Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

May 2005 Archives

I just got back from a short trip to Yongsan with Dan Gillmor. Yongsan is one of two electronics districts in Seoul. One of the larger buildings full of shops was closed for some reason and there weren't very many shoppers around. This made walking around easier, but probably didn't give us the full effect. In Tokyo, we have an electronics district called Akihabara which many people compare Yongsan to. There were more similarities than I expected, but some differences. I found in Yongsan, and Seoul in general, places are more spacious than the equivalent areas in Japan. Shops generally seemed cleaner and the districts a bit better organized than in Akihabara. Speaking of smells, many of the smells oddly familiar from Tokyo, although there were some different ones. One thing which contributed to the difference in smells was that there were food markets such as fresh vegetables and grilled meats interspersed in the market, which Akihabara doesn't have.

Dan was prowling for cheap memory, but either because we didn't bargain, or because we didn't know where to look, we didn't find any.

It was a lot of fun, but it would probably have been more fruitful with a seasoned guide. I would say that overall, there were maybe more shops than Akihabara, but a bit less diversity. (We didn't see a single Macintosh.) Having said that, I'm not sure we were able to explore the whole thing so my view may not be accurate.

Listening to Open Source Radio right now. Excellent...

Daniel Lubetzky @ One Voice
International Campaign Against Extremism

After a successful pilot in Chicago with talks at four universities, OneVoice decided to roll out this fall an International Education program. The program aims to counteract polarization on campuses and communities worldwide - sending Israeli and Palestinian OV representatives with nationalist credentials from each side to college campuses plagued with divisions. They will discuss OV's work and methodology and expose students and community leaders to the imperative alternative of working together pragmatically to support their leaders' quest towards conflict resolution.

The program was conceived after the realization that extremist groups pervade outside the region even though they are out of whack with mainstream Israelis and Palestinians. Over the past couple years, destructive campaigns aimed at de-legitimizing Israel through divestment campaigns or at dehumanizing all Palestinians as terrorists have been corrosive. Hopefully as audiences hear the visions and ambitious of the people living with the consequences, extremists will be exposed as false messiahs that are not helping the cause of their people.

We had a debate on IRC yesterday about whether moderate voices can win over extremists. The discussion started from my post referring to extremists in Japan and Korea, but the discussion lead to a discussion about extremists in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. There was a very convincing argument made that the extremists have won and the aggression is now supported by the majority, therefore fighting until surrender was the only alternative. The idea of trying to fight against extremism was written off as naive. I am not an expert in the Israeli Palestinian conflict, but whenever I hear about what Daniel Lubetzky and One Voice is doing, I have hope. I have hope that the voice of the reason can bring peace without fighting each other to the death. It also brings me hope that we can resolve conflicts in our regions by connecting people and fighting against extremism in all of our countries.

I agree that it is not just the extremists who harbor bad thoughts or engage in bad acts, but they are usually the source of the polarization and try to keep education and communication of the main stream from moving forward.

I just heard an excellent presentation by Krishna Bharat of Google News. He explained how Google News works. It basically crawls news sites, finds "story clusters", ranks the sources, figures out how prominently each source is running the story, figures out whether its a big story or a little story, figures out geographic references, and builds the pages for the various geographic and language editions. He was talking to an audience of editors so there were many questions about how the "editing" process worked and many people couldn't seem to believe it was algorithmic. Some people seemed afraid that Google News would replace them. The point that he made and was clear from the process that he explained is that it uses the decisions that the editors of the various media make about what story to run and where in deciding how important a story was. It was basically aggregating the decisions of the editors, not replacing them. Without the editors and the "front page process" Google News couldn't decide what story to lead with. At least in its current form.

The derivative conclusion you can come to is that Google News is just amplifying or reinforcing systemic biases in MSM editorial and NOT helping to address these issues. I think this make Google News very news media friendly and also provides an opportunity for bloggers and projects like Global Voices to still have a very important role. I guess that if Google New started incorporating more of the alternative press, they could shift the bias.

During the discussion, Dan Gillmor pressed Krishna for more transparency on the algorithm and the list of sources and I seconded the motion.

Some good notes of the sessions on the editors blog.

Brain Region Linked to Metaphor Comprehension

From Scientific American:

Metaphors make for colorful sayings, but can be confusing when taken literally. A study of people who are unable to make sense of figures of speech has helped scientists identify a brain region they believe plays a key role in grasping metaphors.

Vilayanur S. Ramachandran of the University of California at San Diego and his colleagues tested four patients who had experienced damage to the left angular gyrus region of their brains. All of the volunteers were fluent in English and otherwise intelligent, mentally lucid and able to engage in normal conversations. But when the researchers presented them with common proverbs and metaphors such as "the grass is always greener on the other side" and "reaching for the stars," the subjects interpreted the sayings literally almost all of the time. After being pressed by the interviewers to provide deeper meaning, "the patients often came up with elaborate, even ingenious interpretations, that were completely off the mark," Ramachandran remarks.

More here.

That's interesting. I would never have imagined that metaphors could be so localized. I had imagined that our whole brain worked on some sort of system of metaphors. I wonder what this means in the context of Lakoff and Johnson's Metaphors We Live By where they argue that metaphor is a fundamental mechanism in the way we think about things...

After months of work by the teams at Digital Garage and Technorati, we are happy to launch the Technorati Japan beta site. I noticed that some of the Japanese bloggers had already discovered our alpha site and some of the the feedback from the blogs have been incorporated into the new version that we launched today. Check out the Japanese news talk, book talk, Japanese top 100 and other features and let us know what you think.

We are still working on finding all of the bugs and figuring out exactly what the Japanese blogging community would find the most useful so your feedback and comments would be greatly appreciated. We will be working actively on improving the site and rolling out a few more features soon. Please feel free to comment here, blog on your blog send trackbacks to our blog or send us email.

Thanks again for waiting. We look forward to working with you to make Technorati a useful piece of the Japanese Internet.

I just arrived in Seoul for the World Editors Forum. I'm on a panel tomorrow to talk about blogging.

This is my first time in Seoul. It's amazing to me that I've never been here before. Korea is very close to Japan. I have had a great deal of interaction with Koreans and feel a fairly strong bond with Korea. The Akasaka district where my office is is primarily Korean getting much more excited about Korean Soccer victories than Japanese. My aunt is Korean and I believe that we have Korean ancestors on my mother's side of the family. For some reason, I grew up generally believing that Japan and Korea were quite friendly. I do know that there is some bad history and the extremists on both sides are unreasonable.

As recently as March, Korean protesters chopped off their fingers in a rally protesting Japanese claims over some disputed islands. Clearly this represents some strong anti-Japanese feelings. I have recently been interacting with my Chinese friends about their anti-Japan protests and am in the process of trying to develop some projects together with them to try to address some of the issues. I am eager to talk to my Korean friends to find out how strong the anti-Japanese sentiments are and what might be done to address them as well.

I've heard a lot about the highly connected, high tech Korea and have participated in a number of Japanese corporate meetings where executives were being briefed on how Korea is leading in so many ways these days. I have also heard that blogging is quite active, but in a very different style than the US and Japan. Heewon is organizing a bloggers dinner and I look forward to finding out more about the scene here.

Unfortunately, my GSM phones don't work here so I don't think I'll be able to moblog.

In the May 30, 2005 issue of New York Magazine there is a story that included details about Lawrence Lessig being repeatedly molested by the choir director when he was a choirboy. The article covers the history and the current lawsuit where another former choirboy, John Hardwicke is suing the school with Lessig's help. As a friend of Larry's, it was painful to read the article and it was even more painful trying to figure out what to say to him.

Larry blogged about it initially a few days ago and there were a stream of supportive comments. Today, he posted about what we should do to prevent this kind of thing in the future, and I believe this is a critical message to get out. He writes about the law in New Jersey that immunizes charitable institutions from "negligence" in the hiring of a teacher. This is what the defense is using against the claims of responsibility for the abuse. There is a bill that has been introduced to remove that immunity, but leaders from the Catholic Church have opposed the change. I often get criticized for meddling in American politics, but I think this is an important issue. There are links on Larry's post to pages about what you can do. I think the Church should be ashamed.

Creative Commons: weblog
CC in Yahoo! Advanced Search

Yahoo! Search for Creative Commons is now part of the Yahoo! advanced search

Way to go Yahoo!

(Now close to 16 million pages linking to a CC license.)

Now it's official. Thank you Yahoo!!

Roomba Discovery Lg
The day before yesterday, I sat next to Colin Angle the co-founder and CEO of iRobot at dinner. I've had been looking for a way to get a Roomba and I asked him how I could get one in Japan. He told me that they are in fact selling them in Japan with a somewhat limited distribution and asked me for my thoughts. I said I'd have to try using one before I could give him good feedback. Japanese houses are a bit different from the US. He said he happened to have a Roomba with him that he could give me. Yay! I happily received the Roomba and today I FedEx'ed it to my house in Japan.

I'll write more about it when I actually get it working. I'm curious about how my dogs will react. I've been fascinated with the Roomba ever since I met Helen Greiner the co-founder and Chairman of the Board of iRobot. I first met her at the World Economic Forum as fellow Global Leader for Tomorrow. Later I watched a presentation she gave at ETech. She talked about military robot applications and it freaked out some of the tree-hugging hacker types there, unfortunately. Apparently, Colin is in charge of robots that scrub floors and she's in charge of robots that blow things up.

Roombas have been out in the US for awhile now and I have many friends who have them, but this doesn't make me any less excited to see one in action in my house. Thanks Colin!

UPDATE: Someone privately noted to me that it sounded like I might have pressured Colin into giving me a Roomba. I think anyone there can assure you that I didn't apply pressure. I didn't even know Colin had one with him. I was sincerely trying to find out where I could get one. I posted this note mainly because it's likely that I will be writing about my Roomba in the future and I wanted to disclose that I got it for free and in what context.

I went to the CNN office on Sunset in LA today to record an interview for a program that Aaron Brown is doing. I talked about the evolution of media, Global Voices, spectrum deregulation, Gillian Caldwell and WITNESS, Creative Commons, BitTorrent and all of my favorite topics. It will be interesting to see what survives the editors. It's suppose to air Friday next week. It's likely that I will be out of CNN reach although it should be running internationally. If anyone sees it, let me know how it went. Thanks.

UPDATE: Regarding on-air time

Scheduled to air this coming Friday, June 3.  10 pm edt is start of our broadcast. Could be aired anytime before 11 pm edt. Don't know precisely.

Lessig Blog
ccSouth-Africa: "Commons-Sense Conference"

So day two of a fantastic conference at Wits, in South Africa. Sponsored by the LINK Centre, the conference celebrates the launch of Creative Commons South Africa. The conference is being covered by 15 students and a couple staff members from the New Media Lab at the Rhodes University School of Journalism and Media Studies. The site has moblog, video links, blog, pictures and audio -- basically one of the best examples of real time conference coverage that I've seen. What they've done would be amazing enough in the core of Silicon Valley. But in this network-thin space, it is really extraordinary.

I so wish I were in South Africa for the launch of ccSouth-Africa. Thanks for the wonderful coverage. It almost makes me more jealous, but it's great to see everything that went on. Anyway, congratulations to all involved.

Seth Godin
My Secret Project and the Bounty

I need your help.

I'm looking for three special people this summer to work on a secret project. No, I can't tell you what it is. Yes, I can tell you about the internships: Seth's Summer Intern Project.

Find me someone I successfully hire and you get $1,000 and the perverse satisfaction of knowing that you made a good match. Find me two and you get twice as much!

Seth is one of the smartest and most interesting people I know. If I were looking for an internship, I'd jump on this.

Seth, if anyone gets referred through me, please do not give me the money. Please donate it to the EFF, Creative Commons, the Metabrainz Foundation and OSI in equal parts.

Now for you tax wizzed out there. If this were to happen, is this a taxable event for me?

I sat next to Dr. Roger Payne at lunch. He talked to me about the songs of the Humpback Wales that he has been recording for decades. He is the authority of this field. He explained to me that Humpback Whales sang beautiful songs. They copy from each other, remixing the songs and add to the songs. These songs evolve over time and riffs get passed from whale to whale across the world. The songs have lots of interesting variations and even have rhymes. He made an interesting observation that the whale songs of the 60's were much more beautiful than the whale songs these days.

I suggested that he made some of these songs available online via Creative Commons and he agreed that this would be a cool idea and agreed to work on this. For now, you can find three of his CD's on Whales Alive, Deep Voices and Songs of the Humpback Whale.

I look forward to when we have some whale songs on ccMixter.

The winners of the Prix Ars Electronica 2005 awards have just been announced. I was on the Digital Communities jury this year. We gave the highest prize, the Golden Nica to Akshaya, an Indian ICT development project.

The two awards of distinction went to the alternative media movements NewGlobalVision/Telestreet in Italy and the Free Software Foundation. We also gave a special prize to BitTorrent as an enabling technology.

The honorary mentions were: Upmystreet (UK), E-Democracy.Org (US), Wikimedia Commons (US), The Sout-East Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Blog (IN), Kubatana (ZW), Sistema de Información Agraria vía Internet para Agricultores del Valle de Huaral, Perú (PE), Borneo Project: Mapping Their Future: Digital Communities, Indigenous Lands (US / MY), Catalytic Communities (CatComm) (BR), microRevolt (US), TXTmob (US) and CouchSurfing Project (US)

There will be a proper jury statement coming out soon, but it was a very difficult task. We had to compare the value of telecenters in developing nations with things like BitTorrent. The definition of "digital community" was very broad. I would suggest that next year, we might want to split the category into access/digital divide oriented projects and project focused on new technologies and styles of communities.

Anyway, congratulations to all of the winners. We went through hundreds of projects and these projects are the cream of the crop.

BitTorrent have just launched a search service. It allows you to search for legal Torrents. Someone slashdotted the secret URL before it was launched and they moved it about an our later. The amazing thing is that someone wrote a Firefox search extension in the hour it was up. ;-)

Anyway, this launch is official. It looks like they underestimated the interest and the site is really slow right now, but give it a try in a bit.

I would also like to disclose that I am in discussions with BitTorrent about joining their advisory board. It's not inked yet, but I thought I'd mention it since I've been blogging a lot about BitTorrent these days. And just to be clear, this is a recent development and I was not in such discussions during the jury process when we gave BitTorrent an award.

Ethan Zuckerman @ Global Voices Online
Second draft of Anonymous Blogging Guide

I posted, some weeks back, the first draft of a technical guide to anonymous blogging. I've gotten great feedback from folks all over the world and have just posted a second draft of the guide on the Global Voices wiki, inviting collaborators to help me improve it. If you're interested in the suject of anonymous blogging, please visit the guide and lend a hand in improving it.

(If you're going to participate in editing this document, two requests: One, create an account on our wiki, so we can keep track of your contributions. Two, keep in mind the audience for this document - we're hoping to write a document that's fun, readable, technically correct, translatable, and aimed at activists in developing nations. We're not trying to write a document aimed at cypherpunks.)

Thanks for your help!

As regular readers of my blog will know, I am a strong advocate for anonymity and anonymous free speech. Ethan et al have done a great job on getting this started. If you can contribute to the document, I urge you to participate in the editing on the wiki.

I just noticed the Stealth Disco article on Wikipedia recently had an {{explain-significance}} slapped on it. This means that if we can't explain why it is significant, it will be nominated for deletion. Stealth Disco reminds me of the fun we used to have and it would be a pity to see Stealth Disco disappear from Wikipedia. Anyone have any good Stealth Disco stories or developments we can use to expand the article?

My first Stealth Disco

Stealth Disco'ed by Halley

UPDATE: Link to original Stealth Disco video from mhegge. (wmv) Must See.

I'm off to the US today. I will be stopping by San Francisco on my way to attend Future in Review in San Diego. I'll be on a panel about Japan. Meeting Karel van Wolferen the day before yesterday was helpful since I feel a bit out of touch with Japan these days. On the other hand, I felt that my views were just reinforced by a "kindred spirit", but this gives me the confidence to state my opinions firmly.

You thought I had blog-block? Actually, my autoblogger was just broken.

The night before last I had dinner with Karel van Wolferen at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. This was a very appropriate place to meet. Karel van Wolferen is the author of The Enigma of Japanese Power. Although it was written in 1990, it remains one of the best books in understanding the way the Japanese government works. I recommended this book in addition to Alex Kerr's Dogs and Demons as two essential books in understanding the dilemma the Japanese face today. Karel said that, in a way, Dogs and Demons is a followup book to The Engima of Japanese Power. We both agreed that Japan has changed a great deal since he wrote the book, but that most of the basic arguments in his book are still valid today. Japan still lacks one of the fundamental requirements of a healthy government - political accountability. We both agreed that people don't understand how the Japanese system works, including the Japanese.

Although Karel is a professor at the University of Amsterdam, he spends a great deal of time in Japan, writing for various publications, debating Japanese politicians and working very hard to try to help Japan. He had read some things that I had written and I was happy to have Karel say I was a "kindred spirit."

We discussed the history of postwar Japan and how Japan had missed an opportunity to build a more functional democracy because of the focus on fighting communism driven in large part by the American occupation. The US Occupation helped fund the conservative "Liberal Democratic Party" which co-opted or crushed most of the so-called "left-wing" liberal groups that were trying to emerge. A particularly unfortunate victim of this effort was the The Japan Teachers Union. Many teachers in postwar Japan felt a great deal of guilt for having taught children Imperialist warmongering based on the right-wing central government produced texts of the time. There was a strong desire among teachers to turn this guilt into something constructive. The Teachers Union confronted the LDP and the Ministry of Education and pushed for decentralization of education and fought against textbook censorship. The conservatives attacked them and marginalized them, effectively crushing the effort. In light of the recent discussion on Japanese historical revisionism and the festering right-wing, it is really a pity that this movement was crushed since it could have become a positive movement to help face the facts of Japanese Imperialist history. (The union still exists, but is taking a much more moderate stance on reform.)

We talked about the Internet and Wikipedia and how facts and history are being collectively created online. One interesting problem that he has is that many people spell his name as "von Wolferen" instead of "van Wolferen". Even editors of major newspapers consistently "correct" the spelling and change it to "von". It has gotten so bad that there are more results for the wrong spelling than the correct one on Google. It's funny to imagine people who are so sure of their spelling that they would change the spelling of someone's name without checking.

We promised to keep in touch and try to collaborate in the future.

I just read through my daily dose of blogs in my aggregator and scanned the email from people asking / telling me to blog stuff. I realized that there are a great number of things that I would have posted to my blog a year ago, but I won't now. I have argued a number of times that this is my blog and if you don't like it don't read it. However, as I read criticisms in the comments and on other blogs about what I write, I have become increasingly sensitive about what I say here. The criticism is often valid. "Check your facts before you post." "Read before you write." "Don't be so self-obsessed." "That was stupid." "The tone of your post was offensive to me." "So this guy posts every time he's 'off' to somewhere new. Is he boasting about his travel?" I know it shouldn't, but these voices yap at me in my head and cause a kind of chilling effect. I fear that my jokes will be misinterpreted and the irony lost. I fear that someone will take offense. I fear that a post will sound boastful.

Of course, this is just a rehash of an old discussion of collapsing contexts, but I find myself struggling with this bloggers block more and more these days. I find myself hanging out on the IRC channel chatting about things that in the past I would be blogging about. I definitely feel like my blog is going edgy to broad and boring.

What do you think? (And to be clear, I'm not fishing for compliments here.) Do you think I should post silly and sometimes no-so-well-developed posts or do you think this rigor of taking more responsibility and being more politically correct is a good thing? In a way, this bloggers block could be viewed as a developing bloggers ethic in my head and something normal and good.

I'm sure everyone knows what BitTorrent is, but it is the most popular peer-to-peer file sharing protocol for sharing large files. Before you had to have a tracker to create "torrents" which coordinated this sharing, but now you don't. This should make it even easier for people to make BitTorrent enclosures in blog entries and otherwise use BitTorrent to share files. Having said that, there are value added trackers like Prodigem which I'm sure people will use to charge for and otherwise track their files.

BitTorrent Goes Trackerless: Publishing with BitTorrent gets easier!

As part of our ongoing efforts to make publishing files on the Web painless and disruptively cheap, BitTorrent has released a 'trackerless' version of BitTorrent in a new release.


In prior versions of BitTorrent, publishing was a 3 step process. You would:

1. Create a ".torrent" file -- a summary of your file which you can put on your blog or website
2. Create a "tracker" for that file on your webserver so that your downloaders can find each other
3. Create a "seed" copy of your download so that your first downloader has a place to download from

Many of you have blogs and websites, but dont have the resources to set up a tracker. In the new version, we've created an optional 'trackerless' method of publication. Anyone with a website and an Internet connection can host a BitTorrent download!


Although still in Beta release, the trackerless version of BitTorrent, and the latest production version are available at

I had a public To Do list on my old wiki, but never set one up on my new one. I just set one up. My inflow of email consistently overruns my ability to act on them and I am feeling increasingly guilty about stuff that I miss. If you're waiting for me to do something or would like to suggest that I do something, please feel free to add it to my public To Do list on my wiki. You'll have to register in order to edit the page if you haven't already. This doesn't guarantee that I'll do it, but at least I won't forget it or lose the email. Sorry to push this burden on you and I realize that I SHOULD really do this myself, but it will help me track stuff and be a bit more responsive. Thanks.

Press Release: Creative Commons Expands Internationally & Restructures Its Key Management Team

We have just established Creative Commons International based in the UK to provide support internationally. Neeru is stepping in for Glenn who recently left to join Google. Paula Le Dieu, former Project Director for the Creative Archive project at the BBC and Mia Garlick have recently joined the team. Welcome to all of the new team members.

See the press release for the details.

UPDATE: More on Larry's blog here and here.

Sifry's Alerts
Ten Million Blogs Tracked

This weekend Technorati tracked its 10 Millionth Blog. It is a chinese blog, on, and it appears to be a blog talking about glassblowing, with some really cool pictures. Unfortunately I don't read Chinese so I can't tell...

Sorry for horn tooting, but that's a lot of blogs.

ICANN's Nomination Committee has begun their process to nominate more members to various boards, councils and committees of ICANN. This is the process by which I was elected to the board last year. Contrary to what some people may think, these positions should not be taken to try to gain some privilege or power. These are positions of responsibility and require a lot of work for no tangible return except possibly the opportunity to meet other very interesting people. (OK. They MIGHT give you a t-shirt.) I think about my role at ICANN like I would think about jury duty. We have all benefited from the proper functioning of the Internet for the last decade. If you've benefited in the past and care about the future of the Internet, it is a great opportunity to give back to the community by applying for one of these positions. We are at a crucial turning point in Internet governance. Governments and other organizations are seriously questioning the continuing ability for the Internet to be governed in a bottom up, consensus driven and open manner. I believe it is literally "all hands on deck" to keep things running and further improve the process that is currently in place. PLEASE. If you believe you can fulfill one of the critical roles or know someone who can, please contact ICANN and file a submission of interest.

ANNOUNCEMENT: ICANN Call for Submissions of Interest for Leadership
Positions is issued; submission deadline is 15 June 2005.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has posted a call for recommendations and statements of interest for leadership positions on its Board of Directors and its Supporting Organizations. Additional details, including the URL of the complete details and the application form, are contained below.

I encourage you all to read the material below and to consider who might be appropriate and strong candidates for such submissions, and to make recommendations of suitable individuals. Interested individuals may also submit a statement of interest directly.

If any of you have any questions, comments or recommendations that you would like to discuss with me directly please contact me directly.

Please feel free to redistribute this message to any and all relevant individuals and groups. Thank you.


Elliot Noss
Member, ICANN Nominating Committee


The ICANN Nominating Committee invites Recommendations and Statements of Interest from the community as it seeks qualified candidates for the following positions:

- two members of the ICANN Board of Directors;

- two members of the Council of the Generic Names Supporting
Organization (GNSO);

- one member of the Council of the Country-Code Names
Supporting Organization (ccNSO); and

- three members of the At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC).

Those individuals selected by the Nominating Committee will have a unique opportunity to work with accomplished colleagues from around the globe, address intriguing technical coordination problems and related policy development challenges with diverse functional, cultural, and geographic dimensions, and gain valuable insights and experience from working across these boundaries of knowledge, responsibility and perspective.

Additionally, those selected will gain the satisfaction of making a valuable public service contribution. Placing the broad public interest ahead of any particular interests, they will help ensure the stability and security of the Internet for critically important societal functions.

These voluntary positions are not remunerated, although direct expenses incurred in the course of duty may be reimbursed. These positions may involve significant international travel, including personal presence at periodic ICANN meetings, as well as regular telephone and Internet communications.

Candidates should be women and men with a high level of qualifications and experience with an international outlook including some familiarity with the Internet. They should be prepared to contribute to the collective decision-making process among ICANN's constituencies, supporting organizations and advisory bodies.

Selection criteria, eligibility factors, roles of each position, application procedure, and contacts are posted at:

Applications will be handled confidentially and should be received by 12:00 GMT on 15 June 2005 for full consideration. Selections will be made in October with service beginning in December 2005.

UPDATE: I just remembered it was Elliot Noss who first talked to me about the ICANN board at the Future in Review conference several years ago. I remember laughing at him at the time. ;-) Things have come full circle I guess.

Dan Gillmor has just launched his grassroots journalism site. "Bayosphere ...of, by and for the Bay Area."

Congratulations Dan!

Today was the City of Yokohama Committee for the Protection of Identification Information Committee meeting. I was appointed to this committee in 2003 in the wake of their decision to allow their citizens to opt out of the Japanese Basic Resident Code database. I was reappointed again today. I joined a number of these government committees to try to help protect rights, prevent stupid decisions and change bad laws, but I am increasingly frustrated by the Japanese bureaucracy and the ability to cause any change through these committees. (Although local government committees are clearly more sincere than central government committees.) I think part of it is because I am spending more and more time outside of Japan where board positions or public debate appear to have more direct effect. Generally speaking, Japanese government committees allow you to say what you feel, but it is very unclear exactly what effect what you say has. (One exception was when I think I did permanent damage in a committee to the stupid idea of Japan trying to do a version of the Clipper chip when it was in vogue in the US.)

The meeting today was open to the public and there was one reporter and two citizen observers. The city officials reported on the status of the system. 836,654 or 23.78% of the people are opted out of the system and only 15,503 people have asked to be issued national ID cards. After the report, we were asked to discuss issues generally.

My opinion was that because of all of the commotion that we made around the security issues of the system, the security of the core system itself is fairly good, but the local government networks that it connects to are still a mess. Also, my main concern has always been the risk of the data being collected and abused OUTSIDE of the core network and these issues have not been addressed. There have been some fraudulent cards, but major crimes have not been committed. I warned that this is because barely anyone is using the network. If the government comes up with some useful application for the ID system, I'm sure fraud will increase. I also pointed out that at this level of usage, it can't be making any financial sense for the local governments who have installed and are running the system. Yokohama is one of the largest cities, but in small towns, there are still only dozens of users. I added rather bluntly that considering the cost and the potential risk because of the ill-conceived architecture, I still think they should shut the whole thing down and start from scratch building something useful using modern privacy technology to address specific needs rather than continue to use this expensive and pointless system. The system was basically a product of the e-Japan initiative to make Japan #1 in IT and fuel it with government spending. Of course building a national ID system would be a great way to spend a lot of money. Anyone who has run a business knows, that you shouldn't invest good money after bad. Just because it cost a lot to build doesn't mean we need to keep investing.

I doubt, of course, that my opinion will change anything, but at least it's on the public record.

Sorry about the light blogging. I've been pretty busy this short trip. I'm off to Tokyo again today. I'll be back in California in a few weeks.

I don't think I've written a "yay I just met so-and-so" post in awhile, but today I met Mitchell Baker the president of the Mozilla Foundation. I'm a huge fan of Firefox and amazed by the Spread Firefox campaign. It's fun when someone turns out to be what you thought/hoped they would be like and it was this way with Mitchell. She has the excitement and the look of someone who is doing something great and proving many people wrong. People said browsers were dead, people said open source software couldn't be popular with average users. At 8:58 AM PST April 29, 2005, Firefox was downloaded 50,000,000 times. I am really interested in what has enabled Firefox to be so successful both as an open source project and as a grassroots campaign for adoption. I'm also interested as to why Firefox hasn't taken off as strongly in the Japanese public and what we might do to get it going in Japan.

It was also interesting talking to her about software licenses. I am trying to learn everything I can about the licenses for my role with OSI and I am finding that the narratives around the licenses are as important as the technical details of the licenses themselves. Mitchell is the author of the Mozilla Public License.

Mitchell spends time at the OSAF offices where Creative Commons is also currently based so I hope I'll get a chance to see her and learn more from her. In the meantime, I'll start reading Mitchell's blog.

UPDATE: IBM backs Firefox in-house

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For those of you who haven't been following Gillian's blog that I blogged about earlier, their trip to Sierra Leone was successful and Gillian has done a nice job capturing the trip on her blog. Congratulations Gillian and Angelina and everyone else who was involved! Gillian says she's going to continue blogging. Yay!

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I'm off to SF again for a very short trip. Giving Ethan and Tantek a walk around my yard today, I realized how stupid it was that I didn't spend more time at home...

See you on the other side.

Thanks to Boris, I have my Plazes map page to remind me where I am when I forget.

The Negotiator, a Japanese movie which I helped with came out on Saturday and is currently ranked #1 beating Shall We Dance. I haven't seen it yet. I hope the stickers we all collected ended up in the movie. I don't think I'm going to get a chance to see it for a few weeks since I'm away again from tomorrow and running around until the end of the month. If someone has seen it, please let us know how it was.

In other movie news, I went to see The Downfall with Larry when we were in Australia. It was a great movie. I think it was a bold move to make Hitler seem human. He reminded me of some people I know. I think it's important to remember that Hitler was human and that we always need to be aware of the risk allowing anyone to have so much power. A "must see" movie.

- Previous post about The Negotiator
- Flickr photoset of stickers and images from the movie

Rebecca MacKinnon has started doing daily summaries of Global Voices oriented stuff on blogs all over the world. They're really great. They're on the Global Voices blog and are also a separate category if you just want to see the Daily World Blog Updates.

Extreme Democracy, a collection of papers including "mostly" my Emergent Democracy paper has now been published thanks to the hard work of Jon Lebkowsky and Mitch Ratcliffe.

While preparing for my talk in Melbourne, I was IM'ing with my sister who I steal a lot of my material from these days. We were talking about Naruto, which I blogged about earlier in the context of the Naruto Matrix Reloaded AMV. On the site, the author says, "To clarify, it's as much of a Naruto advertisement as it is a Matrix parody" (emphasis added) We were talking about the amazing fan community around Naruto.

If you go to the site that lists the BitTorrent files of Naruto, you will see that fans have subtitled the episodes into a variety of languages like Hebrew, Portuguese, French... When new episodes of Naruto come out, the fans get together on IRC and other fora and collaborate and create subtitled versions and put them online. If you search for Naruto on, you find a page where the fans are voting for the DVD release and the notice says that they will notify the publisher of the voting. (It would be interesting to find out if the publisher or the fans initiated this.) It also appears that when a local DVD is released, the fans take down their subtitled episodes for that region. By allowing the fans to create demand, the publishers are using these file sharing networks and illegal derivative works as an extremely efficient form of marketing. Thanks to the network of Internet anime fans, Naruto is still niche, but popular globally.

This kind of publisher approved "piracy" is not a new thing. Dojinshi, are comics created by fans of Japanese comics. They are illegal derivative works. They make their own stories using famous comics as the base. They have huge conventions and it's an amazing community. The publishers of most of these comics encouraged this dojinshi culture because they realized that this increases the demand for the originals. These derivative works and sharing creates "fans" not "lost customers".

Some will argue that this is niche stuff, but I talked to a marketing guy at TV Tokyo and he said that they are now focused on niche. In the past they tried to appeal to a wide audience including young children and they tried to get a small amounts of money from a lot of people. (Like Pokemon stuffed animals.) Now, with box sets and special edition DVDs, they are finding that niche oriented adults and otaku will spend thousands of dollars on one show. They are able to collect more money from fewer people. I think this is one of the key marketing lessons that we're getting to. Before you tried to get a tiny bit of money from everyone who listened to a song or watched a show. Maybe if we focus on getting more money from fewer people, we can design business models around relationships and physical things rather than the content itself. Digital content might be better viewed as a marketing tool or metadata of the actual property or asset that is being promoted.

My sister's been getting most of this information about fandom from her research assistant Rachel Cody.

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Gillian Caldwell, the executive director of WITNESS just left for Sierra Leone with Angelina Jolie to deliver recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) to the government. WITNESS is an important effort using video for human rights advocacy. (I blogged about it in more detail in Sept 2003.) In Davos in 2004, Ethan and I cornered Gillian and tried to get her into blogging. At the same time Ethan and Gillian tried to get me interested in Africa. (Since then I've been to Africa once and have two more trips planned this year. Note that Ethan is the key connector here.)

Last week, Gillian emailed me and told me that she was going to blog this trip. With a bit of scurrying around and some quick design help from Boris, Gillian got her blog running just as she was running out the door. I'm looking forward to reading her reports from Africa and hope that she gets addicted to blogging so I can live her amazing life vicariously through the blog.

Safe travels and congratulations on the blog Gillian.

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I'm off to Japan again. This time only for one night. Ugh.

Australia's been great. The talk was fun and the giving a talk right after Larry forced me to work on a new argument and new material which was good. The audience was diverse and interesting and I spent the day meeting individually with some of the people and have had some stimulating discussions. Lots to think about.

If you notice that this site is slow, that's because the last RSOD post was slashdotted. Hopefully the traffic will let up soon. For the last few hours, it's been pinned at something like "29.5 requests/sec - 273.8 kB/second - 9.3 kB/request". Amazing. (I bow to the power of slashdot...)

Microsoft Longhorn has upgraded from the "Blue Screen of Death" to the "Red Screen of Death". Nice new look.

Via Michael Kaplan via Willl

UPDATE: Willl's friend noticed that "execution" is spelled "exectuion". Either this is a hoax, or they haven't spellchecked Longhorn. Can anyone out there confirm this RSOD?

UPDATE 2: It appears that Michael is an employee of Microsoft. He also informs us that the RSOD is not an "upgrade". Longhorn still has BSOD. RSOD is for really bad errors.

I'm off to Melbourne, Australia today to speak at the Alfred Deakin Innovation Lectures series. I'll be there for about two days. Too bad it's during the best season in Japan... the spring before the rainy season.

Several months ago Dave Balter who runs BzzAgent approached Creative Commons about offering their services free of charge. BzzAgent is a word of mouth marketing company and Dave and I have a number of mutual friends who all speak very highly of him. I wasn't familiar with the details of how BzzAgent worked, but getting the help of someone who understood word of mouth sounded good to me at the time.

Last week, Creative Commons announced a partnership with BzzAgent on the blog. This caused a rather fierce reaction from a number of bloggers. Many people argued that BzzAgent was not "clean" because they were not transparent and they gave incentives to their "agents" to spread word of mouth messages. Many people argued that Creative Commons was not a product that was well suited to be marketed by a company like BzzAgents and that such a campaign would undermine the trust and the efforts of the volunteer community. People argued that if there were to be a campaign, it should be organized more like the Spread Firefox campaign and be open and organized by the Creative Commons community and not by BzzAgent. Larry posted a request for feedback on his blog. The Creative Commons team discussed the feedback and Larry and I both talked in length with Dave Balter. In the end, we decided to take this opportunity to launch a campaign ourselves with the support of the existing Creative Commons community. There is a wiki where we are soliciting ideas. Dave Balter has agreed to help us with this new campaign.

I hope that all of this leads to BzzAgent getting constructive feedback and Creative Commons getting support to do a successful SpreadCC campaign. I believe that the discussion became overly emotional and I commend Dave for his apology for his hostile response to criticism. I spoke to Dave a number of times over the last week and I sincerely believe that he is trying to do the right thing and am pained to see people continuing to smear the BzzAgent name. I realize his response to Suw's post was an overreaction, but he has apologized and has taken the lumps. It was Creative Commons that made the mistake, not BzzAgent. I hope this lynch-mobby behavior subsides soon. Dave has been actively trying to take the criticism constructively and in his last post he promises to work on the reward system and had changed his Code to reflect the criticism about transparency. Now BzzAgents are required to disclose that they are BzzAgents when promoting a product. He has also been friendly and has agreed to pull the campaign and help us in any way that he can even though he had already invested the money and launched the campaign. I don't disagree with our decision to change the partnership with BzzAgent to a community driven one, but I think that there is a lot about word of mouth, especially in offline word of mouth, that we can learn from Dave and BzzAgent. Now that this is OUR project and BzzAgent is a peer, I urge people to continue to provide feedback to BzzAgent, but to also try to see how they can help. They are not "creeps". They are good people and they're here to help.

One of the things that I notice more and more these days is the Madison Avenue/Silicon Valley divide. All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin (I blogged about this earlier) is sort of Cluetrain Manifesto written in Madison Avenue-ese. They use completely different language but are beginning to talk about very similar things. If we're going to reach those people who aren't in our current self-selected community, we're going to have to reach out to the offline and main stream media world. CC has been surprisingly successful considering our lack of expertise in this area, but I think we could do a lot more. I think it's time to bridge this divide between the main stream media types and bloggers and one of the things we are going to have to do is cut each other some slack and try to learn instead of fight.

Getting beyond the language (consumer vs user/customer, buzz vs conversation, etc.) I think that trying to understand how conversations work and at what point something becomes "creepy" is a really important discussion. Is it creepy when I blog about a restaurant which gave me extra soup because I said I would blog about them? Is it creepy that the link to Seth's book above is a Amazon link that has an affiliate code to a non-profit that I'm associated with? Is it creepy that someone is is wearing a Creative Commons T-shirt to be "cool" even though he doesn't understand the licenses? My feeling is that if you have transparency and if things like Amazon links are providing value to the conversation rather than detracting from it, it's NOT creepy. And using that test, I don't think BzzAgents is creepy and I think with some tweaking, BzzAgents can be made uncreepy for some of the more sensitive people as well. I think that at the end of this road lies the future of PR and advertising and trying to understand how companies and products can participate in conversations in un-creepy ways is an important question for companies and customers alike.

I was spending part of my mind thinking about my talk next week in Australia in Melbourne for the Alfred Deakin Innovation Lectures. The topic of the talk was "The Creative Commons: intellectual property & public broadcasting & opportunities for common sense & public good". I was looking at Larry's schedule to try to see when I might be able to talk to him about some ideas and I noticed that he was scheduled to be in Australia too. Then I realized that he was speaking at the same conference. I looked at the site and realized that we were speaking... TOGETHER. So if Larry is the domain, I'm the sub-domain. He's my inspiration and his talks are the Queen's English to my Engrish. With respect to my talks about Creative Commons, what often happens is that people end up getting me when they can't get Larry. For this reason, my standard CC talk is a remix of what Larry says. (Although I have contributed thoughts and material back to the source as any good open source participant.) So now I'm at the same time thrilled to see Larry to do something together, but suddenly in the awkward position of having to jam with someone who plays the same instrument... better. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the experience and I'm sure we'll be fine but I sure hope we end up being better than the sum of the parts.

UPDATE: Larry tells me that the organizers claim I suggested that we be on a panel together. I probably did. I discussed the talk with Jonathan Mills the Director last year and I probably forgot. Oops. Sorry.

Click on image to see bigger picture.
I found these weird bugs on my favorite tree. Does anyone know what these are? Are they "good bugs" or "bad bugs"? They look evil. Especially with that queen-like one in the middle...

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This week is a national holiday for Japan and I am home trying to "rest". I was hoping to recover from jet lag, exercise, catch up on some reading... and install Tiger.

Once I installed Tiger, I decided to take my increasingly complicated schedule and put it into iCal. iCal allows you to enter your time zone so your meeting are synchronized globally. Many of the regular meetings that I had been missing because I wasn't tracking properly now fell neatly into place in absolute time with iCal's pretty sophisticated repeating meeting mode. Obviously, I'm not the first person to have to work with people in multiple time zones but with the low cost of VoIP and my instinct to try to fit everything in, I just realized that iCal created a time-zone agnostic view of what I should be doing and it's quite distressing. No matter what time zone I flip to, I have things scattered throughout the day and night almost every single day. I just realized that I have jet lag even though I'm staying in one place.

Rereading my post, I realize this probably sounds pretty stupid, but somehow it took iCal and this time zone feature for me to realize what a mess I'm in. Eek.

Mr Blog
Practical IPv6

We finally released a project we've been working on in EarthLink R&D for some time now. I was not the lead engineer on this project but it's perhaps one of the most exciting things we've done in R&D to date, if not the most exciting thing.

Basically it's a demonstration of a practical IPv6 migration strategy. There is a sandbox that allows users to obtain their own /64 IPv6 subnet of real routable addresses (Goodbye NAT -- YEAH!)

Here's how it works: Simply get an account at to get your own personal block of 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 IPv6 addresses; install the firmware onto your standard Linksys WRT54G router, and blamo, you have IPv6. With this special code installed on your Linksys router, your IPv4 works as normal; you'll still have your NAT IPv4 LAN. But in addition to that, any IPv6 capable machine on the LAN will get a real, honest to goodness, routable IPv6 address too. It couldn't be easier. This works for Mac OS X, Linux/UNIX, as well as Windows XP. You don't have to do anything special on the machines on the LAN. They just work, as they say.

So with this code installed on the router and your IPv6 accounts setup, nothing breaks. You continue to use your LAN as before, but you suddenly also get real IPv6 addresses. Easy migration. No forklift required.

This may be a bit geeky for some people, but for anyone who's been worried about how we're going to get IPv6 everywhere, this should be good news. Congratulations Earthlink R&D! I'm going to get a WRT54G router and try this out right away...

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We spent the day yesterday waiting for email to import and hunting for, digging up, preparing and cooking takenoko (bamboo shoots). It's nearing the end of the season, but there were still enough in our backyard for a few meals worth. Last year I blogged a longer entry about the process. This year I focused on the photos. We also used a slightly different recipe and did it without relying on our neighbors.

I've posted the pictures as a flickr photo set.

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While I'm still importing my mailbox on my main machine, I thought I would metablog by linking to an interview I did for NeoFiles. The interviewer is R. U. Sirius who I met back in the Mondo 2000 "Birth of Cyberpunk" days. I once wrote an article for Mondo 2000 and R. U. Sirius was my editor. He got me to write the weirdest thing I've ever written in my life. This time, he kept telling me I wasn't being interesting enough and triggered a "how would you have explained it to Timothy Leary?" kind of rant. ;-) It reminded me of why Mondo 2000 was so funky and great.

PS I think he's right, "New Edge" was not coined by Professor Takemura, but popularized in Japan by him.

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