Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

November 2008 Archives

Scenes from Inbamura HD - Shot with Canon 5D Mark II from Joichi Ito on Vimeo.

I just got home from Italy and my Canon 5D Mark II was waiting for me at home. I put my 24-105mm f/4 lens on it and took it outside. There isn't really much "action" in my yard in the winter so I tried to take some images scenes that sort of capture the mood of a chilly Sunday in Inbamura.

Shooting video through a camera is a very different experience than shooting photographs or shooting with a consumer quality video camera. I'm going to have to get used to it, although I find it fascinating. I have a feeling I should start story boarding. Normally, I hate using the zoom lenses, but for video, it seems much more important.

Be sure to click the "HD" button on the video to see it in full quality. I'll try to shoot something slightly more exciting soon. ;-)

If you go to the actual Vimeo site and click the "HD" icon "on" in the frame, you can see it in much better quality.

As most people already know, Queen Ranai of Jordan won the YouTube Visionary Award for her channel on YouTube. Here's her awesome acceptance speech a la Letterman style. It's really funny.

I love how many members of the royal family of Jordan have such a great sense of humor. I remember a talk by Prince Abdullah at a conference I once attended and he opened with the line, "We find ourselves between Iraq and a hard place." ;-)

Jordan is quickly becoming one of my favorite countries and I can't wait to go back. My visit with Princess Rym when I was there was really inspiring and her work in promoting journalism and film are important and inspiring. I think the openness and the skill with which the leaders communicate with the rest of the world goes a long way in dispelling some of the unreasonable stereotypes that the West has about the Arab world.

Congratulations Queen Rania and Jordan!

Mimi in her ergopod

I am so proud of my sister Mimi (and her colleagues like danah boyd) today. Her work funded by the MacArthur Foundation was released today and is getting a lot of coverage in the press. It's the result of a three-year study of the the way young people use digital technologies and media and provides rigor in an area that is cluttered with anecdotal and often misguided notions about what kids do and what's good for kids.

The New York Times

Teenagers' Internet Socializing Not a Bad Thing

Good news for worried parents: All those hours their teenagers spend socializing on the Internet are not a bad thing, according to a new study by the MacArthur Foundation.

"It may look as though kids are wasting a lot of time hanging out with new media, whether it's on MySpace or sending instant messages," said Mizuko Ito, lead researcher on the study, "Living and Learning With New Media." "But their participation is giving them the technological skills and literacy they need to succeed in the contemporary world. They're learning how to get along with others, how to manage a public identity, how to create a home page."

You can download the report from the project page. The report is CC licensed of course. ;-)

Tomorrow is the WITNESS Gala and we will be honoring WITNESS' partner Comissão Pastoral da Terra for its work to end slave labor in rural Brazil.

We just met Silvano Lima Rezende at the WITNESS Board Meeting. Silvano will be representing the CPT tomorrow at the Gala.

Here's a video of their work.

Creative Commons Blog

Campaign Exclusive: Custom USB Drives & Unreleased Jonathan Coulton Album

The ever innovative Brooklyn-based singer songwriter Jonathan Coulton has teamed up with Creative Commons to release his greatest hits compilation "JoCo Looks Back" on a 1gb custom Creative Commons jump drive to help support our 2008 campaign. If that weren't enough, JoCo and CC have also included all of the unmixed audio tracks for every song on the drive. That's over 700mb of JoCo thing-a-week goodness. Since all of JoCo's music is released under our Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license, this is an incredible opportunity for the public to remix and reuse his fantastic music. Song files are in 320kbps MP3 and unmixed audio tracks are in 256 VBR MP3.

We'll be offering the drives exclusively at our $50 dollar donation level (and above) until December 31st. Also included are a account, an OpenID identity, and a 2008 campaign sticker.

Creative Commons Blog
Commoner Letter #3: Jonathan Coulton


It's hard to overstate the degree to which CC has contributed to my career as a musician. In 2005 I started Thing a Week, a project in which I recorded a new song every week and released it for free on my website and in a podcast feed, licensing everything with Creative Commons. Over the course of that year, my growing audience started to feed back to me things they had created based on my music: videos, artwork, remixes, card games, coloring books. I long ago lost track of this torrent of fan-made stuff, and of course I'll never know how many people simply shared my music with friends, but there's no question in my mind that Creative Commons is a big part of why I'm now able to make a living this way. Indeed, it's where much of my audience comes from - there are some fan-made music videos on YouTube that have been viewed millions of times. That's an enormous amount of exposure to new potential fans, and it costs me exactly zero dollars.

When you're an artist, it's a wonderful thing to hear from a fan who likes what you do. But it's even more thrilling to see that someone was moved enough to make something brand new based on it - that your creative work has inspired someone to do more creative work, that your little song had a child and that child was a YouTube video that a million people watched. A Creative Commons license is like a joy multiplier. The art you create adds to the world whenever someone appreciates it, but you also get karma credit for every new piece of art it inspires. And around and around. This is my favorite thing about Creative Commons: the act of creation becomes not the end, but the beginning of a creative process that links complete strangers together in collaboration. To me it's a deeply satisfying and beautiful vision of what art and culture can be.


Thanks so much for this Jonathan and thanks for all of the great thoughts and kind words in the commoner letter.

Takuma Hatano and Joi
Ambassador Hatano and me

Just finished a trip to Abu Dhabi and Dubai to attend and speak at the Electronic Media conference organized by the Higher Colleges of Technology. (Conference program) The request came through Ambassador Hatano and the Japanese Embassy. Thanks for the referral Ambassador!

The host was Sheikh Nahayan, a very popular Sheikh who is the Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology and the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research. They call him the "People's Sheikh" because he has an open door policy where anyone can visit him at his residence without an appointment and meet with him if they're willing to wait. This system reminds me a bit of Edward Hall's P-Time.

The conference was a lot of fun. All of the speakers were really great.

The general themes of the meeting were how the Net was affecting publishing and journalism. We also discussed Arab media and media in the UAE.

While we had some different perspectives of the role of amateurs in journalism, there was much more agreement considering the diversity of positions represented. We had wide spectrum of traditional journalists and publishers. The discussion was more constructive than any I've had recently with such a diverse group and we really focused on the mechanics and metrics of various business models for the future of journalism. One great example was Vidar Meisingseth's presentation about VG News Portal, a Norwegian news site that gets a huge percentage of its revenue from online and a substantial amount of news from amateur photographers and "tips" that come in via SMS, phone and email.

Alexandra Pringle, the Editor in Chief of Bloomsbury talked about the book publishing business and mentioned Bloomsbury Academic that Frances Pinter is running which will have Creative Commons licensed books available for download with print on demand for those who want to buy a printed version. They will be publishing Lessig's Remix in May.

We discussed the topic of censorship although it wasn't on the program. Many of the visiting speakers talked about the importance of freedom of speech. There was a very interesting comment from a student in the audience who said she had discussed this with her other friends there and represented their view. She said that often foreigners come to the UAE and criticize online censorship, but that she thought it was fine. She said that most of the citizens respected the rulers and that blocking certain sites was not necessarily a bad thing. Citizens of Abu Dhabi represent only 20% of the population or so. It would be interesting to find out what the rest of the population thinks.

According to the Access Denied report on the UAE: "The government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) pervasively filters Web sites that contain pornography or relate to alcohol and drug use, gay and lesbian issues, or online dating or gambling. Web-based applications and religious and political sites are also filtered, though less extensively. Additionally, legal controls limit free expression and behavior, restricting political discourse and dissent online." If you look at the chart on the page, it looks like the social stuff is the focus of the censorship however.

One thing that I've found in my limited travels in Jordan and the UAE is that there is quite a diversity of positions among the young people with respect to social and religious practices. Samr Husain Al Marzouqi explained how he worked very hard at MTV to make it cool but still respectful of the various positions including those kids who adhere to somewhat conservative beliefs.

I talked about a number of topics including amateur vs professional, Creative Commons, blogs, micro-blogging, mobile and the need to allow people to use video remix as a form of political expression. I talked a bit about the success that the Communist Party of Japan have been having using Nico Nico Douga. (Takeshi Natsuno talked about this at the DG New Context Conference. There is a good article by Chris Salzberg on Global Voices about this as well.)

Some photos from the trip are on Flickr.

Susan Crawford

Andrew McLaughlin, Kevin Werbach and Yochai Benkler

Wow. This is wonderful. Two of my favorite people and the two people who I know who are the most qualified for this job have been chosen by Obama to lead the FCC transition team. Congratulations Susan and Kevin! Maybe we'll save the Internet after all.

If the new administration keeps choosing teams like this, we're in for some really good change.

TV Week

November 14, 2008 12:39 PM
Obama Assembles FCC Transition Team

By Ira Teinowitz

President-elect Barack Obama today named two academics to head his transition team looking at issues and personnel for the Federal Communications Commission.

Susan Crawford, a University of Michigan law professor of communications law, and Ken Werbach, a Wharton School assistant professor and a former counsel for new technology policy at the FCC during the Clinton administration, will lead the team.

Ms. Crawford is a former partner of a Washington law firm that specializes in communications law and recently left the board of directors of ICANN, a group that oversees Internet domain-name registration. Mr. Werbach edited Release 1.0, a technology newsletter, and founded Supernova Group, a technology analysis and consulting firm.

The Obama transition team includes a number of former FCC officials, but under the conflict-of-interest rules adopted by the president-elect's team, many may be barred from directly examining FCC issues.

President-elect Obama's office said today that Ms. Crawford and Mr. Werbach are part of the Science, Tech, Space and Arts Team that will be directed by Tom Wheeler, a former president of National Cable and Telecommunications.

Oh, and it should be "Kevin" not "Ken"... hmm.

via Dewayne via IP

I just got an email from TED with a link to this wonderful video by renowned filmmaker, Jesse Dylan who recently made the A Shared Culture video. This new video below is about Compassion. I've written about compassion in the past and I think it is the single most important thing that we need right now. The Charter for Compassion asks everyone to tell their story of compassion. Looks like a great project.

Charter for Compassion

Help us create a Charter for Compassion

People of all nations, all faiths, all backgrounds, are invited to contribute.

By recognizing that the Golden Rule is fundamental to all world religions, the Charter for Compassion can inspire people to think differently about religion. This Charter is being created in a collaborative project by people from all over the world. It will be completed in 2009. Use this site to offer language you'd like to see included. Or inspire others by sharing your own story of compassion.

20081104_Chicago_IL_ElectionNight1032, Barack Obama | CC BY-NC-SA

CC Blog

President Elect Barack Obama CC-Licensed Behind the Scenes Photos on Flickr

President-Elect Barack Obama and his staff have been posting photographs to his Flickr photostream since early 2007. Their most recent set from election night offers an amazing behind the scenes look at a historic point in American history.

All of the photos are released under a CC BY-NC-SA license, making them easily shareable and reusable. You can see more photos from the campaign trail here.

Loic on stage at Maid Cafe

When Loïc was in Tokyo, we were discussing the election. Although Loic was hoping for Obama to win, he thought that McCain was going to win. I felt very strongly that Obama was going to win. We decided to make a bet. The loser would end up becoming a servant to the winner for a day.

Obviously, I won.

I thought about selling Loic on eBay, but I realized that would be too selfish. I'm now considering a twitter account or channel so everyone interested can participate. I still haven't decided the day, but I think I'll choose a day when I'm in the Bay Area so I can document some of this...

Anyway, I'm still open to ideas. Let me know if you think of anything clever.

Congratulations USA. As is everyone else in the whole wide world, I'm so happy for you I could cry. I actually did cry a few times. Having been traveling the a lot recently, it was interesting how all many people were talking about is how we hoped Obama would win.

I think that the financial crisis has triggered a wave of doubt about the US all over the world. In general. I is inevitable that the US going from being a "super-duper power" to just a "super-power". However, as the world was adjusting to this new, more distributed world, we could have ended up in a very anti-American direction, or one where we were working to try to integrate American as a "member" of a more rational and diverse world.

I think the presidency was the key to retaining global respect for the US as we recover from the recent shocks in the market. Although the US will have a lot of work cut out for itself in the coming months and years, I think that having elected Obama, the US will get to start with a clean slate and most people will give the US the benefit of the doubt. I think that this is really a great chance to show the rest of the world how intelligent, humble, diversity-embracing and ready-for-change the US is. Lets work to make the US respectable again and help convince the world that the core values of the US are something worth learning from.

I was quoted in the Washington Post today. The article is behind some sign-up wall, but if you search for "Joichi Ito" at, you can find the article. It's mostly accurate, but I don't think I ever said, "black man". I think I said, "Obama." The journalist kept asking me, "what do you think about a black man taking office..." so I guess he wanted that in the quote. I do think that Obama being black is part of importance of the election, but the fact that Obama is black isn't WHY he is humble, intelligent and great. ;-)

Washington Post

Around the World, Praise for Obama

By Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service


"It is almost impossible to overstate the impact of this vote on the rest of the world," said Joichi Ito, a globetrotting Internet entrepreneur and prominent blogger who is based in Tokyo.

"The United States looked closed, stupid, xenophobic and aggressive" under Bush," Ito said. "By electing Obama, it looks open, diversity-embracing, humble and intelligent."

"This vote is the best thing that could have happened to restore American influence," Ito said. "By choosing a black man as president, Americans showed the world they are ready for change."


Thanks to Richard Stallman, everyone at the Free Software Foundation, The Wikimedia Foundation, Creative Commons and the various communities who have worked so hard to get this to happen. This is an extremely important and essential step in uniting Free Culture.

I am so happy. ;-)

UPDATE: See Mike's post on the CC Blog for a more precise explanation of what happened and what needs to happen for everything to be completely complete.

Lessig's Blog

Enormously important news from the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation has released the GNU Free Document License version 1.3. Section 11 of that license now (essentially) permits certain wikis to be relicensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (v3.0) license, so long as the relicensing is completed by August 1, 2009. That means, the Wikipedia community now has the choice to relicense Wikipedia under a Creative Commons license. (Here's the FAQ for the amendment.)

It would be hard to overstate the importance of this change to the Free Culture community. A fundamental flaw in the Free Culture Movement to date is that its most important element -- Wikipedia -- is licensed in a way that makes it incompatible with an enormous range of other content in the Free Culture Movement. One solution to this, of course, would be for everything to move to the FDL. But that license was crafted initially for manuals, and there were a number of technical reasons why it would not work well (and in some cases, at all) for certain important kinds of culture.

This change would now permit interoperability among Free Culture projects, just as the dominance of the GNU GPL enables interoperability among Free Software projects. It thus eliminates an unnecessary and unproductive hinderance to the spread and growth of Free Culture.

Richard Stallman deserves enormous credit for enabling this change to occur. There were some who said RMS would never permit Wikipedia to be relicensed, as it is one of the crown jewels in his movement for freedom. And so it is: like the GNU/Linux operation system, which his movement made possible, Wikipedia was made possible by the architecture of freedom the FDL enabled. One could well understand a lesser man finding any number of excuses for blocking the change.

But here's what Richard said in 2002 in a different context:

"If we don't want to live in a jungle, we must change our attitudes. We must start sending the message that a good citizen is one who cooperates when appropriate...."

Add "good citizen" to the list of praise for this founder of contemporary freedom.

When we were thinking about things that we could do for this year's fund raising campaign, we realized that one thing that might be cool would be to try giving people a OpenID with their donation. Because donors authenticate their identity with us to the extent that they pay us money and because Creative Commons is a somewhat known entity, we thought this might have some value. In addition, an OpenID profile on would allow us to test some ideas that we have about how a copyright registry might work.

If you want to try it out, join the network by donating to Creative Commons.

Joi - CC Network
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!
Once you've joined, you get a profile page like this. You can register your works.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States
Registering your works will give you this nifty extra bit on your CC deeds.

The OpenID Directory
Then you can use to login to any OpenID site.

Photo: Dennis Stefani, (c) Mrs. Me, Inc., 2008, made available under a CC BY-NC-ND license

Pop star Gwen Stefani and her husband, rocker Gavin Rossdale recently welcomed a baby, Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale, into the world. Many celebrities contract with a magazine to arrange an exclusive photo session that debuts mother with newborn. But Stefani and Rossdale took a different approach and hired their own photographer and put the photo online for the public under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license, along with some additional terms that allow all print magazines, newspapers, and blogs to use the photo - even commercially, with some restrictions. You can download a high-res version of the photo (and check out the additional terms the photo is available under) at Stefani's site.

This is a great example using CC to manage your own identity and image online. I've always been a fan of Gwen Stefani, but this puts her (and Gavin) in a new category for me. Yay! And congratulations on the baby Gwen and Gavin.

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