Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

April 2007 Archives

Lessig has a thoughtful post urging people to urge the RNC and DNC not to use restrictive copyrights on political debates. With more and more political expression being done in video, it is time we consider the importance of free speech in video. Video is covered by stronger copyright restrictions when it comes to citation and remix than text. Having politicians and political parties push networks to air their words under the most permissive CC license, the CC-BY license would greatly enhance the public's ability to participate in the political video dialog.

UPDATE: Lessig has an update with the crazy rules that NBC uses today for reuse of debate footage.

We really need your help on this.

Two years ago, iCommons established the yearly iSummit conference as a way to bring together the thinkers, innovators, and pioneers of the "Open" movement.

This year's iSummit (taking place in Dubrovnik, Croatia from June 15th through 17th) will bring together more than 250 key players for two days of intense discussion and debate about our digital freedoms and the future of the Internet. It is critical to assure that a truly global legal perspective is represented at this important conference.

Creative Commons International affiliates
are crucial to the success of the iSummit and of Creative Commons globally. The iSummit is the one opportunity each year for these dedicated volunteers drawn from universities and cultural institutes to learn from each other face to face and plan for the challenges and opportunities facing the movement in the next year. Enabling these volunteers to participate in the iSummit is truly the most leveraged way to support Creative Commons at this time.

In order for Creative Commons to provide affiliates with scholarships to attend this critical conference, we need your help in raising $50,000 within the next two weeks. This is a daunting task, but we strongly believe that you, our community, will help us reach this goal.

Please give to the fund. All of our usual cool premiums are available.

To help, Digital Garage, a major sponsor of iSummit 2006, is matching the first $20,000 that is contributed.

This campaign will end when we have raised $50,000, or in two weeks, whichever comes first. There will be updates from our international affiliates blogged each day of the campaign.

If your company is interested in contributing matching funds or if you have questions about the campaign, please contact our Development Coordinator, Melissa Reeder, at

I just arrived in San Francisco from Tokyo. My room's not ready at the hotel and there were various complications, but I'm really happy and calm. I feel almost like I do when I'm meditating. I don't know if it's the drawing, all of the reading/talking about Kriya Yoga and Buddhism or just the great weather, but I can't really imagine anything that would stress me out right now.

/me knocks on wood

On the other hand, I better not jinx myself. I'm SURE there are things that could happen right now that would stress me out. Ha!

Also, apologies to my SF friends, but I'm in town for less than one day this trip and won't have much chill-out time. I have to go back to Tokyo tomorrow morning.

From Thich Nhat Hanh

in, out
deep, slow
calm, ease
smile, release
present moment, wonderful moment

I'm about half-way through The Heart of Buddha's Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh who wrote the book The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh that I wrote about a little while ago. So far it's a wonderful book that describes Buddhism broadly but also brings it down to earth very specifically.

The chapter on "Right Speech" starts with this description of Right Speech.

Forth Mindfulness Training
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am determined to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain and will not criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I am determined to make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
I don't think anyone should be forced to follow this code and I'm not suggesting that it become a bloggers code or anything. I just find that it resonates with my personal philosophy that is evolving over time.

In this context, I now regret the tone in which I wrote the whiny post about the W Hotel not wanting to store a bike for me. I was frustrated and annoyed and wrote something that was probably somewhat cruel considering no one was really at fault. After I posted that note, I sent the link to the W. I got a call from someone responsible there who apologized to me. I realized that I really didn't need an apology and what I really wanted was for them to try to improve generally if possible. I really didn't feel good having made someone feel bad, but since I wrote that post in a somewhat cruel way, it probably did make people feel bad.

Anyway, I'm not trying to become a buddhist monk or anything, but possibly because of my new rather non-violent diet, I'm feeling more and more at peace and less and less happy about any cruelty or un-mindful actions on my part and regret silly things like that whiny post.

Drawing on the Artist Within
When I was in the Bay Area last week, I visited Howard Rheingold and went for walk with him and Pearl. (More photos: 1 | 2)

We were talking about meditation and other related activities. Howard recommended drawing as another relaxing and mind expanding activity. I told Howard that I had no talent and that drawing was one thing I would never be good at. Howard smirked and explained that there really wasn't much talent necessary for basic drawing and that he thought I would enjoy it.

I was skeptical but Howard gave me his copy of Drawing on the Artist Within by Betty Edwards from his library and I lugged the huge hardcover book onto the plane and read it. I was prepared to be surprised, but I was more surprised than I imagined I could be.

Betty Edwards starts out explaining that drawing is like reading and writing for the right hemisphere of the brain. The right brain deals with spacial and relationship oriented things and is good at dealing with chaos and complexity. She explains that people who are "not good at drawing" typically have strong left brain tendencies which often prevents the right brain from taking charge of drawing.

The right brain likes order and abstraction and parses everything you see into symbols. For instance, instead of seeing small person, medium sized person, large person, if the people are framed correctly, you will see person (far away), person (medium distance), person (close) and parse the different sizes as distances rather than three separate sized people. This is useful when you are trying to assess a visual image in a left brain sort of way. However, when you are trying to draw an image or notice differences or details, your left brain can get in the way.

When you are trying to draw a human figure, for instance, you will often draw a round head, eyes, hands, feet, etc. Each component will look like some abstraction of that part of the body. In fact, depending on the direction from which you are viewing that part of the body or person, the shape of each of those elements are infinitely different. When your left brain is in charge you label each element, for instance, "that's an eye" and draw what your left brain thinks of as an eye element instead of what you actually see. That's how people like me end up with child-like drawings.

She gives an example of an American flag hanging on the wall. The first week, her students draw things that looks like parallelograms with straight bars. The next week she tells them to notice that the bars cross each other in real life at angles. The students then draw a slightly more realistic flag with folds/waves. The next week she tells them to notice that the bars are different widths and the stars are each a different shape. This is paradoxical to the left brain since it is imagining the symbolic view of each element. In fact, when you look at a flag hanging on the wall and the image is flattened onto a 2D view like a drawing, all of the elements turn into different shapes.

She gives the reader a number of techniques to "trick" the left brain into letting go - drawing very fast, drawing very slow or drawing an image that is upside down. She presents exercises that show how easy it is to dramatically improve your drawing by just getting your left brain to let go so that your right brain can see things as they are and not abstracted.

The right brain is a very important partner in problem solving and thinking and your left brain and right brain already have a lot of back and forth. Your right brain deals with most of the complexity of driving while your left brain thinks of something else or remembers directions. Your left brain collects information and your right brain then "incubates" the idea tossing it back sometime in the future to your left brain as an "aha!"

Edwards hypothesizes convincingly that drawing is a great way to talk to your right brain and more directly bring your right brain into a "conversation" of conscious problem solving. I thought about drawing in the context of meditation which is also a lot about getting the left brain to "go away" or "shut up". Since reading the book on the plane, I have been scribbling sketches in my notebook. I continue to be surprised at this newly discovered ability that has been hidden for 40 years. Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

I'm not sure yet whether I'm going to share any of my "artwork" with the public, but I am surely going to begin drawing as a way of thinking about things and spending time. I have a feeling that it will also help me communicate graphically and may even improve my sense of direction. ;-)

I'm REALLY excited about discovering a key to a door I shut way back in elementary school and I think this new hobby will work well in my "new lifestyle". If you've every thought, "I'm not good at drawing," I highly recommend and urge you read this book and reconsider. Also, if you recommend any other books or resources along these lines, I'd appreciate any pointers.

I've tracked down a weird bug when importing images on my Mac. When my OS X time zone is set to UTC, all of my images are dated 1/1/1970. When I set it to a time zone like JST, the date becomes correct. The dates are affected on my RAW files after they are imported. In other words, when I change to UTC, all of the dates become 1/1/1970. When I change the time zone, images imported in the past become correct.

However, if I process an image using Capture One and convert RAW to jpg, the bad date is fixed and doesn't revert when I change the time zone.

This occurs if I copy the files from the memory directly or if I use Image Capture to import the images.

Has anyone else had this problem? I guess most people don't have their computers set to UTC...

Anyone know of a good bike shop in the South of Market area? I'm in SF a few times a month these days and I think it would make sense for me to bike around instead of cab for those out-of-walking-distance locations.

Also, I just called the W Hotel and they said I couldn't store my bike there even though I practically live there. Stupid hotel. Anyone know of a hotel that's around the scale of the W Hotel that might be more friendly?

While I'm at it, I'd also like to mention that there are many things about the W Hotel that I like, but it is probably the only hotel that I've ever stayed at so much that doesn't really "get to know me". Just about every other hotel that I regularly use in any particular city gets to know me after a few stays. I've probably stayed at the W several dozen times recently and I still don't know anyone and no one knows me. I wonder if there is a high turnover of employees or whether they just don't care.

I'm also getting a bit tired of stepping over all of the lanyarded drunks in the lobby on my way to my room...

I've been staying at the W mostly because of the Starwoods points and Platinum status that I have, but if I'm going to be staying at any hotel so much, I can probably get whatever status in whatever system they have.

The new St. Regis is also a Starwoods hotel, but it's rather pricey and unless someone with deep pockets is paying for it, I'd rather not stay there all the time. I guess I'll use my 300,000 Starwoods points to stay at the St. Regis when I'm on a low-budget trip. 300K points should get me 15 nights at the St. Regis.

So... any recommendations on a Bike shop or a good hotel would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

I was messing around on the Nike store trying out the "made to order" Nike+ shoe section. There is an option to label your shoe with your "iD". When I tried "Joi" it said iD declined. It accepted "Jo", "Joichi", "JoiIto" but not "Joi".

According to their policy:

A Personal iD may be declined for any one of the following reasons

* It might violate another party's trademark or other intellectual property rights. These may include words, phrases, celebrity's names, and even certain color combinations when used in connection with particular words or geographic designations.
* It contains profanity, inappropriate slang, might be considered insulting or discriminatory, might be construed to incite violence, or may simply contain material that we do not wish to place on our products.

So what does "Joi" mean that I don't know about? :-\

I'm looking for a personal assistant to work for me at Digital Garage. I wear a variety of hats, but increasingly my business revolves around Digital Garage which is the sponsor of my lab, investor in Technorati, partner for Technorati Japan, major sponsor of Creative Commons, investor in FON, etc. I am a co-founder of and an active board member of Digital Garage.

I am looking for someone who will be my primary personal assistant at Digital Garage. This will involve being in charge of my schedule, coordinating a variety of inbound and outbound requests to organizations and people in Japan, the US and the rest of the world. Nearly fluent Japanese and English are a requirement because there is quite a volume of both written and spoken communication in Japanese and English.

The other quirks of the job are that I'm almost never around physically, although available virtually. The physical location is inside of Digital Garage headquarters in Tomigaya, Tokyo, Japan. The company is a public Japanese company with public Japanese company rules, etc. albeit more casual and flexible than many.

Although primarily it is a 9 to 5 job, it requires a bit of flexibility occasionally.

The recommended personality for the job is someone who is social, anal enough to be capable of organizing my chaos, able to withstand and hopefully enjoy the chaos of my life and relatively comfortable with the Internet and computers.

If you're interested please email recruit at and cc me if you have or can find my email address. If you know someone who might be interested, please pass this request along. Thanks!

Breaking the 10% rule...
Chart from Nike
Partly because I've always wanted to try a mini-Triathlon and partly because I'm beginning to get minor wear and tear on my body from exercising every day, I've started cycling, swimming and running. It's easier to follow the 10% rule that way too. (Don't increase your exercise routine more than 10% a week.)

My current exercise media of choice for the 3 are:

Running - Podrunner with Nike+ and iPod Nano (just donated to Podrunner)
Swimming - Ambient music on my SwiMP3 (taking a rest while my shoulder repairs)
Cycling (Stationary) - Lost, 24 and other TV episodes and videos on iPod Video.


I'm so sick of time zones and daylight savings and my blog posts being all funky because of it. I've tried it before, but haven't been able to do it well. I'm going to try it again. I'm setting the clock on my computer to UTC and would like people to tell use UTC with me when appropriate. For instance, when scheduling telephone calls.

It actually makes it much easier if you convert to UTC for me. There are too many moving parts otherwise. In the southern hemisphere, the daylight savings goes the opposite direction of daylight savings in the north. In addition, different countries switch on different days. Then there are countries like Japan that don't observe daylight savings. So when people try to tell me to do something in some country, it sometimes requires two lookups - any adjustments in my country and any adjustments in the original country. Using UTC reduces the chance of error by forcing people to only track the +/- UTC in their own time zone. At least that's the theory.

Time and and The World Time Server are good sites for checking what time it is anywhere and Aion is a good OS X menubar thingie to show you all of the times in various time zones. Haven't tested for the preciseness of the daylight savings switches, but seemed OK the last time around.

UPDATE: Does anyone know of a good authoritative list of time zones and daylight savings switchover dates?

Morning yard
I am reading The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who wrote the book as a letter to a fellow monk when he was in exile during the difficult years in Vietnam. The book was recommended to me by Howard Rheingold. I'm still reading the book, but it is a wonderful little book about why and how we meditate.

There is one interaction at the beginning of the book between the monk and a man eating a tangerine. The monk tells the man to focus on the tangerine segment that is in his mouth rather than focus on the next one before. I think this mode of focusing our attention on future rather than the present is a very common "affliction" of our times. I think that Continuous Partial Attention that I've blogged about is also another example of this "not really here" syndrome.

It also reminds me of a story that I often share. I arrived at a Tai Chi lesson once and everyone was bustling and sort of in a hurry. My Tai Chi teacher explained that one definition of "the end" or "our goal" is when we die. He mused how much of a hurry we were all in to get to the next thing. He suggested that we spend too much time worrying about being more efficient and quick and that maybe the most "efficient" thing to do was just to die right now. In fact, most of us probably don't want to die just yet and all the stuff in between is can be viewed as an inefficient path to our death.

So much of our life is focused on making things more efficient and efficiently efficient that we might spend our whole lives shaving a yak. In fact, I think we probably need less efficiency and more meaning. On the other hand, if you're happy shaving yaks or hacking code, I think that can be meaning. I think the trouble is for people who aren't happy because it's just not efficient or perfect enough. There are always little things, little people, little events that "ruin" the moment, the day, our lives. Our days end up as a endless series of annoying events.

One things about meditation and going "meta" is that even some of the most annoying things become cute, quaint, funny and irrelevant, if not enjoyable.

This morning was a particularly beautiful morning with the chirping nightingales and the morning dew. As usual, our two dogs came running over to me and licked me and barked and tried very hard to prevent me from meditating. Then Mizuka's mom heard the dogs bothering me and actually increased the distraction by whispering very loud to the dogs trying to get them off of me.

For a moment, I got a pang of discomfort. It was the feeling of despair, the feeling of trying to blame someone else for my failure to meditate. It had the feel of minor displaced aggression - the tendency for primates to lash out and bite the nearest creature for a pain from an unrelated source such as an electric shock or a stubbed toe. However, I identified this simple and base reaction and laughed at myself and my human condition.

I remembered the monk writing about how it was easier to practice meditation at home than in a pagoda. The challenge comes when trying to be focused and mindful in the presence of distractions. If we want to practice and learn meditation, it was important to challenge ourselves. As I laughed and enjoyed this "human moment" I thought about the book again and this blog post started to come to mind. Then I realized that it was you, my friends on the Internet, who were now getting in the way of my meditation. At that moment, I promised to write this blog post after I had finished my meditation and my chores and that I didn't need to figure it out right then. With that promise, I stopped thinking about this blog, the Internet and the book. After that, I slipped into a nice space.

So here we are. I've completed the promise to myself. I was "there then" and I am "here now". ;-) This post reads a bit like the ramblings of some new age hippy. My apologies. It's a bit weirder than I would normally post, but I figure I should probably be respectful to the spirit of the promise with the "meditation me" so that I'll continue to trust my requests for deferred yak shaving during my meditation.

I feel like this tree - lots of branches that are heavy and overextended.
Base of the plum tree

I wish I felt more like this rock.
Saturated Rock

Old school user generated media ads

A subway mirror with an ad. In Web20-ese that's "Advertising driven user generated media".

Generation Gap
Generation Gap
Today, I experimented with taking pictures of strangers. I'm always impressed by Jim and iMorpheus' photos of strangers and I figured that the best way to get better at it was just to start doing it.

I had been practicing portraits on people I knew and thought that portraits of strangers should be fun. It was definitely harder than I had expected. I had asked a number of people their "secret". Some people asked before shooting, some people people fooled people into thinking that they were shooting something else, others were stealthy. I felt a bit "dirty" taking pictures of people sneakily. On the other hand, I didn't have the guts to go up to people and ask if I could take their picture. Some of the photos turned out OK, but it was a lot of work.

I am still not sure what my ethical position on photographing strangers is. Personally, I don't mind if people take my picture without asking. On the other hand I'm a weirdo. I've read a number of articles an essays about this topic and I still don't have a very good sense of whether it is cool or not to do it. I definitely think it's OK if you ask. My question is whether it is cool to shoot photos of people and post them to Flickr or our blog if they didn't give you permission. As far as I know, in most countries it's legal to do this.

Comme ça Ism
I wrote a post awhile ago about Chuoism. Chiba Newtown Chuo is a designed from scratch community in the middle of nowhere near my house. The town has the feeling of Japanese consumer culture for the masses that someone decided to spin by calling it "Chuoism". I always thought it was a funny word.

On my way home today, I decided to get off of the train at Chiba Newtown and go Ismhunting and try to capture some of the Ismism with my camera. I've posted some of the images in an Ismhunting Flickr set.

I am an ismhunter.

I've been spending a lot of time reading about, thinking about, and practicing my meditation. If I have time, I can spend hours just sitting there. I'm enjoying solitude more than I've ever enjoyed it before. In fact, I've never enjoyed solitude. Not only did I enjoy the company of other people, I craved and needed it. I have observed that a lot of active CEO types have a similar kind of obsession that allows them to invest more than average amounts of energy into communities including their companies and their partners - afraid to spend a minute of their waking time not interacting with other people. I think this obsession with trying not to be lonely has also fueled a lot of my interest in social software and online games.

So, while I don't know how long this interest in meditation and solitude will last, for the moment it looks like my "loneliness problem" is not a problem. In fact, for the moment, I'm perfectly happy being alone.

I wonder what this means? I wonder if I'll plop out of sight like some puppet that lost it's puppeteer...

Probably not, but it is something that I was thinking about today as I considered how much I enjoyed the 1.5 hour train ride into the city today from my home in Chiba... I suppose the fact that I'm blogging this shows that I'm not really "cured" of my obsession with the social...

Looks like a bunch of people are trying out Jaiku after "tasting" co-presence with Twitter. To me, Jaiku, which existed before Twitter, is a bunch of Helsinki mobile jocks getting into the Web 2.0 of it all whereas Twitter is the Web 2.0 crowd "getting" co-presence.

Twitter was funny for me because it was like the whole "laptop crowd" getting the "aha" that Europe and Asia had with SMS awhile back - the idea that the Internet isn't about "cyberspace" that turns on when you open your laptop, but that the Internet was something that you could carry around with you and that could ping you when it needed you.

Jaiku was neat because it was everything we had all been telling Nokia that we wanted in mobile devices, but that Nokia never seemed to deliver for us. It took a small group of mobile geeks who also got the Web to build an integrated experience.

I've been helping the Jaiku guys out a bit as an advisor and I'm also a friend of Ev's. Interesting to see this convergence of from two completely different worlds of mine (mobile and web) with the attention of the "Twittersphere" tuned in. FWIW, I don't think that either is a knockoff of the other, but I do think that they are now influencing each other. It reminds me a bit of blog software in the early days...

Having said that, there are a number of differences despite the similarities on the surface. Jaiku comes from a "presence" background allowing bluetooth proximity, phone idle time, ringer mode and other things to trigger state changes - the messaging came later. Twitter, on the other hand, is primarily messaging, which as we all know, is just a flexible and manual vector for presence information.

Playing Wataridori
Mizuka and I went to see my second cousin Keigo and his band (he's aka Cornelius) perform in Shibuya today. These Tokyo shows are sort of a family gathering and we got to see little Milo who had gotten a lot bigger and my aunt who appeared to be doing well.

The show was great as always. He played Wataridori which is one of my favorite songs and the song that he released under a Creative Commons license for the Wired CD.

He had some really cool videos using lots of low light photography and photo animation.

There was a bit where he had lots of old cheesy Elvis Hawaiian movie footage with Elvis' head/face covered by an animation of a sea anemone. It was really funny. Then he started playing "My Way" on his theremin.

There was also a lot of audience interaction and he took a group photo with the audience. He also took live video footage of the audience and did some video "scratching" a few times with it.

I had seats on the second floor and I was using a 90 mm lens hand-held so my shots of the stage are a bit crappy. I've posted my photos in a Flickr set.

Leica M8 IR Madness
Example of grays and blacks showing up as
purple/magenta under infrared-strong lighting.

I just started the Leica M8 Magenta Madness Flickr group.

About Leica M8 Magenta Madness

The Leica M8 has a sensor that is overly sensitive to infrared. This problem causes a magenta hue on certain blacks, particularly fabrics. The color is also visible directly in lights and on anything that is lit by strong infrared light.

There is a promised firmware update and IR/UV filters are just now shipping to early M8 customers with more to follow for the rest of us real soon now.

Until we get our filters, why don't we call this a "feature" and share our Leica M8 Magenta love with each other?

Web20Mirai Cover-1
Impress, a Japanese publisher, just released a Mook (magazine/book) called The Future of Web 2.0 - The Sharing Economy based on presentations at the Digital Garage New Context Conference last year in Tokyo. The book is in Japanese. There are excerpts from presentations by Mitchell Baker, John Buckman, Tantek Çelik, David Isenberg, Lawrence Lessig, Jun Murai, Hiroyuki Nakano and Cory Ondrejka. I've got some words in it including a translation of my DBA thesis proposal. (I really do need to work on this more...)

A really cool thing about this is that Impress has decided to release this mook under CC BY-NC (v 2.1 Japan). They have also made a PDF versions of each section available for download simultaneously under the same license on their site.

It's already April 1 in Japan. Technorati Japan is sporting a 60's look.

Screen shot on Fumi's blog.

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