Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

October 2005 Archives

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My minor hand operation this week highlighted to me how journalism/blogging are literally manual labor.

Also, my ability to tell many people about this injury reminds me of how repetitive strain injury/carpal tunnel syndrome only became something of broad public concern when the chattering classes (ie: white collar workers, including journalists) were hit due to their typing on computer keyboards.

Throughout the industrial revolution, however, the same problem had afflicted manual laborers who could not bring their problem to a wider audience. (Lately there seem to be fewer complaints about it here at the International Herald Tribune, perhaps because there is a greater understanding of ergonomics.)

Must be many examples of diseases that only became well known when they also became diseases of the rich. Any interesting ones?

I'm in Palo Alto now for the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR) board meeting. We are having a membership meeting as well as a award reception for Doug Engelbart this weekend. If you're in the area and are CPSR member please join us. If you're not a member, join now!

2005 CPSR Annual Meeting & Norbert Wiener Award Reception

Saturday, October 29

All Saints Episcopal Church
555 Waverley Street (between University and Hamilton)
Palo Alto, CA, USA

Membership Meeting

11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.- 5:30 p.m.

The Meeting is an opportunity for members to meet with the Board and a newly formed Advisory Council, face-to-face, for an extended discussion focusing intensively on the state of CPSR and a Strategic Plan. The Board wants members to be involved in planning our future direction and prospects. By the way, at a Members' Meeting, The CPSR ByLaws state that, "Ten percent (10%) of the members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business at a meeting of the members." We will announce special steps to facilitate that conversation. For now, please save the date.

To join CPSR, renew your lapsed membership in CPSR, or register to attend as a current member in good standing, use

Norbert Wiener Award Reception for Douglas Engelbart

5:30 p.m.- 7:00 p.m.
Cafe Fino, 544 Emerson, Palo Alto, CA

CPSR is awarding its 2005 award for professional and social responsibility in computing to Douglas Engelbart for being a pioneer of human-computer interface technology, inventor of the mouse, and social-impact visionary. Find out more.

The public is invited to register to attend, using

Read about the Wiener Award, Past Winners, Douglas Engelbart, and Norbert Wiener.

I guess there's something about online games and the Year of the Rooster. I just remembered that the first post of this blog is a link to an article that Howard Rheingold wrote about my addiction to Multi-User Dungeons (MUD) back in 1993 in Wired Magazine. (The post is dated the publish date of the magazine article, not the date the post was written. This post dates back to before my blog when I organized various links on my web site.) Groundhog Day! It's 2005 and I'm doing the same thing. Eek.

I remember that trying to get onto the MUD server at Essex University was what got me to learn X.25. (A little more than KDD wanted people to know.) It was the people who I met on the MUD that got me an account on the University computer where I was first able to access APRANet. I learned more about computers from other players in MUD than anywhere else during my high school days.

I wonder what I'm learning playing World of Warcraft...

Yesterday Marko brought me a Nokia 8800. I wrote about this phone when it came out. It has special meaning for me because the sounds were designed by my friend Ryuichi Sakamoto. I'm also proud to have introduced Marko and Nokia to Ryuichi. I had read the reviews, but after playing with the phone I'm extremely excited by how cool it is.

The design is beautiful and the attention to detail is stunning. Everything from the black box with the steel clasp that it comes in to the pulsating blue light at the base of the charging dock to the extra battery and extra battery charger on the dock to the polished steel makes it feel very special. I think it has something to do with the steel, but it doesn't have that cheap plastic feel that most mobile phones have. When you slide the phone open, it is a metal on metal sound/feel, which is a "real" version of the metallic "schwing" sound that some of the Sony phones play when you open them. It's also just the right weight and size for my taste.

Ryuichi did a great job with the sounds and makes this the first phone where I actually enjoy listening to the various ring tones. Congratulations to everyone involved. Excellent job. The only problem is that it doesn't sync with my Mac and doesn't have UMTS so I can't use it in Japan... but when I'm in any country where I can use GSM I'll be using this phone.

Kevin Marks
20 million served

Technorati passed 20 million blogs today. The 20 millionth was Les CE2/CM2 Anquetil, a blog from an elementary school in Reims, France, in the heart of Champagne country. They started the blog to celebrate running 2 miles in a Relay Marathon.

That's a lot of blogs. I wouldn't say "20 million can't be wrong" (because history tells us otherwise) but blogging is clearly more of a trend now than a "fad".

Snapshot 002-1
Thanks to Philip and Beth, I've purchased a plot of land in Second Life next to the MAKE plot (secondlife://Crescent/13/99) for #joiito members to hang out. (Nice neighborhood.) Feel free to drop by and mess around. You can join the #joiito group by searching for #joiito or "joi" in groups. The land is also listed. The SL URL for the plot is: secondlife://Crescent/29/86

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Tech editor of the International Herald Tribune seems open to publishing a column of blog-generated ideas.

I need topics of interest our newspaper's readers (wealthy global audience of frequent travelers with diverse interests in politics, economic and culture).

Conversations on this blog that might work have included my postings on Global Sociology of Online Shopping or Joi's post on ideas for new inflight software.

Input welcome on:

Layout - should it be in blog-style or reworked into a newspaper format. I tend to prefer reworking it, but my editor liked the idea of experimenting with a new formatting that might resemble an online chat.

Topics - Ideas for topics that would get the best response and interest our readers. I prefer things that are less about tech-issues than about ideas that may relate to technology.

Writing form - should it be written from a blog or could it be compiled on a wiki-style platform? This would require me to lay out the format and ask for people to help filling it in, but if someone has some appropriate social software platform, it might be fun to test the concept.

Online communities - A futher thought on the above concept is that it may be fun to involve specific online communities in writing guest columns. This would mean asking for the communities - friendster, asmallworld, openbc or another one. The idea would best to use a community with a particular purpose or outlook rather than a generic one. That would allow us to explore how these communities are different. Anyone senior enough at one of these communities should feel free to get in touch.

A large percentage of World of Warcraft players appear to be men, but there are quite few people who play female characters. The gender issue has always been interesting to me, but an episode a few nights ago was a special highlight. Jason started a new character and decided to pick a female character. I asked him why and he said that considering the number of hours he would be sitting there looking at his character, that maybe it would be more fun to have a female character. Jason, Sean and I grouped up and went on a quest. I noted to Jason that his character was pretty cute. As we jogged across the countryside, I noticed that she also had a nice bounce to her walk. In WoW you can type /flirt and your character will say flirty things and make flirty body motions to the target. I started flirting with Jason's character. Then something hit Jason. He suddenly said, "oh man, that's SO wrong..."

On the other hand, there is a very cute Gnome Warlock that I often quest with. I flirt with her too, but the guy who plays that character seems to enjoy the role playing.

I think that people's relationship to their online character is really interesting. It's clearly not the same for everyone. I'm on a normal server, but I'm sure that it's more interesting on the role playing servers. Has anyone studied this academically?

U.S. soldiers videotaped desecrating Taliban corpses.

U.S. soldiers videotaped desecrating Taliban corpses. The bodies were positioned to face Mecca and burned -- an act of desecration that violates Islamic burial rites and the Geneva Conventions. A U.S. PsyOps specialist broadcast an inflammatory message to the nearby town in order to incite an attack. "Attention, Taliban, you are all cowardly dogs. You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burned. You are too scared to come down and retrieve their bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be."

The video aired last night in Australia, but hasn't surfaced yet in the U.S. It won't be long, though.. "Wow, look at the blood coming out of the mouth on that one, fucking straight death metal."

I'm just re-blogging this in case you haven't seen it yet. I don't have much to add at this point.

If the last link doesn't work, try copy/pasting the URL into the browser.

At EuroOSCON, Microsoft announced new software licenses including some variations that may meet the Open Source Initiative (OSI) Open Source Definition. This is great news. Most of the OSI board members are at EuroOSCON (unfortunately, I'm in LA and missed EuroOSCON) and I hope they have some good meetings with the Microsoft folks. I look forward to seeing their licenses submitted to OSI license-discuss so that OSI and the community can give them feedback on the licenses.

See Tim O'Reilly and Danese Cooper's blog posts for more information.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Got an early exclusive look at a fascinating survey by ACNielsen about online shopping worldwide.

The study of 21,000 web users in 38 countries, to be made public later today, found that online shopping habits vary radically by country.

The US is way behind Europe in the amount of online shopping (ranking 11 worldwide), perhaps because mall shopping is so much easier than shopping in a European city. This encourages Europeans to shop online.

What people purchase online is very different country-by-country. In South Korea one third of online shoppers purchase nutritional/cosmetic goods, while the global average is just 10 percent.

Payment for online shopping - not surprisingly - are dominated by credit card (visa) and bank transfer globally.

BUT cash on delivery is the second most popular way to pay for purchases in Europe!

I was surprised by Europe's cash on delivery preference, but affirmed it last night at a dinner in Paris. French people at the supper said they do not trust the web so prefer to see the goods before paying. They also said their lack of trust makes them very reluctant to use eBay!

Similar to cellphones, the technology of online shopping may be uniform, but the way in which people interact with it varies by country.

Anyone come across other differences of usage of an identical platforms?

I'll be speaking at USC tomorrow.

Can you tell we're in LA?

Speaker: Joi Ito
Time: Wednesday, October 19, 6-8pm
Location: USC's Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts (RZC), Room 201 Zemeckis Media Lab (ZML)
3131 South Figueroa Blvd./2nd Floor

UPDATE: The image above wasn't created by the folks at USC. It was discovered on hard disk. Does anyone know the source? We want to give proper attribution for this (cough) artwork.

UPDATE 2: Gene is the creator of the mashup.

UPDATE 3: The talk will be streaming in a few minutes. You need Windows Media Player 9. Here is the URL Join the AIM chat room imd

I was grounded for 2 weeks for passport renewal and another week with a sprained foot, but I'm back on the road again. I seem to notice new things when they're not in front of my all of the time. One thing I noticed this trip is how stupid the flight map software on the plane seems to be getting. Before, it was pretty simple and had all of the important information. Time to destination, time at destination, etc. Now (at least on United) they've added a stupid trivia quiz among other things. It takes longer for it to page through all of the pages to get to the page you want to see. The most distressing thing is that they've removed "time at destination" but seem to think "outside temperature" when you're flying is more important.

To the designers of this software: I only watch the map page to get information. If I had time to be doing a trivia quiz I would be listening to music, watching a movie or working on my laptop. Also, NO ONE that I know of cares what the temperature is outside when you're flying but almost EVERYONE I know cares what time it is at the destination.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Interesting venture launching in a few weeks by a group of Mainstream Media journalists in a blog. It is called Pajama's Media and has contributors from a number of mainstream outlets.

I think a cooperative blog is a good model - style - and would like to explore those possibilities myself. Seems to me the key is finding the right mix of people and then letting them loose.

My company - the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times - is not moving into the blog sphere as quickly as I would advocate.

That said, some colleagues are blogging on their own: Howard French in Shanghai, for example. Don't know of others.

Dave has new numbers about the state of blogs based on Technorati data. He has his presentation from Web 2.0 online as well as a lengthy blog post. Interesting stuff. Take a look.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Three questions regarding the Committee to Protect Journalists today naming online journalist Shi Tao as a winner of the International Press Freedom Award.

His 10-year sentence to a Chinese prison came partly due to a disclosure about him by Yahoo!.

1- Do employees of Yahoo! feel responsible for/comfortable with this man going to prison? (Will they, for example, send care packages or join a letter-writing campaign petitioning the government of China for his release?)

2- How do users of Yahoo! feel about the company's privacy policies? (Or privacy policies of other Internet companies, for that matter.)

3- As a journalist who has had many police encounters in countries with nasty authoritarian dictatorships, I am always very concerned about the safety of those with whom I interact. Does online interaction lead to a sense of diminished responsibility? Do we need to see someone's face or visit their family at home to feel their pain?

AKMA just blogged something that triggered the following thoughts...

When I visited AKMA in Chicago we talked about music. I met up with my old DJ friend, Jeff Pazen after seeing AKMA. The mission was, how do we talk about music and share our musical tastes. Jeff is a godlike figure in my DJ past and I really wanted to sync up with him on what he was into and remember some of the great tracks we used to listen to together "back in the day." I also wanted AKMA to understand what music was like back when I hung out with Jeff a decade ago. Technology finally allows us to do this. Jeff could give us each a Nano with playlists of his music and we could listen to it... like would have listened to a mixed DJ tape a decade ago. This is how we shared our knowledge of music.

The problem is that it has become so easy that fear has taken over and there are laws and technologies that prevent what I personally believe is one of the fundamental ways that good new music spreads. Like AKMA, I'm not against professionals getting paid, but I think that the broken business model and the industry's reaction to it is hurting the business more than they imagine.

Although AKMA and I are clearly not "normal", I think we are typical "consumers" in many ways. I've been bored by the music around me and don't listen to it as much. If someone like Jeff could "turn me on" again, I'd probably "get back into music". I'm quite sure I would spend more money on music if I was "into it" again. (Although the hardware guys will get their healthy share.) And no. Clear Channel and MTV will not turn me on.

I realize I don't make a constructive argument in this post and many of the points have been raised over and over again, but I think this is timely in the context of the Nano and the idea that you could/should be able to "make a Nano" for someone with your favorite music and "turn them on." How cool would that be. (If as AKMA points out, things like the Nano finally become cheap enough to toss around.)

I remember someone telling me a story about the delivery of the first copy of MS DOS to Japan. (I don't know if this story is true, but it's a good story.) The shipment contained a copy of DOS on paper tape and a blank roll of tape. They taxed just the blank one because the one with DOS on it was "used".

So... Does this make a "used comment salesman" and Six Apart a seller of "new comment space"?

I'm of course mostly joking, but I think this represents two completely different views on the "media" business. You can sell the blank media or "used media". Either the comments are the product or the ability to create comments is the product. This is what separates the professional world from the amateur world... But good amateur can exceed crappy professional in quality. Production and distribution are becoming lower cost, and two opposed views of the world are colliding harder. Clearly, clever people have managed to arbitrage/manage both of these models, but they surely produce very different types of laws, processes and world-views.

Shining remix. Excellent. ;-)

via Nick

UPDATE: NYT article about this video from Matt in the comments.

I've seen a number of posts about AOL giving access to information about its customers to the Department of Homeland Security. The posts seem to be citing an article from October 3 by Martin McKinney in "The Financial Reporter (U.K.)". The quote refers to a Department of Commerce report. I can't find the original Martin McKinney post or the DoC report. Does anyone have the original sources? Also, is AOL giving the DHS any MORE information than other consumer Internet companies in the US of that size? It seems to me that we should ASSUME that everyone is giving "unfettered access" to DHS when/if requested.

Most of the blog posts seem to lead to this post on

via Scott via kellee's blog

Good post on Global Voices describing how Gaurav Sabnis made comments about an educational institution and receives threats to sue him for 30 billion rupees (45 rupees to a USD). Gaurav leave IBM but sticks behind his words and fights for his freedom of speech. This is an important issue where, as the GV post points out, the USP of the country is its open democracy.

It reminds me a bit of my incident...

via Suresh

Veni, a fellow ICANN board member and a good friend asked me to post a plug for The Optimist - The Story of the Rescue of the Bulgarian Jews from the Holocaust. I had to ponder what the context of my posting such a link would be, but then I read Larry's post and realized that I should blog about Veni and Bulgaria to provide context.

In addition to being on the ICANN board, he is the founder of the Bulgarian Internet Society, is on the board of THE Internet Society (ISOC) and is on the board of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR).

What is interesting about Bulgaria? It is technically a developing nation, but an odd one. First of all, the new Prime Minister of Bulgaria is a member of the Internet Society. In fact, many of the politicians there are. (I think in great part thanks to Veni.) The Bulgarian sumo wrestler, Kotooshu, is all the rage in Japan and almost became the first European to win the Autumn Sumo Title. Veni, as a participant in many of the The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) meetings helps from the perspective of a developing nation that is more Internet savvy than most developed nations.

The other day, I heard Veni and Desiree talking to each other in Serbian and I realized that I knew NOTHING about Eastern Europe. In an effort to alleviate this blind spot in my knowledge, I've accepted a speaking gig in Croatia next month and have been asking Veni to "turn me on" to Eastern European culture. Although I have a feeling that high volume of weird jokes may be Veni-specific, I am learning a great deal and it is in this context that I introduce a story about how the Bulgarian Jews were saved by the Church in Bulgaria. Hopefully, I'll be able to share more first hand stuff when I visit Croatia, my first "real" visit to an Eastern European country.

UPDATE : More information from Veni.

The new world chess champion Vesselin Topalov is a Bulgarian.

In April and May this year Richard Stallman and Larry Lessig visited Bulgaria to make sure the country is on the right track in developing a great Free and Open Source Movement ( and is part of the global CreativeCommons project. The new CC v2.5 will be released in Bulgarian very soon.

The country is also one of the not-so-many which has solved the problems with the Internet Governance and the control of the IP address alocation and DNS, which is in the midst of the WSIS. You can see what the Bulgarian government has to say about this at the WSIS PrepCom-3.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Inevitable with the narrow-casting of magazines that Germany now has a magazine about divorce.

Reminds me of the launch of a magazine in the US for gay parents. (Apologies for this being a Times Select link.)

These magazines, Rosenkrieg along with And Baby magazine, show how publishers often miss obvious socioeconomic groups due to prejudices or oversight.

Both gay parents and divorcing couples are willing to pay large sums of money for information relating to their situation and there are many advertisers keen to hit those demographics. For years, however, no magazines addressed those issues.

Be interesting to compare the categories of popular Blogsites with the available publications to see where the low barriers to entry of Blogs has discovered a demographic ripe for a glossy publication.

This once again shows the strength of interacting with consumers (readers) during conception of a project.

Posted By Thomas Crampton

Blogs have lowered the barriers to entry into the marketplace for ideas: With what implications?

It formerly took powerful ideas (Marxism, Buddhism, Democracy) or those backed by capital (ie: printed in publications) to galvanize large audiences.

Now anyone, of any age, anywhere with Internet access and time can put their ideas into the marketplace.

The result is that not only do Blogs/Internet open the way to easily transmit mediocre ideas (such as this posting!), but they also open the way for a new style of collaborative thinking. (Will we start seeing idea mergers and hostile idea takeovers? - to absurdly follow the market analogy.)

This new marketplace brings certain strengths and weaknesses.

Will it increase ideologies or weaken them?

Seems clear it would de facto support a pro-technology ideology. Bloggers may find they resemble one another in some ways more than they resemble people in their own countries.

That said, large groups of people can have both intelligence and a mob-mentality.

Will Blogs/Internet change our methods of thinking?

Mimi @ Chanpon
Anime and Learning Japanese Culture

In her master's thesis submitted to the East Asian Studies Center at USC, Annie Manion argues that among college students in the US, anime has become one of the most important drivers of interest in Japan and Japanese language study. Drawing from surveys and interviews of students taking Japanese language classes and anime club members, Manion suggests that "there is a good deal of overlap" between young people studying Japanese and those involved with the anime fan community. Over half of Japanese language students cited "understanding Japanese anime, music, etc." as one reason they are taking a Japanese class.

That's good since most people aren't studying Japanese for business reasons anymore.

Apologies again for my semi-hiatus from blogging. I've reached level 40 (I now have a robo-chicken mount) on World of Warcraft and have completed (ahem) 80% of my research. One of the things I've been thinking about while not blogging is... blogging. A number of people have asked me to help new bloggers by giving them advice. In retrospect, I was giving people very specific advice based on my personal style. I thought I'd share some of the tips.

1 - You're probably stupid - Well, maybe not stupid, but at least ignorant. Often you are the last one to figure out that you're not as smart as you think. Assume that someone will think you're stupid and will kindly point this out in the comments. Preempt that by assuming you're stupid and uninformed. In other words, be humble and don't try to write something conclusively smart-sounding. Start a discussion where someone smarter than you can step in easily.

2 - You need help thinking - Focus on the parts that you can't figure out. Ask people to help you think. Most of the people who comment on my blog are helping me think. In other words, don't say, "Blah blah blah. I'm an authority. Now talk amongst yourselves while I go pat myself on the back." Say, "Gee, I'm not that smart, but here's something interesting I'm noodling on. I've gotten this far on these pieces. Help me out here... someone?"

3 - Take a position - Wikipedia is about neutral point of view. Blogs about points of view. You can always admit you're wrong later, but posts that don't have a point of view are boring and people are less likely to comment. "Here is what people are saying about Web 2.0" is less interesting than "I think the word Web 2.0 is stupid." However, remember rules 1 and 2.

4 - Link - Read other blogs a bit before posting. Link as much as possible. Try to participate in the conversation instead of soap-boxing.

5 - Write early write often - Don't wait for your ideas to be completed. When you have some inspiration, get it out of the door quickly. Update the post or write new ones as the thought or story unfolds.

Having said all that, I don't follow my own rules. Like this post and the last post... But this is the advice that I would give myself.

As the Web 2.0 bandwagon gets bigger and faster, more and more people seem to be blogging about it. I am increasingly confronted by people who ask me what it is. Just like I don't like "blogging" and "blogosphere", I don't like the word. However, I think it's going to end up sticking. I don't like it because it coincides with another bubbly swell in consumer Internet (the "web") and it sounds like "buzz 2.0". I think all of the cool things that are going on right now shouldn't be swept into some name that sounds like a new software version number for a re-written presentation by venture captitalists to their investors from the last bubble.

What's going on right now is about open standards, open source, free culture, small pieces loosely joined, innovation on the edges and all of the good things that WE FORGOT when we got greedy during the last bubble. These good Internet principles are easily corrupted when you bring back "the money". (As a VC, I realize I'm being a bit hypocritical here.) On the other hand, I think/hope Web 2.0 will be a bit better than Web 1.0. Both Tiger and GTalk use Jabber, an open standard, instead of the insanity of MSN Messenger, AOL IM and Yahoo IM using proprietary standards that didn't interoperate. At least Apple and Google are TRYING to look open and good.

I think blogging, web services, content syndication, AJAX, open source, wikis, and all of the cool new things that are going on shouldn't be clumped together into something that sounds like a Microsoft product name. On the other hand, I don't have a better solution. Web 2.0 is probably a pretty good name for a conference and probably an easy way to explain why we're so excited to someone who doesn't really care.

While we're at labeling the web x.0. Philip Torrone jokingly mentioned to me the other day (inside Second Life) that 3D was Web 3.0. I agree. 3D and VR have been around for a long time and there is a lot of great work going on, but I think we're finally getting to the phase where it's integrated with the web and widely used. I think the first step for me was to see World of Warcraft (WoW) with its 4M users and the extensible client. The only machine I have where I can turn on all of the video features is my duel CPU G5. On my powerbook I have to limit my video features and can't concurrently use other applications while playing. Clearly there is a hardware limit which is a good sign since hardware getting faster is a development we can count on.

Second Life (SL) is sort of the next step in development. Instead of trying to control all real-money and real-world relationship with things in the game like Blizzard does with WoW, SL encourages it. SL is less about gaming and more about building and collaboration. However, SL is not open source and is a venture capital backed for-profit company that owns the platform. I love it, but I think there's one more step.

Croquet, which I've been waiting for for a long time appears to be in the final phases of a real release. Croquet, if it takes off should let you build things like SL but in a distributed and open source way. It is basically a 3D collaborative operating system. If it takes off, it should allow us to take our learning from WoW and SL and do to them what "Web 2.0" is doing to traditional consumer Internet services.

However, don't hold your breath. WoW blows away SL in terms of snappy graphics and response time and has a well designed addictive and highly-tuned gaming environment. Croquet is still in development and is still way behind SL in terms of being easy to use. It will take time for the more open platforms to catch up to the closed ones, but I think they're coming.

Web 3.0 is on its way! Actually, lets not call it Web 3.0.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

As an employee of The New York Times Company, I probably should not raise this issue - but hey! - journalists are instinctive troublemakers.

What views on the decision by and to implement the Times Select paid subscriptions system for the highest profile columnists.

I fear we are giving room for new columnists to arise out of the Blogoshere to rival our own marquee names.

I have not thought enough about it, but I wonder if the opposite tactic might not be best. We give away the high profile columnists and charge for specific stories and local news that people cannot get elsewhere. The columnists increase our footprint and we cut out much of the blogosphere.

The problem, of course, is we need to find a way to pay for my salary and – very modest – expenses. Any thought on how to keep me in a job by earning money off our websites is much appreciated!

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Just returned to Paris from Munich where I went to write a story on the progress of Open Source implementation by the city government: Microsoft Chief Dines in a Linux City

The project has been troubled but is still on track.

Attended a small dinner hosted by Dr. Hubert Burda of Hubert Burda Media that was attended by the CEOs of BMW, Adidas and other major German companies. Steve Ballmer, the guest of honor, spoke briefly about Open Source and Google.

Ballmer clearly views Google as enemy number 1. He said something like Google had better watch out because the people in Microsoft will be forced to work “harder and harder and harder and harder and harder and harder until we offer better services” repeating the word half a dozen times. Quite forceful and you can see his drive.

He was also interesting about the future of the corporation when confronted with open source. Corporations offer consistency over time and user support, Ballmer argued.

Several members of the audience disagreed: “Have you ever tried to call Dell or Apple or Microsoft for a problem you have? No, you go to online forums to look up what other users recommend.”

As for consistency over time, one reason the city of Munich went for Open Source is that they were angered about being forced to pay for an upgrade to Windows XP.

They expect the savings, however, is expected not in the licensing fee for the software, but in the ability to switch service companies. If you buy Microsoft, only Microsoft can provide servicing. If you use open source, you can change service providers.

To come back to the original question: How will corporations look in a world where collaborative volunteer efforts do things for free on the Internet? Will corporations disappear?

The Ig Nobel Prizes, the Nobel Prize of all things funny are streaming live now.

via Steve Crandall

Creative Commons (CC) has traditionally been supported by a small number of foundations which have very generously allowed CC to get started and grow into an international movement. (Thanks!) CC is now entering its second phase where it must begin to be supported by the public itself. This is an important step and is also required by the tax authorities in the US for CC to retain its nonprofit status.

Larry has written something about the fund raising as well as an update on CC over on the CC site. Please take a look at it and send your donation to the CC fundraising campaign! Thanks in advance.

Today I went on my first World of Warcraft (WoW) raid. WoW has two "sides" Horde and Alliance. The Alliance are the usual "good guys", humans, elves, dwarves and gnomes. The Horde are undead, tauren, trolls and orcs. The designers have created stories for the Horde side that tell of the suffering and struggle of each of the Horde races and makes each one justified and lovable. One of the many parallel layers of the game involves the war between Alliance and Horde. In addition to the normal experience gained from killing monsters and completing quests, there is a whole ranking system based on honor points, honorable kills and dishonorable kills. Basically, huge mobs of players get together and raid towns and castles of the other "side". Killing civilians, even from the other side constitutes a "dishonorable kill" and can hamper your ability to gain rank. You basically kill guards and other players who have "Player vs Player (PvP)" turned on, signaling that they are non-civilians. Killing the leader of the particular city, fort or castle provides special honor. The ranks are based on military ranks and after you gain this rank, it is prominently displayed even when you're not fighting the other side.

It was my first raid so most of my energy was spent figuring out exactly what the hell I was supposed to be doing, but the whole mission was organized in a somewhat dysfunctional military way with teams and squad leaders. I have no idea whether I was running with a bunch of 13 year olds or professional soldiers (the game has many of both) but the raid channel chat was a bit noisy. What was disturbing was the hateful and some of the over-the-top role playing. Other members of the raid were clearly disturbed as well. I imagined a bunch of leaderless young soldiers raping and pillaging some village. I felt a bit dirty afterwards.

This is only one sample so I probably should not make a judgement yet. Maybe I should try a raid with my guild members... Or better yet, maybe I should get our Orc guild tough enough to defend the cities from these bad humans. ;-)

I was a bit too low level to be on a raid and I kept dying, but here's a picture of me on the steps of the lower level of the big Horde Undercity.

Posting by Thomas Crampton

Time for some reflection after more than a month of blogging here courtesy of Joi.

For my part, I have found Blogs are different from journalism because:

Involvement: In blogging you engage and try to spark conversations, not lecture. You succeed by getting feedback, not by writing something conclusive. A successful posting is a work in progress.

Timing: Not so important as I thought it would be. When I blog about a news article that I wrote three days earlier, the conversation takes off as if it were new. In that way, Blogs are more like a cocktail party conversation.

Tone: Blogs are more informal and personal. You are forced the kind of self-references that most news organizations try to beat out of journalists from birth.

Opinions: Blog postings work best with strong opinions in them. This is problematic for a journalist because we are supposed to avoid that. You can often get the same effect, however, by asking sharp questions.

Length: Postings are never longer than a few paragraphs and often broken into bullet point style (like this posting)

Reporting: I have not yet done any primary reporting in order to write a Blog posting. The most I do is look up things on the web and riff off knowledge or experience I already have.

Simple and quick: Blogging takes far less time than I expected. Since it is asynchronous communication, you can log on once or twice a day or take part more actively. Very much enjoy checking in with old postings to see how the conversation has evolved.

These thoughts came yesterday in London while participating at a conference organized by Accountability on a panel hosted by Michel Ogrizek, vice chairman of Edelman, the other panelists were David Weinberger of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and John Lloyd of the Financial Times.

The audience and other panelists raised many great points - some of which I have plaguarized above - and we could only conclude that the interface between Blogs and journalism is a hot zone that will be fun to watch.

Additions and critiques to this list welcomed!

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia joins us on the Socialtext board. More info at Socialtext.

I had set Mizuka up with iTunes music store on a Mac Mini with an external drive. At some point, she had filled up most of the external drive with stuff and she alleges that iTunes told her it was going to start moving stuff to another drive. Then certain songs stopped playing. I sort of ignored her mumbling until I asked her to run disk doctor on the drive. The utility told us that her disk was irreparably broken. The songs are broken on her iPod too. (The bad songs skip.) Apple says back up, or when you disk dies you out of luck.

Is there nothing we can do? I'm about to copy all of the music onto a new drive, erase any files that don't play and call it a day. Does anyone have any advice or a better idea?

UPDATE: Kevin Marks recommended Disk Warrior, which seems to have fixed the drive, but now many of the files are 0 bytes long. I guess we just lost a lot of music. Hmm...

My apologies for all of the gaming posts recently, but I wanted to let any World of Warcraft players know that we are starting a new all-Orc guild on Khadgar. We plan to run every Saturday evening US time, Sunday morning Japan time. Each run will start approximately at 6PM Eastern, 3PM Pacific, 7AM Japan time. We'll start today. I'm just setting up the guild now.

The guild will be called "We Orc" and is the Horde affiliate of "We Know".

We'll play only once a week and anyone who misses a run can try to catch up to the level that we all go to during the run. We'll post the current level on the wiki. The idea is to try to see whether and how much more fun it is to have everyone at the same level collaborating.

My Orc character is named "Tasmanian". Whisper me if you want to join. I'll be hanging out at the spawn point to rendezvous with the new characters. Orcs all the way down... see you there.

UPDATE: Until we get the guild going, do a "/join weorc" to join the chat channel.

UPDATE: We got the guild started. Thanks! Here's a group photo.

Video of some people who like Warcraft. Funny. (At least to me.) Watch it to the end.

via Jason

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