Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

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...


Reading your note, I think that it is probably the principal reason for which I continue to read the blogs: sometimes you can find a note which sounds differently.

Of course you need! (at least I do...) I just can get tired of both a social intensinve day as well as a lonely period...

Howabout looking into technologies that support solitude, as opposed to networking and sociality? :)

Massively solitary online games? MSOGs? ;-)

solitude is not the same as loneliness.

The answering machine is a technology specifically designed to support solitude. Email is somewhat adaptable to deal with solitude. Twitter and IM are not so solitude-friendly.

Antoin, I agree. My point is that loneliness was a sort of "energy" for me. Solitude is a sort of happiness that sort of "depletes" that energy since I don't have as much of a "need".

By pure serendipity, I looked here at the moment you are writing about solitude. I've spent the last few years mostly in solitude. It's been quite productive, all told. You have been periodically on my mind. I have had not much to interrupt you about, but I will take the opportunity to thank you for everything you did for me a few years back. Thank you.

Joi, I never detected fear of 'loneliness' from you when we were running around together in WoW or met in person. But I felt you had a mild fear of 'stillness' like a kid who needs TV on all the time to study.

Re meditation, I don't know what kind of meditation you are doing but, based on my experience, meditation is not about loneliness nor stillness but being extremely busy, busy pushing thoughts out. In effect, you don't have time to feel lonely when you meditate.

Does this mean we'll see some patches from you contributed to random open source projects? (-:

I think meditation is more about stillness than being busy. Meditation is mindfulness that comes from relaxation and concentration coming at the same time. I don't think of "busy" when I think of meditation. I definitely don't think of lonely either. ;-)

Massively Multiplayer Solitaire? :)

Sorry, couldn't resist: World of Klondike extension to WoW would be nice..

beautiful post
it does not surprise me that as you have changed your diet to a higer vibration plant based food focus that you are more in tune with your self and your way of being
if you have not already check out the nutrition work of Gabriel Cousens - amazing and will i think add to where you have been going with your choices in regards to diet

i also do not see this at odds with either your desire to still connect with people or your relationship to technology
the question you may also see is which people and how you use technology
has your taste for personality and the kind of energy that person transmits also changed - there are differences in how one spends their day and with whom as well as the way we spend our time alone

i recommend the new book from Mark Earls Herd: How to Change Mass Behaviour by Harnessing Our True Nature
he suggests that it is not about just individualism but that we want to be a part of a group

big ups to you and your inspiration

I think loneliness and solitude aren't the same. The former indicates an unhappiness with being alone, while the latter doesn't bring an emotional charge with it. I've often been alone and also regularly need to be by myself. It's a way for me to relax and load up on energy. It's a great way to reflect and ponder things. I think it's great you're finally taking time to cut yourself off from others for a few hours and do your stuff. It hardly means you're going out of sight or whatever, maybe you just feel like you have to be available 24/7 and you're starting to realize you don't. Just my 2c.

The Myers-Briggs profile system has this idea of "extrovert" and "introvert" - the emphasis there being "where do you get your energy." I always thought it was a bit odd to think of this as a stable-state of personality, since I feel that my need to be around people for energy, or to recharge in solitude changes depending on what's happening in my life.

Also, I agree with Adriaan and others about the distinction between loneliness and solitude. I'll just add that the right kind of solitude isn't just "being by yourself". Meditation is a great example of solitude that's productive.

in all things, seek balance.

I like the phrase carved into a stone water receptical at the back of Ryuanji in Kyoto.
It is a play on the Kanji.

Ware tada tare wo shiru.

"All we need to know is how much is enough."

It sounds like you are getting there. I didn't think your more recent meditation on meditation is weird at all. I think the goal is to get to where you can sufficiently laugh at distraction so that it does not matter whether you are alone or among the crowd, but you are both in the moment and in the future at the same, yet separate times.
Maybe I am weird too. So be it.


I too have recently been thinking about life balance. I have also been thinking about temporary power. Both remind me that I need to cultivate margin and a simple, yet intentional life.

I share the "weird" moniker, Ito-san.