Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

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.


This is a very interesting story. I shall be happy to
cover this story about Burgarian Jews in my email magazine.

Tom Sato, Tokyo, Japan

Dear Tom,
Yes, I believe it's a VERY interesting story!

Please feel free to contact me at for more information.


An inspiring story, I hope we get to view it in Finland.

I hope you'll excuse an old teacher for wanting to add something; Finland, even though fighting on the Axis side 1941-44, never had any plans for extraditing their own Jewish citizens. And what is perhaps even more strange in hindsight, that the Finnish Jews were probably the only Jews fighting on the Axis side of WWII.

hmmm ... actually i don't know if 'Eastern Europe' is the best name for this region ... Former Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria etc is the Balkans

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Joi and I were chatting this evening about iPod Nanos (“Nanoi”? “Nanim”?), delighting the capacities of this small machine, and gnashing our teeth at the ways that Digital Restriction Management (David Berlind is getting credit ... Read More