Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

December 2009 Archives

This is a talk that I gave at TEDxDubai about open innovation in October. It's fairly similar to the talk I gave in Italy, but slightly longer and broader.

TEDx Dubai 2009 - Joichi Ito from Giorgio Ungania on Vimeo.

Following is the Prezi that I used.

PS : There is a section where I talked about Infoseek's original business model of trying to charge each user per search. It might sound like I was involved in the pivot to advertising when I said, "we were thinking". While I helped run Infoseek Japan later, at the time that decision was being made, I was just a user and I meant that "we" as a community were trying to figure out how to monetize. Just want to be clear and not take credit for things I didn't do. ;-)

We're getting close to the end of our fund raising campaign and I wanted to give you an update and ask you to consider contributing again this year if you're a past supporter and give for the first time if you're not. ;-)

Over a year ago, I took over the the role of CEO of Creative Commons from Lawrence Lessig. As you might imagine, following the founder and visionary leader was a daunting task and I have tried to focus my energy on the elements that I felt the most suited to execute on.

Larry and the founding board had laid the founding principles of Creative Commons and the organization had spread to a network of people in over 80 countries working to port, support and spread the idea of Creative Commons. What began as an idea had become a global movement growing geometrically with an adoption curve that would make any venture capitalist excited.

Over the last year, I've had the pleasure of working with an incredibly competent team of core paid staff and a network of volunteers who stepped up and developed into an extremely functional and efficient operating organization that makes me extremely proud to be associated with.

The organization has shifted from having to go around convincing everyone to use Creative Commons to having to work full speed to make sure that all of the people who want to use Creative Commons and work with our various projects got the attention they required.

Just in the last year, the White House, Wikipedia and Al Jazeera all adopted CC licenses and we now have over a quarter of a billion pieces of content licensed under a CC license. Our traction in both the science and education continue to increase.

While we have been working hard to try to develop a sustainability model, we have not yet been able to develop our "business model", we are still dependent on donations and contributions. The economy has impacted our contributions. Though more people have contributed to CC this year than ever before, the average contribution gone down. Corporate sponsorships have been even worse.

The situation reminds me of a startup which has raised money from friends and family and angel investors. The company is a wild success being the only player in the field with geometric growth and global reach. However, we're running short on cash and haven't turned the corner on the business model.

We really need your help to give CC enough runway to get to the point where in hindsight having and supporting Creative Commons as an essential part of the global infrastructure will be obvious to everyone. I need the support of you and the other angel investors who see the promise and the vision of this great idea and successful startup.

I realize that we are competing with many other important causes during this "holiday moment" but a significant contribution from you to our fundraising campaign at would go a long way in helping to solving one of the biggest problems holding back an explosion of creativity and innovation that the Internet has enabled. Thank you for reading this long post and thank you even more if you can contribute. ;-)

Gave a talk at the Italian Parliament for Capitale Digitale, a series of events involving a group of MPs from the Italian Parliament, Telecom Italia, Wired Magazine and others. The have a Facebook Group, a YouTube channel (I wonder if they're going to post my talk...) and I think they were streaming it.

It was an interesting time to be talking to the Italian Parliament, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi having recently been attacked with a statuette of the Milan cathedral by Massimo Tartaglia causing the government to go after Facebook where Tartagalia's fan pages was ordered to be shut down. Four Google executives are on trial in Italy for criminal charges for allowing an offensive video to be posted to Google Video.

I talked about the importance of the Internet and open networks on innovation. I also tried to argue that trying to block or control failure and damage wouldn't work. Like our immune system, I believe that allowing some failure will help the system become more robust. I also tried to draw a parallel between free markets vs planned economies.

While some of the politicians seemed enlightened and the team from Telecom Italia seemed very open, Italy just renewed a bill that requires all wifi access points to require identification before allowing access. Umberto Croppi from the City of Rome said on the panel that he would engage in civil disobedience and shower the street in front of his office with open wifi. Internet cafes also require IDs and they apparently monitor the usage - similar to China. Broadband penetration remains low. Such a pity in a country with so much culture to share.

When we discussed how we can change Italy, I described the idea of positive deviance and how maybe we should figure out how to set examples and support the positive deviants.

While Creative Commons was one of the core pieces of my talk, it appears that we still have a lot of work to do the layer below CC (and above) as well.

As usual, I enjoyed my trip to Italy very much with the great conversations and wonderful culture.

Thanks to Donatella and JC Martin for coordinating stuff as usual, to Johanna and Arianna for sorting out power supply, food and many other things, to Riccardo Luna for moderating the event, to Gilda Morelli for taking care of logistics, Mizzi Salvatore for being such a gracious host and to everyone who participated on the panel and in the event.


This is the Prezi I used:

I wrote this for Seth's new book.


Neoteny is the retention of childlike attributes in adulthood. Human beings are younger longer than any other creature on earth, taking almost twenty years until we become adults. While we retain many our childlike attributes into adulthood most of us stop playing when we become adults and focus on work.

When we are young, we learn, we socialize, we play, we experiment, we are curious, we feel wonder, we feel joy, we change, we grow, we imagine, we hope.

In adulthood, we are serious, we produce, we focus, we fight, we protect and we believe in things strongly.

The future of the planet is becoming less about being efficient, producing more stuff and protecting our turf and more about working together, embracing change and being creative.

We live in an age where people are starving in the midst of abundance and our greatest enemy is our own testosterone driven urge to control our territory and our environments.

It's time we listen to children and allow neoteny to guide us beyond the rigid frameworks and dogma created by adults.

Monthly Archives