Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

August 2005 Archives

I find Japan to be extremely "faddy" and the media and consumers tend to jump onto new toys very quickly. Trends tend to die very quickly as well. Things that you are excited about only temporarily are often referred to as "my boom". For example, you might say, "blogging is 'my boom' right now." There are now television ads about blogs. The other day I heard a radio commercial where they read out the URL, but added that you could post comments and send trackbacks. Yes. Trackbacks. I have yet to hear a radio commercial in the US on a normal major FM show (maybe there are some) asking people to send trackbacks a site. It wasn't even a geek site. I think everyone here is finally jumping on the bandwagon.

That's why it's not strange when reports constantly ask me whether I think blogging is a fad, assuming that this "fad" will disappear along with the tamagocchi and pokemon in due time. Many reporters still look at me a bit skeptically when I try to explain that it is a trend, not a fad or some cool new toy. Watching the Japanese consumer machine trying to devour this one will be interesting.

Having said that, I'm sure many people outside of Japan also feel that blogging is just a fad.

In an effort to cut down on energy consumption, Japan has implemented "Cool Biz". Cool biz facilities keep the temperature at around 28 degrees Celsius (approx 82.4 Fahrenheit) in the summer. It often feels hotter than that. In these offices, people don't wear suits. Most government buildings and many public facilities are now cool biz. First of all, 28 degrees is hot, even with a t-shirt. Second, when you travel around buildings requiring various dress codes, this system doesn't really work.

This isn't a new thing, but it appears that it is being implemented with renewed vigor this year. I blogged about this back in 2002. According to the Japanese Wikipedia, they think that it will save about $1B.

I suppose I'm a schmuck for complaining about something so socially and fiscally good, but for some reason this kind of suffering feels very Japanese and annoying. There is something very ceremonial and inefficient about it. Maybe it's just that I'm sweating my ass off in a cool biz zone. Maybe this is a signal to me to figure out a way to save $1B for the Japanese economy and help the environment. Maybe we can start by firing all of the retired bureaucrats that they force companies to hire who get paid a mint and driven around in black limos.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Wrote an article on the Smallworld website.

Idea behind the site is that there is a group of interconnected people around the world who have similar interests, concerns and problems. These people are wealthy, well-traveled and well-educated. They smallworld is the invitation-only community for these people.

Could gated communities grow more common on the Internet?

Counterintuitive for an open medium, but it does allow creation of self-selected target groups for advertisers, kind of like luxury magazines. Could almost be seen as the next generation of online publication.

UPDATE: Xeni's Wired article on ASW.

I apologize to the people who are covering Katrina seriously and to all of the people who are affected by it. I just got this from Xeni and I think it's priceless.
SHEPARD SMITH: You’re live on FOX News Channel, what are you doing?

MAN: Walking my dogs.

SMITH: Why are you still here? I’m just curious.

MAN: None of your fucking business.

SMITH: Oh that was a good answer, wasn’t it? That was live on international television. Thanks so much for that. You know we apologize.

Xeni in IM
Cool. I love that SOME people in america are not media whores! Privacy before publicity.

UPDATE: Another funny TV moment. A CNN weatherman loses his cool while covering Hurricane Katrina... via Metafilter

Apologies (if anyone actually cares) about my stalled blog. This is probably the longest I've gone without writing. I'm a bit travel weary and extremely busy with lectures/talks every day for the next few days. I'm going to try to catch my breath over the weekend and I hope I feel a bit more inspired then. ;-)

(And NO. I haven't been playing World of Warcraft.)

Powered By32
Boris just upgraded this blog to Movable Type 3.2 which just came out. It has a bunch of new features and is very stable. One important new feature is advanced community management that deals with comment spam. Anyway, for people who have been waiting to upgrade, I think it's time. The upgrade is pretty easy and free for current licensees of 3.x. The new license also allows an unlimited number of blogs. If you need help, Boris is helping people out (for a fee).

Disclosure: I'm an investor in Six Apart and Chairman of Six Apart Japan.

Photo Nfl Game Mix Large
NFL Widower

Michele loves her football something fierce. Over the years it's gotten worse, growing from watching the occasional Sunday game with Cincinatti (her hometown team) to watching Thursday Night Football to this year with her enrollment into fantasy football in July.

Last year for her birthday I bought her a special quilting table and she had it placed in the living room so she could quilt while watching football.

For the Superbowl this year, we bought an HDTV so the game could be as good as possible. Now we have the NFL Network, the DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket, and even the DirecTV Superfan package for true football otaku that need to watch EIGHT football games SIMULTANEOUSLY.

This is why I should not be designing media products for the American market. I would never have imagined that something like this.

I'm trying to keep track of my friends on World of Warcraft. If you have a character on WoW and want to hang out, please register on my World of Warcraft wiki page.
Interfax China
PowerNet and China Communist Youth League develop "Anti-Japan War Online" game

Shanghai. August 23. INTERFAX-CHINA - PowerNet Technology, a Chinese online gaming firm, has developed a new online game in cooperation with the China Communist Youth League (CCYL) named "Anti-Japan War Online," which will begin commercial operation by the end of 2005, a PowerNet official said Tuesday.

"The game will allow players, especially younger players, to learn from history. They will get a patriotic feeling when fighting invaders to safeguard their motherland," a PowerNet Project Manager, surnamed Liu, told Interfax.

The background for "Anti-Japan War Online" is the Japanese invasion of China during World War II, from 1937 through 1945. Players are able to play simulations of key battles, but will only be able to play as the Chinese side...

The CCLY said in statement that few games on the Chinese market today generate a "national spirit" that can educate young players. As a result, the CCYL will actively partner with online gaming companies to jointly develop "patriotic" online games.

"'Anti-Japan War Online' is a patriotic online game that is both interesting and instructive, and can attract and guide young players," Chen Xiao, the CCLY official in charge of partnerships with online gaming firms, told Interfax...

I can imagine this game will be very popular. I wonder if they will let Japanese register to play. Is there any news about this in China? Do most people in China think this is a "good" thing? I'm very curious to see how the history is portrayed.

via Metafilter

When I was over at the Mozilla offices, I got some Firefox shirts. Since I'm mostly couch surfing this trip (thanks to everyone for letting me sack out at their places) I've been wearing machine washable schwag [WP]. What is interesting about wearing the Firefox shirt is that I get a special "look" from people. It reminds me of the "look" people gave me when I was wearing a teamsters jacket in downtown Detroit. It's the "I'm on your side" look. I get compliments and "looks" wearing schwag for other organizations I'm affiliated with, but the Firefox "look" includes the "my company tries to make me use Microsoft Internet Explorer, but I use Firefox..." smile.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

I wrote a story on the Global fund deciding to pull out of Myanmar on Friday.

The fund fights HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB, diseases that are the scourges of many developing nations. Click here for their press release.

The fund had been criticised by some for going into the country (some feared they could be seen as providing a support for the goverment) and they were also criticized for pulling out (they did not try hard enough).

Who is correct?

BREAKING NEWS: Rumor is that general Maung Aye has ousted general Than Shwe. If true, we may see even more hardline actions by the government. Maung Aye already beat out general Than Shwe (considered one of the more open members of the ruling clique). now Maung Aye may have consolidated his power further.

In sum: Factions have long weakened Myanmar's military regime, but one of the tougher generals now appears to be consolidating power.

Anyone else have thoughts on Maung Aye?

SocialText just developed Wikiwyg. A way to edit a wiki by double-clicking on a section and just editing it directly. The code is open source and they are working on getting it working with other wiki systems. Currently it only works in Firefox.

Disclaimer: I'm on the board of the Mozilla Foundation which produces Firefox and I'm on the board of Socialtext.

Susan Crawford is doing a great job blogging FOO camp. Better than any notes that I'm taking...

At FOO Camp they handed people a piece of paper asking three questions. 1) What do you make? 2) What is your favorite tool/toy? 3) Who are your technology heros?

These were posted on a board with people's photos. Everyone had very clever answers. When I was pondering the answers to mine, someone at my breakfast table mentioned that the REAL answer for most people was probably "me" for all three questions.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Had to crank out a story on tight deadline about digital music rights in Europe: 2 states in EU ease sales of songs over Internet

Selling music online in Europe could currently require an online music operater to get up to 25 licenses (one from each country) in order to operate, a situation Brussels seems strongly bent on changing: Collecting agencies in other European Union member states could face fines of up to 10 percent of their total revenue if they fail to open up in a similar manner, the official said.

Interesting to see the EU is tackling hurdles to running a digital business. Are they doing enough?

UPDATE: wiki page to follow up discussion.

Menezes Tube Afp
Earlier, I blogged about the Brazilian man who was shot by officers in the UK in the Stockwell subway who suspected him of being a suicide bomber. The reports has said that he was wearing suspicious clothing, that he ran away from the polices, etc. We had a lively discussion in the comments of that blog post. Mike B, just posted a link to an article in I don't know this publication so don't know the accuracy of their reporting, but they tell a different story.
Blunders led to police killing of an innocent man

Key points
• Leaked documents claim suspect was not running away when shot
• Earlier claims on suspect's dress and vaulting of barrier also challenged
• Revelations will add to embarrassment of Met Police over killing

Key quote
"As he walked out of my line of vision I checked the photographs and transmitted that it would be worth someone else having a look. I should point out that, as I observed this male exiting the block, I was in the process of relieving myself." - SURVEILLANCE OFFICER

According to this article, the man was not properly id'ed leaving the house by either the officer taking a pee or the next one. Somewhere along the way, they upgraded it to code red. According to interviews in the article, the victim didn't jump the gate and had actually sat down in the train before the police came and shot him 7 times in the head after grabbing him.

If this is true, this is pretty awful process on the police side and shoddy reporting by the media who tried to cast him as some sort of guy who was so suspicious that it was HIS fault and not the fault of the police.

Has this been reported anywhere else? I'd like to see any other reports. Also, does anyone know the reputation of

UPDATE: Some coverage by the BBC.

[Note from Joi: Please welcome my first guest blogger ever, Thomas Crampton from the International Herald Tribune I've blogged about him in the past.]

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Civil wars, deadly disease outbreaks, natural disasters and foreign cultures have been standard fare in my career of newspapering. Now, at the suggestion of Joi, I intend to enter a new foreign culture and experiment with a foray into Blogging. This marks the first Blog posting by this journalist.

Who am I?

My career has been pretty hard core international reporting: A foreign correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, reporting from five continents and on many major world events. While based out of Asia (Hong Kong and Bangkok), I covered the Asian financial crisis as it spread out of Thailand and across the region, the rise of China as a regional power and the SARS outbreak as it spread from Southern China around the world as well as Sudan's civil war as seen from the rebel-held south.

My favorite place to report from?

It is impossible to say which country is most memorable, but one of my favorite places in Asia is Burma/Myanmar, a country of wonderful people ruled by one of the world's most harsh dictatorships. As part of the integration between the newsrooms of the IHT and the NYTimes (full owner of the IHT since 2003), I worked in a variety of positions at The New York Times, reporting for the Metro desk on issues in New York, the Washington bureau on the presidential campaign trail with the Bush twins, with the vice president and conventions as well as for the National Desk, covering two of the three Florida hurricanes (I managed to go through the eye of both hurricanes.)

What gets me up in the morning?

I have a deep and enduring commitment to defending freedom of expression and speaking in defense of journalists persecuted for doing their job. In that light, I currently serve on the board of the Overseas Press Club, was elected president of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Hong Kong, and also elected president of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand.

Where am I now?

Based out of Paris since May, I have spent recent months covering cinema (a daily column on the Cannes film festival), media (French newspapers' attitude towards the European constitution) and various other events (release of French hostage in Iraq, Florence Aubenas.)

What is next?

Looking forward, the next permutation in the intersection of technology, culture and media fascinates me. For example, in recent months I have written about the sociology of mobile phones (how do different cultures use mobile phones?) the way a mobile phone ring tone beat out Coldplay on the UK charts and how ubiquitous Wifi may bring a new generation of wireless devices. My view is that understanding Blogs is crucial to all journalists and I want to learn about them the best way I know how: Reporting on the topic.

Joi encouraged me to also try starting a dialogue on his Blog. What topics?

Since I am based outside the US, I am particularly interested to know what is unique and different about Blogs in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world. I am also interested in individuals and companies that might be good to profile.

With a posting wordier and much more self-referential than what my editors would allow, I hereby enter the brave new world of Blogging!

I recently had the opportunity to meet Andy Stern [WP] and and hear him speak. Andy is the president of the Service Employees International Union, the largest and fastest-growing union in the United States and Canada. He recently walked out from the AFL-CIO and Matt Miller in Fortune Magazine recently commented that, "Stern's move is possibly the most significant economic event of the year."

Andy's speech was passionate and compelling and made me think that he should be leading a political party. I wish we had people like him in Japan.

He fielded a number of tough questions about the failings of unions and his response was that unions have their problems and they need to be addressed, but that there were many issues that would never be resolved without unions. When presented with some examples of dysfunctional unions, he said that you had to blow up the bad unions before incrementally fixing them.

He said that "there is enough money. It is just not distributed properly." "I love philanthropy, but I want to allow people to be independent and provide for themselves." He made a solid attack at the notion of CEOs walking away with millions of dollars while cutting benefits for workers, and then turning around and setting up foundations to "give to the poor."

One person in the audience gave the example of a company which was picketed for using an un-unionized contractor. The person complained that they had a good relationship with the contractor and didn't want to switch just because these unions were picketing. Andy pointed out that the contractor would probably walk down the street and jump up and down if the company told them to. Why not tell the contractor to get unionized. It is the responsibility of the company to help the workers in the contractor and encourage them to become unionized.

I grew up in a fairly liberal environment and I heard a lot of war stories from union organizers. I've also seen union organizers abusing their power. Like Andy, I believe that their benefits outweigh their cost and that we should be thinking about how to reinvent them. They have developed a tainted image over the years and hopefully Andy can help change that. I support Andy in his efforts and believe that people like him may be able to save the Democratic party of the US by talking to the concerns of the working class instead of alienating them.

Hilary Rosen [WP], the former president and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is guest blogging over at Lawrence Lessig's blog.

She follows Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, on the slate of excellent guest bloggers during Larry's summer vacation. has done a re-design and has fully integrated with Audioscrobbler. You can tag music now too. Good job guys.

Disclaimer: They are friends and I've been "helping them out" a bit... Not that I should get ANY credit for the great stuff they are doing.

Jet lag woke me up at 4AM today and I've been sitting in my cabin in the high altitude mountains of Utah reading blogs and chatting with people. I just finished chatting with reverend AKMA about my last post, trying to see if there was something similar to good theologians and open source leaders. We talked about the importance of humility and the risks of greed. (AKMA pointed out that he was by far the most humble person on the planet.) I noticed that my thoughts seem to be somewhat more spiritual than usual.

Then I remembered reading somewhere that there was a scientific study that showed that people were more likely to have spiritual experiences in high altitudes due to the lack of oxygen. They theorized that maybe a lot of enlightenment in the past occurred on mountains because of this. (A bit disconcerting to think that a lot of our theological thought comes from the asphyxiation of hermits.) But then I remembered another article I read somewhere that said that 20% of all scientific studies are wrong. Then AKMA reminded me that according to David Weinberger, 78% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

I know it's very un-bloggy of me not to have the links to the articles I cite, but I'm late for breakfast. I'll try to dig them up later, but if anyone has the links, I'd really appreciate it if you could put them in the comments.

UPDATE from Cameo: Why revelations have occurred on mountains? Linking mystical experiences and cognitive neuroscience.

One of the great things about going to OSCON was getting to know some of the interesting people involved in the various open source projects. The OSI team and Mitchell Baker, the Chief Lizard Wrangler of the Mozilla Foundation introduced me to a lot of people in the context of having joined both of their boards recently.

One meeting that Mitchell set up was with Allison Randal - the president of the Perl Foundation, Zak Greant - the former MySQL AB Community Advocate, and Cliff Schmidt who until recently managed standards and open source strategy for BEA's WebLogic Workshop product. Since we are going through various changes right now at the Mozilla Foundation, Mitchell has been talking to various people to try to get thoughts on how successful open source projects are managed. She's trying to get as much input as possible to as the Mozilla Foundation grows and transforms. I've recently been invited into the conversation and it is fascinating.

This particular meeting, which reflected some of the wonder I felt during all of OSCON, was an eye opener. Mitchell asked everyone to introduced themselves and explain their roles and what was required in their roles. Allison was first and Mitchell recalls on her blog that it went something like this:

mitchell's blog
So, for example, what does it take to guide a foundation, as Allison does? Well, it takes a sense of people, and good intuition for what sorts of seemingly simple topics are likely to generate giant tensions if not handled delicately. It takes knowing when to let an issue fade away and when to make sure it is completely resolved. It takes an ability to find a common ground, and enough presence (or trust, or reputation, or *something*) to get people to consider that common ground.
It turns out that everyone had job descriptions and skills that were quite similar.

This reminds me of the Leader-Follower essay by Dee Hock - the founder of VISA. (You should read the whole thing.)

True leaders are those who epitomize the general sense of the community — who symbolize, legitimize, and strengthen behavior in accordance with the sense of the community — who enable its conscious, shared values and beliefs to emerge, expand, and be transmitted from generation to generation-who enable that which is trying to happen to come into being. The true leader's behavior is induced by the behavior of every individual who chooses where they will be led.
His notion of leadership is bottom-up, community and coordination oriented and not focused on the exercise of authority.

What I saw in the leaders of open source projects and in the communities in general was a very strong sense of this kind of leadership. Open source projects have their share of politics and petty problems and clearly leaders of other types of organization do and should exhibit these sorts of leadership traits. However, I definitely saw something special in these open source leaders which reminded me of the leaders that Dee Hock described. They had strong ethics, were humble, were extremely sensitive of the needs of their community and lead more through coordination and management of processes than through exercise of authority. This was in stark contract to some of the conversations I have had at various CEO forums where people talked about "human resources" as if they were cogs and seemed to feel that the CEO had some divine right to more money and more power. Again, I would add that there are a great number of exceptions in both groups, but generally speaking, the conversations with the open source leaders made me feel like I was seeing the future of organizations compared to my experience with CEOs of normal for-profit companies.

I think that the Mozilla Foundation and the success of open source is a test and will be an example of a new kind of organizational management style which I believe will have lessons applicable to all kinds of organizations. (Note: DBA tag.) Enlightened leaders in other areas are also developing methods that involve treating their staff, customers and other stakeholders as a communities, but this still appears to be the exception, not the norm.

Technorati Tags:

I'm off to the US again for a longish trip. Will be going first to Utah to hang out with some friends. After that, I'll be bouncing around the Bay Area until the end of the month. Not sure how the connectivity will be in Utah, but I'll probably be able to moblog. See you on the other side.

0262090392.01. Aa240 Sclzzz
My sister, the smarter half of the Ito family duo is an expert on Japanese youth culture and mobile culture. Her book just came out from MIT Press. I've been running around in a scatterbrained fashion all my life trying to reach into academia. She has been immersed in academic rigor but has been reaching out to the public from the inside. Recently, we've begun to cross paths more and more. This book is another step in bridging our worlds.

Anyway, I'm totally biased and very proud of my sister, but you should still take my recommendation and buy this book. ;-) (Or at least download the introduction.)

Mizuko Ito
Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life

The book I edited with Daisuke Okabe and Misa Matsuda is out from MIT Press and available on Click here for a pdf of a draft of the introduction.

The book is an edited collection of social and cultural studies of keitai (mobile phone) and pager use over the past decade or so in Japan. We included our own research as well as research by a variety of mostly Japanese scholars whose work we translated from Japanese.

The borg-like look that I have is the look of someone trying to hit command-shift-4
without moving my head or shaking the camera.
I just finished my short appearance on the "Situation Room", a new show on CNN hosted by Wolf Blitzer. I think today was the inaugural show.

The Situation Room, anchored by Wolf Blitzer, assembles top CNN correspondents, analysts, contributors and guests for complete, up-to-the minute coverage of the day's events. Modeled on the concept of the White House Situation Room, the program combines traditional reporting methods with the newest innovative online resources, making the entire process of newsgathering more transparent and placing the latest news and information at the viewers' fingertips. The Situation Room airs weekdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. (ET)

My interviewers were Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechner.

Abbi initially contacted me for the interview because she had read the New York Times op ed. Interestingly, she found it via Jeff Jarvis at Buzzmachine, not in the paper. I answered two questions. The first question was about perception in Japan about the anniversary of the bombing. I pointed out that the Japanese news media were less obsessed about the anniversary ceremony than the Western media. The Japanese media were more focused on the failed vote in the Diet to pass Koizumi's Postal privatization bill. (Actually, I think Stewart on #joiito first noticed this.)

The segment started with Wolf Blitzer saying in the backchannel, "Make sure you explain what a web chat is because most people won't know what it is... We don't want people to think we're cheap." Well, it IS cheap. It's free. ;-) But what really is important about this is by using cheap Internet technology, they will be able to reach people all over the world on very short notice. I think that there are a lot of interesting possibilities and I hope they experiment with the format and break some new ground for CNN. Good luck folks and nice chatting with you!

I just finished an iChat AV video test with CNN in Washington DC. I will probably make a short appearance on CNN Domestic (US) sometime between 5:30PM and 6:00PM ET via iChat AV. It is pretty nifty that CNN is starting to do interviews by iChat. This surely expands the selection of people they can interview and makes it easier for the interviewees as well.

Web cams are old news. I remember how excited I was when I first played with slow scan TV and then with CUSeeMe. I stopped looking at web cams lately, because staring at a coffee pot got boring after awhile.

Kenji Eno just sent me a link to the Aizu Wakamatsu station web cam. Again, the content is not that interesting. It is just a train platform. However, the speed and the resolution are so high that you can see people walking and things flapping in the wind. You can hear the announcements and listen to the trains come and go. It's amazing how far we've come. I'm sorry if this "wow" is out of sync, but this web cam made me realize how far we've come.

UPDATE: I think it's getting a bit choppy as people hop on the stream. Be nice to their bandwidth please.

UPDATE 2: There is a steam locomotive (SL) that shows up sometimes.

In the middle of my slightly insane two sleepless days at OSCON, I got an email from the New York Times asking me to write an op ed. They wanted me to write about my thoughts about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the bombing. They said the deadline was Friday. "You mean next Friday?" "No, the day after tomorrow." "Oh."

My mind was full of open source and the future of the Internet. The atomic bomb and World War II were definitely not on my mind. It would be an interesting challenge and it's not every day that the New York Times asks you to do an op ed, so I accepted.

Let me just say I'm glad I'm not a professional writer. I sat down a few times during the conference and tried to write something while sitting in the hall and chatting with people. It didn't work. At midnight, I sat down in front of my computer and stared at my screen and tried to forget about open source and think about the atom bomb. I was supposed to write about impressions from my generation and from a Japanese perspective. I first went on IM and interviewed a bunch of my Japanese friends to confirm my suspicion. No one was really thinking about the bombing of Hiroshima and didn't really have much of an impression.

Then, I remembered a few papers I had read recently and Googled around for recent articles. After about 30 minutes, my head was "in the space" and I was able to start writing. It only took about 30 minutes to finish the draft. Afterwards, I went to #joiito and had the channel help me edit it. (Thanks everyone.)

Initially, I had thought that I would only be able get this done if I disconnected my computer from the Internet. In fact, the Internet turned out to be a valuable resource in getting my head around my thoughts and then getting feedback from a bunch of eyeballs on the text.

The story will run in the New York Times on Sunday in the Op Ed section. If I'm lucky, the International Herald Tribune will pick it up. If you have a chance, let me know what you think. I'll post a link here as soon as I get it.

UPDATE: The article is now online.

UPDATE 2: The International Herald Tribune picked it up too...

Plazes has a cool new feature called "Where is". So you can see "Where is Joi Ito?". It relies on Google maps which is a bit sketchy with addresses for Japan, but otherwise it seems to work quite well. On the other hand, it doesn't show the routing as well as the old map using IndyJunior.

I realized that I haven't made a new PGP key in a while. I just installed the new PGP and made a new key. I've signed it with all of the old keys that I can remember the passwords for and revoked the second to the oldest one. The most recent one still works, but please switch to this one as soon as you can.

Here is the public key: joi.asc and here is the fingerprint: B652 199B 6996 219B 62AE 6364 E349 8387 783D 4E0A

I keep wondering if I should make expiring keys, but it seems like it would be inconvenient as well. What do you all do?

OSCON was surprisingly one of the best conferences I've been to in a long time. I learned a ton of new stuff, met a bunch of great people and found everyone to be extremely friendly and fun. This is definitely going to be on my list of regular conferences to attend. Thanks everyone! I'm on my way back to Tokyo now. See you on the other side.

I'm at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention in Portland. Perfect weather, nice town, good conference, good folks. This is my first time in Portland (I think), and my first OSCON. Having recently joined the OSI and Mozilla Foundation board, I'm getting to know the open source community and I am enjoying it very much. I have always had a respectful, but slightly distant relationship with the community having found it a bit intimidating. I'd always been a supporter, promoter and friend, but now I am becoming a participant. I saw Steve Gillmor and Doc Searls wandering the halls of OSCON together and they were totally in their medium.

For now, I think my contribution to this community will be help with the international perspective and help with some of the non-profit organization issues. It is amazing how many of the same issues many of these non-profits face, particularly on international issues. Desiree, Veni and I have been talking about making a "starter kit" for new countries. It would have instructions on how to set up local presences for CPSR, ISOC, Mozilla, OSI, CC, Wikipedia and a variety of other Open Source/Internet/Free Culture movements. More so than in the US, the people involved in these movements in the smaller countries are often the same people.

A blog is created every second, according to the BBC which cites Dave Sifry / Technorati.

Markoff at the New York Times broke the embargo and scooped the Mozilla announcement. Markoff got a few things wrong which maybe weren't clear.

The announcement is about a subsidiary that the Mozilla Foundation is creating. He says it is a "for-profit" sub-sidiary, which I think could be misunderstood. It is a 100% subsidiary of the Foundation which is non-profit with non-profit goals. The subsidiary is a taxable entity, but has primarily the same mission as the foundation.

Also, he refers to the subsidiary "offering service and support at a fee." This is not true. You can imagine the value that the search traffic alone has. At the moment, the subsidiary is not considering offering service and support for a fee.

There is an embargo, although this scoop may have breached the dam. I'm about to leave for the aiport to go to OSCON so I don't know when I can update you again, but I'll blog more about this and my role in all of this after the embargo is officially lifted.

UPDATE: I am now on the board of the Mozilla Foundation, the parent of the new subsidiary. The reorg announcement is on the Mozilla site now. More later.

UPDATE 2: I appears that the time zone of the embargo was not clear or was lost somewhere along the chain and Markoff didn't intentionally break the embargo.

UPDATE 3: The official press release. Chris Blizzard and Tristan Nitot blog about the reorg.

My grave
As I've blogged before, I spent years fighting the Japanese national ID system, pushing for a 3 year moratorium on the bill to allow privacy and security to be fully considered before rolling the system out. Even though our movement had majority support among politicians, the public and even the media, the system rolled out "because it would have caused too much confusion to stop it," according to one senior policy oriented politician. Afterwards, I had a choice of either continuing to protest a running system from the outside, or work on the inside trying to point out issues and watch over the deployment. I ended up on various government oversight committees where I have continued to point out issues and still argue that they should shut the current system down.

To my surprise, my hometown Mizusawa has the second highest proliferation of the national ID cards at 10% and hosted our Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications study group today. As the local government officials discussed their system proudly, I felt some pain as I pointed out some of the risks. They knew that I was local so they asked my support for their initiative in that local family style... Scenes from The Godfather cross my mind. It reminded me a bit of the scene in Godfather II during Michael Corleone's trial where they bring the brother of key witness Pentangeli from Sicily to the hearing. All it takes is one look from the brother to change the Pentangeli's position. OK. It's wasn't that bad, but it reminds me of the same thing.

My family has been building and running schools in the town for the last three generations and we just rebuilt our nurse school, which at some point I will have to "run". Until recently, our family funded the schools, but now relies partially on government support. As with most semi-public endeavors in small towns, it requires "community support." Thus The Godfather reference above.

After the study group meeting at City Hall, I visited our family grave. I took a look at where my name will at some point be etched as the 19th family head of the Ito family. I took the opportunity to grill my uncle a bit more about the specifics of our history since I'll be the custodian of this information at some point. I also had him collect up various family history documents. It appears that the first Ito, moved into our current home about 400 years ago and was some kind of union of a 25th descendent of Emperor Kanmu, the 50th Emperor (we're on #125 now), and Kawatari Fujiwara. I can't understand the old-fashioned Japanese text to understand the details of the arrangement. I believe Kawatari Fujiwara was from the Fujiwara family that lived in our region until they were defeated around 400 years ago. The only thing left from this period of the Fujiwara estate/castle is a golden pagoda and mummies in Hiraizumi. Anyway, the story I heard from my mother was that after their defeat, the survivors fled and started their own families in the region, and took the character "Fuji" from "Fujiwara" and changed their names to "Saito", "Goto" and "Ito" which all use "Fuji" character for the "To" part of the names. Anyway, I'm not positive about the details so I better find out more before I have to take over the family and my children start asking me all kinds of questions.

As always, staring at the place on the gravestone where my name will be etched along with all of the previous family members makes me feel like a mere blip in history and is humbling and strange.

"LDP lawmaker Nagaoka found hanged" read the Japan Times front page headline today. "Nagaoka who was serving his second term representing Ibaraki Prefecture's No. 7 district, was one of several lawmakers criticized by a magazine for changing positions on postal privatization, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's priority policy initiative. The magazine called Nagaoka a traitor for his actions... Nagaoka opposed the the bills in the ruling party's decision-making General Council but later voted for them in a crucial Lower House vote on July 5. The bills passed by a razor-thin margin of five votes." He left no suicide note and his wife had not witnessed any suspicious behavior.

Suicide is common in Japan and is sometimes considered even honorable. However, whenever I hear about these suicides that appear to benefit the establishment, I remember a conversation I once had with former chairman Shima of NHK. NHK is the public broadcasting organization of Japan, the largest broadcaster in the world (I think), and not privatized. I used to interpret for the late chairman and helped him set up his web site when he was ousted from NHK. I remember him telling me that half of the officially reported suicides were actually political murders/assassinations and that the corruption went all the way to the top. If I had heard this from anyone other than the chairman of the largest broadcaster, life-long political reporter and behind-the scenes kingmaker, I would have thought it was a stupid conspiracy theory. Coming from Shima it carried some weight. I do not have any evidence that this is true, and I realize this would be an irresponsible allegation, but those words spring to mind whenever I read, "Lawmaker found hanged. No suicide note. Lawmaker cast swing vote against controversial bill to privatize..."

"You have dishonored your faction and your family and you must take responsibility if you want to avoid consequences to you and your family," a voice in my head whispers... An offer that he couldn't refuse. This is called otoshimae in Yakuzaese. There is a crime in Japan called kyoyozai which makes it illegal for someone to say something like, "You SHOULD pay me money," with an implied threat. This law is to specifically prevent the exercise of this kind of indirect force.

Jiji Press notes in a separate article that if the bill doesn't pass the Upper House, Koizumi has threatened to dissolve the House of Representatives. If this happens, it is more likely that he will visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in mid-August to rally the votes of conservative LDP voters.

And some people ask my why I don't go into Japanese politics...

Fireworks, or hanabi are a hugely popular and very important part of Japanese summer. People get dressed up in traditional Japanese yukata and makes their way with thousands of other people to see hanabi. Magazines and web portals dedicate large sections for information on hanabi, which you can find somewhere almost every weekend during the summer.

The Jingu hanabi show is a non-standard because it happens in the middle of Tokyo. (Most are over the beach, bays, lakes or in the countryside.) Jingu is the Tokyo baseball stadium and they pack the stadium with people and shoot fireworks almost right over the stadium. The fireworks are low, huge and loud. It is an immersive experience. That is combined with a stadium full of screaming people. Replace the traditional "oohs and ahhs" with "OMG OMG WTF" The streets and rooftops all around the stadium are full of people who are getting the benefit of the fireworks for "free". (I wrote about the business model of fireworks last year.)

After these last few hot and humid days, the hanabi reminded me that there are at least a few things to look forward to in Japanese summer.

95 K movie

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