Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

October 2006 Archives

I'm on an Internet Governance Forum (IGF) panel on openness and free flow of information. We've been talking a lot about China and a gentleman from the Chinese delegation to the UN in Geneva was in the audience. He stood up and confirmed that "China does not restrict access to any content." I did not know that. ;-P

UPDATE: Would like add that my position was that we are bashing China too much on this panel and I pointed out that there are good things going on there. I just thought it was silly to completely deny content restrictions in public. I think the Chinese delegate caused China to lose all of the sympathy that had been building up in the room because of the focus on China.

UPDATE 2: It's rather frustrating being on a 3 hour 11 person panel... I'm glad I have my blog. *wave*

UPDATE 3: In the end, I barged in and said what I wanted to say so I'm OK now. Phew.

UPDATE 4: Rik has a better account of this incident. Also, excuse the grammar of the title. My excuse is that I posted during the panel and I was a bit preoccupied. Changing it now would break the permalink...

Photo by Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Yesterday, Veni Markovski took Paul Twomey and me to go see Ivailo Kalfin, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria. Paul is the President/CEO of ICANN (I am on the board).

First of all, The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry has now licensed all of its content under a Creative Commons 2.5 Attribution License . YAY!

The Minister also just started a blog at

It was clear from the conversation that Veni was a well known (and mostly liked) maverick who had blazed the way for open Internet in Bulgaria with the support and help of the Minister. They talked about some of the policy war stories from the past.

Here is the press release from the meeting via the Veni/ISOC Bulgaria blog:

Minister Kalfin told Dr. Twomey that the government has on the top priorities list promotion of development of information infrastructure in the country, and development of the information society. He informed the guests about the current statistics about Internet usage by the citizens, companies and government. Minister Kalfin noted the fact that Bulgaria has good traditions in the field of software. He pointed out several international IT-companies that enterBulgaria, and invest in ICT.

ICANN’s President gave high remarks on the policy Bulgaria has for Internet access and usage. He informed Minister Kalfin about the multiple business-oriented applications, and the effect of using IT in different branches of the economy.

Joichi Ito, one of the Internet pioneers in the development of blogs, spoke about the new culture and new opportunities, noting that the blogs are one of the most democratic tools for access to information.

Another topic covered was the improvement of the services about registration of domains in the .bg top level domain.

Minister Kalfin started his own blog, to be found at, where he will be discussion issues about Bulgarian foreign policy, EU membership, etc. The blog is based on open source software - Wordpress, and is the first such an initiative by a Bulgarian minister. Mr. Kalfin invited Joichi Ito to become an author at his blog - an invitation that was accepted by the famous Japanese IT-investor and blogger.

The content, published at the web site of the Foreign Ministry is now under CreativeCommons License - attribution 2.5. That puts the ministry among the firs in the world to use this license. Another ministry to use CC is the Brazilian Cultural Ministry, but it uses CC-attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivatives.

UPDATE: Test of Google Earth - This is the hotel I'm staying at -

Lawrence Lessig has a thoughtful post about something that I've been mentioning in recent talks I've given, but haven't blogged much about.

I'm often asked to speak about "Web 2.0". I personally think that people are trying to build Bubble 2.0 on top of Web 2.0. Instead of becoming a platform for the future of the Web, it's possible that Web 2.0 is becoming the platform for the short-term future of greedy people. However, I do think that it is important to understand that the recent success and surge in innovation on the Web is due to a semi-new set of principles. Part of the principles are a return to fundamental principles. The innovation on the Web and the Internet is driven by what David Weinberger has called "Small Pieces Loosely Joined" - a network created by small groups working together around open standards. It is and was a community of people and projects trying to connect to each other.

Bubble 1.0 brought the "customer acquisition and barrier to entry" phase with players such as AOL and Yahoo gobbling up companies and focusing on barriers instead of connectivity. A good example of a technology that happened to emerge during these days is instant messenger. Even today this spoiled brat doesn't interoperate properly leaving its users on their little Bubble 1.0 branded islands.

I think Tim O'Reilly's description of Web 2.0 is the best one I've ever seen. (Read it if you haven't.) My own view is that after Bubble 1.0 collapsed many of the unemployed or the recently happily "exited" entrepreneurs and developers started building tools in the spirit of Web 1.0 - in communities of people collaborating around open standards. The big difference was that many of the dreams we had during the Web 1.0 era were now more feasible with broadband, wireless, higher penetration, stabilization of various standards, faster computers and some lesson learning from the bubble.

I still remember when we were building Infoseek Japan I kept talking about how the web was going to be an incredible place for user publishing and that Infoseek would be an engine that would democratize media and voice. I was ranting about something that sounded like blogs and the long tail. Unfortunately, it was too hard to keep your web page updated and search engines and methods were not yet smart enough to filter the noise and sort out the context. We ended up with most of the traffic going to the mega sites like CNN and Yahoo.

To me, Web 2.0 is about trying to get right those layers of the stack that we weren't able to get right the last time around.

One of the central themes of Web 2.0 is the ability for users to control their own data and the ability for people to share and remix. In this context, many, if not most good Web 2.0 services allow users to download, link and reuse all if not a substantial part of the content they work on.

While it is not easy to extract data from Second Life, the content of what you build in Second Life and videos that you make in Second Life are owned by the user.

As Larry points out:

# Flickr, for example, makes it simple to download Flickr images. (See, e.g., here.)
# explicitly offers links to download various formats of the videos it shares. (See, e.g., here.)
# EyeSpot (a fantastic new site to enable web based remixing of video and audio) permits the download of the source and product files. (See, e.g., here.)
# Revver (the site that enables an ad-bug to be added to a video so the creator gets paid when each video is played) builds its whole business model on the idea that content can flow freely on the Net. (See, e.g., here.)

In this context, YouTube is a "cool" poster-child of the Web 2.0 trend, but doesn't meet the basic requirement of allowing the user to download videos from the site. While it is "sharing", it is what Larry is calling a "fake sharing site". I think Japanese sites such as Mixi are as well. (Mixi is a social network site that doesn't syndicate or allow remixing or including of content in the site but encourages users to create and upload content.)

Although we can't really expect users to initially understand the distinction, I think in the long run, users will understand that stand-alone or closed services do not allow them the freedoms that are becoming exceedingly more common in the Web 2.0 area. I do hope that the rush to Bubble 2.0 doesn't allow companies to trample over the core principles of the Web in their drive for more ARPU (Average Revenue per User). I think it is important to keep our eyes on the ball and not lose our focus on what is driving the innovation and the increasingly rich user experience.

UPDATE: Nick Carr responds to Lessig and mentions this post and Lessig responds.

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When I was kid, I lived with my family in Birmingham, Michigan. During this time, a young artist named Masayuki Oda came to stay with us. Yuki studied art at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Yuki stayed in the basement of our house which quickly became my hangout. He was stuck baby-sitting my sister and me. We made him play dungeons and dragons, build our dog house, drive us to the mall and teach us things our parents weren't allowed to teach us yet. We had heard that he was an "artist" but never realized that he would become the star that he became after leaving our home and "going pro". In 1990 he won the Grand Prix at the International Environment Art Exhibition in Osaka.

Yuki makes very large out-door, cool/modern/fun installations that win awards and stuff, but he also makes very cool objects that work inside the house or in the yard. Our homes have always been decorated with Yuki's art until we moved into the rather difficult to decorate Japanese home that I live in now.

Anyway, Yuki is coming to Japan and will be showing his work at Art Planet gallery in Shinkoiwa. (03-5672-0372.) If you're interested in his stuff, please check out his web page and visit the gallery. If you see him, tell him Joi sent you.

As many of you already know, Six Apart, which I my company Neoteny is an investor in has been working for awhile to develop Vox. (I'm the Chairman of Six Apart Japan as well.) Vox is still in preview mode, but we're welcoming and asking friends to sign up and give it a try. It's free. I'm actually enjoying it a great deal and have been posting most of my stuff on my Vox site these days. It feels more personal and is a bit more group oriented than this blog. Anyway, let me know if you have any questions and let me know what you think.

Click this badge to get an invite through my landing page.

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