Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

January 2008 Archives

Lawrence Lessig

Larry blogs that:

Last Free Culture lecture, first thought about what to do about political corruption

So this Thursday, January 31, at 1:00pm, at Memorial Auditorium on the Stanford Campus (directions) (map), I will be giving my last lecture about "Free Culture." The event is a bit staged (literally), as it is being sponsored by an entity making a film about these issues, and they want the lecture to use in the film. But the venue is beautiful, and I will also use the opportunity to map out one plan for addressing the problem of "corruption" (as I've described it) in politics. I've now finished a draft of the talk; for those who have seen me speak before, it is new (almost completely new -- maybe 1% are must have slides from the past). For those who haven't seen me speak before, it will be a nice map of where this debate has been, and where I think I want to go. Any questions about logistics, send an email here.

I'll be there. If you're in the area, please come. It should be an important/great talk.

Daily Kos speculates that Larry should run for Congress and is running a poll. 83% are saying yes as of this posting. ;-) just announced that:

As of today, you can play full-length tracks and entire albums for free on the website.

Something we've wanted for years--for people who visit to be able to play any track for free--is now possible. With the support of the folks behind EMI, Sony BMG, Universal and Warner--and the artists they work with--plus thousands of independent artists and labels, we've made the biggest legal collection of music available to play online for free, the way we believe it should be.

That's very cool, but what I'm also very excited about is:
Free full-length tracks are obviously great news for listeners, but also great for artists and labels, who get paid every time someone streams a song. Music on is perpetually monetized. This is good because artists get paid based on how popular a song is with their fans, instead of a fixed amount.

We will be paying artists directly.

We already have licenses with the various royalty collection societies, but now unsigned artists can put their music on and be paid directly for every song played. This helps to level the playing-field--now you can make music, upload it to and earn money for each play. If you make music, you can sign up to participate for free.

This is a great news. Some rights collections agencies have various restrictions such as banning Creative Commons licenses and this should give artists in these regions a new choice for generating revenue on their music.

Good job guys.

Disclosure: I was an investor in before they were acquired by CBS. Now I am a friend and occasionally advise them on their business.

Disclosure: I'm on the board of WITNESS which is one of the non-profits that does work in Burma.

Related links:

WITNESS website

Read about Burma in Japanese

Human Rights Watch

Amnesty International


My TCHO Beta arrived. YUM! TCHO is one of my rare non-Internet investments. Several years ago, my old friend Timothy Childs told me he was starting a chocolate factory. I thought he was totally crazy. I sort of tried to ignore it for awhile, but he didn't give up and appeared to continue getting more and more excited. Finally he said he had sort of gotten things set up and invited me over to his super-secret lab and showed me around. I was really impressed. He told me his secret plans and said that my old friends Jane and Louis (the founders of Wired) were investors. He gave me some chocolate nibs to take home and put on my salad.

While I munched on the nibs I thought a lot about how fun it would be to be involved in a chocolate factory and when Louis took the CEO role and invited me in to their friends and family investor round I jumped at the chance. Anyway, the hardest part about being an investor in TCHO was keeping it secret.

Now you can order the beta C Ghana 0.2x from the site and tell us what you think.

When I was in London, Cory gave me a copy of his new book Little Brother. I read it mostly on the plane and while traveling through London, Hong Kong, Macao and Tokyo airport security. The book is about a future where there is a terrorist attack on San Francisco and DHS in the US gets overzealous and starts abusing their power. The hero of the story is a teenage hacker who decides to declare war on the DHS and take back his civil liberties.

It's a great story about teenagers, net culture, security, activism and politics and was a lot of fun to read. It references a lot of real-life stuff like XBox hacks and ARGs and is classic Cory.

Anyway, it should be coming out soon and I would recommend it to people who like that kind of stuff as well as recommend recommending it to people who still think that fighting terrorism the way we currently are makes any sense at all.

It's also pretty good timing considering the upcoming election in case there is any doubt on which way Americans should vote on security vs civil rights issue.

I Twittered this but forgot to blog it. :-P

From the Twitter Blog:

Despite the fact that Twitter is in English, we continue to see exciting growth from all over the world. Japan, in particular shows a very strong and growing demand for Twitter services. Movatwitter and Twitterpod are great examples.

To support continued growth in Japan, Twitter has formed a partnership with Digital Garage to create the official Twitter Japan service. As part of this arrangement, Digital Garage has made an investment in Twitter, Inc and will commit engineering and other development resources to help us bring Twitter to Japan.

We're really excited about Twitter Japan because it's a big step towards our goal of becoming a worldwide communication network. We'll have more news for you about Twitter Japan and Twitter in other parts of the world as we make progress.

Gratz Rocky, Minami and the team who worked on the deal.

I am a co-founder of Digital Garage and I am on the board. Digital Garage is a strong supporter of CC and the main sponsor of my lab. While I continue to do some deals personally, most deals that involve active support in Japan involve my team at Digital Garage.

BTW, I'm Joi on Twitter.

I find that the Japanese, myself included, use the phrase, "Japan is the world's second largest GDP" as some sort of mantra to try to keep Japan relevant in a world that is exceedingly uninterested in Japan. I was talking to Oki Matsumoto, a good friend and the CEO of Monex about this. He told me about a talk he gave at Keio University about the increasing irrelevance of Japan and showed me the following slides which I post with permission.

This first slide is the percentage of the world GDP of various countries in 2004 and projected in 2050. On the far left is the US at 38.3% in 2004 and a diminished but significant 20.3% in 2050. Japan however goes from 15.4% in 2004 to 4% in 2050. Still 2X that of Italy's projection, but not the mammoth we seem to think will will continue to be. The first yellow block is China and the second one is India. Clearly they are the big growth markets according to the predictions.

You may say, well that's 2050. That's a long time from now.

The second image shows Japanese GDP plotted from 1980 to 2006. It shows our once 18% GDP down to a a modest 9.1% in 2006. Furthermore, the text on the right explains that we've gone from the world's highest GDP per capita to the world's 18th.

It's really no wonder we're having a hard time getting attention in Japan. With an aging population and a less-than-competitive economy, there are ways to manage, but you don't get there by denying the facts and continuing to beat you chest IMHO.

I was going to write about this earlier, but I let it slip and now it's old new... but I still find it funny/sad. First the Chief Cabinet Secretary and now the Minister of Defense of Japan announce that they believe in UFOs. The Minister of Defense is trying to figure out how to prepare for an alien invasion under the current Japanese pacifist constitution... *sigh* Don't they have better things to do?

Bloomberg and Yahoo both covered it.

John Lilly is moving from the COO role to the CEO role at Mozilla. Mitchell will continue to work with the organization in her various roles such as Chairman of the Mozilla Foundation, Chairman of the Mozilla Corporation, and Chief Lizard Wrangler of the project. This change was driven by Mitchell as much as anyone else and is a very friendly an natural thing as the organization grows.

Anyway, congrats to everyone involved. Please see John's blog post and Mitchell's blog post for more details.

Shigeaki Saegusa and Mr. Shinozaki

Last night, Mizuka, Sachiko-mama and I went to see the special New Years performance produced by our friend Shigeaki Saegusa. This was the 5th year of the event where the theme of each year is to perform Beethoven's 1st through 9th Symphonies in one day as we pass into the New Year.

The event started at 2PM on December 31st and ended at 1AM on January the 1st. The conductor was Kenichiro Kobayashi and the Concert Master was Mr. Shinozaki. There were a number of other concert masters playing various roles in the orchestra which was quite an all-star group selected from orchestras around Japan. There were several intermissions, but basically the same orchestra and conductor performed non-stop for the whole day. Amazingly, they seemed to get more and more energized together with the audience as we approached the end.

It was one of the most inspiring performances I've seen in a long time. Mr. Kobayashi was amazing as was the whole orchestra. Also, the notion of doing all of the symphonies in order seemed strangely Japanese to me. I reflected on some of the similarities between German and Japanese aesthetics as I watched the synchronized orchestra move through the symphonies.

Saegusa and Shinosaki, shown above, discussed how they felt like a small part of people who continue to work on performing Beethoven and how people like them would continue to perform Beethoven a hundred years from now.

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