Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Recently in the Movies Category

From Lessig's Blog.



Two friends of CC — updated

Two friends of Creative Commons have been nominated for won an Oscar: Board member Davis Guggenheim’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (husband of Christiane Henckel von Donnersmarck, original director of Creative Commons International)’s film, The Lives of Others.

CrooksAndLiars has a clip with Davis’ acceptance speech.

YouTube has Florian’s acceptance speech.

Friends are to inspire. And so they have.


Happy One Web Day!

Had a mini party in Tokyo. Robert Pepper and Kenneth Carter joined Fumi and me. Fumi shot some video of us talking.

Robert Pepper and Joi Ito talk about the web for One Web Day in Tokyo. Parti I. September 22, 2006.
(Use this link if you have trouble viewing the video above.)

Robert Pepper, Kenneth Carter and Joi Ito talk about the web for One Web Day in Tokyo. Parti II. September 22, 2006.
(Use this link if you have trouble viewing the video above.)

I blogged about the movie An Inconvenient Truth after I saw a screening of it. I think that EVERYONE should see the film. There is now a site dedicated to getting more people to see it. Please take a look and direct people to it if you can.

Jonkichi, the Gnome Mage from Azeroth (WP) often plays Joichi Ito in real life. His photo was recently accepted by the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) as the character who plays Joichi Ito as the associate to the Executive Producer in movie Indian Runner.

I went to a screening of an inconvenient truth (IMDb). an inconvenient truth is a film directed by Davis Guggenheim about global warming and Al Gore's life long effort to learn about and educate the world about the reality and risk of global warming.

My position on global warming had always been that it was probably a bad thing. Pollution was clearly increasing and it increased the risk of some non-linear event occurring. Having said that, I wasn't THAT concerned and thought that there was still some dispute in the scientific community.

Watching this film has caused me to change my opinion. I now believe that global warming our most urgent and important crisis and something that we all need to rally behind. The movie presents a scientific, moral and political argument that is convincing and also fun to watch. I also felt I got to know Al Gore through the movie in a completely new way.

I've always been a big fan of both Davis and Al Gore, but this movie has really solidified my respect for both of them. I urge everyone to go see this movie. It opens in select theaters on May 24, but the big opening is the first weekend in June. Your turnout to the movie will determine how broadly the movie ends up playing. Considering the importance of this film, it would be great if the maximum number of people possible saw it.

Justin and Merci shot some video for my upcoming TV show and did a on-the-road quick cut of the first night and uploaded it to [Note: Try the YouTube or Vimeo link. The 200MB one will take ages, but if you want to mess with the video, feel free to download.] We'll put up a torrent soon, but you can see some of the people I met last night wandering around Austin.

Thanks for the help Justin and Merci!

UPDATE: Sorry it's a bit large. I thought made smaller versions of it. We'll try to upload a smaller version tomorrow for people who don't feel like downloading 200MB. ;-P

UPDATE 2: I just uploaded an 8.5M version. Please do not deep link this since it is not a permanent location, but I just wanted to save people from having download 200MB+ just to hear us ramble. Also, the credits say "Creative Commons Share Alike", but the CC license used is CC Attribution 2.5 license. (I just realized that I uploaded a slightly older version with crappier sound and the mistake at the end with the license. We'll update this once Justin wakes up. ;-) )

UPDATE 3: The Director's notes:

One evening's interviews with people in Austin, Texas for South by Southwest: Interactive. Here Joichi Ito interviews Eric Steuer of Creative Commons; Wagner James Au, of Second Life; Mike Hudack of; Trei Brundrett with Forward Together (Mark Warner); Doc Searls; Halley Suitt of The camerawork and editing by Merci Hammon and Justin Hall. This is the first experiment taping Joichi Ito's travels and conversations in technology culture.

UPDATE 4: On YouTube and Vimeo.

UPDATE 5: Thanks to Justin and Merci we have hours and hours of excellent footage. They're dumping onto disk now. All of the footage is originally shot in HD format. The uploaded video is a rough cut of just one of the eight tapes or so that they did overnight just to try the "field editing" thingie. Hopefully we'll have a steady flow of stuff as we get more of the footage edited. Stay tuned...

I am considering buying an island on Second Life so I can donate land to various non-profit projects that I'm involved in. I've set up a wiki page for this. I will also probably set up a set for shooting video for video blogging and my TV show. If you're interested in participating in this project or have thoughts, please contribute to the wiki.


I was down at the sumptuous French National Assembly (A building that looks like a Greek temple from the outside and a livingroom overdosed with red velvet on the inside) yesterday because a group of latenight legislators this week amended a bill to include a global tax for people wishing to share files over the Internet.

Once a user (an "internaut" in French) has paid the fee, that internaut is free to share music or movies on the basis that they are for personal use only.

Result: Hey presto! Kazaa would suddenly be legal in France. What is considered piracy in other parts of the world would be available here in France.

Also: Artists would recieve payouts from the tax money raised (Systems for copyright taxation are not unusual in Europe. Germany, for example, imposes a 12 euro copyright levy on the sale of each personal computer purchased.)

Needless to say, the music and movie industry people were not terribly pleased.

Those AGAINST include the French Rambo!

"This law throws us back to before the French Revolution," said Alain Dorval, an actor who dubbed Sylvester Stallone for the Rambo series of films. "France invented property rights for artists in 1791 and now this Parliament wants to vote them away."

"Since the pay TV channel Canal Plus finances a huge portion of the cinema production, an attack on pay TV undermines the structure for the creation of cinema," Seydoux said. "To be in cinema you must be optimistic and I am optimistic these amendments will fail."
Not only are the amendments bad, but their implication is dangerous, said Michel Gomez, an official with the Association of Directors and Producers. "The message sent by this law is that creative works can be bought for free," he said. "This may be very seductive to Internet users, but it will bring down the structure of entire creative industries."

The arguments FOR:

Patrick Bloche, a pipe-smoking Socialist deputy representing Paris, who was a co-author of the amendments: "We are trying to bring the law up to date with reality." "It is wrong to describe the eight million French people who have downloaded music from the Internet as delinquents."

"We are only leading in a direction that is inevitable for the law everywhere," said Christian Paul, a Socialist deputy who was also a co-author of the amendments. "You will see other European nations adopting such laws in the future because they just make sense."
"Artists currently get no money from peer-to-peer sharing, and with this fee at least they would get some," said Aziz Ridouan, a 17-year old high school student who has fought for Internet rights as president of the Association of Audiosurfers. "If the government and industry attack downloaders aggressively, we will just go underground with encryption and all chance of revenue will be lost."
Ridouan added that the amendments would finally legalize behavior that has become commonplace among young Internet users. "We need protection. It is not nice to feel like you are acting illegally," he said. "They cannot use the law to stop people sharing music just because the music industry missed out on the digital revolution."

If this blog-ization of the article is not clear, check out the full IHT version here.

Which arguments have the most merit and can creative industries survive in the face of peer-to-peer?

Shining remix. Excellent. ;-)

via Nick

UPDATE: NYT article about this video from Matt in the comments.

Veni, a fellow ICANN board member and a good friend asked me to post a plug for The Optimist - The Story of the Rescue of the Bulgarian Jews from the Holocaust. I had to ponder what the context of my posting such a link would be, but then I read Larry's post and realized that I should blog about Veni and Bulgaria to provide context.

In addition to being on the ICANN board, he is the founder of the Bulgarian Internet Society, is on the board of THE Internet Society (ISOC) and is on the board of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR).

What is interesting about Bulgaria? It is technically a developing nation, but an odd one. First of all, the new Prime Minister of Bulgaria is a member of the Internet Society. In fact, many of the politicians there are. (I think in great part thanks to Veni.) The Bulgarian sumo wrestler, Kotooshu, is all the rage in Japan and almost became the first European to win the Autumn Sumo Title. Veni, as a participant in many of the The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) meetings helps from the perspective of a developing nation that is more Internet savvy than most developed nations.

The other day, I heard Veni and Desiree talking to each other in Serbian and I realized that I knew NOTHING about Eastern Europe. In an effort to alleviate this blind spot in my knowledge, I've accepted a speaking gig in Croatia next month and have been asking Veni to "turn me on" to Eastern European culture. Although I have a feeling that high volume of weird jokes may be Veni-specific, I am learning a great deal and it is in this context that I introduce a story about how the Bulgarian Jews were saved by the Church in Bulgaria. Hopefully, I'll be able to share more first hand stuff when I visit Croatia, my first "real" visit to an Eastern European country.

UPDATE : More information from Veni.

The new world chess champion Vesselin Topalov is a Bulgarian.

In April and May this year Richard Stallman and Larry Lessig visited Bulgaria to make sure the country is on the right track in developing a great Free and Open Source Movement ( and is part of the global CreativeCommons project. The new CC v2.5 will be released in Bulgarian very soon.

The country is also one of the not-so-many which has solved the problems with the Internet Governance and the control of the IP address alocation and DNS, which is in the midst of the WSIS. You can see what the Bulgarian government has to say about this at the WSIS PrepCom-3.

Photo of camera
by Jeff Koga
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is paying the Los Angeles police department to install cameras to crack down on DVD bootleggers. So far four cameras have been installed and six more are on the way. Although the LAPD refuses to say where the cameras are installed, but there is information on Xeni's post on Boing Boing. The post also contains funny details of their adventure.

I hadn't realized that there was DVD piracy activity in LA. I wonder how much "lost revenue" they will recoup from these cameras. I wonder what else the LAPD going to use these cameras for. Having said that, I think we probably have more cameras per square inch in Tokyo than in LA. Welcome to our world.

Xeni has filed a story with Wired News about this as well.


Hi, Joi -- Sean Bonner created some topographical maps of the site, and posted those along with more photos and his first-person account over at Check it out:

Technorati Tags:

Kevin Marks has created a Quicktime movie of the Steve Jobs keynote at WWDC 2005 with chapters which makes it easier to view. This is the first time I've seen chapters. Pretty neat.

UPDATE: Here's how you do it.

Technorati Tags:

I've created a torrent using the Trackerless Auto setting on BitTorrent. It's a 37MB movie of my Roomba having some trouble with cliff detection and my dogs having trouble with the Roomba. It's probably not worth downloading, but if you feel like testing trackerless torrents, give it a try.


UPDATE: I've updated the torrent with the new version of the trackerless client. Can you give it a try?

UPDATE 2: I didn't have port forwarding on. I've turned it on now so it might work. However, I'll be on the road again in a few hours...

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The Negotiator, a Japanese movie which I helped with came out on Saturday and is currently ranked #1 beating Shall We Dance. I haven't seen it yet. I hope the stickers we all collected ended up in the movie. I don't think I'm going to get a chance to see it for a few weeks since I'm away again from tomorrow and running around until the end of the month. If someone has seen it, please let us know how it was.

In other movie news, I went to see The Downfall with Larry when we were in Australia. It was a great movie. I think it was a bold move to make Hitler seem human. He reminded me of some people I know. I think it's important to remember that Hitler was human and that we always need to be aware of the risk allowing anyone to have so much power. A "must see" movie.

- Previous post about The Negotiator
- Flickr photoset of stickers and images from the movie

I was a technical advisor for a Japanese movie called "The Negotiator" which will be opening here on May 7th. They recently did a press conference with the key stars including Prime Minister Koizumi's son who plays one of the cyber-police. They showed the laptops sporting the stickers that everyone sent me. Thanks again! The title of one of the stories about the press conference is, "The Negotiator Mashita, dancing with DEFCON?" (The nickname of the series is "Odoru" or dance, from the original title "Odoru Dai Sosasen" or "dancing scan lines".) The text is in Japanese, but there are some pictures of the actors and the laptops on display.

And of course there is a blog. (Japanese)

Stanford graduate student Gary Lerhaupt has created Prodigem Marketplace. It's basically a Bittorrent non-DRM'ed media marketplace.

Prodigem Marketplace
The Prodigem Marketplace allows Prodigem users to sell their independent media (videos, music, etc) while not concerning themselves with traditional bandwidth costs associated with repeated large data transfers. Content providers (YOU!) simply upload their work, set a price, and Prodigem does the rest. Once customers pay for access to the bit torrent peer-to-peer session for your content, Prodigem grants them access so they can begin their download (no DRM). Prodigem collects this revenue, removes 10% + transaction costs (PayPal) and then sends you a monthly check. Ever considered making a living as a Long Tailor? Check out this example for-pay torrent to see what it looks like.


Mechanics Of Becoming An "Ecommonist"

The process of becoming a media retailer couldn't be any easier. To accomodate this new method of transfer, we have added a Copyright Plus Prodigem license to the available licensing options. This simple license allows you to retain copyright over your work while making a specific grant of rights to Prodigem and its users. In effect you are saying that it is fine to share your work so long as it's only through the torrent you created, and since access to the torrent is only granted when payment is received, you get exactly what you are looking for.

You are also free to instead license your work under the Creative Commons. Though with a CC license you are technically granting everyone redistribution rights regardless of venue. This is fine by us if it's okay with you, but does mean that people are free to share without payment. Realizing this conundrum, we are busy mulling over something akin to a "Delayed" Creative Commons license, where Prodigem users will be able to stipulate their work as covered under Copyright Plus Prodigem license, and then on some fixed date of their choosing (eg. 1 year, 5 years) it automatically switches over to a CC license of their choosing. It's like peanut butter and chocolate.

via Howard @ Smartmobs

I'm very interested in the economics of the end of the long tail. My theory is that people will pay, even if they are not forced. I think price, the experience and the lack of DRM should have an impact. There is some data from the unencumbered shareware software world, but it will be interesting to see how this fares for media content. I would also be interested to see how artists using Creative Commons fare against artists using the more restricted Copyright Plus Prodigem license. If this is successful, this will be yet another good example of non-infringing use of P2P to highlight the idiocy Hollywood's position on the Grokster case. (Note that NASA has also started using Bittorrent.)

I helped out as a technical advisor for the movie The Negotiator that will come out in May. One of the things I did was help choose stickers for the laptops of the hackers. Thanks to everyone who sent me stickers and cleared the rights for me. I've uploaded pictures of the laptops as a set on flickr.

It's still unclear how much time they will get on the screen, but in the last two films, there were many scenes where people were talking over their open laptops and the Infoseek sticker took up half the movie screen. ;-)

UPDATE: Added poster and pictures from film to the flickr set.

What Can't I Do Today? (Donna Wentworth)

A Slashdotter, on Endangered Gizmos and the threat to harmless "me2me" uses:

At this point, I've accepted that there are things I do that may someday be considered a crime. ...:
  • Record TV shows from my DirecTV reciever that I pay a monthly subscription fee for into my computer using a Hauppauge PVR250 card for archival purposes (to show friends and family when they come over)
  • Rip all CDs that I buy to the infinitely more convenient Ogg Vorbis format so that I can listen to my music anywhere
  • Stream any audio or video from my house to wherever I happen to be using a VPN connection and broadbad. This means I can listen to my music collection, watch my DVDs or even DirecTV as long as I have an internet connection
  • Build custom digital media devices that don't have the limitations that commercial products do

...It's a wonder it's not illegal to use a hammer, nails, screwdriver, drywall, plaster and screws to build or modify your house any way you want.
Basically, the notion of "owning a song" when you buy it in some format is going to be over if Hollywood has any say. In the old days, if you had an album, you could tape it and listen to it in your car or anywhere you wanted to. You basically "owned the song." Now you own the song on your Mac/iPod. Or own the song on Microsoft... or own the DVD in Region 1... If you've purchased thousands of tracks on Apple Music Store and decide you're going to stop using iTunes and iPod, you're shit out of luck. Or if you have a thousand DVDs and you move from the US to Japan. Yes, there are workarounds, but they will try to make more and more laws to prohibit people from building workarounds.

So my question is... Does this INCREASE or DECREASE the likelihood that I'm going to want to build a massive music or movie collection?

EPIC 2014

In the year 2014, The New York Times has gone offlne.

The Fourth Estate's fortunes have waned.

What happened to the news?

And what is EPIC?

An image of the future of journalism as a historical movie. Well done and rather interesting perspective on how it might go wrong.

Took a few tries to get it to load.

via Dean and Jessica

Photo by Paul Saffo
via Dvorak
Photo sent in by the ever-travelling Paul Saffo with this note: “I encountered these machines on a recent trip, and couldn’t help but note that their message says it all. And no, it is not retouched or photoshopped.”

I’m thinking of the Tom Hanks movie, Terminal, where Hanks is told the country is “closed.”

I watched The Terminal on the flight to Paris because I knew it was about Merhan Karimi Nasseri stuck in Charles de Gaulle Airport. I didn't realize that the movie was set in the US and the story totally "rebuilt". I enjoyed the movie, but it was definitely Hollywoodified and wasn't based on the Merhan Karimi Nasseri story, but rather just inspired by it.

The movie that I'm helping on, "Negotiator - Mashita Masayoshi" is going to start shooting next week. I need to find more stickers that I can use for the laptop computers of the villain and the cyber-crime team. They need to be cool stickers and the rights have to be cleared. If you have any stickers that you have made or are with some group that would be interested in having stickers on a laptop in a Japanese movie, please email me the artwork or send me the actual stickers. Please also tell me what it represents and the story behind it if there is one. The director will make the final decision on whether to use the sticker based on the meaning, story behind the sticker and how cool it looks.

My address is:
Neoteny Co., Ltd., Plaza Mikado 3F, 2-14-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0052 Japan

or jito (at)

There is now a web site for the movie, but there is still not much there.

I'm sitting in the Italian Parliament (I think.) The panel I was on was dealing with the impact of digital/Internet on content creation and distribution. It started yesterday and continued today. I think it lasted about seven hours or so in total. I found myself in violent disagreement at the beginning because they kept talking about piracy. The interesting thing about this panel (probably more common in other cultures, but new for me) was that we had to come to a written consensus by the end of the session and present it in the Parliament building. It would then be distributed to politicians across Europe as a recommendation.

I found myself negotiating like some UN diplomat.

In the end, here is where we ended up on a few of my "hot buttons".

Organized, for-profit, commercial piracy was different from P2P file sharing by individuals. We could not agree on the impact of P2P file sharing, but we agreed that punishing file sharing was not the only/best way to deal with the issue. I pushed for a stronger stance, my position being that as Chris Anderson says in The Long Tail, it's a matter of price and convenience. People will pay if the experience is better. That was not included in the statement, but "education" was used instead. Blah. I just made a statement that I disagree with this and that there is not enough evidence that P2P filesharing of music is really bad for the music industry.

It appeared that people had a VERY bad image of Creative Commons. For some reason they thought that CC was trying to force people to share and was anti-copyright. I explained the CC was built upon copyright and was trying to help artists choose their copyright.

This part turned out quite well in the statement. They said that CC was a tool, not to steal from artists, but to give them the choice to share and lower the parasitic costs (legal) of choosing a license. They concluded that CC was NOT a threat as they had originally envisioned, but a complimentary and a good thing. The tone was very pro-artist and less tolerant of distributors, the idea of giving more control to artists seemed to be quite attractive.

I'm about to have a chance to object to some of the issues I see in the statement and give an address about my thoughts. I'm going to talk about the value of the Long Tail and Creative Commons.

I've agreed to be the technical advisor for a movie currently in production called The Negotiator / Mashita Masayoshi. It's the third movie in a series which started as a TV series and was followed with two movies called Odoru Dai Sousasen or Bayside Shakedown. In the first two movies, Ujiie-san from Infoseek Japan helped out a bit and in exchange they used Infoseek in the movie and had an sticker on the hero's computer. The third movie doesn't have the sames stars as Bayside Shakedown, but has a pretty big role for the computer team.

The series is about the police force based in Tokyo Bay. The characters are quite fun and I've always enjoyed the series. I am excited to be working with this excellent team. In the past they've always done little things to get a cult following. Cool stickers, realistic technology, etc.

The story is about a negotiator for the police and a very technically sophisticated bad guy. The movie comes out during Golden Week next year. I don't think they have plans for US release.

My job will be to help them find images, software and ideas to try to make the movie realistic from a computer network and technology perspective. I've just set up a wiki page. Guess why? Because, I need help from all of you. ;-)

Japanese press conference for movie

Fantastic article in Wired by Chris Anderson titled The Long Tail. You MUST read it. Physical distribution limits the number of titles of books, music, DVDs that can be stocked. He explains that online sales show that the market size of stuff below the break even threshold for physical distribution is often larger than the market for the "hits" that make it into stores. He calls this "The Long Tail". We can essentially double the market for most content by figuring out ways to help people find the stuff they are looking for in the long tail and deliver it online.

He also makes another important point about pricing. The iTunes 99 cents is too expensive. It's based on a calculation to protect CD distribution. He suggests that the price should be based on how much your time is worth. In other words, at what price is it not worth your time to find, download and tag a track from a file sharing network. He thinks that maybe this number is around 20 cents for a college student.

I absolutely agree with his analysis and it's great that he's got so many figures and facts to support the argument.

In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen people...
written by Momus in 1991 is very relevant to this discussion. Thanks Boris.


Last night, I saw Lian ai zhong de Bao Bei, or "Baober in Love" directed by Shaohong Li. It was a shocking, emotional and amazing love story set in Beijing. The movie captures the stark contrast of the rich and ultra-modern with the poor and traditional parts of the city. Having just spent a few days wandering from ultra-modern buildings to streets with bombed out buildings and meeting some of the young and rich in Beijing, the movie seemed to capture the strange cultural situation that people must be facing in China right now with the explosive growth in the economy. The love story is extremely painful and I think many of my peers had a hard time with it, but I thought the intensity set a tone that I think represents the whiplash the culture must be going through.

The movie reminded me a bit of one of my other favorite films, Swallowtail Butterfly, which is also a story of a young girl raised by hookers in a multicultural/chanpon underground part of Tokyo.

If you liked either one of these films, I would recommend the other.

An interesting survey based project to try to answer the question of whether the cost of what the MPAA and RIAA does exceeds their forgone revenues to piracy.

Team America - World Police, from the creators of South Park. "Putting the 'F' back in freedom". Coming October 2004

via Juche

Thanks to Jim and Ado for setting up the BitTorrent tracker. Here is a torrent for Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture talk in Helsinki that I blogged about earlier.

Poor poor FOX.

Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO, Fox News Network
Any news organization that doesn’t support our position on copyright is crazy. Next week, we could take a month’s worth of video from CNN International and do a documentary “Why does CNN hate America?” You wouldn’t even have to do the hatchet job Outfoxed was. You damn well could run it without editing. CNN International, Al-Jazeera and BBC are the same in how they report-mostly that America is wrong and bad. Everybody should stand up and say these people don’t have the right to take our product anymore. They don’t have a right to take a year’s worth of Dan Rather or Ted Koppel and edit it any way they want. It puts journalism at risk.
If someone thinks CNN or Al-Jazeera is doing a bad job, they should say it. Using clips of news programming to criticize a network is totally game I think. Although news has become entertainment, I don't think it should be controlled in the same way that creative content should be. I think that fair use should be applied liberally. The press and the news media should encourage critical debate. I think that a network that has a monopoly on millions of eyeballs should be fair game for documentaries like Outfoxed.

Via Lessig

Michael Eisner is on a panel now at Brainstorm 2004. He was asked if he regretted not distributing Fahrenheit 9/11. He said no. Disney is not partisan and the movie was clearly political. Disney is an entertainment company. He said Rupert Murdoch said no for a completely different reason. Murdoch said he hated Moore and liked Bush. That's not why Disney didn't distribute the film.

When asked whether he liked the movie, Eisner said he loved it. It was like going to a rock concert. It was entertaining, hilarious. He loved it in a non-political way.

Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism. An amazing documentary about Fox News and the danger of corporations controlling news. There is a QT and a Windows Media trailer online. There is a New York Times article about producer Robert Greenwald's unique method of distributing the documentary, selling the DVD for distribution through political action groups.

As the Times article describes, Greenwald’s style for distributing documentaries may be the beginning of something new — political criticism, using interviews and clips, making a strong political point, distributed through DVDs and political action groups. (See some other examples here). On what theory does he, and others, have the right to use such material without permission? On the free culture theory we call the First Amendment: Copyright law must, the Court told us in Eldred, embed “fair use”; “fair use” is informed by First Amendment values; the values of the First Amendment most relevant here are those expressed in New York Times v. Sullivan. As with news-gathering, critical political filmmaking needs a buffer zone of protection against the overreaching of the law. And if the potential of this medium — now liberated by digital technology — is to be realized, we need clear precedents that establish that critics have the freedom to criticize without having to hire a lawyer first.

Japan Today
Moore hopes 'Fahrenheit' will bring about regime change in Japan

NEW YORK — Controversial American filmmaker Michael Moore said Tuesday he hopes the global release of his documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" will usher in "regime changes" in countries like Japan and Australia.

In a press conference with foreign journalists in New York, Moore said his polemical movie should encourage people in all democratic countries that have supported the U.S.-led war in Iraq to vote their leaders out of office.

There is definitely less news and information in Japanese about the theories about why the US went to war. A lot of the stuff in the movie will be new to many Japanese. I'd be interested to see what the Japanese public reaction to the movie is. My sense is that we already have enough reasons to mistrust the government that people with probably sign numbly and not do anything. But I could be wrong.

Sunday Herald
The activist, author and director told the Sunday Herald that, as long as pirated copies of his film were not being sold, he had no problem with it being downloaded. "I don't agree with the copyright laws and I don't have a problem with people downloading the movie and sharing it with people as long as they're not trying to make a profit off my labour. I would oppose that," he said. "I do well enough already and I made this film because I want the world, to change. The more people who see it the better, so I'm happy this is happening."
Interesting quote, but as Xeni points out, after the box office hit in the US, he can sort of afford to say that. If he felt this way, it would have been cool if he had put a Creative Commons license on it. Still, I think this is better than nothing. Xeni also points out the film's distributor is clearly against "sharing" of the film on the Internet.

via Xeni @ Boing Boing and Creative Commons Weblog

Cory's excellent drm rant which he presented at Microsoft Research has now been wikified to allow people to comment and add to it. Excellent.

Dan Gillmor
Ray Bradbury's Bizarre Complaint

Ray Bradbury is one of the great science fiction writers. But in his advancing years he's also acting in a fairly petty manner.

The author of the brilliant novel "Fahrenheit 451" is claiming to anyone who'll listen (AP) that Michael Moore has somehow committed an act of intellectual theft by naming his new movie "Fahrenheit 9/11" without asking permission.

Don't you hate it when your favorite writers do, write or say stupid things?

This reminds me of the horror of reading Orson Scott Card's homophobic essay, "Homosexual "Marriage" and Civilization".

On the plane returning from Helsinki to Tokyo, I read an op-ed in the International Herald Tribune, Dare We Call It Genocide? Please click the link and read it. It's short, but an important perspective. People gloss over statistics and even vivid first-hand accounts like this in text often fail to get our attention. In fact, I remember thinking about blogging this article, but it slipped my mind after I returned to Japan.

This morning I saw Tears of the Sun starring Bruce Willis. This movie is about a heroic extraction mission in Nigeria with ethnic cleansing as a backdrop. The movie itself and its message were not that interesting, but the scene where people are being murdered and raped by soldiers struck me emotionally and created a visual image for me of the atrocities in Sudan. It sparked me to search for and post the link above.

I think it's important to realize that motion pictures and videos have an incredible impact on us emotionally. We've discussed the risks of racial stereotyping in motion pictures and some people have criticized me for citing shallow movies about important issues. It is clear that movies play a huge role in helping us (accurately or not) understand and care about cultures.

One thing I've noticed is that amateur films and flash are being used quite effectively in political jokes and commentary on the Net. There are copyright issues with many of the works, but I believe that video blogging, (or whatever you want to call grassroots video production and sharing) can play a very important role in raising awareness on issues such as the genocide in Sudan.

Maybe we need to get Witness and Passion of the Present working together if they aren't already. Ethan?

Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics


Technonerds go to movies strictly for entertainment, and of course, the most entertaining part comes after the movie when they can dissect, criticize, and argue the merits of every detail. However, when supposedly serious scenes totally disregard the laws of physics in blatantly obvious ways it's enough to make us retch. The motion picture industry has failed to police itself against the evils of bad physics. This page is provided as a public service in hopes of improving this deplorable matter. The minds of our children and their ability to master vectors are (shudder) at stake.

I love physicists.

via AKMA

I recently discovered lomography. I think it fits very naturally with the spirit of moblogging.

The 10 Golden Rules of Lomography

1 - take your camera everywhere you go
2 - use it any time - day and night
3 - lomography is not an interference in your life, but a part of it
4 - try the shot from the hip
5 - approach the objects of your lomographic desire as close as possible
6 - don't think (Wiliam Firebrace)
7 - be fast
8 - you don't have to know beforehand what you capture on film
9 - afterwards either
10 - don't worry about the rules

I just finished watching The Last Samurai. I'm not going to comment on the acting or the historical accuracy, but rather on this notion of a code of honor. Several people told me to watch it because they were impressed with the code of honor in the film. I think there is something comforting about codes of honor and people get goose bumps when they see movies where heros die for honor. Some people identify with the heros as they reflect on the unfairness and loneliness in their own lives. A friend of mine manages the rights to Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa, which is one of Japan's most famous heros. He used to get calls almost every year from CEOs of companies wanting to make the film because they realized that THEY were Musashi.

The most honorable person I've ever known is my mom. She didn't talk about or whine about honor. She was just honorable. In my experience, the more people talk about honor, the less they know about it and are either using it as a way to try to convince you to trust them or trying to convince themselves or something. Some of the stupidest mistakes I've made in friendship and business have been when I have assumed that people spouting off about codes of honor would actually adhere to them. "Don't you trust me?" "Just trust me." Bah.

So I'm quite skeptical about Japanese honor. Sure, I bet there were a lot of honorable people though the history of the Samurai, but I see honor every day and they don't make movies about it. So stop making movies about Japanese honor or we might start believing it.

I'm not bashing the notion of codes of honor in organizations since I think it's often necessary to try to aspire to and enforce higher level conduct in these organizations, but having a code doesn't mean everyone will adhere to it and such codes probably cause these organizations to be more trusted than they should.

I just gave a keynote this morning and I initially felt right, but a bit bad. Milia is one of the oldest and leading interactive content conferences and MipTV is a place where content providers meet with people who want to buy content from them. The halls are full of telephone companies, TV networks, Hollywood content providers and DRM technology companies. So here I am asked to give a keynote. What am I going to say? I talked about the shift in value away from packaged content and towards context oriented things like location, presence and transactions. I talked about how DRM would make the user experience suck so bad that they would lose their customers, and I talked about how I didn't think the mobile content download business would work. Easy for Mr. "nothing to lose" Ito to say. ;-p I did throw out a olive branch by talking about Creative Commons and how we can have "some rights reserved" and try to protect their content selling business models. On the other hand, all of the smart people quickly figured out that the technical execution of protecting content while allowing sharing in certain cases requires them to trust their customers much more than they do now.

I also mentioned that the carriers and the content guys really didn't know their customers. In fact, most people don't know their customers. Most success has come from watching how the customer behaves and creating products for that behavior rather than trying to create products that change the customer's behavior, which most arrogant companies think they can do.

I did provide some helpful advice by talking about mobile device UI issues, talking about CPA and stuff.

So, I was prepared for a lot of hateful glares and wrath, but everyone was surprisingly thoughtful and the discussion after the session was really interesting. So just as publishing survived the copy machine and Hollywood movies survived the video tape, I'm sure the smart content guys will survive mobile devices and sharing whether they like it or not. Talking to all of the smart people (even the ones who's business models were screwed and didn't have any way out that I could see...) made me feel like there was a bit more hope in the content industry than I had originally envisioned.

Also, watching people from the big companies interact... I think there is a big company and "I love Hollywood stars/star-struck" aspect to why carriers and other folks want to work with the big studios. Having worked in Hollywood selling content to Japanese trading companies and having worked at NHK buying TV shows from Hollywood I know that Hollywood studios are skilled at making you feel good about working with them. There are many people who have lost a lot of money in Hollywood. Unlike Las Vegas, sometimes they often even don't let you win a single hand before they take all your money. Again, mileage may vary and there are A LOT of great people in Hollywood, but beware. People and companies in Hollywood are not famous because they're nice and give you their money.

8.7MB movie about... an iPod race.

via Markoff

As a child I travelled a lot, but mostly between US and Japan. I dealt with a lot of bicultural issues, but the rest of the world seemed far away. In the 90's I started going to Europe and Asia more, but it was always to "civilized" places.

Several years ago, I became actively involved in trying to reform Japan and I was allowed to be quite vocal about this. Last year, I gave a rant at Davos about how broken Japanese democracy was. Afterwards, Ms. Ogata, the former UN High Commissioner for Refugees told me that I should stop ranting as a Japanese and think more about global democracy and global issues. These words stuck with me and last year I tried to think about blogs and emergent democracy outside of the Japanese context. With the US elections front and center, the obvious place to try to apply these thoughts was the US. Having spent a year or so thinking about US politics, I realize how important the US election is, but I'm drawn more and more to countries that need more help.

I think many of us avoid thinking about or worrying about the rest of the world. We hear people talking about poverty, but it sounds like something in some far away country on a National Geographic special. Most people just don't care. To be honest, I cared, but in retrospect, I didn't REALLY care. I guess better late than never. As I prepare for my trip to Africa with Ethan and try to figure out exactly how I can contribute and what I should be studying, I'm drawn back to organizations such as the UNHCR. On the flight back to Japan, I saw Beyond Borders, a movie about relief work and the UNHCR, starring Angelina Jolie. The movie captured some of the experiences of being an activist on a global level and I watched it thinking about what drove some people to such high levels of commitment. Googling around, I found Angelina Jolie's journal from her mission to Russia last year. (We need to get her a blog...) What is really striking to me and something that I'm trying understand is the process that people go through to reach a higher level of caring for human beings outside of their immediate circle. I think that this process holds the key for some of the important contributions that technologies can make.

I had the opportunity to be invited to a dinner with Steven Spielberg last night. We talked about Memoirs of a Geisha which Steven's studio, Dreamworks, will be producing. I imagined the difficulty of getting it right. It appeared that Steven and his team are going to work hard on this. The book has been criticized by some in Japan as either revealing too much, or emphasizing one aspect that doesn't reflect the geisha today. Other people love the book. I think they have a challenge and am eagerly looking forward to how it comes out.

My sister is teaching a class on how cultures are portrayed in movies and we talked yesterday about how many American movies are about Americans going to foreign cultures and "conquering" them. Even Kill Bill, which was one of my favorite movies this year, might have been more fun if it focused on the American obsession with oriental things, rather than setting it in Japan where the American triumph over the Japanese ended up being more highlighted. I'm generally a sucker for a good laugh so I loved Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, but my sister asks in the comments of our Chanpon blog

I found myself wondering what the film would have been like given a Japanese-American protagonist? Or what if they were not pampered ruling class hipster Americans staying at the most expensive hotel in Tokyo, but visitors of the more pedestrian tourist type? I also find myself thinking of visitors like Justin who resolutely refuse to take difference for granted and wander reckelessly through the most unpaved backstreets of Tokyo, confronting surprised Japanese in charmingly broken Japanese. What would a view of this kind of "othered" Tokyo subjectivity look like?
In Davos, I heard that soldiers going to Iraq watched The Battle of Algiers, which is a movie about how the French foreign legion tortures and mistreats the population, eventually turning their allies into enemies. My discussion with Shekhar Kapur about his decision to direct Long Walk to Freedom was also extremely thought provoking. I also remembered today, the opening of "Pearl Harbor" in Tokyo Dome. I got a weird chill when the over 30,000 Japanese in the audience cheered during the scene at the end where they bomb Tokyo.

Cultural understanding is one of the biggest problems facing us today and movies have a huge impact on how we understand culture. Movie makers, more than ever, have an opportunity and responsibility to help us understand each other.