Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Recently in the Introspective Category

Later D and thanks for all the bits »

D5 was fun. I felt almost "back in the swing of things" talking to all of the entrepreneurs, VCs, headhunters, corp dev guys, and BigCo CEOs. I still have a really hard time feeling comfortable schmoozing at cocktail parties and left most of them early. I think I'm fundamentally shy. My lack of focus and the subsequent difficulty in answering the question, "So! What do YOU do?" probably makes it worse. I'm getting better at taking photos of celebrities, but I still have a hard time going up and saying "hi!" to people without an introduction. I should probably...

Forcing Lefties to be Righties? »

This used to be quite common in Japan. In Japan, if you were left handed, they would make you do everything with your right hand anyway. They would "fix" you. This happened to me. I'm pretty sure I'm a Lefty. I throw, kick and do most physical things with my left hand, but I write, cut and do other "formal" things with my right hand. I think this may be part of the reason that I have messy handwriting. As for as I can tell, while my brain may be "damaged" by this, I can, for the most part, function...

Being calm and happy »

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...

Breathing Poem »

From Thich Nhat Hanhin, out deep, slow calm, ease smile, release present moment, wonderful moment...

Mindful Writing »

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 TrainingAware 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...

Discovering drawing »

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...

Mindfulness and deferred yak shaving »

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...

Rock vs Tree »

I feel like this tree - lots of branches that are heavy and overextended. I wish I felt more like this rock....

Do I need loneliness? »

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...

Becoming boring »

I just read through my daily dose of blogs in my aggregator and scanned the email from people asking / telling me to blog stuff. I realized that there are a great number of things that I would have posted to my blog a year ago, but I won't now. I have argued a number of times that this is my blog and if you don't like it don't read it. However, as I read criticisms in the comments and on other blogs about what I write, I have become increasingly sensitive about what I say here. The criticism is...

Creative Commons lecture mashup »

I was spending part of my mind thinking about my talk next week in Australia in Melbourne for the Alfred Deakin Innovation Lectures. The topic of the talk was "The Creative Commons: intellectual property & public broadcasting & opportunities for common sense & public good". I was looking at Larry's schedule to try to see when I might be able to talk to him about some ideas and I noticed that he was scheduled to be in Australia too. Then I realized that he was speaking at the same conference. I looked at the site and realized that we were...

Going UTC »

This week is a national holiday for Japan and I am home trying to "rest". I was hoping to recover from jet lag, exercise, catch up on some reading... and install Tiger. Once I installed Tiger, I decided to take my increasingly complicated schedule and put it into iCal. iCal allows you to enter your time zone so your meeting are synchronized globally. Many of the regular meetings that I had been missing because I wasn't tracking properly now fell neatly into place in absolute time with iCal's pretty sophisticated repeating meeting mode. Obviously, I'm not the first person to...

What would Gandhi do? »

Yesterday evening, Marko and I ran the closing session for Doors of Perception in India. Frankly, it was an amazing conference. There were minor logistical gripes like no wifi in the conference center (my excuse for not blogging for the last few days), but it was really incredible. Hats off to the whole team that pulled this together. Presentations ranged from self-organizing networks of manufacturers in slums to alternative currencies to the latest things going on on the web. In the wrap-up session, I talked a lot about role of the open Internet in allowing bottom-up innovation and edge-inward work....

A chat with AKMA about self-esteem »

A few weeks ago, there was an article in Scientific American "debunking" the myth of self-esteem. I've never been to therapy in the US so I don't have first hand experience, but my good friend John Vasconcellos is one of the founders of the movement and my impressions about the movement from him were that it was important and useful. John told me that he thought the definition that they used in the article was different from the one he was using. He said he would get back to me on his thoughts on the article. I found a thread...

Season's Greetings and Global Voices »

It's 6AM Christmas morning in Japan right now. Today I'm reflecting on the past year and thinking about the future and I'm thinking about Global Voices. Hopefully most of you are with your family with some time to relax, think about priorities and reflect. I'm sure there are a lot of TV shows about "Peace on earth, goodwill to men," and you've probably sent and received a lot of UNICEF Christmas cards. You should be in the perfect mood to think about Global Voices. In the past, we had to rely on TV shows to try to feel empathy for...

The top 1,000 things to know »

Seth blogs about the top 1,000 things for a 13 year old third grader to learn. I agree with him. The most important thing I learned in school was how to touch type. UPDATE: Thanks to Liz for pointing out that Seth said 3rd graders, not 13 year olds. Sorry! UPDATE 2: Ado says that Seth's post originally said 13 year old......

The second syllable »

Japanese and the Finnish tend to pronounce things rather monotonously or accent the first syllable. I find that the American's tend emphasize the second syllable. In notice this in particular with three syllable words like Nokia or Joichi. The American's say no-KEEE-ah (mp3) or Jo-WEEE-chee. In Japanese, it's JOH-ichi and the Finnish say NOH-kee-ah (mp3). One of the reasons I shortened my name to Joi from Joichi was that I didn't like the sound of the second syllable accent. For some reason the second syllable accent sounds less respectful for formal... Like Run DMC's "My Adidas!" Am I being weird?...

Sticking my head outside of the echo chamber »

I used to give a lot of talks to Japanese audiences, but have recently been spending more time speaking overseas and writing on my blog. Kenta in my office suggested that I accept the occasional talk in Japan to keep in touch with the Japanese audience. I accepted a talk at the Japan Information Technology Services Industry Association (JISA) annual conference. As I was preparing my presentation yesterday, I tried to imagine my audience and I realized that I had "lost it". It was almost impossible for me to imagine what they wanted to hear, or what they would understand....

Note taking in the Google age »

I had a breakfast meeting with Professor Hirotaka Takeuchi about my doctorate program and I was taking notes in my moleskine notebook. I was jotting down just names and keywords and I think the professor thought it was a bit odd. I realized that taking notes with the intention of googling everything later is very different than taking complete notes. I had never noticed that I had started doing this....

'Jap Road' to Get Name Change »

I'm posting this because I've often been asked if I am offended by the word "Jap". The answer is, yes. I am.'Jap Road' to Get Name Change BEAUMONT, Texas (Reuters) - A decade-long fight over a quiet country lane called "Jap Road" ended on Monday when local officials voted to change the racially charged name. [...] "It's our history, it's our heritage. I can remember when it was a dirt road, now it's being portrayed as a racial divide between us and the Japanese-Americans," Earl Callahan, born and raised on Jap Road, told the commissioners. [...] "People believe in this...

Geek Dreams »

Boing BoingDo IT workers dream of electric sheep? This hilarious site compiles the nightmares and dreams of coders.IT dreamsOne of the scariest nightmares I've had in the past decade or so was about me being stuck in a Nethack dungeon. Everything was green on black (I'd been playing on a Facit VT100-clone) and in 7-bit ASCII. I distinctly remember being chased by a lower-case x, scared out of my wits and at the same time feeling ashamed of being such a wimp that a mere grid bug was a threat.I have a lot of weird dreams. Sometimes I'm a contract...

Is my obsession a feature or a bug? »

A: How many people with ADD does it take to change a light-bulb? B: I don't know? How many? A: Want to go to the movies? Since I quit drinking, I've been doing a lot of talking and reading about addiction and the psychology of obsession. One path of inquiry lead me to the notion that obsessive compulsive disorder was often behind addictive behavior and that replacing one type of obsessive behavior with another wasn't a "cure" for the "disease". They seem to have a name for just about every kind of behavior, and interestingly enough, a medical "cure" for...

Carrying privilege »

danah's always talking about privilege and I've started to think about this more consciously than before. Just about everyone here in Davos is privileged. Some have been born into privilege and some have gained it through their work. Some people carry their privilege well, others don't. There are people who seem to gloat in and flaunt their privilege, constantly bragging and doing the nudge-nudge-wink-wink. Others carry it naturally. Others seem to feel bad or strange having been chosen to be among the privileged. Some seem to guiltily enjoy the privilege. Some seem to believe that the privilege they have comes...

Joi Ito is a short, straight, 37-year-old, Japanese guy who lives in Japan »

Many people seem to think I'm a woman because my name is rather gender neutral if not feminine. I am a short, straight, 37-year-old, Japanese guy who lives in Japan. I've noticed some people are very careful not to reveal their gender on their blogs. Others are clear. Others probably fake it. I'm sure danah can give us a list of people for whom it is much more complicated than "are your male or female." Anyway, I suppose I should make it more clear, but where? Picture in my "about section"? UPDATE: I just posted a picture. I hope this...

Traffic, obsession and happiness »

I disagree somewhat with Adina. I think that traffic is similar to attention. Attention is not the same as power or money, but it is sought after in the same way and in some ways is something that money can't buy and is actually more valuable and difficult to gain. Having said that, it's not about the traffic. Just like it's not about money, or attention. Money, attention and traffic do not, at the end of the day, make you happy. It is associated with privilege and power. I've met many people who have privilege and power (and money and...

Wisdom from Ev »

EvCome to think of it, this is a corollary to one of my favorite truisms: We judge ourselves by our intensions and others by their actions.Yup....

Yo Marc! »

Actually, I guess the technical term is, "yo duuuude."Marc CanterWell maybe those days are over, but there's one thing for sure - Joi will have a drink - again.  Maybe on New Year's Eve - maybe 20 years from now - but once an addict, always an addict.  I mean that in a nice way. We can try and intellectualize our way out of our problems, manipulating our actions and behavior to suit our health - mental, physcial or economic - but you'll always go back to being - just you. I would beg to differ on this point Marc. Since...

Blogger's block, collapsing facets and the number 150 »

I've had blogger's block lately. As more people read my blog, I realize that I am writing for larger and larger audience. Just about every time I post something, I get thoughtful comments and email from a variety of perspectives. I realize that post early/post often is probably the best policy for blogging, but the rigor in which entries are discussed and the increasing percentage of people who I meet who have read my blog cause me to try to blog about things which are interesting yet not likely to cause me to spend a lot of time defending myself. The fact is, I'm becoming more and more conservative about what I blog.danah boyd often talks about the collapsing of the facets of our identity. (As I continue to collapse her context by linking to her constantly.) She quotes an article about "Mom Finds Out About Blog". This relates to Erving Goffman's "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" where he talks about how we perform differently to different audiences presenting different facets of our identity. The problem with many blogs is that the audience includes so many different communities of people that it collapses the facets of one's identity and requires you to choose a rather shallow facet which becomes your public identity. For instance, I know that people in the US State Department, friends from my Chicago DJ days, my employees, my family, thoughtful conservatives from Texas, cypherpunk friends, foreign intelligence officers, Japanese business associates and close friends all read my blog occasionally. In real life, I present a very different facet of my identity to these different communities, but on my blog I have to imagine how all of them will react as a craft these entries. None of them get the depth that I am able to present when I am performing for them directly. So, although I am exposing many personal thoughts such as my decision to quit drinking, the depth of my identity is becoming shallow because the context is collapsed. Most of the truly thoughtful comments I have received about my drinking have been in email and IM and I am sure my blog will not help me discover my inner goofball.Halley writes about intimacy. What does it mean? I think intimacy relates to the Robin Dunbar's magic number 150. At this moment there are 87 people hanging out on #joiito and 216 people in my instant messenger buddy list (some are the same people). On the other hand, I have 490 connections in LinkedIn, have 510 phone numbers in my cell phone and get about 1000 new years cards. On my blog, I get about 13,000 unique sessions (30,000 page views) per day. Today, I attended a fund-raising meeting for a non-profit, and a political campaigner said that generally, one was expected to have to shake 50,000 hands to get elected.Ross Mayfield broke the networks down into political, social and creative at 1000's, 150 and 12, but my feeling is that the political layer is 10's of thousands and next layer is business at 500 and social at 150 and creative at 12. This is not scientific, but just my personal observation. If this is true, this blog is approaching the political layer which explains why I feel that I get more business done on LinkedIn, but I feel much more candid and happy on IRC and Chat and why I still really love dinner conversations most of all. I think that if you can manage the audience size and composition on your blog, you can tune it to any of these layers. Mena often talks about how blogs are more about normal people blogging with their friends than about pundits competing against the media. I would agree and think this may be more rewarding at an emotional level than taking your blog to the political level. What you have to be careful of is that you never know when you might suddenly become popular or when your mom might drop into your blog and your context will collapse around you. Managing your audience and the facets of your identity is a very difficult thing and navigating this has and always will be one of our biggest challenges both in the real world and online.Blogging about not being able to blog...

Drinking update... »

I haven't had a drink since I quit drinking. It may just be the novelty, but I'm enjoying myself greatly. I slept 10 hours last night (the most I can remember sleeping in years), I feel great and interestingly I don't feel and physiological withdrawals. I have the momentary, "boy, I need a drink" at the beginning of dinner, but once I get over that, I seem to be fine. Maybe it's that I'm surrounded by interesting people. Also, I realize that I can now work productively after dinner and my conversations during dinner are lucid and more intelligent. Anyway, I know that the "when you least expect it, expect it" rule applies here, but I think I'm off to a good start thanks to all of your support. Thanks everyone.PS If anyone catches me staring longly at a bottle of wine, feel free to smack me.

Quit drinking »

I've been trying to "cut back" on my drinking, but it doesn't work. I got drunk last night and I regret it. So, I've quit drinking. If you're my friend please be supportive and don't offer me alcohol please.Thank you.

Accent chameleoning »

This relates to my last post. In an email exchange, someone mentioned that their friend switched to broken English when speaking to their foreign friends. When asked why, she replied that otherwise they would think she was elitist.I find that my English language accent is SO affected by who I'm talking to that it's embarrassing and I'm self-conscious about it. I sometimes try to resist it, but it happens. I see other people doing this too, but I find mine particularly bad. It is obviously happening in my sub-conscious, but it might have something to do with the "girls playing dumb" thing.

Being vicariously giddy on a good day »

Cory just had the best day of his writing career. danah was a "giddy little girl" yesterday. I get vicariously giddy when my friends are giddy on a good day. As Cory points out, his day was the best day "so far". That's key. Wouldn't it suck if you started your life with the best day ever and it kept getting worse? Much better to start with the bad days and have each day get better.Does this mean that people who are born into luxury have a harder time having a good life than someone who starts out below average and ends up developing a great life? I guess it depends on what makes you happy.The mundane parameters of my life (money, attention, health...) are cycling like crazy, but I definitely feel like my life continues to get better. I would say that the primary source of happiness for me is the quality of the human beings I get to spend time with. Although many of my favorite people have passed away, I think I am hanging out with more interesting people today than any other point in my life.So in the spirit of the weird American holiday thank you. All of you.

Voices in my head »

I'm chatting with Loic right now. Loic has a very distinct French accent. I hear his voice in my head. I've always had a problem reading and I think it's because I tend to hear text rather than read it directly. The interesting thing is that when I know the voice of the author, I hear the author's voice. The voice can cause a very emotional reaction. The other day, when I was reading an email, I got so excited I even noticed a taste. It was a kind of email induced synesthesia. With iChat, maybe because of the real-time nature and the icon/face, the voice seems much more clear.Am I crazy?

Becoming a cranky old man »

Many of the old men I know are cranky. They are often cranky because they've been fighting long battles. Battles about technology, battles about politics, battles about education, all kind of battles. Most old men have their hot buttons that trigger a rush of memories of these battles. When most old men talk to each other, they sense these hot buttons and generally avoid each other's hot buttons. The rule about avoiding religion and politics as dinner topics comes from the fact that there are many hot buttons in these areas.Last night I was one of these cranky old men. We were talking about terrorism and profiling. I am a veteran of many battles on privacy and security. I didn't realize how much of a cranky old man I'd become until a friend of mine last night kept pushing that hot button with the opinion that profiling was a good thing and that a few false positives were worth the cost to protect America. I got completely emotional and ruined the tone of the friendly dinner conversation. The problem with a dinner conversation is usually there is some alcohol involved which clouds memory (access to facts stored in cranky old brain) and logical thinking, and you can't page slap people with your previous arguments. As a cranky old man last night I realized how difficult it was for me to have casual conversation about a hot button topic and how difficult it was to have a rigorous discussion about complicated topics when I didn't have access to a method of providing context. I felt like I was just beating my chest to show I felt strongly about the issue...I think this issue of having difficulty engaging in a discussion with someone on a topic you understand well where you have a strong opinion is an issue that many academics face. This forces them to climb their ivory towers and engage in esoteric debates in an esoteric language with their peers and not reach down to the average person. This is also why many academics avoid publishing in popular media.I wonder if there is a solution to this problem. I think layers of blogs is one thing that helps. I consult with a number of academic sources to come up with my somewhat simplistic assertions about certain issues. Others write about it even more casually on their blogs. If things are attributed correctly, one can usually drill down to the source (although many academics sources are still not online). Sometimes it works the other way around. I write about something casually and accidentally trigger a bunch of hot buttons which ends up providing more context and rigor.The scary thing is, I can see myself starting to want to only have discussions with people where we read each other's blogs, a sort of blogademic.

Following crowds »

Spent part of the day at Disney Sea with Mizuka for her birthday. There were lots of lines and lots of crowds. When we encountered crowds I realized that my behavior was a bit different than most of the people, but obviously not unique. I would avoid crowds and try to go in the opposite direction of crowds. If I noticed I was near the front of a crowd or ahead of a crowd, I would accelerate and try to stay ahead. Otherwise I would change course or go the other direction. If there were lines, I would choose the shortest one.I saw some people doing exactly the opposite. Even though there were ticket windows open, they would go to where people were lined up. If there was a crowd, it often attracted more people. Even if people were ahead of the pack, they walked slowly and were engulfed by the crowd.I think investing and business development is a bit like a theme park where new rides are opening and various things changing, with the crowds rushing from one area to another. I think you should focus on trying to find cool things to do in less crowded spaces. Don't be worried because there's no one there yet. You should try to stay ahead of the crowd if the crowd is headed in the same direction. If you see the crowd coming your way, get your business done quickly.The social software space is starting to feel a bit crowded. ;-) I think we're still near the head of the crowd, but pretty soon it's going to feel like a crowded Disneyland ride I think... This doesn't mean I'm going to start running in the opposite direction, but there are lots of things we need to do before the follow-the-pack'ers all arrive.

Weird dream about standards »

I had a weird dream last night. I had a dream that I was spinning records and I had a little chart. On one axis was the record label and on the other was the record player. When ever I played a record, I had to check the label and cross it with the record player to know what the right speed setting for the record was. In real life, I remember being annoyed when records didn't have 45 rpm or 33 rpm on their labels when I was a DJ.Anyway, a few observations. I'm totally losing it because I remember thinking in the dream, "oh, I should blog this..." Which, I think, is a bad sign. This dream was probably partially triggered by my discussion with James Seng yesterday about identifier standards (which I will blog about later when I understand exactly what we talked about) and partially triggered by thoughts about CSS incompatibilities when trying to redesign my blog. (Which luckily Boris is handling for me right now.) The little chart I had in the dream reminded me of the CSS/browser support charts in the O'Reilly CSS Pocket Reference.Anyway, isn't it great when we have standards that work and really ugly when we have bad standards or no standards at all? I'm not trying to take a political stand here, just observing and paying homage the the necessity of good standards.

My Dinner with Andre »

Introspective note to self follows...

Technorati ranking neighbors »

To make my point here, I have first admit that I often go to the Technorati top 100 page to see where my blog is ranked. I admit that it goes against my negative feelings about the power law, etc. and is a bit self-absorbed.Anyway, when Technorati added Live Journal and surged in indexed blogs, my ranking dropped enormously and I was barely still on the list. Lately, I've slowly crawled back up. Recently I've been neck to neck with a blog called ":: i don't give a shit what you think :: ". It felt weird seeing, "I don't give a shit what you think Joi Ito's Web." ;-) I just noticed that I finally passed it. The funny thing about this list is that I seem to have (in my mind) a relationship to blogs close to me in ranking. I tend to read them to see who they are. I see some blogs slip down the list, and some others shoot up. I try to find what causes their rise and fall by looking at their Technorati cosmos.Am I weird?

The Big Sync »

As I was taking a shower this morning I did a self-analysis of my morning process which seems to be standardizing for the moment.I become aware around 2am and start getting the feeling that something important might be going on that I'm missing. I crawl out of bed between 3am-4am, turn on my computer, go make coffee, and sit down, still a bit groggy. I startup email and NewNewsWire. I scan my inbox quickly for any urgent business email and take care of that while NetNewsWire is getting my RSS feeds. Then I go to the folder containing email from MT and read my trackbacks and comments on my blog. I respond to anything urgent there. Then flip over to NetNewsWire and scan the Technorati feed of new inbounds to my blog and read most of them. I comment on people's blogs where I can. Then I startup iChat and MSN Messenger to see if anyone needs me urgently. Then I chat and go through as many of the 150 RSS feeds as I can. I have the feeds ordered in different folders based on the order I want to read them. I open anything I might want to blog about into browser windows as I go through the feeds. Then I open IRC and see if anything important is going on in that community. Then I multi-task email, blogging, chat and RSS feeds until it's time to take a shower and go to work. Inevitably I think of something to blog while I'm taking a shower and end up here... a bit late for work, but trying to get the blog entry out. (And this inevitably ends up in a poorly written entry.)I used to use the post to blog feature on NetNewsWire, but I've switched entirely to Kung-Log and copy paste from browsers because this seems to give me more control and context.It feels like a big sync every morning. Then throughout the day, emails to my cell phone, quick hits of IRC, iChat, email and RSS keep me syched. If the morning sync fails, I find myself unable to keep up during the day...I'd be interested to hear the way other people manage their blogging. I've watched over Cory's shoulder once and THAT was amazing...

Oh! THAT Josh! »

When I was in New York, I met Britt Blaser and Josh Koenig. They came to the Six Apart meeting. They are both working on the Dean campaign and it was great talking to them. I had seen both of their names online and I tried to store their faces in the approximate location in my brain of where I thought I had remembered seeing them online. Then when I was reading an entry on Britt's blog about how much fun they were all having working on the campaign, I clicked thru to Josh and remembered Josh was Outlandish Josh. I was on the phone with David Kirkpatrick of Fortune yesterday so Fortune magazine was fresh in my mind. I remembered that I met someone at the Fortune conference in Aspen who was a "friend of Josh, Outlandish Josh." A few more synapses fired and now Josh has unique spot in my brain. The problem is, I remember people mostly by their first name and there are also Josh and Josh. There are way too many Daves and surely a lot of Ross's. Lots of neuronal name space collisions. On IRC people naturally pick nicknames so there are no name collisions and I find it convenient to remember and refer to people by their IRC nicknames. (Although it's a pain when they contain non alpha-numeric characters.)I wonder if there is any way for social software to help me remember people and keep them sorted and in context in my brain... Maybe photo albums, my own blog and links to other blogs is maybe the best way. I wonder if I should make a search engine for my own blog instead of using Google so I can sort comments by person and display inbound and outbound links, link to Technorati ID's and other cool things. Maybe I can get Jibot to help...

The Creative Edge: How Do You Maintain it? »

The second workshop I attended was "The Creative Edge: How Do You Maintain it?" run by Miha Pogacnik, the Cultural Ambassador for The Republic of Slovenia. Miha, violin in hand, deconstructed a Bach Fugue passage by passage. He explained the musical elements and got us to really hear each transition. Then he created a narrative while scribbling on paper the image. It started with a tough command/control image (teenage feelings), pressure, dropping out, networking and communicating, love, chaos (middle age crisis), breaking through, questioning, returning to identity, rising up and finally rebirth and integration. It was really beautiful. I'd never had music deconstructed, much less such a wonderful narrative. I'll never listen to Bach or any other classical music piece in the same way.I found that these images of the various phases were very useful in thinking about the transitions in my life. The idea of chaos, breaking away, questioning and returning back to my identity resonated with me a great deal. This process also reminded me of Chungliang Al Huang's Tai Ji class that I took where he helped us understand how there were a variety of types of energy and learning how to move between and transform the variety of energies helped you build your own energy and identity.Good stuff.

Jobs and the strength of weak ties »

M. S. Granovetter .The strength of weak ties : A network theory revisited. In Sociological Theory (1), 1983. is an important paper for understanding social software. Unfortunately, it's an academic paper and therefore NOT ONLINE. (I'll rant about that later). In the paper, Granovetter describes strong ties and weak ties. Strong ties are your family, friends and other people you have strong bonds to. Weak ties are relationships that transcend local relationship boundaries both socially and geographically. He writes about the importance of weak ties in the flow of information and does a study of job hunting and shows that jobs are more often found through weak ties than through strong ties. This obviously overlaps with the whole 6 degrees thing. I do believe there are some "nodes" but think that it is much more complex than a simple power law with a few number of local maximums.After reading Shannon "Pet Rock Star" Campbell's piece on her quest for a job at a temp agency and the "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" page, I decided to look at all of "this stuff" from the perspective of jobs.I was recently at an advisory board meeting for a trade school. We had just done a survey of employers asking for what they their primary criteria for choosing new employees was and it was overwhelmingly about execution and character and very little about skills. Skills, they said, could be taught later. I believe that "character" in the context of a job is your self-esteem and your passion for what you are doing.What I would like to assert is that social software can help people with their self-esteem and can also help you find others who can find your assets and interests more valuable and place people in jobs where one can have "character". I wrote about this self-esteem thing earlier and in a trackback on that item, you can find a link to "Exhibit A". Boris writes first hand about the development of his self-esteem through blogs and IRC.Shannon is a really interesting "case" for me. She is witty, has great character, is a brilliant musician, is a poster-child for the Creative Commons (I first heard of her when Larry Lessig was raving on about her over lunch), and she's worried about her interview at a temp agency in South Carolina. Something's wrong here. I know several other people on my IRC channel who are looking for jobs where they are surrounded geographically by people who don't understand or are unable to "leverage" the assets of that individual.What I can see emerging is a way to amplify the strength of weak ties. (I knew this before, but it's becoming more crisp to me now.) IRC allows me to see the style and personality of many of the people online. Blogs help me see what their interests are and focus is. LinkedIn provides a professional context for referrals. I think that supporting the process of developing your assets and character and finding a job that best suits you will be one of the single most important benefits of social software. I know I've been ranting about Emergent Democracy and about level 2 and 3 in Maslow's hierarchy of Needs, but I just realized that social software may be most important in addressing level 1, finding the job that brings home the bacon. I know this is stupid of me and everyone is saying "doh" right now, but this, to me, is a big "ah ha".I recently hired two people who were IRC regulars. I felt very comfortable after "getting to know them" over the last few months on IRC. Of course face to face meetings and interviews were essential, but the time spent with them on IRC really added to my ability to judge their character. I realize now that I am actively recruiting from my network of weak ties on the Net and also using the Net to meet interesting people to connect with others who might be good collaborators for those interesting people. The Net has always been a big part of my arsenal of networking tools, but I think it's reaching a whole new level.

Adjusting to P-time »

Earlier I wrote about P-time. I'm now trying to see if I can create a work style around it. I am getting up at 5-6am, sitting in my living room with all of my IM buddy lists, IRC and mail tracking the presence of as many people as possible. I have iTunes and iChat Streaming Icon on and have applescripts letting people on iChat and IRC know what I'm listening to. I track UTC in my head and try to remember what time zone it is in the various countries and watch people wake up, go to eat, go to bed. I've started giving people my vonage phone number. I've started adding more people to LinkedIn and IM, trying to make contact with people I've lost touch with. Then, I sit around, chatting on IRC, reading email, blogging, until I see someone I need to talk to or a text conversation gets interesting enough to make a phone call, do a iChatAV video chat with or even rally a conference call around on the free conference call system, freeconference.com.I am letting my thoughts wander, immersing myself in this spew of contextual information. It's a different mode, but it's very interestingly real time and multi-modal. I'm now trying to figure out whether I should have P-time days and M-time days, or split the day into different modes...

Aspartame and alcohol off »

I've been drinking too much alcohol in the evenings and drinking too much Diet Coke during the day. Diet Coke is starting to taste weird and I'm having trouble moderating my alcohol consumption. I'm going to go off aspartame and alcohol for 1 week and try to turn alcohol on again in moderation after a week. I think this will make me feel happier and give me more energy. If this were a controlled experiment, I wouldn't do both at the same time, but I'm pretty sure that drinking myself asleep and jolting myself awake is not very good for me.This is probably more information than anyone really wants about my life, but I figured that if I blog it, I'm more likely to keep this promise to myself. Oh, and anyone who seems me drinking Diet Coke or alcohol during the next week can slap me around with a trout.

Blogs and small green pieces of paper »

I've been thinking a lot about my addiction to social software, business models and what this is all about. Frank has a great quote from Douglas Adams about small, green pieces of paper which is a really good place to start.

Perspective »

A very obvious thing that I keep forgetting. Blogging standards are not nearly as important as AIDS, global warming, peace in the Middle East and poverty. Having said that understanding blogging does have a lot to do with my perspective on the commons, democracy and the future of media. Debates on the web about details and going to conferences with lots of bloggers can lead to a narrowing of perspective. Conferences like Brainstorm where 9 out of 10 people ask me, "what's blogging?" is essential for me to keep my perspective. ;-)

A day of silence with my rock »

Halley suggested that we all need a day of silence to hear our own voice. I'm going to be on a plane for most of it, but I'm going silent in a few hours for 24 hours. No email, no blogging, nothing. Just a gray marble stone to keep me company. Halley has begun her silence already. When I come out silence hopefully I'll have something interesting to share. ;-)

Myers-Briggs test »

After reading the last post to Halley, acrobat asked if I was an alpha male. I don't think so. But I'll ask Halley. He asked me if I had take the Myers-Briggs test. I hadn't heard of it. It's very cool. I'm an ENFP. Hmm...

Hey, Halley, Here I Am »

Halley of Halley's Comment, author of "How to Become an Alpha Male" is going to be in DC for Supernova and we're finally going to get to meet. We have some mutual friends like Dave and Gnome-Girl. I read Halley's blog, but I rarely link to it because she writes about all of the things I tend to avoid writing about these days. She writes about emotions. She writes about men. She writes about dating. Yesterday she wrote about me, and now I'm going to try to write back. ;-)First of all, anyone who hasn't read "How to Become an Alpha Male", must. When I read it, I started reading it with "academic curiosity" but ended up learning a lot and reflecting on my past, present and future.

Doc jokes about the death of Dr. Atkins »

As a Quaker, I wonder if you're allowed to think about hard-on's in church and joke about people's deaths on your blog. Or maybe being an A-List blogger forces you to resort to deadpan humor to tighten up your style. ;-|Doc SearlsOther dead Atkins headlines   I'm still on the Atkins diet. Dr. Atkins isn't , of course. I mentioned that a couple days ago under the headline Ultimate Diet . Since then I've regretted not using either of two other headlines that came to mind at the time: 100% weight loss  Dead weight Anyway, both Doc and I are on the Atkins Diet which is basically a low-carb diet. Many people swear by it, but many people continue to warn me against it. It's too bad that Dr. Atkins died, but at least he died of an injury and not of something that could be tied to the Atkins diet.

Conscious humility and impact of culture on the design of networking tools »

I think that as we design tools for social networking, some of these nuances are going to become important. Different circles have different cultures. Some people thrive on ego and put-downs. Some people thrive on humility. How does this affect the design of the tools...

Fat Club Update - I won »

Yesterday, I officially weighed in at our gym with witnesses and I came in at 67.3kg with my clothes on. My target was 68.5kg so I cleared it comfortably. (Again, flashbacks from my wrestling days.) I had challenged myself to stop drinking alcohol completely until I reach the target weight. I was off of alcohol for exactly 2 weeks. It was a good experience. I lost a lot of weight, found out that I was an alcoholic (addicted to alcohol) and that alcohol was lowering my productivity and my general emotional quality.

Fat club weigh-in »

So I went on a walk as Dave Winer suggested. Then, I called Yuichi, my fat club partner and we decided to play squash and have a weigh-in.

No more alcohol until I lose more weight... »

So new rule. No more alcohol until I hit my target.

Can we control our lust for power? »

Inspired by Clay's claims about the power law distribution of blogs, I've been thinking and writing (with many others) about emergent democracy in the hopes that blogs will not create an elite ruling class, but will allow direct democracy to emerge from the chaos. The irony of my technorati and daypop rankings increasing because of this does not escape me. It feels good to get attention, and this feeling is the lust that drives people to stare at power law curve. Liz and I were chatting in IM about this today and she quoted: "One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them." So, who is the Frodo Baggins of the Internet? Are bloggers hobbits? Who can resist the power law distribution and try to create a more democratic process.

Fear of retribution »

Yesterday was an interesting collision with reality for me. I had dinner with a business partner/friend and I talked about my thoughts regarding the problems with Japan. He asked me whether people called me a left wing radical. He said that many people would probably find what I was saying to be rather threatening and anti-establishment. That's probably true.Later, I met some other friends in a bar and a very senior executive from a BIG Japanese company came over to our table and began talking to my friends in a rather rude tone. (He was able to do this because of the position of power he was in.) It was very annoying so I cut him off told him that I thought his tone was rude. He then threatened me, told me I was a threat to Japan and stormed off. After talking to people like Idei-san of Sony and Kobayashi-san of Fuji-Xerox, I think I had forgotten that there were still a lot of REALLY SCARY people in Japan. I should be careful. On the other hand, I think that unless people speak up against those who abuse power, no one will have the guts to begin to criticize the establishment.It's easy to criticize the establishment in the mountains of Switzerland, but continuing to deliver the message in the halls of power in Japan will be difficult. I have to be smart about picking my battles, but I have to promise myself not to allow fear to stifle me.Note to myself... Avoid going to bars likely to have powerful drunk people, even if invited by friends...Update: I just talked to a friend who knows the "BIG company" well and he said that the guy who threatened me is on his way out and one of my friends in that company, who is actually quite a gentleman, is "on his way up." Good news. Maybe the world is getting sick of people who abuse power...

Nervous in Davos »

So my flu is basically better, but I'm really nervous today. Just when I thought I was getting over my chronic butterflies, I've got them again. In a few hours, I'm the first one up to bat on the panel about the Blueprint for Japan. It's going to be in the big room here and is a full blown plenary. Later in the evening, I will be the coordinator at the Japan dinner. For some reason, this year it's quite popular and there are over 200 people registered. The coordinator is a position that professor Takeuchi created where he acts like a talk show host going around the room asking for comments. He's VERY good at it. The Japan dinner became very popular after they changed to this format. I'm definitely not going to be as good at it. I tried to get out of it, but Idei-san told me I should do it. (gulp) Then, tomorrow morning, again in the big room, I am the "challenger" to Heizo Takenaka, our Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy and Michael Porter is the moderator. Takenaka-san will be coming just for the day and it is a short 30 minute session. I like Takenaka-san at lot, but my job is to "put him on the spot." Hmm...So maybe this is what I get for saying that they never invite me to speak at Davos. At least it's all at the beginning. It's all fun stuff after that. The other good think is that since they are both plenary sessions, they are the part of Davos that will be covered by the media, which means I can blog them. ;-)

Blog style review »

I'm one of those people who hates reading books and hates writing stuff. I love talking to people and I do most of my thinking when I'm talking to someone or when I'm preparing to talk to someone. That's why I love blogs so much. I feel like I'm talking, not independantly cogitating.Now my question. In a discussion, you're allow a certain amount of sloppiness and you mold your position and you develop a model together with whoever you talking to. I feel similarly when I blog. Having said that, what you write persists and you can get criticized for what you write. Larry Lessig's blog is "tight". I mean, it's well thought out and non-sloppy. (He IS a law professor. ;-) ) On the other hand, Marc Canter's blog is a bit more sloppy, but quite interesting. Dave Winer seems to have mastered his style, a combination of short references, personal opinions and technical clarity.Doc, Meg, Dan, almost everyone on my blogroll has a pretty cool and unique style that works. One of my problems is that I think and talk differently depending on where I am and who I am with. This is helpful in providing myself with a variety of models that represent mutliple points of view when I think of an in issue. On the other hand, blogged, this turn into a mish mash of styles. Does this work? Can people filter the stuff that doesn't interest them? I assume they can.

It's primetime ready or not »

So this Blueprint for Japan 2020 that Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum got us started on is not ready, as you can tell from my sloppy postings still groping for the question, let alone the answer. But January is the due date and we're on primetime now.Next Sunday, Sony's chairman, Idei-san, has invited me to join him on Hodo 2001, a Sunday morning news program which is fairly widely watched to talk about the future of Japan. The week after that, I've been invited by Idei-san to to join the Sony Open Forum in Hawaii where I will be one of two speakers. My topic is... "Blueprint for Japan." The other speaker is Richard Smith, the Chairman & Editor-in-Chief of NewsWeek. It's a small but interesting group of a dozen or so outsiders and Sony top management. The theme this year is "Management in the Era of Uncertainty". Also participating are Rob Glaser, the Chairman of RealNetworks, Yoshihiko Miyauchi, the Chairman and CEO of Orix Corporation and Hisashi Hieda, the Chairman of Fuji Television. Unfortunately, the details are confidential so I can't blog much. (I got approval to blog the above.) Then I've got the panel at Davos which I think will be moderated by Carlos Ghosn, the president of Nissan Motor Co., and Oki Matsumoto, Idei-san, maybe a politician and I will be on the panel. Later that evening, we will be presenting the Blueprint at the Japan dinner hosted by the Association of Corporate Executives. So... I'm not asking for sympathy, but at least you know why I'm in a bit of a pickle since I don't know exactly what my position is on "this whole thing." It's really both an opportunity to sound really smart or look VERY stupid over and over again... I will write another entry about the style on my blog, but I just want to apologize in advance for possibly dragging everyone through a rather sloppy thinking process as I try to figure stuff out.

the FUD of QoS »

From Gen Kanai weblog Gen Kanai weblog Joho the Blog: Quality of Service First, QoS is impractical. Second, QoS is the wrong solution. Third. QoS violates the principle of the Internet's architecture. David Weinberger ruminates effectively on why "Quality of Service" is essentially FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) that the phone companies use to confuse customers. It's important to understand that the phone companies want to confuse you and make you buy stuff you don't need. So ignore this QoS stuff whenever you hear it- or at least investigate it carefully. Totally agree. I have many friends that use VoIP over...

World Blogging Forum and the Tao of Conferences »

After returning from a week in the US and realizing how important the trip was and how useful Supernova was, I started thinking about next year. I have enough conferences and meetings to fill the whole year with schmoozing. How do I cut this down to a few high quality meetings? If I am in conferences all year, I surely won't get any REAL work done. A healthy balance of networking and real work is essential. When I was at Supernova, Dave and I talked about the World Economic Forum. He wrote a nice essay on an idea to create...

Remapping my brain to Joi.jp »

I'm back in Tokyo after quite an interesting week in Silicon Valley. As I landed in the airport, I noticed that the "gee, I'm back in Japan" feeling that I usually have was much less. The airport smell was "normal" and I didn't feel I was really "back" but that it was just another normal day. I think it is because I have been traveling SO much these last few months. So here is my theory. I think that when you SWITCH infrequently, there is a literal switch. I remember when I used to only travel once or twice a...

Picture of PSINet Japan POP 1994 »

PSINet Japan's POP in my bathroom circa 1994

Ubiquitous Justin »

ubiquitous adjective existing or found everywhere Had lunch with Justin and Jane. I met Jane for the first time and it was cool to be able to start talking about stuff right away since I read her blogs and she reads my blog. We were "synched" and ready to go. She was very cool and just like I imagined. And Justin... I was once called ubiquitous by someone and I remember looking it up in the dictionary. Justin is ubiquitous. Not only does everyone know Justin, everyone has just recently seen him. Another ubiquitous person I know is Gohsuke Takama....

Being a Revolutionary »

We had a joint dinner tonight with Enjin01, a group of cultural leaders that I co-founded and the Cultural Design Forum, where many of the people from Enjin01 had defected from. We talked about possibly merging the groups back again. There was a basic disagreement. The Cultural Design Forum wanted to continue to have big annual meetings and basically talk about stuff to the public. Enjin01 has seminars, but Saigusa-san explained that we are pro-actively trying to pushing reform forward. I drove Saigusa-san home and I told him that it was time to be active, not just vocal. I remember...

Self-Censorship »

Jane wrote in the last item about self-censorship. Well, this morning I had a good chance to test it out. I had added a comment to the last entry about a wild night last night. It had some pretty graphic stuff like Takemoto-san giving Jun a big kiss, and was a BIT too much, so I deleted it. Obviously I was more drunk than I thought. It had the tell-tale bad spelling. Some of the worst emails I've ever sent were sent when I had had too much to drink. The REALLY SCARY thing is that you can really think...

Strange Dream at Maholova Minds »

This is a real picture from the guest information book in the room. "It's a great pleasure to stay with us." Ya... right. We arrived last night at Maholova Minds to have a weekend off-site about "the space." Chris and Barak flew in from the US. Michiel, our intern from Hitotsubashi was coordinating the event with Barak. I was in Europe when they were deciding the place, so while it is not my fault, I am also not blaming anyone in particular since I said I this place sounded fine. We are in a hotel sort of place dedicated...

Tanaka reelected Nagano gov. »

Mainichi InteractiveTanaka reelected Nagano gov. NAGANO -- Former Nagano Gov. Yasuo Tanaka, who lost his position in July after the prefectural assembly adopted a no-confidence motion against him, was reelected in Sunday's gubernatorial race, according to early vote counting. Today I sent Tanaka-san a Doraemon Telegram congratulating him on winning the election. The telegram comes stuck in the head of a stuffed Doraemon doll under the whirly thing on his head. Anyway, after writing the rather pitiful introverted item about conspiracies, I realized that I was a wimp. Tanaka-san became governor, fought against the whole prefectural assembly about stopping...

Conspiracy Theories and the Nature of Power »

As a child, I really liked stories. I read all of Robert Anton Wilson's books and HOPED that the stories were true. Stories like the fact that the number 23 was magic and that Timothy Leary had been contacted by aliens -- The Starseed Transmissions. When I met Timothy Leary on my 24th birthday, he told me that the stuff about the number 23 along with the story about the aliens was not true. It was a joke. The more I talked to him, the more I realized that most of the stuff that Robert Anton Wilson had written was...

The Family Business »

Last week my uncle Hiro visited from Iwate to let me know that he was turning 70 and that I should start preparing to take over the family business. The family business is not really a business, but a family foundation that runs schools. The main school is currently a school for nurses....

Ministry's Efforts to Co-Opt Me? »

Japan has a process where they make boards and inquiry panels to discuss important issues with experts and the public. These inquiry panels are defined by law and are supposed to be an important part of the law making process, but in fact they are often used to diffuse public pressure and just act like they care. I am often asked to join such panels and I find I learn a lot about what is going on and can usually influence the direction ever so slightly. I usually feel this is better than not doing anything, but I am often...

Focused or Unfocused Blogs »

I had dinner tonight with Barak, Michiel (who started today as an intern from Hitotsubashi Biz School) and 4 students from Stanford's ATI program. Michiel said that he thought that I was unfocused. (I've been called this before. Jun called me "scatterbrained" when asked about me after he first met me.) Michiel said he felt my blog was too unfocused. I guess that's true, but I thought it was a feature, not a problem. Michiel admitted that he was often negative. (Jun said the other day that he thought people sounded 30% smarter when they were negative.) Anyway, I had...

Addicted to Blogging »

So I've been blogging for 54 days now and I'm definitely addicted. I know I've said this before, but it is DEFINITELY different than just having a web page. As Frank warned me, all day long I think about things to blog. Everything I read on the web is potential blog material and I find I am reading much more and chasing all kinds of ideas a lot further than I used to. Also, since I have a Japanese section, I find I have started to try to read Japanese much more. (Even though I still suck.) I write...

Blogs help your memory »

I find I have a terrible memory. I often confuse things that happened during my days at Tufts University and University of Chicago. I can't remember people at all. I have horrible problems remembering what I did when. I recently met someone I knew in college and he remembered a karaoke club that I took him to that has completely disappeared from my memory. Anyway... I've found that digging up old web entries from the past has helped me reconstruct my memory. I'm finding, having jumped into blogging rather agressively, that it is beginning to create an interesting trail of...

Name Dropping »

As Justin and I prepare this web site for our July 1 launch and I port over all of the old columns from Japan Inc. I am reminded about an issue that has been haunting my online and real life style. Most of the people who read my Japan Inc. column liked it because it presented a unique view, but several people commented that it was just a bunch of name dropping. I've also heard that people inside of a Japanese government agency call me a name dropper....

Recovering »

I am slowly starting to get back into the rhythm of my busy life again. In the last month, we had memorial services at our home in Portola Valley, at her company, ECD in Troy, Michigan, at our home town in Iwate, Japan and in Hawaii....

My mother passed away »

My mother passed away. My mother had cancer for over 20 years and we had been struggling with her illness for a long time. She passed away at home with the support of the family. I think my mother had a very fruitful and happy life and was the most significant inspiration in my life....
Whiplash by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe
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