects, initiatives, groups, and scenes from all over the world utilizing digital technology to better society and assume social responsibility. It is meant to recognize the initiators and propagators of these communities as well as the developers of the relevant technologies, and to honor those whose work contributes to the establishment and proliferation of Digital Communities as well as provide understanding and research into them.

The prizes in this category will total 20,000 Euros: one Golden Nica (10,000 Euro), two Awards of Distinction (5,000 Euros each) and up to 12 Honorary Mentions.

For full information please check
Online submission:
Deadline for submissions: March 11, 2005

Mac Mini: The Emperor's New Computer
by Jorge Lopez, MCSE

...The Mini boots up into a stripped-down operating system which Apple calls OS X, similar to the stripped-down WindowsCE OS found on many handhelds.

...No serial ports, no way to connect a printer, no PS/2 ports, no floppy drive, no 5.25


via MetaFilter

Actually, yesterday to be exact. I just spent the day yesterday at Living Tomorrow Amsterdam with a group of people from Philips and several other speakers talking about the future. It was a great session. The interesting thing was that the speakers from a variety of backgrounds including Philips Design, gaming, online dating, mobile telephony and myself all had a very similar conclusion. Technologies should empower people to participate and interact and the future was about context and community. (Sorry if I've over-simplified this.)

I'm on my way back to Tokyo today. It was a short trip, but it reminded me again how much I love Amsterdam. Thanks for the hospitality Philips.

Rony Abovitz blogged that Eason Jordan of CNN accused the U.S. military of murdering journalists in Iraq during a panel at Davos. The official summary does not reflect these comments. Rebecca MacKinnon, former CNN journalist who worked for Jordon corroborates the assertion by Abovitz. Little Green Football is tracking this in detail.

UPDATE: A MUST READ update from Rony Abovitz.

Jason moved this site to a new server yesterday. Unfortunately, I lost a few comments and trackbacks along the way. I tried to recover the comments. Let me know if I missed you.

UPDATE: DNS propagation seems to be flakey for some reason. Apologies for any problems.

I was going to do more research before I posted this, but since it appears that I've created a minor epidemic in my local community, I'm posting this a bit uninformed. I received an email inviting me to, which I would normally ignore, but it was from someone who's judgment I trust. I clicked through the signup process without finally completing it, but unwittingly gave the service access to my MSN IM information. This spammed my whole buddy list with invitations. It was unintuitive to unregister even though I hadn't completed the registration process. Also, I heard from someone that if you don't unregister, the service continues to send invites to people you add to your buddy list. Anyway, I have no idea if the service is interesting, but the the fact that you invite your whole buddylist before you actually try the service and the difficulty and deleting your account makes me skeptical about it.

Anyway, I'll post more information when I get it and apologies for sending invites to people to a service I'm not even using.

This is the first time I've used rel=nofollow in a post. ;-)

Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism
Copyright Progress, Maybe

The U.S. Copyright Office wants comments on

"the issues raised by 'orphan works,' i.e., copyrighted works whose owners are difficult or even impossible to locate. Concerns have been raised that the uncertainty surrounding ownership of such works might needlessly discourage subsequent creators and users from incorporating such works in new creative efforts or making such works available to the public."
This is wonderful news, and a sign of that people like Larry Lessig are making progress in educating the powers-that-be on the issues.

Public Knowledge has a good summary.

This is good news. Of course my opinion is that orphan works should go to the public domain. I guess the details of how one determines whether something is an orphan or not will be important, but I'm sure we can think of something. Lessig's idea of a minimal charge to keep your copyright alive comes to mind.

I'm off to Amsterdam today for two nights to give a talk at a corporate seminar. This will end possibly the first time I have been out of jet lag in almost a year. It was nice waking up at the same time every morning for a change. February and March are going to be pretty busy, but on the bright side, I will get to see many of you soon.

Anyway, see you from Amsterdam or possibly from the airport.

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