Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Most recently in the Photo Category

Shibuya Toyoko Line I ended the work day with a study group and an expert guest where we discussed the Japanese legal system. Although there were some small signs of hope, I find that the more I learn about how things really work, the more pessimistic I get about causing actual change in Japan.

As I pondered the futility of revolutionary activities in Japan, I jogged to try to catch the train to connect to the commuter train for my 1.5 hr shlep back to my home. As I entered the station, I noticed an unusually large crowd of people on the platform.

The PA system announced a delay due to an accident. Japan has over 30,000 suicides a year (one of the highest rates in the world) and 800 or so of them as a result of “train accidents”. As I crammed myself into the standing-room-only train full of drunken businessmen, tired “office ladies” and shriveled old people, I thought about what kind of person might have jumped in front of the train this time.

As we approached the station where the accident occurred, the train came to a stop and the conductor apologized again for the delay. They shut down the motors as we waited and the everyone was silent and still. As I looked around at the tired people with their blank looks, it felt like we were all involuntarily mourning the death of another person in Japanese society who had to give up.

When I arrived at at my home train station, Mizuka was there to pick me up. I shared my depressing thoughts and she scolded me for being so down. When we got home, our dog Pookie yapped away and almost blew these thoughts away, but I decided to share them with you anyway.


We did another photo walk the other day. This time we wandered around Shibuya. I just realized that I didn’t blog about it. I posted my set to Flickr and you can see the images of the rest of the photographers tagged with ccphotowalk071111. Thanks to everyone who participated and special thanks to Fumi and Mika for organizing everything.

Dancers in Niigata Got back yesterday from the Enjin01 event in Niigata. The theme of this year’s event was laughter. (Flickr set here.)

Enjin01 is a Japanese non-profit that I helped start. It is a funny mishmash of people including artists, business people, politicians, academics, journalists, novelists… just about every kind of background you can imagine. It is a membership organization with about 180 people. It is a totally volunteer organization and no one gets paid for talks we give or activities we participate in and it is funded by membership fees from the members and corporate donations. Some members give a percentage of their normal lecture fees to the organization as well. I was involved in the selection of members and setting up the organization a lot at the beginning, but am mostly just a member now.

One of the activities that we do is go teach at Jr. High Schools that want us to go. Any Jr. High School can sign up for us to dispatch teachers on our websie. I blogged about this earlier. We also have a group that focuses on trying to change government policy, especially in the area of taxation of donations to non-profits.

The main activity of Enjin01 is to organize an annual meeting in a different region of Japan each year. Most of the members attend this annual meeting. The meeting is organized into a few plenary talks, a bunch of workshops and panels, and a “yagaku” where we go to dinner with people from the local community. We also usually have a closed meeting where the members meet an invited guest.

The program committee assigns the participant members to various panels and different “yagaku”. This year, I was assigned to a panel about IT, which is par for the course.

I was also assigned to be on a panel at a workshop lead by Koichi Inakoshi to learn about and actually participate in photographing a nude model. I had never photographed a nude model before so I was quite nervous at the beginning. Mr. Inakoshi started by explaining that we should think about the beauty of the model and imagine looking at our own bodies while we are bathing. He told us to try to imagine and see the beauty of the human body. After showing us some of his nude images, he told us to try taking photographs ourselves.

The audience was also invite to participate. The audience probably consisted of 50% women and maybe 50% of them over 40 years old. The panel, which I was on, chose a number of winning photos. One of the women who won a prizes was wearing a kimono. I wish I had a photo of the woman in a kimono photographing a nude model. ;-)

One side-effect of this session was that I ended up with some nude photographs. I posted them in Flickr flagged as “Moderate” and “Hide this photo from public searches”. I still got a few people telling me that they were surprised and a thread started on one of my photos about nudes and sensitivity about nude images. After reading a bunch of posts about nude vs naked, I realized this is an old and deep discussion online. The collapsed context of the Internet forces us to deal with these cultural differences in a very real way. With nudes, I find that even in the same society, there is a very wide range of sensitivity levels. One curious thing is why people turn “safe mode” off when they don’t want to see nudes…

Charles Robert Jenkins The special guest for the closed member meeting this year was Charles Robert Jenkins, the former US Army soldier who lived in North Korea for 39 years. He gave us a very candid and real account of his time in North Korea and while some of the facts and assertions were interesting and shocking, his personal account of his day-to-day life in North Korea left the strongest impression. He now lives in Niigata, Japan.

The “yagaku” can be hit or miss, but this year it was a lot of fun. The deal with the “yagaku” is that we choose a dozen or so local restaurants and several members are assigned to each venue. Then all of the local people are invited to join us to dinner where we are the hosts. We learn a lot about the local culture and they get to spend “quality time” with us. This year, I sat with a number of women who had worked in Tokyo at companies like Fujitsu and Intel but returned to Niigata after getting married. We talked about how to use the net to “stay in the loop”.

Ken Mogi One of the highlights of the event was getting to hear Ken Mogi speak and having time to chat with him a bit. In addition to being one of the most brilliant people I know, it turns out that he has a very funny and rich personality.

Next year, we will be holding the event in Nagoya. Anyone is welcome to join us.

Technorati Tags:

Jump-1 JUMP系列 Photographer:老0

I landed in Beijing yesterday at 5AM from Los Angeles and am leaving today at 1PM for New York. From a logistical and environmental perspective, I think this was one of my stupider trips. However, from a content perspective, this was one of my best trips ever. I really met more interesting people, saw more interesting things and had more interesting conversations in a single day than I’ve had in a long time.

I started out the morning yesterday by giving at talk at cnbloggercon organized by Isaac Mao. I gave a talk about the sharing economy and got some interesting questions and hallway conversation about sharing in the context of China. I also got to meet a lot of the Chinese bloggers I only knew by name. Many thank for Isaac and his crew for organizing this excellent annual conference and sorry I haven’t made it over before.

Then I went to the Creative Commons China Photo Content ceremony at the National Library in Beijing. There were 10,000 submissions of professional and amateur works licensed under various CC licenses. There were three categories: Society, Nature and Portraits. Winners were chosen by a panel of judges including famous photographers, professors and other notable people. The photographs were amazing. There is a web page of the winning photographs. Don’t forget to click the link underneath the winning photos for the second place winner gallery.

While we have silly people in the West saying that for every free photo on Flickr a professional photographer loses their job, we have professional photographers in China licensing their best works under CC licenses. As far as I could tell, the amateur and professional photographers seemed integrated and supportive of each other.

After the awards ceremony, we have a workshop with presentations from an illustrious and interesting group of speakers. Overall a groundbreaking and well executed event. Congratulations Chunyan and the CC China team!

I’m uploading photos from my trip in a Flickr set. I found out yesterday that there is a Firefox Plugin to bypass the Chinese block on Flickr. Yay!

Changes at ICANN

Today Vint stepped down as chairman of ICANN as his term came to and end. The new board elected Peter Dengate Thrush as the new chairman.

My term also came to and end. I'll blog about this more, but thought I should post this first...

My new Hello Kitty World of Warcraft UI My new Hello Kitty UI for WoW

Via Yusuf.

And no. I didn’t do this. ;-) … but it is awesome.

Does anyone know where I can download this?

UPDATE: Found it! Hello Kitty Island Adventure UI

Still early stage but very well done. Enjoying PhotoPhlow a lot. Reminds me of proto-Flickr.

Set up a #joiito PhotoPhlow channel there and hanging out when I’m free. For now it appears that they will shoot you an invite if you sign up on the site.

Kudos to iMorpheus for the invite.

Joi with Timothy Leary terminus
Me with Timothy Leary's terminus made of his mortal remains

As Timothy once said, "everyone out there gets the Timothy Leary they deserve". WAV File

Today, I did an interview with agent etoy.Monorom and agent etoy.Silvan for their Mission Eternity project. My job was to channel Timothy Leary who is one of the test pilots of the project. The project involves a terminus made from the mortal remains of Timothy which are connected to a sarcophagus installation. It keeps track of and maintains a network of volunteer angels who keep his archival identity parts alive on the Net. In many ways it is still a work in progress and I was contributing in my own way.

I had told etoy that several of us had had experiences in the past where Tim asked us to channel him. When he was busy or needed to do other things, I would be asked to play his role by answering questions and explaining thoughts. I was working on a book with him at the time and would talk about the ideas from our book, The New Breed. Most silly questions looking for an answer were responded to with a, "think for yourself!" In the past, I did these interviews in chatrooms with Tim often in the next room so it wasn't that hard to imagine what Tim would say. Now 10 years after his death, I had to think a deeply about what Tim would think about the current state of affairs and try to play this role.

It was a lot of fun.

While I was preparing for this, I reflected on Wikipedia where someone edited a comment on my Wikipedia article from "Ito is Timothy Leary's God Son." to "Ito has claimed that he was one of Timothy Leary's so-called 'God Sons'". Someone nice edited it back eventually. Also, somewhere along the line, my name was also scrubbed from Timothy's article as well. I realize that to some people my relationship with Tim is not notable or interesting and possible annoying. I don't really feel like being greedy about it at all. It just feels a bit sad that something I said on my blog has been reduced to a claim that looks like some kind of heavy name dropping...

As I thought about this more, I remembered the quote from Tim. I also remembered that Tim touched people deeply and made them feel special. I think EVERYONE he touched directly or through his work came up with their own Tim. I don't feel I have any right to take away from that. However, I think that it would be great if we can understand Tim as the aggregate of all of our Tim's and somehow come together to help him come back to life through our memories. I really think that this is what etoy is trying to do with Mission Eternity and that makes me happy.

What's amazing to me now is that as more and more information becomes available online and we are able to talk to each other about our memories... Tim can come back to life instead of fading and through us, maybe he becomes much larger than what he could be if he were all in one piece right now. I look forward to working together to bring back his spirit instead of bickering over the pieces and the details of the past.

Update: Chris found a video of Timothy calling me his godson. Thanks Chris!

Tom's Intimate Contact Based on the true story of Tom Coates

Technorati Tags:

Tom Coates Comic

The saga of Tom Coates will continue…

Technorati Tags:

Tom Coates Tom Coates

Fiona and danah Fiona and danah

I’m at one of my favorite meetings of the year - the Microsoft Research Social Computing Symposium.

It’s being streamed here: - open in VLC as MMS

We also have an IRC back-channel on

Also hanging out on #joiito as usual…

Uploading photos in a Flickr set.

Jun Murai Jun Murai giving opening remarks

It started at noon today Japan time, but don’t miss Mozilla 24, a 24 hour global event organized by Mozilla.

Gerfried Stocker
Gerfried Stocker

Other than being 7 degrees celcius and raining most of the time, Ars Electronica this year was a lot of fun. It was packed full of work for me this week with five talks and ten media interviews, but with Sandra, Elizabeth and Fumi's help, everything went smoothly and I survived. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to see all of the installations or talk to as many artists as I would have liked, but I had more than enough interesting conversations to make it great.

I went to Ars Electronica this year together with the MOGA unit which is a collaboration between Professor Inakage's lab, Joi's lab (mostly Fumi) and Hiroyuki Nakano's Peacedelic team. MOGA set up the "Jump" installation in Linz. Yuichiro Katsumoto, also from Professor Inakage's lab presented Amagatana. It was fun seeing the students I had been working with in the Ars Electronica context.

I think that most of the talks will end up online somewhere, but I'm not sure where. ;-) I did see one video interview on

The theme of this year's Ars Electronica was privacy.

The first session I participated in was with the Austrian Association and Judges and members from the Ars Electronica community. I talked broadly about the generation gap and the how the behavior and use of the technology was very different among the new users of the Internet and how difficult it was, yet how important it was, for the older generation to try to understand the way the new generation used the new medium. I was really impressed in the conversations with some of the judges and how forward looking they were. I also talked about the importance of Global Voices in the future of global democracy. I suppose that federal judges can think more long term about democracy and things like the cost of privacy than their politician brothers. Having smart judges is a great thing as the recent ruling by the 10th Circuit Court in the US shows.

Summer Watson
Summer Watson

The second session I participated in was a discussion about future trends with some of corporate executives. It was a good group with a number of interesting presentation. The presentation that was the most interesting to me was Summer Watson, a British soprano opera singer, who announced that she is going to ski the last degree (from 89 to 90) of the North Pole and sing an Aria at the North pole as a call to action on environmental issues.

I had coffee with her afterwards and we talked a lot about Creative Commons and online identities and was inspired to start the Summer Watson Wikipedia article.

I also did a session about WoW which I think you can imagine without me going into too much detail.

Volker Grassmuck
Volker Grassmuck

I did a session with Leonard Dobusch to talk about importance of Free Networks and Free Knowledge. Again, I'm sure readers of this blog can imagine what my position was. Leonard, who is also the son of the Mayor of Linz, had some interesting perspectives on the role of municipal governments in supporting public access. He had co-edited a book recently where they discussed many of these issues. He cited an article by Volker Grassmuck where Volker argued that having a public space for hosting content on the web was important.

Finally, I was on a panel as part of a awards ceremony and a kick-off meeting for Fair Music. The idea behind Fair Music was sort of a music parallel for the Fair Trade mark. Whereas the Fair Trade mark tries to identify products where the production meets basic Fair Trade parameters and requirements, Fair Music marks were awarded to companies and projects where the artists and consumers were treated fairly. Fair in this context means a number of things including the artist receiving a fair share of the remuneration or the project promoting diversity against the bias of "Northern" dominance in the music business.

I mostly talked about the need for new business models and the role of Creative Commons in this context.

I uploaded my photos a Flickr set.

Performing Gion Kouta

Just got back from visiting Kyoto with Reid, Michelle and Mizuka.

Posted some photos to a Flickr set. Also posted a short chat with Reid about venture business in China and Japan in mp3 (8.9 MB) and ogg (15.3 MB) formats.

View from Shanghai JW Marriott

Just returned from a trip to China with Reid, Michelle, Ellen and Kazuya organized by Leonard Liu and his team.

We met with VCs, entrepreneurs and a few of my old friends.

I was in Shanghai a few years ago just as the US VCs were starting to set up offices in Shanghai. Things have clearly moved forward a notch. The first wave of entrepreneurs have exited their successful ventures and are now on their second or third venture. The VCs seem to have a community. More and more US educated Chinese seem to be returning.

There are many things about the Chinese venture scene that remind me of the Japanese venture scene. There are clearly fewer experienced VCs and entrepreneurs compared to Silicon Valley. Many of the people are copying US models - some with a great deal of success.

The Chinese market in general reminds me of Japan during the bubble. Everyone hugely optimistic, explosion of spending, explosion of brands and luxury goods, investors from all over the place flocking to participate. While the dynamics are quite different and the market much larger in many ways, I see some of the similar indicators of irrational exuberance as well.

When we launched a lot of our ventures in Japan like Internet advertising, ecommerce and other things that were going strong in the US, we typically overestimated the short term growth for Japan. I have to give Reid credit for triggering this thought, but I now think that it is possible that many entrepreneurs may be overestimating how easy it is going to be to get Internet ads and ecommerce going in China. On the other hand, even very narrow nitchy markets in China are HUGE so it's possible to build pretty big business with a narrow focus compared to what you can do in the US or Japan.

I'm still not sure what we're going to end up doing in China if anything, but I'll keep you posted. Thanks for everyone who took time in their busy schedules to meet with us and share thoughts. Thanks especially to Leonard, John, Vivian and Stefanie for organizing such a great trip!

I organized my photos into the Shanghai part and the Beijing part.

Just got home from Aspen and Taipei. Thanks to everyone for all the fun.

Shona Brown
Shona Brown in Aspen

Benjamin Mako Hill
Benajamin Mako Hill at Wikimania 2007 in Taipei

I've uploaded my photos as Flickr sets - Aspen Institute 2007 and Wikimania 2007.

Talked to nacho_c and we decided to start using the "freeplaces" tag as a location/place compliment to the "freesouls" tag.

Just made a gallery on my Wikimedia Commons User Page. Wee.

Ryuichi Sakamoto

According to Wikipedia, "Ryuichi Sakamoto (坂本 龍一 Sakamoto Ryūichi, born January 17, 1952, Nakano, Tokyo, Japan) is an Academy Awards-winning, Grammy-winning, Golden Globe-winning Japanese musician, composer, producer and actor, based in New York and Tokyo."

I first met Ryuichi Sakamoto in 1997. Of course I knew of him having been a HUGE fan. Like many Japanese my age, Yellow Magic Orchestra defined an era of our youth where video games, anime and technology merged in the 80’s. YMO made us feel cool, global and different from our parents.

Timothy Leary and I talked a lot about YMO in the context of our discussions and plans to write a book about the New Breed of Japanese youth. [I recently wrote about how I met Tim.] Tim died in 1996, but apparently he had told Ryuichi that he should look me up.

I still have the email from January 26, 1997 where Ryuichi says that Tim had urged him to meet me at some point. Ryuichi invited me to visit his home in New York to chat sometime. I think that I ended up visiting Ryuichi at his place for the first time in April 1997.

I still remember the feeling that we all get when we first meet someone who we have been looking at in posters and album jackets in our room through our formative years. I was extremely excited and nervous and didn’t know what to expect.

Ryuichi turned out to be a down-to-earth, smart and super-curious guy who wanted to talk about computers, the Internet and the future. We talked about everything from computer generated music to PGP encryption. We hit it off and both agreed that Internet was changing everything.

Through the rest of the 90’s we worked on a bunch of things together. Among other things, he joined the advisory board of Neoteny and I joined his advisory board when he worked to invite the Dalai Lama to Japan. There was also a period where I was clubbing a lot and Ryuichi and I bounced around Tokyo together sometimes. We also took aikido lessons together and sometimes spontaneously sparred in awkward locations. As they say, “those were the days...”

In 1999 Ryuichi worked on the Media Artists Association which was a group to try to promote artists rights for new media artists and musicians which I tried to help with.

Right after the September 11 attacks, Ryuichi spoke out strongly in an appeal to not diminish human rights in response to the terrorist attacks. At the time, this was a very unpopular notion and I remember Ryuichi’s enormous bravery in speaking out about this as a foreigner living in New York City.

Later, Ryuichi launched a campaign against the plans to begin the war on Iraq. Again, he was way too early to get too much general support, but he persevered with this, at the time, unpopular position, putting his reputation and career on the line. In retrospect, I think we all should have listened to him more and made more noise.

Ryuichi has also been an outspoken environmentalist for as long as I’ve known him. I first heard about carbon offsets when Ryuichi started offsetting the carbon footprint of his concerts years ago. Recently he worked to try to stop a nuclear recycling plant in Rokkashomura and has launched a new projected called More Trees to help offset carbon and help support projects to plant more trees.

Ryuichi has always been early and strong in taking positions about political and social issues. I think a lot of this comes from his active participation in the student movements in Japan in the 60’s and 70’s.

These days, the student uprisings of the 60’s and 70’s are considered uncool. I remember in the 90’s fashion became rather fake and shallow and being serious or an activist was considered boring and stupid. People like Ryuichi and Ryu Murakami (a mutual friend who Ryuichi introduced me to) are some of the few people who are able be fashionable and activists at the same time.

Ryuichi’s adherence to his social principles while still retaining a super-high sense of taste and artistic quality have influenced me heavily. I have tried to model my life in many ways after his in terms of balancing creative and social endeavors. However, I still lack his his courage in calling out the unpopular issues early and loudly although I think I’m improving.

I think Ryuichi is a role model for us all in many ways and I’m really proud and happy to have him as my friend.

Mizuka and Kaoru
Mizuka and Kaoru 2007

When I was born in Kyoto my father was still at Kyoto University studying under the late Kenichi Fukui. My grandparents on both sides had been against their marriage - my father a merchant class boy from Kansai shunned as lower-class by my mother's noble family from Northern Japan. My father's family wanted him to marry someone who was healthier and more likely to be a hard-working member of their family. Because of this, my parents were rather poor, lacking any support from their families. We lived in a dumpy home and they struggled to make ends meet.

Kenichi Fukui's wife, Tomoe, had a brother who knew people in the Geisha district, Gion. Through this connection my mother was able to get a job teaching English to geisha and maiko in Gion. They called her "Momoko-sensei". She taught at a geisha teahouse called Minoya.

Later, we moved to the US. Kaoru, the teenage daughter of the mistress and owner of Minoya wanted to visit the US. My parents agreed to let Kaoru come and stay with us for six months or so in exchange for baby-sitting. Kaoru was 18 and I was 3.

Joi and Kaoru Grand Canyon
Me and Kaoru at Yellow Stone National Park

We were so poor that my father once scolded Kaoru for eating too much food. ;-) Kaoru returned to Kyoto and eventually took over the family business of the geisha teahouse which she continues to run today.

I kept in touch with Kaoru over the years and I have made a habit of popping down to Kyoto whenever I can to see her and my other friends there. Kaoru is my guide and interface to Kyoto. She reminds me that when I visit a famous philosopher's house, that I should NOT, even when asked twice, actually accept the invitation for tea. She tells me how to deal with restaurant owners, geisha, maiko and monks... without her, I would never be able to navigate the exceedingly complex social system of Kyoto.

She still treats me like a 3 year old boy sometimes and embarrasses me to no end by continuing to call me by my baby name, "Jon-bon"... which as a result is my name among all of the geisha of Gion. The benefit, however, is that many of the geisha and maiko are like family. Even though I only lived in Kyoto as a baby, Kaoru and my geisha and maiko friends in Kyoto really help me continue to feel like Kyoto is my home. They provide me with an essential culture backbone to my Japanese nationality.

Inside Gaudi apartments

I'm at Frankfurt airport getting stuck in elevators during fire alarms and stuff...

I just posted photos from Barcelona on Flickr.

Keigo Oyamada aka Cornelius

According to Wikipedia, "Cornelius (born Keigo Oyamada (小山田圭吾) January 27, 1969 in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, Japan) is a Japanese recording artist and producer. Oyamada's first claim to fame was as a member of the pop duo, Flipper's Guitar, one of the key groups of the Tokyo Shibuya-kei scene. Following the disbandment of Flipper's Guitar in 1991, Oyamada donned the "Cornelius" moniker and embarked on a successful solo career."

Keigo's mother is my mother's cousin. Keigo's grandmother moved to Tokyo in her youth while my grandmother stayed in Northern Japan to run our household. Keigo and his cousins became our local "family" when we moved to Tokyo since my first cousins were either in Northern Japan or in the US. When we used to get together as an extended family, our older cousins used to cheat us out of our allowance and everyone used to tease Keigo because he was always the funny little kid.

As we became teenagers, we hung out a lot and listened to music together. We listen to a lot of stuff like Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Clash. When both of our families were going through a somewhat difficult financial period and his mother was working for my mother, we both lived in a dumpy old love hotel in Shibuya that had been converted to a dumpy old apartment.

Keigo was in Jr. High School at the time. He had a little cult following in his school, some kid writing a school comic strip about Keigo and his escapades. (If I remember this correctly...) I remember his mom being called into school regularly to make Keigo apologies for random things... I don't remember the details. I remember him practicing the guitar all the time and talking about starting a band.

One day, I heard that his band was a huge hit - Flippers Guitar, his first band. As they say, after that it's history... Keigo's music has evolved and it always involves a humble, funny and experimental attitude. I see his awesome mother, our humble teenage environment and our playful family in his music. I remember hearing that NHK had invited him to be a judge on a music show. When the host asked Keigo what he thought, he pointed out that the host had a nose hair sticking out and Keigo wasn't invited back... I guess she didn't think it was very funny.

Now Keigo has a wife, house, a super-cute kid and has mellowed a bit with age. On the other hand, his music aged well and continues to inspire me to experiment and remain playful. We're hoping to collaborate more directly more and he's helping with Creative Commons these days.

Teo and Larry

According to Wikipedia, "Lawrence Lessig (born June 3, 1961) is an American academic. He is currently professor of law at Stanford Law School and founder of its Center for Internet and Society. He is best known as a proponent of reduced legal restrictions on copyright, trademark and radio frequency spectrum, particularly in technology applications."

I think I met Larry when he was in Japan promoting the Japanese edition of Code and I was on a panel with him. I got to know Larry better when he was in Japan for an extended period in 2002-2003 I think. At the time, I was struggling as an activist in Japan, fighting against the broken democracy of Japan. This struggle and the advice that Larry gave me for how to think about this struggle lead me to write my Emergent Democracy paper and take my struggle to the rest of the world.

Larry is a genius at identifying how complex systems such as law, code and politics influence each other. He's able to figure out where the balance is and turn murky complex issues into sharp, understandable thoughts around which movements can rally and debates can be won. Most importantly, Larry throws himself into acting on these causes with a dedication that energizes everyone around him.

Larry has really helped me evolve from an armchair philosopher to increasingly more serious activist. When Larry asked me to join the board of Creative Commons, I was honored and shocked, concerned about whether I would be make a sufficient contribution. I was even more surprised when Larry asked me to be the chairman of Creative Commons and I'm still concerned about my ability to play the kind of role that Larry expects from me.

However, Larry hasn't left me with much slack or time to wallow in my lack of confidence and the combination of his confidence and firm leadership is pushing me to have to grown quickly into my new position.

Larry is the mentor of mine who sets the standard of high-quality, no-compromise dedication to our higher causes, showing that there is no issue too complex or large that we can't make a difference with enough commitment, persistence and focus.

Justin and Pixley

According to Wikipedia, "Justin Hall (born December 16, 1974 in Chicago, Illinois), is an American freelance journalist who is best known as a pioneer blogger (internet-based diarist), and for writing reviews from game conferences such as E3 and the Tokyo Game Show."

I don't know exactly how I officially met Justin, but it was probably through Howard Rheingold or something back in the early early days of the Web. (Howard is one of Justin's mentors.) Justin had a site called Justin's Links from the Underground. It was the first website of his kind where he wrote about his life. This was a great inspiration for my own website which was also one of the earlier personal websites.

Suddenly, Justin decided to move to Japan in 2001 and lived there/here until January 2003. In Japan, we grew closer and he became a closer friend of the family. It was during this period that Justin convinced me to dump my old hand-coded website and switch to Movable Type. Justin was the first webmaster of my blog and is the one who got me started blogging. He was also the one who recommended that we use Movable Type. (Thanks Justin!)

When he was in Japan, he wrote Just In Tokyo, a crazy guide to Japan.

Justin eventually moved to Los Angeles where he studied at USC in Scott's department and recently graduated. In LA he became a member of Mimi and Scott's extended family together with Merci and Pixley Wigglebottom. Pixley is like Justin's doggy twin.

Recently, Justin has become an entrepreneur as he begins to build some structure around his passively multiplayer online game. I'm trying to help him out with this process.

I've really been enjoying watching Justin develop over the years, never losing his super-happy, honest, fun and spazzy core. He's one of the most lovable bundles of energy that I know. He's also great because he's always pushing me to be more social and proactive.

Pearl and Howard Rheingold

According to Wikipedia, "Howard Rheingold (born July 7, 1947) is a critic and writer; his specialties are on the cultural, social and political implications of modern communication media such as the Internet, mobile telephony and virtual communities (a term he is credited with inventing)."

I met Howard a long time ago by Internet standards - in the early 1980's... before The Web. *gasp* We were both heavily involved in online services and their forums like The Source, CompuServe, The Meta Network, Delphi and others. We were both part of an organization called "The Electronic Network Association". I think that Howard was the editor of the Whole Earth Review back then. I was still in High School and Howard was a distant guru-like figure for me back then.

Later, when I moved to (part of my base) to San Francisco, I got to know Howard better and he became one of my cyber-gurus who together with Timothy Leary, taught me the history of the Hippy and New Age movements and got me plugged into that corner of the San Francisco universe.

Howard has invited me to his home a number of times for long chats while walking in the mountains or sitting in his garden. Listening to Howard talk about his garden and his life in this environment is super-inspiring and is one of the main reasons that I've recently thrown myself into trying to grow my own food and make my own compost.

Howard is incredibly well read and has provided me with more life-changing books than anyone else I know and has recently succeeded in getting me to start drawing and thinking of art in a new light. This has been a big factor in my increased attention to the quality of my photography.

Howard contributed to my business history as well. In 1993, Howard wrote about me in an article in Wired and also mentioned me in his book, The Virtual Community. Cyrus Shaoul, a fellow ASIJ graduate, read the article and sent me an email about wanting to get together. This eventually led to the formation of Eccosys, my first successful company.

Scott Fisher

According to Wikipedia, "Scott Fisher is Professor and Chair of the Interactive Media Division in the USC School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, and a Fellow of the the Annenberg Center for Communication there. He is an artist and technologist who has worked extensively on virtual reality, including stints at NASA, Atari Research Labs, MIT's Architecture Machine Group and Keio University."

When I first moved to California, Timothy Leary, who I had recently met in Tokyo, picked me up at LAX and took me to his house where he had a party and introduced me to his network and extended family in Los Angeles. That weekend, Tim drove my sister, mother and me to San Francisco where he organized a party for us at the Mondo 2000 house. He introduced us to a huge number of people at that party. We first met Scott at that party.

Scott had either just set up or was setting up Telepresence Research, a virtual reality (VR) research company. I was very interested in VR at the time and VR was actually how I first connected with Tim. Scott was looking at Japan as an important market so I joined Telepresence Research part time to help Scott with business development in Japan.

This position mostly involved helping Scott and his partner at Telepresence Research at the time, Brenda Laurel, set up meetings in Japan and providing translations for their presentations at these meetings for them. It was a great way to learn about VR as well as meet all of the people doing cool things in Japan in this space.

During this period, I was mostly living in Japan and my sister started a program at Stanford. Before I knew it, Scott and Mimi were a "thing" and Scott became my brother-in-law. In Japanese, if you marry a younger sister, you are considered a "younger brother-in-law" and in most formal settings are required to walk behind the older brother etc. I tease Scott to no end about this.

But Scott's a great brother-in-law and has become one of my closest confidants and best friends.


May 31, 2006 - 10 years since Timothy Leary's death
March 20, 1995 - Hanging out with Timothy Leary

John Perry Barlow

According to Wikipedia, "John Perry Barlow (born October 3, 1947) is an American poet, essayist, retired Wyoming cattle rancher, political activist and former lyricist for the Grateful Dead."

Barlow is one of my best friends who connects to a large number of my different networks. I first met Barlow through Timothy Leary. Timothy was always generous with his network and Barlow was one of the first people Tim introduced me to. Barlow became a friend of the family and we spent a lot of time together.

Barlow and I have talked a lot through the years about the differences in our cultures as well as the similarities. Barlow introduced me to a whole part of America that was previously unknown to me. He took me to my first and only Grateful Dead show at Shoreline. I visited Barlow at his home in Pinedale, Wyoming where we drove through a double rainbow in one of the most memorable of drives through American scenery that I can remember.

At his home, we schemed about writing a book, but we were not able to stay focused long enough to get it going.

Lately, we invite each other to conferences and run into each other like randomly molecules bumping into each other in brownian motion. He is one of the few people who travel as much as I do.


May 31, 2006 - 10 years since Timothy Leary's death
March 20, 1995 - Hanging out with Timothy Leary

Pat recommended I try to Pclix for time-lapse. Just recorded dinner in our living room using my Canon 5D. Pretty interesting effect. Now to find something more interesting to shoot.

(5 MB .mov of the dinner)

UPDATE: Put together a day's worth of time-lapse with Wataridori 2 by Cornelius. (29 MB mp4)

Pierre Omidyar

Good news. Pierre made BusinessWeek's list of Entrepreneurs for the Ages. Congrats Pierre! And... they used my photo of him. Yay!

Bad news. They didn't give me attribution. It's the ONLY thing I ask people do with my photos since they're Creative Commons Attribution licensed. It doesn't cost them anything... and they're crediting the photos by Getty Images.

/me shakes fist at BusinessWeek

The original Flickr image is here:

I suppose they might have found it on Pierre's Wikipedia article. But... clicking on the photo shows the license.

UPDATE: I wrote them a letter and they sent me an apology and fixed article. Thanks BusinessWeek!

Front yard on hazy morning

Jet lag woke me up again at 3AM so I watched the Adobe Lightroom stuff on Lynda. I learned how to control more things in post-processing so I went out into the foggy and hazy sunrise to take some photos in the yard to play with in Lightroom. I still have a lot to learn, but I think I have a better handle on how to deal with overcast lighting... Which is good since it's rainy season in Japan right now and overcast a lot.

I also learned how to fix chromatic aberration which I used today on one of the images.

I thought about whether I should go back to a more journal-like form for my blog or start writing more stuff on Flickr. I seem to be spending more time responding to comments on Flickr these days than on this blog. I suppose my online presence needs an overhaul.

My photos from the ICANN meeting in San Juan are posted on Flickr in a set.

They're all Creative Commons Attribution licensed so free to use with attribution. If they're pictures of yourself, go ahead and use them without attribution if you have to.

Last month, I blogged about one of my new "missions" - to take photographs of people and post them under a CC-BY license so that Wikipedians and other people writing articles have access to photographs that they can use in articles. There is a problematic lack of usable photos of most people as any Google Image search will prove. I've been talking about this a bit more and Larry suggest we start a "freesouls" movement to encourage people to post take and post their photos under a free license.

I've started tagging any decent quality images of people on my Flickr stream tagged with their name and the tag "freesouls". If you're interested in joining, just start using the tag.

I did a workshop about photography at the iCommons Summit and discussed freesouls. One of the issues that came up about portraits was the issue of moral rights, model releases and privacy. We've decided to make the photography discussion at iCommons a permanent thing and will be setting up a "node" for this. If you're interested in discussing these issues, please join the node and the mailing list I'm setting up. For now, you can just sign up on my wiki or the Flickr group until we have a more permanent place for the node.

We'll mostly be discussing norms and legal issues around taking and sharing portraits as well techniques, tools, services and events. We'll also try to put together a tutorial online. We're planning to do the workshop again at iCommons Summit '08 in Sapporo.

Update: You can sign up for the Photo Commons mailing list here:

Walter Mossberg and Kara Swisher interview Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. John Markoff wrote a New York Times article about this interview. They used my photo. w00t!

A few notes of my own that I posted on Flickr:

Bill: "I'd give a lot for Steve's taste."

Steve: "Bill was much better at partnering than Steve Wozniak and I were."

We've kept secret that: Steve: "We've been married for 10 years." [It was actually: "We've kept our marriage secret for over a decade now."]

Bill: "I'm not the Fake Steve."

Quotes from memory. Exact text may be wrong.

UPDATE 2: The full video is online too.

I feel like this tree - lots of branches that are heavy and overextended.
Base of the plum tree

I wish I felt more like this rock.
Saturated Rock

Generation Gap
Generation Gap
Today, I experimented with taking pictures of strangers. I'm always impressed by Jim and iMorpheus' photos of strangers and I figured that the best way to get better at it was just to start doing it.

I had been practicing portraits on people I knew and thought that portraits of strangers should be fun. It was definitely harder than I had expected. I had asked a number of people their "secret". Some people asked before shooting, some people people fooled people into thinking that they were shooting something else, others were stealthy. I felt a bit "dirty" taking pictures of people sneakily. On the other hand, I didn't have the guts to go up to people and ask if I could take their picture. Some of the photos turned out OK, but it was a lot of work.

I am still not sure what my ethical position on photographing strangers is. Personally, I don't mind if people take my picture without asking. On the other hand I'm a weirdo. I've read a number of articles an essays about this topic and I still don't have a very good sense of whether it is cool or not to do it. I definitely think it's OK if you ask. My question is whether it is cool to shoot photos of people and post them to Flickr or our blog if they didn't give you permission. As far as I know, in most countries it's legal to do this.

Comme ça Ism
I wrote a post awhile ago about Chuoism. Chiba Newtown Chuo is a designed from scratch community in the middle of nowhere near my house. The town has the feeling of Japanese consumer culture for the masses that someone decided to spin by calling it "Chuoism". I always thought it was a funny word.

On my way home today, I decided to get off of the train at Chiba Newtown and go Ismhunting and try to capture some of the Ismism with my camera. I've posted some of the images in an Ismhunting Flickr set.

I am an ismhunter.

Leica M8 IR Madness
Example of grays and blacks showing up as
purple/magenta under infrared-strong lighting.

I just started the Leica M8 Magenta Madness Flickr group.

About Leica M8 Magenta Madness

The Leica M8 has a sensor that is overly sensitive to infrared. This problem causes a magenta hue on certain blacks, particularly fabrics. The color is also visible directly in lights and on anything that is lit by strong infrared light.

There is a promised firmware update and IR/UV filters are just now shipping to early M8 customers with more to follow for the rest of us real soon now.

Until we get our filters, why don't we call this a "feature" and share our Leica M8 Magenta love with each other?

HDR Stained Glass 3
High Dynamic Range image of
stained glass in cathedral in Lisboa
After the ICANN board meeting yesterday, some of us went sightseeing. We visited a beautiful cathedral. It was amazingly fun and full of wonderful photo opportunities after spending a week trying find interesting shots in conference rooms and my hotel room.

One thing I realized after taking some shots of the stained glass was that the cathedral was a perfect opportunity for High Dynamics Range (HDR) imaging. The Wikipedia article describes HDR thus:

In computer graphics and photography, high dynamic range imaging (HDRI) is a set of techniques that allow a far greater dynamic range of exposures (i.e. a large difference between light and dark areas) than normal digital imaging techniques. The intention of HDRI is to accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes ranging from direct sunlight to the deepest shadows.

HDRI was originally developed for use with purely computer-generated images. Later, methods were developed to produce a HDR image from a set of photos taken with a range of exposures. With the rising popularity of digital cameras and easy to use desktop software, the term "HDR" is now popularly used[1] to refer to the process of tone mapping together bracketed exposures of normal digital images, giving the end result a high, often exaggerated dynamic range; however, in this case neither the input nor the output qualify as "true" HDRI.

Because I didn't have a tripod, I couldn't shoot bracketed images, but I was able to take the RAW files that I was shooting and use Photomatix to render HDR images of some of the stained glass shots.

HDR Stained Glass Stained Glass

Here is an example of the same image. The first one has gone through HDR and the second one has only had the levels adjusted. (Sorry, I rotated and cropped the second one so they don't look identical.) You can clearly see that in the second image, you lose detail in both the shadows and the highlights, whereas the first one is able to preserve both. You can argue that the HDR image is "doctored" but some argue that HDR is similar to the way our eyes work. Our eyes, apparently, are able to adjust VERY quickly to the brightness and change "aperture" as it scans between highlights and shadows providing with us with high dynamic range imaging in real life.

I think an argument can be made that HDR is "cheating", but I think it's a fascinating technique that I'm going to try learning more about. Hat tip to Justin who first turned me on to this and to Pat who helped me find the software. Also, I've heard that you can use Photoshop to do HDR, but that Photomatix is easier to use. Pat has a very cool landscape HDR shot and Justin has been experimenting with hand-held HDR.

Njeri Rionge
Njeri Rionge
I've been spending more and more of my time over the last few days looking at the world through the viewfinder of my M8. The predominantly interesting thing here to look at are people. The lighting of the conference is the standard tungsten lighting that causes my M8 sensor to turn everything into a horrible magenta hue. I've figured out how to basically correct for this, but the lighting in most of the meeting rooms is so boring anyway, that my focus has started to shift away from trying to do anything fancy in color during the sessions. Ian gave me some advice about increasing the contrast and shadows of my black and white images for that "Leica look" which seems to help pictures that have boring lighting in color.

The result of looking for characteristic expressions and gestures of everyone here and trying to capture them has been a renewed appreciation for the diversity and depth of the people attending this ICANN meeting. The effect of spending time editing and tweaking the images of my favorite people has really been satisfying and enlightening.

I should probably wait until I'm finished with the conference before posting this, but as an anxious blogger, I'm going to post this now. I am uploading additional photos throughout the day so please come back or refresh the sets if you want to see them as they come in.

You can view the Black and White images as a flickr slideshow or in the normal set view. I have uploaded the color shots as well, but put them in another set and put both sets together as a collection. I was going to go back and "do the B&W Leica thing" on the color images, but since I've got a constant flow of new images, I'm going to focus my post-processing on the new stuff for now.

The photos are licensed under a CC Attribution license of course.

Ian Bogost is helping me figure out my "workflow" and my post processing. He's giving me very good advice on the shots. As I work on trying to figure out how much perfection to work on in the context of my workflow, I realize that I'm getting more and more confused about the role of Flickr on my photography.

My Flickr feed currently consists of everything from quick shots uploaded immediately from my camera phone to quick portraits shot, processed and uploaded in minutes with my Leica to 6X6 film shot with my Hasselblad scanned with my film scanner. The feed also includes my WoW screen shots. It contains everything from presence to "art" and everything mashuped up in between.

I used to upload images to, but there is a max size and the traffic there seems low. I've started uploading to JPG Magazine, but it's rather intimating and probably still a bit too high end for me.

Any thoughts? How does everyone else manage to separate the various versions of photography in your life and what makes the most sense from the perspective of a viewer? Inevitably, "want to see my pictures?" has been the dread of any house guest, photos usually being more interesting to the photographer than anyone else. Do you even CARE about my photos? If so, what is the best way to present them to you?

From the perspective of a viewer, crappy photos from friends of other friends that tells me a story, or slightly crappy pictures of friends where a gesture or expression make the image for me, or amazing photos from people I don't know - these all "do it" for me. Crappy photos from people I don't know, or even "nice" images from people I don't know are just noise to me. The context is so important. I guess maybe I'll start splitting up my feeds to Radar, Flickr and JPG Magazine or something and blog links here when I want you to look at them. ;-)

M8 with Luigi Crescenzi case

At GDC, Ian Bogost and I were geeking out about the Leica M8. He showed me his M8 and the amazing leather case he had for it. Later I asked him to refer me to his source. There is a guy named Luigi Crescenzi in Italy that makes them. You email Luigi via the somewhat crazy looking website. He took my order immediately and I got it a few days later. I've been sporting it for a few days now and I'm in otaku bliss. The case is really great and has that special handmade loving workmanship thing that really gets me going. It reminds me a bit of some scene from Pattern Recognition.

Following Ian's example, I've started reading and posting to the Leica forums, the mother-lode of Leica otaku madness.

I sort of knew this, but it's clear now. Leicaism isn't really about wanting a "better" camera. It's an excessive obsessive syndrome.

Ever since the OS X update, Aperture keeps crashing. Bah!

Mar 16 15:52:09 joi crashdump[4663]: Aperture crashed
I reinstalled it and ran a bunch of disk/directory repairs, but no go. I'm switching to Adobe Bridge.

UPDATE: Someone at Apple just told me that the patch I made to the system to get it to do M8 RAW is probably the problem causing the crashing. They also told me that Apple is working on M8 RAW support. Stay tuned!

I am visiting Mozilla today for a board meeting. After a few inquiries, I was able to track down Stuart Parmenter who is working on the color profile issue that I blogged about in my last post. The good news is that Stuart is a photo and color geek and has already figured this out and fixed it. (It is Bug 16769 in Bugzilla@Mozilla.) Firefox 3.0 will have a bunch of improvements including dealing with color profiles in images properly. There are a few more tests that are required, but it will soon be in the tree and should be available in the Alpha of Firefox 3.0.

Special thanks to Stuart for the tutorial on color!

UPDATE: Special special thanks to Tim Rowley who did most of the implementation part in Mozilla.

UPDATE 2: The fix should be in Alpha 4 of Firefox 3.0 not Alpha 3 that is coming out next in a week or two.

Conference pass for my M8
I got the Leica M8 last week. My logic was that I had a lot of M series lenses already. I had waited too long to get the Digital back for my R8 and it was way too low-resolution by the time I finally got it. I didn't want to wait so long to get the M8.

Although I guess I'm still happy I got the M8, I didn't do my research and there are a number of bugs that I'm having to work around.

I already knew about the first bug by the time I actually got my M8. I wanted to use Aperture for my workflow, but Apple doesn't support Leica M8 RAW format so you need to make a fake RAW profile for the M8 and use the Adobe RAW converter to convert the M8 RAW files before importing them into Aperture. (Thanks for the pointer Ian.) One more step, but OK. Fine. I'm going to assume that Apple will eventually support the M8. (Maybe a bad assumption.)

I encountered my second bug when I started shooting at SXSW. Black cloth and other things in the conference sessions came out looking purple instead of black. Several people saw me visibly panic as I previewed photos that I was taking of Phillip Torrone who had a black shirt on. Someone told me to google "IR Leica M8". Tadaaa... a serious flaw.

The Leica sensor is overly sensitive to infrared and certain materials when lit by a source with strong IR (The lights in the conference) will show up as purple. Since it's not a color balance issue, you can't just white balance it out. The Leica forums explained that the Pro version of Capture One had profiles that could substantially improve the image and make it look almost right. However, it looks like you will need to get a special UV/IR filter and a firmware upgrade that is still TBD from Leica to correct for it. Doh. Even after the firmware comes out, needing a new filter for all of my lenses really puts a dent in the amazing backward compatibility that Leica is all about.

After sort of getting this all working, I finally uploaded a bunch of stuff to Flickr and noticed that things looked washed out and lacked saturation compared to how they appeared on my screen. It turns out that Firefox on the Mac doesn't recognize the ICC profile tags so I need to remap the colors and export the images in Aperture instead of just dragging them into Flickr. (Thanks Kevin!) I'm exporting to sRGB IEC61966-2.1 which seems to fix it.

Compare an image remapped/exported to sRGB IEC61966-2.1
SET Players
one which is not
SET Players
in Firefox and Safari on a Mac. They will look the same in Safari, but the second one will look washed out in Firefox.) I also learned, from the same post that Macs and Windows machines typically use a different gamma so even if I get the colors right, the gamma will be off for most of the world. There is a page that clearly describes these phenomena.

I guess the lesson here is that the closer you get to perfection, the harder it gets. I'm not upset and I'm learning a lot about imaging and color in the process. It's just amazing how complicated the world of digital photography has become for me in the last few days.

UPDATE: After the OSX update, Aperture is crashing randomly and frequently. Anyone else getting this?

Does anyone use Aperture and RAW images? I'm having trouble. I've downloaded and installed the RAW update, but it doesn't seem like Aperture recognizes the RAW DNG files from my Leica DIGITAL-MODUL-R. My Adobe Bridge deals with them fine. Any ideas? Thanks in advance for any advice.

They just announced that the conference is on the record (yay!) but there are no photos allowed (boo!). They cited security reasons. I have a feeling maybe this had something to do with it. (disclaimer: I had nothing to do with the "derivative work")

Copyright Pieter Hugo
Xeni Jardin @ Boing Boing Blog
Pieter Hugo's photos: Hyena people of Nigeria

The thought that popped into my head when I first saw this incredible photo was, "next time you feel smug or badass, remember this and say -- no you are not tough. This is tough."
Pieter Hugo
's photo series "Hyena People of Nigeria" is the result of a ten-day trek the South African photographer took with a group of wandering minstrels and their animal companions: three hyenas, two pythons and four monkeys. Shown here: "Mallam Mantari Lamal with Mainasara, Nigeria, 2005"

Here's a snip from a "making of" interview with Hugo:

‘Last year I saw a picture on a website that was taken from a car window in Nigeria,” says Pieter Hugo. “It showed a man with a hyena on the streets of Lagos.”

Seated on a restaurant balcony overlooking Cape Town’s city bowl, the tall, athletic photographer says it was this crude photograph that motivated him to visit Nigeria. “The caption said he was a debt collector,” he continues, a glass of wine and salad placed in front of him. “The photograph really intrigued me.”

Through a local researcher Hugo was introduced to Adetokunbo Abiola, a Nigerian journalist who emailed him to say he knew of the men (there were more than one) in the picture. A few weeks later Hugo nervously exited Lagos airport on his first visit to the country."

Link. See this post on Clayton Cubitt's blog for a slew of additional links about Hugo's work.
Previously on Boing Boing: Hyenas and baboons for pets
I remember linking to a picture of these Hyenas last year. The picture was amazing, but honestly, it didn't motivate me to visit Nigeria. I'm glad it motivated Hugo though.

Technorati Tags: ,

I just saw this cool image in my 1001 flickr stream... which lead me to Comic Life which turned into this and this. I really should be packing. I'm off to Japan today. Special thanks to Master Willem and his team for letting me stay at their chateau.

Tn Palestinian Elections Ramallah 050

Getting out the vote in Ramallah

More photos are available in the new Palestinian Elections gallery.

Good luck and my cheers for everyone working on getting out the vote in Palestine!

dog listening to podcasts

Originally uploaded by pt.

This is my favorite picture of the year...


1001 is a desktop client to be used in conjunction with Flickr, the online photo-sharing website. 1001 not only uploads photos to your Flickr account, it notifies you anytime new photos from either your contacts, everyone, or your favorite tags are uploaded. 1001 allows you to step into the stream of photos passing through Flickr and to quickly see what's new at the moment. Just run the app in the background and if triggered, 1001 pops up a small unobtrusive window to notify you of new photos.
Groovy new OS X client by Adriaan for Flickr.

disclosure: Adriaan works for me and I'm an investor in Flickr.

I'm going to quote David's whole post because it has a bunch of good links.

David Weinberger
Metadata without tears

Peter Merholz, AKA peterme, has an excellent article at Adaptive Path called Metadata for the Masses:

But what if we could somehow peek inside our users’ thought processes to figure out how they view the world? One way to do that is through ethnoclassification [1] — how people classify and categorize the world around them.

He takes and Flickr as examples of "ethnoclassification" (a phrase he tracks back to Susan Leigh Star),. (I am enamored of the branch of ethnoclassification on exhibit at if only because people have started calling it "folksonomy.") He looks at the benefits. Then he addresses the problems, and suggests the paths out of the forest we're making for ourselves.

Jay Fienberg points us also to Jon Udell's article on "collaborative knowledge gardening." I've also been looking at some related issues (e.g., here, here, here, here and here), but Peter has the advantage of knowing what he's talking about.

I totally agree that this "ethnoclassification" is really an amazing solution to the metadata problem. Although, as they point out, there are some problems, I think that we'll find solutions. I feeling very taggy these days. I think there should be more cross-site tag linking. Blog categories, wiki pages, music meta data, and many other things can be "tagged". TAGCON 2005! Sorry. Just kidding.

Click photo for higher
resolution on flickr

I just got my picture taken with my second cousin Keigo. Keigo is aka Cornelius and is a pretty well known musician. The picture for a magazine called Brutus and the series is about cool people and their relationship with someone else. So I was the "someone else" for this article. The photo was taken by Kishin Shinoyama who is well known for his portraits. His confidence and efficiency were quite amazing. He found this cool spot to take the photo in our offices in 5 minutes. Then he set up his 8X10 camera took polaroids of three poses. He seemed to only take one or two actual photos of each set up. It was all over in like five or ten minutes.

He gave me one of the polaroids and signed it for me upon request and said that I could post this on my blog.

Esther scooped me and announced that she is investing in flickr. So am I. I haven't been blogging about flickr too much, even though I'm addicted because I wanted to wait to announce this first. I'm just a passive investor, but wanted to disclose this relationship.

You can see my photos on my flickr photo page. You can even subscribe to it in RSS 2.0 or Atom. Remember to check out the Tags page. There is also my personal tags page. Things have been getting very taggy around here ever since I started using

Thanks for the opportunity to invest Stewart and Caterina.

Ever wanted to take digital pictures from a kite? Phillip Torrone who brought us the Search Engine Belt Buckles shows us how. He makes it sound so easy.

I think the "mystery creature" in Maryland (via Boing Boing) is just a lost Nigerian pet Hyena.

The mystery creature or "Hyote"

Nigerian pet hyenas and baboons

flickr, a photo management/social network/community/chat service just integrated Creative Commons so you can choose a license for a photo when you upload this. This is awesome. flickr integrates photos into your chat so that you can plop photos into a chat room from your shoe-box and copy photos into your shoe-box from a conversation. People can comment on the photos, etc. It's probably the best integration of photos in conversation that I've ever seen and now with Creative Commons, it should make feel safer and more fluid.

Nice job Stewart!
Rumsfeld bans phone cameras

London - Cellphones fitted with digital cameras have been banned in US army installations in Iraq on orders from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, The Business newspaper reported on Sunday.

Quoting a Pentagon source, the paper said the US defence department believes that some of the damning photos of US soldiers abusing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad were taken with camera phones.

"Digital cameras, camcorders and cellphones with cameras have been prohibited in military compounds in Iraq," it said, adding that a "total ban throughout the US military" is in the works.

via Smartmobs

The increasing reliance of this administration on secrecy is really disturbing. When your government starts to strip the people of their privacy and civil rights and consistently marches forward with a variety of efforts to hides its own movements, you know you're in real trouble.

I've worked on whistleblower protection bills and thought a lot about the importance of the ability for people to come forward outside of the chain of command. It is an essential protection measure against coverups and corruption. I can understand arguments about why allowing random photos could be bad, but I'm sure the importance of having "eyes on the ground" outside of the "main channel" out-weigh the risks.

UPDATE: There are many media sites and blogs running this story, but they all seem to quote the same source. We still have no corroborating original sources. Please see comments on this entry for more.


This morning, I asked a Defense Department spokesperson whether or not the reports of a phonecam ban were true. This spokesperson said that these reports were technically inaccurate -- that the Pentagon is not issuing a new ban on camera phones per se, but that a Directive 8100.2 was issued on April 14 establishing new restrictions on wireless telecommunications equipment in general. The text of this directive is available online here in PDF format: Link. The intent of this April 14 directive, and how commanders in the field will be expected to enforce it, are matters I'll be reporting on in more detail for the NPR program "Day to Day," later this week.

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

The Japanese "sort of equivalent" of SuicideGirls is Cure, a cosplay sight. The biggest difference is that the sexy pictures are not allowed. It's quite an amazing community. There are 5000 layers (comes from Cosplayers) and 30,000 cameko (comes from camera kozo or "Camera Boys"). The layers can be sorted by ranking or by the characters they play. The cameko are otaku who spend their lives taking pictures of the layers and giving beautiful prints of their photos to the layers and sharing them online. The site lets you send these photos to or view them on your mobile phones.

That' me holding Ben

Ethan and Ben

At the Emerging Tech conference, more than one person noted the striking resemblance between Ethan Zuckerman and Benjamin Franklin. Coincidence? You decide.

A lot of the people working on emergent democracy look founding fatherish. I wonder if you start looking like a founding father after you start pondering or whether looking in the mirror each day causes you to go down the "pondering about democracy" path. Where does that put me?

I knew I would not be able to compete with the other bloggers in covering the content of ETech so I focused on photos. I've finally uploaded most of the decent photos here. I took the photos with my Canon 300D. I used a 55-200mm telephoto zoom lens which helped me be more invasive and catch people off-guard. It looks more like a collection of snapshots of my friends than anything resembling photojournalism. For some real photojournalism, take a look at the World Press Photo awards.

Rob Kaye is promoting bluetooth this year...

My ETech 2004 photo album (feel free to use any of the photos)

I'll be uploading through the day.

In order to 1) mess around with TypePad more, 2) allow me to indulge my gadget obsession with complete abandonment and 3) experiment with multiple blogs, I've decided to start a blog about Joi Ito's Stuff. It is "a blog about stuff that I have, why I have it, what I'm doing with it and how I feel about it." I have no idea if this is a good idea or not, but starting blogs on New Year's Day seems like a good idea to me.

Just got back from Munakata Shrine. This year we moved to a small village in Chiba and Mizuka and I decided to go to the local shrine to pay our New Years respects. At Munakata Shrine, we met many of our neighbors, clensed ourselves and payed our respects. I've just uploaded some photos.

Anyway, Happy New Year EVERYBODY!

Ever since I saw a $30K digital back for my Hasselblad, I've been waiting for digital photography to come to REAL cameras. The guy at the store said, "some day they will be cheap enough to be worth it." Then I saw the article about the Digital-Modul-R digital back for the Leica R8/R9, I decided that I was going to go that route. I have a whole R8 system with many many lenses and this just made sense to me. Yesterday I went to a camera shop and asked when they would have them. "Oh, probably about a year from now." !!! I broke down and bought the Canon EOS "Kiss" Digital or a 300D as they call them in the US. I'm very happy with it. It's reasonably priced and just works. I was getting really frustrated with crappy digital cameras and using the 300D just feels right.

I'll still use my Hasselblad and my Nikon Coolscan 8000 film scanner for medium format work, but I think I'm going to dump 35mm photography and switch to digital for awhile and see how it goes.

Yesterday, I played with my camera and posted more pictures of the house and of Bo. Still messing around...

danah has a good rant in response to Cory's thoughts on technologists that create technologies which cause awkward social situations.
danah boyd
So, in fleshing out Cory's call to technologists, i'd ask all technologists to consider not only what problems a technology solves, but what new ones could emerge. Start thinking like a writer or an abuser of technology. Imagine how people could misuse a technology to hurt others. Consider who gains and loses power from such technology. It's a fascinating exercise and far more fulfilling than just thinking about who benefits from something. And besides, then you won't always be thinking "but the users shouldn't do THAT with this technology."
I commented on her blog.
Joi Ito
I agree with your point danah. On the other hand, a lot of the consequences of technology are not predictable and emerge as the technology develops and is adopted widely. I think that in addition to trying to have a vision about the negative effects of technology (which I agree is important) and trying to design around the issues, I think that identifying tensions as they arise and providing feedback to the toolbuilders is important. One of the problem of commercial enterprise is that technologists are often forced to sweep these tensions or problems under the carpet for the better good of profits or commercial interests. Also the cost of changing a design or an architecture often makes such change difficult. I think designing systems to assume they will need to be changed is important. This does get difficult as technologies mature. This is why I think the social software / blog space is interesting. We can still change a lot of the basic architecture of this space. So although I agree it is important to call our to technologists to think, I think that the dialog between technologists and people like you and Cory is more important.
In response to my thoughts on people inadvertently collapsing context because of a lack of understanding of the technology, Wendy Seltzer blogs about Technology and Norms of Publicity.
Wendy Seltzer
I wondered at first if privacy tensions would ease as more people became more technically sophisticated, but I'm inclined to think that gaps in understanding will just move with the tech, and social norms will follow still further behind.
When I am posting a photo album, I think about the situation, the people and decide whether to post a picture, ask permission or not even bother. I'm making a very deliberate decision based on my understanding of the technology and the social norms. The technology and the norms are evolving and the understanding of both is spotty. We WILL have tensions. I guess the key is to identify the critical irreversible risks and work just as hard in developing social norms as we are in developing technical solutions.

I just posted some pictures from the Creative Commons Anniversary Party. Thanks to Jonas and Cory for contributing their photos.

It was also my first party since my sobriety and I enjoyed myself very much.

PS: If anyone has any other pictures that would be willing to contribute to this photo album, please email me or post a link here. Thanks!

Mizuka and I went to see the last cherry blossoms last week and I shot some Provia 100 with my Hasselblad. I got sick of the poor quality of the Photo CD's considering the cost and bought a Nikon 8000ED film scanner so I could do my own scans instead. Here's my first attempt. I'm still trying to figure out how to get it right and it does take a lot of time, but you have control and obviously much more tender loving care than the people scanning for you onto Photo CD's. I've posted a few pictures on my .mac site. I can't figure out what the white space is that gets inserted when I publish from iPhoto.

Anyway, my iLife just got better thanks to Nikon.

Today I had dinner with Daiji Hirata, Tai Watanabe and Kazuo Shimizu. Daiji, Kazuo and Neoteny are investors in Tai's company MediaProbe which is working on an auto community site. Shimizu-san is probably the most famous auto journalist in Japan. He is invited by all of the big auto companies to test drive cars and write about all the cool new stuff. He's a BIG fan of the hydrogen economy and is the leading journalist in Japan on fuel cells. We talked about ECD and their hydrogen technology. The US lead in a lot of the electric vehicle research as well as a lot of the early fuel cell work, but Japan is clearly putting a lot of effort behind the hydrogen economy and Toyota is probably leading the pack in hybrid cars. I hope that my next car will have a hydrogen component...

Governor Domoto on the left and Merle Okawara on the right
Mizuka and I had dinner tonight with Domoto-san at her Chiba Governor's residence. Merle and Shin Okawara, Professor Hayashi and Mr. Satomi and his wife were there as well. Merle, I think, was the first women to take a company public in Japan. Shin brought Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken to Japan. He is actually famous for spinning friend chicken as a holiday treat with commercials of American's eating fried chicken for Christmas. That has turned into quite a tradition and now EVERYONE eats some kind of chicken on Christmas. John Nathan, who wrote the Sony book also did a movie about Shin and the whole Kentucky Fried Chicken thing...

Domoto-san talk about what a great time she was having. Being governor in Japan is much like being the president of a country. Chiba has 6 million people and she basically calls the shots. It's very different than when she was working in the central government. She also won as an independant so she has very little exposure to political pressure. I'm trying to work with her to get some sort of special project for Hydrogen in Chiba as well as trying to figure out how to work with the biomass energy folks.

We talked a alot about renewable energy, bio mass and food. The food was VERY good. It was all from Chiba. We agreed that we would all take a weekend trip into the countryside to see the rural area of Chiba and enjoy the flowers and the food sometime in Feb.

Merle, Domoto-san and Morita-san. Today's been quite a "strong-woman" day. ;-)

Shigeaki Saegusa and Yoshiko Morita
Saegusa-san invited me to join a lunch at Yoshiko Morita's today. Mrs. Morita is the widow of Akio Morita, the co-founder of Sony. Saegusa-san is a family friend and was the composer of the requiem for Akio Morita memorial. She had seven of us over to her house for home-made sake kasu stew. sake kasu is a by-product of producing sake. Good kasu can only be obtained from a sake brewer. The Morita family business is brewing sake. Mrs. Morita explained that it was their main business and the whole electronics thing was a side business for them. ;-)

We talked a lot about cooking and I got a chance to brag about my Turkey recipe. She said that she always has Christmas Turkey made at the Maxim's in the Sony building based on her recipe. I told her I would send her my recipe.

Mrs. Morita is a very dynamic and interesting person. She is involved heavily in the arts, and loves great food and interesting company. She is also a great social dancer. When I first met her, she was doing a the jitterbug at Saegusa-san's birthday party.

It was also fun visiting the house that described in such detail in John Nathan's book about Sony. We talked about John Nathan who she liked. John is the father of an old friend of mine, Zack. John is also a well-known translator of Japanese works such as the works of Mishima and Kenzaburo Oe.

This is a picture of Suguru Yamaguchi smiling when I told him I'd blog him.
Today was the 4th NPA Security Council meeting. This is a committee focused on studying computer network related risks and countermeasures. We talked about last year's report and what we will do moving forward. This is one of the more interesting groups I am in since most of the people involved are fairly down-to-earth. There are people from Microsoft, Rakuten, Yahoo, JPCERT, Police, Foreign Ministry, the Cabinet Office, etc. I particularly enjoy these meetings because Yamaguchi-san who runs JPCERT is a very outspoken and intelligent guy who doesn't pull any punches.

I said that the US is taking a very different stance towards security since 9/11 and that many of the new security measures that the US are taking may in the long run end up hurting national security since a great deal of privacy is being breached, agents are being allowed to work with shady characters for short term gains which may end up being long term losses and the whole TIA thing may not work. I suggested that we do an extensive analysis of the US anti-terror measures and identify whether each of the measures are 1) things we should copy, 2) things we should ignore, and 3) things that are bad for the Japanese people. I urged everyone not to allow Japan to get suckered into doing something stupid in response to US pressure. In particular, I pressured the person from the Foreign Ministry to be aware of these risks.

There is a chart that the NPA (Japanese pdf) produced showing which countries many of the portscans and pings were coming from. Yamaguchi-san pointed out that this didn't necessarily reflect the source and I concurred.

I talked a bit about the financial services sector problems with organized crime and hacking and that we should focus on and analysis of organized crime rather than do general surveys of smaller crimes and hacker rings.

Just finished brining the turkey, drying it, and stuffing it into my fridge. This year, as always, I am using Cook's Illustrated as my guide. Cook's Illustrated is THE BEST cooking guide. It is extremely scientific and even a bit geeky, but really wonderful. Since last year, I have started putting it in the fridge uncovered to dry the skin before cooking it. This, according to Cook's Illustrated helps give you crispy skin. I started brining a few years ago after reading an article on Cook's Illustrated about the effect of brinig.

Cook's Illustrated
Jane Bowers, head of the Department of Foods and Nutrition at Kansas State University, says salt is used in meat processing to extract proteins from muscle cells and make these proteins more viscous:

“Brining turkey causes a change in the structure of the proteins in the muscle. They become sticky, which allows them to hold more water.” Citing a similar example, she says frankfurters without sodium are limp. “It is the salt that gives hot dogs their plumpness,” she says.

Tina Seelig, scientist and author of The Epicurean Laboratory (W. H. Freeman, 1991), says salt causes protein strands to become denatured, or unwound. This is the same process that occurs when proteins are exposed to heat, acid, or alcohol. “When protein strands unwind, they get tangled in one another and trap water in the matrix that forms,” says Seelig.

And Dr. Bill Schwartz, director of technical services at the Butterball Turkey Company, adds that when these unravelled proteins are exposed to heat they gel — much like a fried egg white — and form a barrier that prevents water from leaking out of the bird as it cooks. The capillary action that draws blood out of the meat and gives it a milky-white color also helps the brining solution penetrate deep into the meat, according to Schwartz. This accounts for the pleasant salty flavor even of the inner breast meat.

You need to pay to search their database, but it's worth it.

Karuna and her husband Horace visited my sister for dinner at our house and I got to say hi and chat a bit. Mimi and Justin did an interview of Karuna on Chanpon. Horace works for the US government and Karuna is now taking care of their new baby, Justin. Before that Karuna was an anchor for CNN on their prime-time news show and before that for other news agencies such as NHK. I remember when she was broadcasting Japanese news in English for NHK, all of the Japanese students in the US who watched her show became HUGE fans of hers. She's quite an amazing person. I first met Karuna at the American School in Japan when for some reason, my trig teacher decided that my algebra sucked and made me take an algebra class with the class below me. The only good thing was that I got to sit next to Karuna. Anyway, all of Karuna's fans can rest assured. Horace is a great guy and worthy of his new position as Karuna's husband. ;-)

Horace, can you do something about the treatment of Arabs immigrants in the US?

howard021219.jpgHoward and I have known each other for a long time. I visited Howard often when he was at the Whole Earth Review and I was hanging out in San Francisco with Timothy Leary and the gang. Howard turned me on to a lot of really interesting thoughts and was one of the first people who helped me started writing. Howard wrote THE book on Virtual Reality which influenced me and the rest of the world and I ended up working with (my now step-brother) Scott Fisher at Telepresence Research who Howard writes about in the book. After the Virtual Reality book, he wrote a book on Virtual Communities in which I appeared. (Maybe the first time I appeared in an English Book.) Howard has always been a great visionary for the future and I'm happy to be a part of it. When the www started to happen, my Eccosys team and I set up one of the first web sites in Japan. Howard writes about how this influenced his thinking. These days we talk about Smartmobs ubiquitous computing and the future of embedded systems. As always, community and empowerment are key.

Howard and I talked a lot about how to be an evangelist for the future. We talked about the issue of how to give credit where credit is due, but how it is often difficult to credit people who you do not know about or who haven't influenced your thinking directly. (As I've recently discovered once again, when Japanese diary community criticized my description of blogs.) Howard told me that there was a saying in the I Ching that says something like, "If you climb up on the wall, you can see farther, but you also become an easier target." This is extremely relevant. We talked about how some criticism is very important, no matter how hurting it is, to internalize, since it will help us grow. Some criticism is important in order to understand how people will view us, and some criticism should just be ignored. Sorting this out is quite a task, but necessary and important. We agreed that learning from your critics helps you fix sloppy thoughts as well as prevent mistakes in the future.

On the other hand, what's a pioneer without critics? One chairman of a large company I know said, "I don't trust ANYONE who doesn't have some enemies." I don't know who to credit this to, but "You can identify the pioneers because they are the ones with the arrows in their backs." Stan Ovshinsky says this often.

So, my conclusion? Give credit to those you influence you or are doing important work. Listen to the critics, be thick-skinned and keep on truckin'.

We also talked a lot about Justin. ;-)

a bio from the ASE web page that I edited a bit
Leonard Liu, Ph.D.

Leonard Y. Liu was President of ASE Inc. since November 1999 and announced his retirement December 6. He was also the Chief Executive Officer of ASE Test and Universal Scientific Industrial Co. Prior to joining ASE, he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Walker Interactive System Inc. Dr Liu has held other top management positions at leading technology companies, including Chief Operating Officer of Cadence Design Systems, President of Acer Group worldwide and General Manager of IBM's application enabling software business unit.

Leonard visited today and we spent the day brainstorming. Leonard is on my advisory board and is one of my most helpful business advisors. I met him through his daughter Peggy Liu. Digital Garage invested in his daughter's company and he invested in Digital Garage and later Neoteny.

Leonard was the chief hardware and software architect at IBM at one point and architected SNA and SQL. He moved from research to management and left IBM to become a well-respected serial turn-around/take-to-the-next-level CEO. Leonard is tremendously energetic and is extremely execution oriented and visionary at the same time. I'm always impressed with Leonard's focus and his willingness to spend time to coach me when I have something specific to talk about. I always felt very guilty taking big chunks of Leonard's time when he had a $3bn company to run, but now that he is "retiring" I hope I will get to see him more often and feel less guilty. ;-)

Dan Gillmor introduced me to Clay Shirky tonight and Dan, Noriko, Barak and I had dinner with him at LuLu's. We got in without a reservation. What a change from the old days! Clay is very cool. According to his web page:

I have been a producer, programmer, professor, designer, author, consultant, sometimes working with people who wanted to create a purely intellectual or aesthetic experience online, sometimes working with people who wanted to use the internet to sell books or batteries or banking.
He was supposed to talk this morning at Supernova, but didn't make it so I asked him what he was going to talk about. He said he thought that politics of the semantics was a very political issue and more relevant than the technical discussion. He also talked about the economic significance of the difficulty of switching protocols vs. api's and how important and political protocols were. He had very broad interests like me (unfocused?) and we talked about lots of cools stuff. He knows Marko who I wrote about earlier. Thanks for the intro Dan!

Just had lunch with Dave Winer. We talked about a lot of things and I don't know what was "on the record", but I think I can say we talked a lot about outlines. (Dave said, "everything looks like an outline to me," on the panel so I assume it's no secret.) I actually love outlines generally. My web page before my blog was an outline. All of the papers I write, I write in MS Word Outline mode, convert to html, run a script to strip the junk out and pour in my custom style sheet. So now that my blog is bloating, I'm looking for an outline mode to create a structured view of my entries and links to other blogs. I'm going to try using Radio Userland for this...

Ben and Mena Trott
Had lunch with Ben and Mena Trott, the founders and developers of Movable Type who were here for the Supernova conference. I'm a great fan of theirs because Movable Type was my introduction to blogging and I am very happy that I chose Movable Type as my blog software. (Thanks to Justin for making this decision for me.) Hirata in my office worked on the Japanese language kit for MT and we talked about some of the issues involved in localization and about the blogging landscape in Japan...

Slipped out of the conference to see Jean-Louis Gassée. I met Jean-Louis when he was running Be Inc. I was the first and last advisory board member of Be. Jean-Louis is a legend in Silicon Valley from his days at Apple and all of the cool stuff he's done afterwards.

He is currently an Entrepreneur in Residence at Allegis and is on the board of PalmSource and EFI. We talked a lot about personal networking technologies and shared our thoughts and vision in this area. He's such a cool and charming guy and I think Allegis is a PERFECT thing for him.

Barak and Minami joined me in the meeting and it was interesting because Barak had worked with him at Apple and Logitec so they had a lot of history... Frank got me back in touch with him. Frank used to work with Jean-Louis at Be and now works at and helps run one of our portfolio companies, AirEight.

Just sat down at Supernova. Supernova was organized by Kevin Werbach. This is the first one. The focus of the conference is decentralization. Topics include blogging, 802.11, network architectures, open source. It's a small conference with an amazing group of speakers and attendents.

The group blog is online and a great example of trackbacks. I think this conference probably has the highest density of bloggers of any conference I've ever been to.

Brewster showing us the Bookmobile
Brewster instructing us on how to print and bind the books
The Connection Machine at the Internet Archive data center
A rack of PC's running Linux at the Internet Archive data center
This morning I went to the see Brewster Kahle at his office in Presidio. Neal Stephenson had been trying to get us together and it finally happened. I was very excited to see/hear the whole thing. We started by seeing the Bookmobile which is this amazing thing that Brewster and his team did. They have 1,000,000 books from the public domain available in their database on the Internet. The Bookmobile cruises around and lets kids print the books and binds them. It costs a dollar to print one of these books so they can give them away. The Bookmobile has cruised around the US and was there during Larry Lessig's argument at the Supreme Court on Eldred v. Ashcroft. The Bookmobile is part of a much bigger project of Brewster's which involves creating a library that archives EVERYTHING. Music, the Web, video, everything. This is called the Internet Archive Project.

This amazing project involves archiving everything using low cost technology. The Connection Machine in the data center was originally running, but now it all runs on PC's with UNIX. There are over a 150 terabytes of data in the data center. There is room for a petabyte. Brewster is on the board of the Library of Congress and is also working with the Library of Alexandria in Egypt on this project. He is trying to recruit other libraries to swap content and mirror the archives. It is such a huge and important project that I couldn't HELP MYSELF... I'm involved. I'm going to try to figure out how to get Japan involved.

Brewster, for those of you who don't know him was one of the founders of WAIS (a great pre-web tool for indexing and publishing information that I used A LOT on my Mac) and Thinking Machines that created the Connection Machine, a massive parallel processing computer. He's quite a legend and it was a great honor and a lot of fun to meet him.

Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive showing us books printed in the Bookmobile
Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing and Howard Rheingold of Smartmob SmartMobs talking about the future of blogging...
I'm staying at Kara and Megan's house for three days (One more day left. Thanks Kara and Megan!) We had a few people over to the house the first night. Frank blogged about it much more promptly than I did. Met a bunch of new people. So many people, so little time. ;-) Thanks again to Kara for organizing and hosting.

Yesterday, I met Ryan Lackey who is the CTO of Havenco. I was one of the first investors in Havenco and had been working with Ryan for years and it was great to put a face behind the name. Also spent some quality time with Reid Hoffman, one of early PayPal execs who Frank introduced to me. We talked about PayPal, but also talked a little about his NEXT BIG THING which I am very excited about.

I also met Evan Williams and Jason Shellen of Blogger the day before yesterday. They were very cool. Unfortunately I took the restroom key with me by mistake. Sorry guys! (Not the best way to make friends...)

So I will be seeing David Winer and Mena and Ben Trott at Supernova tomorrow. I feel like a Japanese pilgrim visiting all of the Blog/Weblog shrines in SF. ;-)

Well, I got 10 hours of sleep last night. The most I've gotten in months I think. I'm charged and ready for today which should involve going to see Brewster's setup and his Bookmobile. If I have time, I'm planning on going out to see RU Sirius who is buried somewhere in Mill Valley I hear.

Marc Canter in full-motion
John Markoff and Paul Mercer
Barak and Markoff gadgeting
Saw Marc Canter for coffee and got his pitch on the future of things. I had been staring at "still Marc" for so long on his blog, that when I saw "full-motion Marc" it was totally amazing! Marc was a bundle of energy and excitement and totally inspiring. I have to remember that all of these people that I blog with and chat with have bodies that move, talk and gesture. ;-)

Later, Barak, Jun, Minami and I had dinner with John Markoff from the NYT and Paul Mercer who founded Pixo. It was a great dinner, but we talked about and played with our gadgets WAY too much. ;-)

A picture of the Prince that I took with my P504iS just several hours before he passed away
As many people know already, H.I.H. Prince Takamado Norihito passed away the day before yesterday. I had just visited the Prince that day around 5 hours before he passed away. He had a heart attack while playing squash at the Canadian Embassy. He was only 47 years old. Several of us had visited him to thank him for accepting our request to give the opening speech for the New Business Forum which he had accepted every year for many years now. I was the vice-chairman of the Forum last year and the chairman this year. It is the role of the chairman to invite the Prince and the introduce him at the forum.

The Prince was a very approachable, intelligent and kind man. He liked technology and gadgets very much. He had recently published a book of his own photographs of his travels. Last year, in his speech he talked about cells phones and "wangiri". (Wangiri became a big problem this year. Wangiri is when people call and let the phone ring once and leave their caller ID on your phone to get you to call them back. It has become a type of spam.)

The day before yesterday, I was showing him my new P504iS phone with the two cameras and we discussed what sort of possible uses there might be for having two cameras. I showed him my phone and took this picture of him, which might be the last picture taken of him.

His death is a great loss to Japan and I will personally miss him very much.

Mainichi article

I got my P504iS today. It is the new i-mode phone with a built-in camera. They went on sale last week. Docomo's i-mode council upgrades our phones for us so we can play with the new features. (No wonder people are mad at me. ;-p ) Anyway, the one I got, the Panasonic phone has two cameras! One points at you and one away. There are also two color LCD displays. This is the perfect mobile photo blogging device. Now I have two cameras in my phone, a voice recorder in my digital camera, a camera in my computer and a camera in my Clie Palm. Do I need all of these cameras? Of course...
Okada-san is on the left and Suzuki-san is on the right
Okada-san and Suzuki-san from the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry came to visit today. The Japanese bureaucracy is one of the things I often criticize, but I really like many of the individuals. I first met Okada-san when he was working for Governor Domoto. He had been seconded by the Ministry to Chiba to help the Governor. I liked him a lot because of his straight forward and aggressive style and he was one of the main reasons I decided to work with Chiba. He recently returned to the Ministry and is now in charge of venture business and SME related affairs there. This was very lucky for me because this post is probably the most relevant post for Neoteny inside of the Ministry. He manages the Ministry activity for the New Business Forum that I wrote about and is also quite active in trying to create tax incentives for venture investing. We talked a lot about the laws that bog venture businesses down such as the registration license tax, bank fees, etc. Since Koji Omi, one of my favorite LDP politicians is now running the venture sub-committee inside of the LDP as well as the head of the tax reform group, it's a good time to push for some changes. Another change that should be done soon is a waiver of the minimum capitalization of new companies. One is currently required to have a minimum capitalization of 10mm yen. The new law that should go into effect at the beginning of next year will allow companies to be created with only 1 yen in capitalization. This should help entrepreneurs who want to start companies. Go for it Okada-san!

Mizuka and I went to the new Marunouchi Building built by Mitsubishi Jisho and had lunch with her parents. It was VERY flashy and expensive looking and jam packed with tourist types. Some restaurants are booked through the end of the year, which is rare in Japan. It is also probably one of the most expensive office buildings right now. On the first floor was a weird "XBOX Cafe" where people could play games and there were some huge screens running game demos. I guess if you have $40bb, you can afford to have a game cafe in the most expensive real estate in Tokyo. Also, everything was VERY high tech - steel, glass, concrete. It really reminded me of the Dogs and Demons book. All of the people lining up in front of the elevators watching impressive ads ABOUT nature on the HDTV displays...

The other amazing thing is that such a tall building was allowed to be built overlooking the Palace. In Japan, you are not supposed to "look down on" the Palace. I heard someone mumble, "Only Mitsubishi could do this..."

Anyway, it is obviously the "Thing to See" right now. It will be interesting to see what happens when all of the other new buildings open next year... Like the huge Roppongi Mori Building. Next year is supposed to be a big year that may crash the office building business because there are so many sky scrapers opening... What a strange thing to be happening during an economic crisis...

The XBOX Cafe
The view of the Palace from the 36th floor restaurant we ate at
Floor of temple in Koyasan taken while listening to a speech by a monk about the mandalas
I'm really getting into I had been using it mostly for the discussion forums, but recently I created a profile and set up a portfolio. It tracks all of my equipment all the way down to the serial numbers. I scanned a bunch of my 6x6's into Pro Photo CD's and uploaded them to the site. I even got positive feedback on one of my photos! which I think was started by Philip Greenspun is obviously a site built by geeks for true enthusiasts and is a real pleasure to use after trying all of the "commercial" photo sites. I think I've found my online home for my photography.
That's Yanai-san on the left and Hasegawa-san on the right
Had dinner at Gonpachi in Nishiazabu with Hasegawa-san, the CEO of Global Dining, Yanai-san, the CEO of Pia and Jun. Jun is my chairman and an outside board member of Global Dining. I am on the outside board of Pia. Jun and I introduced the two of them over dinner a few months ago, I think. Hasegawa-san took us to Tableaux, Decadance du Chocolat and Dancing Monkey last time. (All places he runs.) Yesterday, we had sushi at Gonpachi. It was totally packed. George Bush ate at Gonpachi when he was in Tokyo. The food was great and the place is huge.

Hasegawa-san is an a amazing guy and I'm a big fan. His company, Global Dining, runs Gonpachi as well other famous chains of restaurants including Cafe La Boheme, Zest, Monsoon Cafe, etc. Global Dining also runs Tableaux, on of my favorite restaurants. Hasegawa-san has a very unique management style for Japan where most of his staff are part time, but very motivated. He has a very open and competitive management style. Global Dining is also famous for being the first company to go public in Japan without a single college graduate on the board!

It's nice beening outside board members of companies that do real things like sell concert tickets and run restaurants. ;-)

Hiroo and Larry with the hand on the chin "intelligent" look
Had dinner with Lawrence Lessig again. Today Hiroo Yamagata, who is translating has latest book, set up the dinner with our small Japan chapter of CPSR. The guy on the left in the picture is Mr. Yamagata. He worships Bob and is an ordained minister of the church of the sub-genius. He showed us his card today. I really like Yamagata-san, but I first learn about him when he was translating Timothy Leary's book and objected to my writing the forward. Later he made fun of my in his column in Wired Japan. Being the masochist that I am, I hunted him down (Kobahen, the editor of Wired Japan introduced us over drinks) and I THINK we are friends now. Anyway, I'm a big fan of his twisted and intelligent style. (Larry, don't worry, the translation will be fine.)

Part of the discussion was a continuation of last night's discussion. Why aren't Japanese active? (As in "activists") Listening to the other CPRS folks talk about this made me think that maybe it was a bigger issue than I thought. There are many intelligent people who don't feel like making a big deal about stuff. How can you be AWAKE and still bear not to say anything? Reminds me of The Matrix

Walking with my FE 60-120 zoom lens on my Hasselblad 205FCC fixed to my tripod.
Decided to take a stroll in the park with Mizuka instead of blogging a day. It was a beautiful day. I've uploaded some pictures I took with my Sony Cybershot DSC-P5. I wish I had a better photo album online. Does anyone know of a good photo album server I can run on a Apple XServe?

The entrance to Komazawa Park is one of the nicest views in the park. The leaves are just starting to turn yellow.

Yakiimo is the great portable food of the fall/winter in Japan. These little trucks roast the sweet potatoes in ovens billowing smoke with this great tape recorded message going on and on about how nice, sweet and hot the potatoes are.

Another great outdoor food is grilled corn. The corn has soy sauce on it that burns and smells like... burnt soy sauce. All Japanese are conditioned to salivate when they smell burnt soy sauce.

The Japanese made a mistake and Japlish took over on this one. "free market" and "flea market" are generally used interchangeably. Some web sites talk about "free markets" being more "open" "flea markets"... So here is a "free market"...

The local right wing truck showed up to join the festivities with speakers blaring on about the Japan flea market economy...

Komazawa Park has these great bikes for 2 people that you can cruise around in. Mizuka wanted to ride one, but we got turned down and told that they were for kids.

kurokawa_thumb.jpgDr. Koyoshi Kurokawa is the most outspoken MD I know. He was originally at Tokyo University, but left to join Tokai University School of Medicine. This is a pretty rare career move. Kurokawa-san is working on starting several venture businesses and is also one of the most entrepreneurial MD's I know. He's so energetic and neotenous that I always forget how important he is. ;-) He is the chairman of many government science committees and is a regular at the WEF Davos meeting and other international conferences. Today, he dropped by with one of his young doctors to discuss a new idea for a venture startup. Kurokawa-san is the one who really got me thinking about the suicide problem in Japan...

ogawa_thumb.jpgKazuhisa Ogawa is a well known military analyst and appears on Japanese TV quite a bit. He was originally a member of the Japanese Self-Defense Force in the Helicopter Division. He was key in Japan's response to the Peru incident as well as convincing the Japanese disaster relief forces that helicopters could actually be used to put out fires at night when they failed to fly during the Kobe earthquake. He is very smart and outspoken. We met when he was a guest for a magazine column I was involved in and we've kept in touch ever since. Now we have begun to work closely together again as computer privacy and security risks continue to involve physical and military risks more and more. We agree on almost everything and it is great to have a well established military analyst support my opinions. We make a pretty good team during government study group when we need to beat people up with a good combination punch. ;-) Today, we were plotting our next move...

Pete Wilson
I've joined the Pacific Council Task Force on Japan as a guest. The Pacific Council is affiliated with the Council on Foreign Relations. They do reports on a variety of countries and this year they are working on Japan. The Task Force on Japan is being headed by Pete Wilson, the former Governor of California. We had breakfast today at the American Club and Mr. Wilson gave a great speech about Japan which was "off the record"... ;-)

I was originally asked to join this group by Mr. Toyoda of the METI who was the chief trade negotiator for MITI at the time. Mr. Toyoda and became friends when Dr. Ishiguro of Tokyo University invited me to join a study group for Mr. Toyoda on preparing for the WTO negotiations the year that AOL proposed a bunch of e-commerce related deregulations. It's interesting how my being dragged into a government study group to protect Japan against American IP and IT imperialism ended up with me criticizing Japan at the American Club. ;-)

Yesterday, I met the John Wheeler and Daniel Rosenblum from the Japan Society who are also working on US/Japan stuff.

It's great that there are all of these groups helping to try to save Japan, but it would probably make sense to coordinate and have each group focus on a different aspect...

Takasuka-san on the left, Funaki-san on the right
Yesterday, Matsumoto-san who is now the CEO of Neoteny Venture Development, Takasuka-san, the founder and CEO of Cybozu and Funaki-san the President of TIS and I had lunch. Takasuka-san is a really interesting guy who I met through Hato-san of Exceed. Takasuka-san was an engineer at Matsushita in the Management Information Systems group. He left Matsushita to found Cybozu. Cybozu makes a groupware package. The key to their success is that they did guerilla marketing to small groups in big companies that wanted to bypass the MIS group. Since the groupware products of big companies were invariably too complicated and a pain to work with, Cybozu was a great alternative that was priced low enough to get under the radar. They have been profitable and growing from their first year and have done well even after their IPO. TIS is one of the largest and most profitable system integration companies. They are headquartered in Osaka (as is Matsushita) but most of their operations and customers are in Tokyo. Sanwa Bank owned a big share of them for awhile, but have cut back in the wake of bank balance sheet reforms. Mr. Funaki used to work at Sanwa Bank and joined TIS several years ago to run it. TIS invested in Digital Garage and helped Digital Garage grow from a web company to an e-commerce company. TIS also invested in my Neoteny.

Anyway, it was fun introducing the two who met for the first time. I have a theory that Osaka companies that do business in Tokyo make money. Osaka is known for their business sense. The problem with Osaka is that it is a small market with a lot of competition. Funaki-san can act as regal and upper-class as anyone, but lunch was very Osaka-style. My father is from Osaka and Matsumoto is Kyoto which is in the Kansai region near Osaka. The discussion quickly shifted to a Kansai dialect.

What is fascinating about Takasuka-san is that he still loves Matsushita. He loves Matsushita even more than when he was there. He seems to embody the real soul of Matsushita which is about delivering great products to the masses at the lowest cost.

Anyway, I wish the best to both of them and I think they bonded in an interesting way. A senior Sanwa Bank executive now immersed in running a huge IT company and a young Matsushita engineer running a public company.

Had another breakfast of the World Economic Forum Blueprint for Japan 2020 team. I suggested that we meet at 7am every week since I doubted most people were busy at 7am. People grumbled, but I was amazed at the turnout. We had a lively discussion. It was sort of funny sitting in the Hotel Okura Orchid Room (a famous power breakfast place for the Japanese elite) discussing radical reform in English. Yu decided to conduct all of the meetings in English because the English language is more clear than Japanese. Which is fine with me and probably helps prevent the establishment from overhearing our radical views. Or maybe it draws more attention to us... hmm... Anyway, we're obviously not going to be able to hide so I guess no use trying.

Erik Bloodaxe... how Chris USED to look. ;-)
Chris Goggans posing next to the safe in my office. (The little Samurai thing is Jun's)
Had drinks last night with Chris. Chris used to go by the name of Erik Bloodaxe and was one of the co-founders of the "Legion of Doom", a notorious group of hackers, many of whom ended up getting arrested. He was also the editor of Phrack, a journal by and for hackers. Chris and I met at "Hacking In Progress" in 1997. Lucky Green convinced me to go and I think Chris was there with Bob Stratton. HIP was quite exciting. It was this amazing hackers conference with thousands of hackers in the middle of a forest near Amsterdam hacking in tents with ethernet strung around the whole place. We didn't have enough water, but there was IP everywhere... Anyway, Chris was there and it was the first time I met a hacker with real groupies...

Since then Chris and I have kept in touch and worked together several times where he broke into computers for me. (With permission of course.) He's become a regular in Japan since we started working together and now I get to see him a lot more. He has become quite well known in Japan for his practical manner and his skill. He has a great balance between being extremely professional and loving to break into computers. It's hard to find Japanese with this combination. It's either usually professional with no imagination or childish and imaginative... but I guess Chris is not entirely "unchildish"... Let's call him... "neotenous."

Anyway.. we go drinking occasionally and talk about "the old days", breaking into computers and other things that old hackers always talk about...

Having said that, both he and I have settled down QUITE A BIT since we first met. He's married and sits around watching movies and stuff... ;-)

Governor Domoto
Posing in front of the prefectural headquarters elevator hall with my daikon
Went to Chiba and had lunch with Governor Domoto of Chiba with whom I've become quite friendly lately. Chiba is the prefecture where William Gibson's Neuromancer starts out. Narita International Airport and Disneyland are also in Chiba. It is kind of a long train ride out, but I was able to pass the time having an IM chat with John Patrick on my i-mode AIM client that Neeraj made.

Domoto-san was her usual energetic self. I talked about some ideas I had for projects in Narita and Makuhari. I talked to her about ECD and renewable energy. Domoto-san is an environmentalist and she got very excited about the idea of the Hydrogen Economy. I also talked about blogs. Domoto-san was an independant who won with a rather grassroots election effort that leveraged the Net. She liked the idea of blogs and promised to try it out. I promised to dispatch someone from the Neoteny Blogging Team to help her out.

I often talk to her about how Mizuka and I only eat organic vegetables now. She gave me an organic daikon (Japanese Radish). It was a bit strange carrying it in the crowded train back to Tokyo... I'm looking forward to eating it. ;-)

Eno-san and Moriguchi-san meet for the first time...
Today, I went to see Eno-san and talk about blogs and other things. My good friend Hiroko Moriguchi was there working on a project (secret for now...) with Eno-san. It was the first time they had met. I love it when two people I really like meet for the first time. ;-)

Hiroko Moriguchi is very smart and very funny. It will be interesting to see what happens when we mix her taste with Eno-san who is weird, funny and smart in his own way as well. I look forward to seeing how their project goes.

Eno-san promised to help me recruit bloggers and to work on his own blog. I think we should get Hiroko to do a blog too. I didn't get a chance to talk to her about this, but next time I see her I will...

fiorella_thumb.jpgHad lunch with Dr. Fiorella Terenzi. She is an Astrophysicist / Recording Artist / Author. She recently created a line of jewelry based on astrophysical phenomenon. She is selling them on QVC. She said that some of her colleagues mocked her, but that reaching the masses and trying to appeal to them about the beauty of science was an important mission. I totally agree. I admire Fiorella and her desire and courage to break out of the ivory tower of academism and try to communicate. I feel that the art community, the science community and academic community in general shuns the popularization of their fields. I think that with the communications technologies of today, it is an utter waste to not try to communicate to the public, what is going on in art and science. It takes a great deal of courage, but I think people like Fiorella should be encouraged and supported by both the public and people in their respective fields. Fiorella has made space the theme of her music and other forms of public expression that she has been engaged in and is truly an ambassador from the field of astrophysics.

A statue from the days of the "Great Rebellion"
An amazing certificate from 1910 welcoming Henry J. Cole as a companion of the Red Cross, Knight Templar and Knight of Malta of St. John of Jerusalem

So I'm sitting here in the "business center" of the Portland, Maine airport plugged into a "PowerOasis". I was about the be stranded in Camden because there were no cabs or limos available to drive me the 2 hours from Camden to Portland at 4am in the morning to catch my early flight out of here to go to Newark where I would transfer onto a flight to Tokyo. Dan Gillmor came to the rescue. He drove Amy Jo Kim and me to the airport in the middle of the night/morning. I am glad I didn't get stranded in Camden, although it was a nice town.

I stayed the last night at the Lord Camden Inn. On the wall outside of my room, there was a framed certificate from 1910 from the Knights of Templar. The Knights of Templar come up in Robert Anton Wilson's book "Cosmic Trigger" as the order who were the protectors of the secret of the longbow I think... Anyway, I thought it was fake until I saw this amazing certificate on the wall of the Inn...

Outside of near the opera house, there was a statue with an engraving referring to the "great rebellion." I wonder when the started calling it the "Civil War." So I guess that used to "spin" even back in the old days.

I spent the day at Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (ECD)As always, the tour was amazing. I hadn't been to ECD for maybe 4 years or so... Since I left the board. A lot of things we were talking about, as usual, were now being built. Since I left, ECD has started a joint venture with Texaco (now Chevron) to commercialize the hydrogen storage systems, ECD has started working with GE to make the first roll to roll low-cost RW optical disks that don't require the high-cost low-speed injection molding process, ECD has moved forward in the joint venture with Intel to make a low cost alternative to Flash called the Ovonic Universal Memory (OUM), continues to build photovoltaic plants that produce better amorphous solar cells faster and in more volume and continues to develop the NiMH batteries which now have the same energy densities as Lithium Ion without the risks...

What do all of these things have in common? When Stan Ovshinsky founded the company in 1960, he set out to solve the world's problems by creating technologies that solved the energy problems with renewable energy. End the dependence on fossil fuels and take carbon out of the energy process. People are finally talking about the "hydrogen economy" today. I saw a photo of Stan in 1960 with a picture on the board of photons from the Sun splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen and the hydrogen being the storage method to transport the energy. The energy was converted later into electrons. Photons->Hydrogen->Electrons... The basic elements of the universe. In the photo, he has a canister of hydrogen and is demonstrating how this will work!

Finally people are talking about the relationship of information and energy. Stan was talking about this in 1960 and in 1981, he minted these commemorative coins with information on one side and energy on the other.

By pioneering the field of amorphous and disordered materials and thin films, Stan was able to pioneer the field of NiMH batteries, the first TFT displays, fuel cells, the first EEPROM (Intel was the foundry for the project back in 1970 when he build the first devices), amorphous photovoltaics, optical disks, and many more technologies in both energy and information using the basic principles of creating new materials to convert and energy, information just being a form of energy...

Anyway, I saw some stuff I can't talk about that shows me that ECD continues to push the envelope. As it enters it's fifth decade and with Stan turning 80 this year ECD continues to gain more momentum.

When I visit ECD I always feel like I've been abducted by aliens who show me the future... The thing is, Stan had already envisioned this in the 1960...

PSINet Japan's POP in my bathroom circa 1994
Found this old picture of my bathroom which sparked some old memories.

Back in 1993 IIKK, which was Japan's first commercial Internet connection, was looking for a place to put their POP. They were owned at the time by Intercon and they were unknown in Japan. No one would rent an office to them. I lent them my bathroom. A few months later PSINet bought IIKK. I was probably one of the first people in Tokyo to have a 128K leased line to their toilet.

Then, the founding Eccosys team gathered around the leased line. Cyrus, Shimokawa, Daishi, Sen, Jona and Yuki. We bought a used Sun SPARC 1+ over USENet and set up a server. When the NCSA web server came out in 1993 we were ready. We were bunch of kids with a lot of free time, a leased line and a UNIX server. We started one of the first web pages in Japan, "Tomigaya." Later, Yoon joined the team. (And turned out to be the best manager of the bunch.)

Eccosys merged with Digital Garage which went public in 1999 with Hayashi-san at the helm. (Several US Web companies offered to buy us. I'm glad we didn't sell.) Before going public Digital Garage created Infoseek Japan.I left Digital Garage and ran Infoseek Japan with Takao Nakamura as CEO and me as Chairman after it was sold to Infoseek Corp. Infoseek was acquired by Disney. (Reporting to the Disney was probably one of my more "rigorous" experiences...) Then Disney sold Infoseek Japan to Rakuten where it is sitting happily ranking third place after Yahoo and MSN in reach and is a nice profitable business. (I'm still on the board.)

I also ran PSINet Japan for about a year until I got them out of my bathroom and into a real office. ;-) PSINet Japan was sold to C&W as part of PSIX's bankruptcy liquidation. I was on the PSINet Japan board until C&W bought it. I think PSINet Japan was one of the few profitable units in the PSINet empire.

So nothing against my former parents... The Japanese kids somehow survived while the parents passed away. I loved them all... except some folks at Disney... oh... and a few from my Infoseek days. And now that you mention it, I keep in touch with only a few people including Barak Berkowitz, Bill Schrader, Ned Desmond and Michael Johnson, but many of the people from those days have faded away...

Well, this time at Neoteny I don't have a parent to fight with or blame. We only have ourselves. (I better stop blogging and get back to work...)

Keigo pondering the notion of blogs...
Keigo "Cornelius" Oyamada is my cousin. Actually, he is my second cousin. But I think we are closer than our relative cousins. When my mother was going through a financially tough period, his family was as well and we ended up living next door to each other in a dumpy Love Hotel in Shibuya that was turned into an apartment building. At the time, he was always getting into trouble at his Jr. High and I was hanging around in Shibuya catching rats at the train station with my friends...

Anyway, since then, he has become a big rock star. He started out his career creating a band called Lollipop which later changed its name to Flippers Guitar. Flippers Guitar became quite famous, but eventually broke up and he parted ways with his partner Ozawa. He then started using the name "Cornelius" and preaching "Ape Shall not Kill Ape!" He again became a big hit leading the Japan indies movement. He was unique in that he wasn't a product of the Japanese mass media machine and really started his career on the street and in little clubs.

Anyway, now he has a kid and worries about his mother and stuff, but he still rocks. He just finished a tour of the US where he and his crew took a bus from city to city playing in a different town every night and sleeping in the bus and lugging his stuff around with the crew. He played at the Metro in Chicago where I learned how to party, DJ and worked briefly as a DJ. Later I brought a team from Metro/Smartbar to Tokyo to run XY Relax in Roppongi...

When I first started my web page back in 1993, we set him up with his first web page. I told him earlier this week that blogging was the biggest thing since then and told him that he should come over and let me explain it to him. I had just finished having Ryu Murakami and Ryuichi Sakamoto tell me "so what's so new about blogs..." so I was wary... I tried to explain to Keigo that the the important thing was the speed, that he could write himself and the network. He should not only have a fan site, he should encourage his fans to start their own blogs... I think he "got it." He promised to try it out.

This blog evangelism is quite difficult with people who 1) already have a mailing list, 2) already have a web page or 3) have a great web development team already. I find that people who don't want to learn html and have always felt frustrated in not being able to write stuff directly like Takemura-sensei are natural.

He current has a pretty cool official web page.

Oki striking a pose...
Had dinner last night with Oki Matsumoto, Yu Serizawa and Yasukuni Ichikawa and his brother Takayoshi Ichikawa... We ate at Kanayuni, one of my favorite restaurants that I've been going to since I was about 13 years old...

It was kind of a wrap-up and what do we do next meeting after the Blueprint 2020 presentation Oki and I did in Geneva. Yu works for the World Economic Forum and is organizing this whole thing. Yasukuni Ichikawa did a lot of research for the presentation and prepared it for us. His brother was tagging along. ;-)

Oki Matsumoto is the CEO of Monex, an online brokerage firm. He and I were the only Japanese "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" who went to the Geneva Summit. I asked Oki what he thought about the market. He didn't think it would go down to 6000. I think we all agreed that Japan was a bit different than Argentina in that it has been able to keep people and it's GDP from fleeing. (So far.) The biggest short term problem was the balance sheet and Oki thought that with the right reforms we could fix that. The "flow" problem was a long term problem and the "stock" problem was a short term problem. I'll leave the "stock" problem up to the bankers and the economists. I'm very worried about the long term "flow" problem. Ageing, competition in manufacturing, political, military, education, media, etc.

ryu_thumb.jpgRyu Murakami is one of Neoteny's advisory board members, the author of "Coin Locker Babies" and won the Akutagawa award for "Almost Transparent Blue". He visited our office today. In "In Coin Locker Babies" he wrote about two boys who are abandoned in coin lockers and grow up and gassed Tokyo. (This is before the Ohm Shinrikyo subway event.) His last book "Exodus in the Hopeful Country" is about junior high school students who help cause a revolution in Japan with the help of the Internet. We talked quite a bit before he wrote this book and that discussion along with his discussions with other people before he wrote the book also became a book...
Internal Exodus
Novelist Murakami Ryu sees a dim future

The year is 2001. A CNN news crew in northern Pakistan finds a Japanese teenager in the midst of a band of Muslim guerrillas. In a TV interview, he declares: "There is nothing in Japan. It is a dead country." His words strike a chord with Japanese children his age. Across the country, middle-schoolers stop attending classes. They organize across the Internet, form a video image distribution agency named Asunaro that beams their message across the world, and start a variety of new businesses. Summoned to Parliament, the youngsters' leader tells stunned adults that Japan has everything but hope. Meanwhile, the yen collapses and the nation slips to the brink of bankruptcy. Asunaro moves to the northern island of Hokkaido where the kids establish an independent state.

One of the leaders is named "Joichi". ;-) So we talked a bit about his NEXT book. Stay tuned. It should be good.

Neeraj is my only buddy so far...
AOL-Docomo the Japanese joint venture between Docomo and AOL Japan asked Neeraj of imaHima to make a Java aplet for the new Java enabled i-mode phones that allows you to use Aol Instant Messenger on your phone. They launched it last week. It's great! You can have multiple conversations at once and it is integrated with the PC based IM. I think this is a first. (There are many IM for messaging between phones.) The only thing that sucks is that you have to sign up for AOL's service any pay a monthly fee to use it. It took me almost 30 minutes on the phone to sign up...
habbohotel_thumb.jpg Neeraj showed us Habbohotel today.

Hirata found it on IP. It is very cool. I think the best avatar style space I've seen so far. The only thing is, the site is in the UK and I can't buy credits to furnish my room. If anyone else is a member, My Habbo is "Joichi"...

Hat's off to Dan who wrote about this a year ago!

Dan Gillmor
From: Gillmor, Dan To: Dave Farber Date: Sat, 21 Jul 2001 18:53:11 -0400

HELSINKI -- Buying virtual furniture for a virtual hotel room may seem likan odd enough exercise. Now add this: You pay by mobile phone.

That's how it works at online chat sites Hotelli Kultakala and Habbo Hotel, operated by a small Finnish company called Sulake. And people, mostly young people, are paying -- with real money -- by calling a special phone number, entering a few digits and having the cost of virtual furniture added to their next month's phone bills.

Across town, meanwhile, Riot Entertainment is getting ready to beam messages from Frodo the Hobbit to the mobile phones of ``Lord of the Rings'' fans. The messages from Frodo and other denizens of Middle Earth will be part of a movie marketing campaign when the first of three Rings movies opens later this year.

Some of the most intriguing ideas about tomorrow's mobile communications and commerce are coming from the people of this small Nordic nation, whose influence on the world's telecommunications stage has long outweighed the size of its population.


Seiji Ozawa conducted a performance of Giacomo Puccini's Madame Buttefly as part of the 30th anniversary. I was completely tired so I admit I nodded off a few time at the first half, but generally it was great. It was a Chinese chorus, Japanese orchestra, Japanese conductor and a global team of performers. The curtain call involved former Prime Minister of Japan Mori going on stage with everyone else and taking pictures together. I guess Mr. Mori was here because Koizumi-san, who was a co-organizer of the event got un-invited because he went to Yasukuni Shrine and honored the war dead. That still seems pretty stupid to me. Are a few right wingers more important than our relationship with China? I guess to the LPDLDP they are... Anyway...

tvcamera_thumb.jpg mizmakikotv_thumb.jpg tvgroup_thumb.jpg

The town hall styled panel discussions were held in the military guarded studios of the national TV station CCTV. Narita is much more fortified, but the guards at CCTV stood at attention much better than the guard at Narita...

The first panel was three Chinese whose names I don't have and Okuda-san of Toyota, Miyauchi-san of Orix and Idei-san of Sony from the Japanese side. The panelists for the second panel had to sit on stage but not say anything for 2.5 hours. Several of of our panelists fell asleep. I closed my eyes briefly, but didn't sleep, and at least I didn't snore. Idei-san was great and overall it was good, but a bit bland and the translation was bad. There was kind of a weird anti-Japanese feeling, but it might have just been me... The news caster who was the moderator asked the audience to smile more when they clapped and made us practice. It was kind of... strange. The Chinese side always clapped when anyone praised China. Also, when the Chinese audience were asked to raise their hand if they liked Japanese food, only two of them raised their hand. Then the moderator interviewed one of them about why she didn't like Japanese food. I bet that if we apologized sincerely instead of denying the mass murders, it would get a lot better. As the war vetrans die, it's really our last chance...

As I reported earlier, Yanai-san of Pia ended up taking Mari Matsunaga's place on our panel and Iemoto-san, a 20 year old entrepreneur from Japan was also on the panel with us. The Chinese side was James Ding of AsiaInfo, Victor Want of GWcom Inc. and the CEO of Alibaba China. Victor and James both went to Stanford so at lunch I got to talk to them in English. They were great. I got to get my comments in although I'm not sure how they went over in the translation. Idei-san who also joined our session had some great things to say.

I thought this was going to be live, but it looks like they will edit it before they broadcast it. It will be broadcast nationwide in China and on Channel 1 in Japan on NHK. I wonder what's going to happen in the edit.

As usual, my blurb about how we should unite forces and fight Microsoft together by creating a lot of open source code got a good response. ;-)

Mizuka and Makiko-san were sitting in the audience...

I got to sit next to Idei-san in the bus and we had a good chat. I had heard a rumor that the design center of Sony had been shut down. I asked him about it. He said, "which one? We haven't shut down a design center..." So I guess that was a bad rumor. We talked a lot about the future of Sony, Japan and Sony's strategy vis a vis ventures. He think that partnerships with venture businesses can help Sony be more innovative. That's great news for me/us!

I started this morning with a Motorcade. There was a super-VIP motorcade with lots of flashing lights and fancy police cars and a mini-VIP motorcade that I was in. There was one car, translator and driver per person, but the cars were a bit dumpier and no armed guards. They were fairly organized. All of the cars had their hazard lights on when driving and this warned other drivers not to cut into the motorcade. Seems pretty efficient. Never seen this before. They must do motorcades a lot in Beijing.

Someone (was it you Stephanie?) had a theory that it was the motorcades that slowed down Koizumi. The idea was that Koizumi was ready to do a bomb dive into the LDP, but then he started getting used to the motorcades. Something about motorcades makes you feel important. Jets... Motorcades... Something about vehicular excessiveness that drags you into the dark side... I watched "Lorg of the Rings" on the plane. Something like that...

So it's boarding time, but they told me to sit tight in the lounge. At least there are plugs and a view and diet coke. Some of the guests were complaining that the view and plugs are in only the smoking room... Oops. BUSTED... ;-)

"ANA regrets to announce that flight 955 will be slightly delayed for preparation. The new departure time will be announced as soon as it is available."

I can hear someone's voice over someone's radio giving much more detailed information about what is going on. I wonder if they sell radios in Akihabara to listen to the control tower. That would be extremely useful about now. I see some planes arriving though so I guess the landing/takeoff freeze is off. But the sky continues to get uglier.

I see a plane taking off at a very steep angle. Probably in a hurry to get through the clouds... I remember Martin boasting about how quickly his Lear jet could climb and how he could avoid turbulence...

Hmm... No plane yet. Weather getting worse...

"The plane has been rerouted to Kansai International Airport due to the weather, we will announce the new arrival time..."

This sucks. Maruchan just double booked me on the 5:25 ANA flight, but I bet that's at risk. I better get hustling to figure out what to do instead of sitting here blogging...

The biggest hurricane since WWII is about to hit Tokyo. It was supposed to hit this evening, but it is speeding up. My flight on Air China is delayed. I'm sitting in a sushi shop in Terminal 2 (my non-favorite sushi shop terminal) drinking a beer munching on some hokkigai. Anyway, I just wanted to blog in because when I checked into Air China, they asked me if I wanted a smoking seat. (Apologies to those who hate smoking or already know there are smoking seats on Air China.) I thought they had banned all international smoking flights! So... To be a bad boy... I just bought some cigarettes just so that I can smoke on the flight and see what it's like. I hope I don't sit next to a chain smoker who makes me PAY for this little experimental experience. The other funny thing is... I probably wouldn't have bought the cigarettes if I hadn't thought it MIGHT make blog material. Hmm... Blogging causes cancer?

I just got my photo CD of the pictures I took on Menorca with my Hasselblad. This is the first time I had my 6X6's scanned. They turned out nice. I posted them on imagestation and Yahoo Photos. The pictures are nice though so please take a look if you have time. I'll add captions when I get back from China I think.

Today will probably be Kara, Megan and Louie's last night in Tokyo. They invited me out to dinner. We ate at the Monsoon Cafe in Asabu Jyuban that is owned by Global Dining. Jun is on the board of Global Dining and Hasegawa-san, an amazing guy that I truely respect runs Global Dining...

Kawashima-san from the Japan Society (they sponsored Kara's trip), Megan's friend Takemura-san (an architect), Brett from AOL and Neerja Neeraj, the CEO of imaHima joined as well. I had been hearing about Neerja Neeraj from Howard and others and it was great to finally meet him. He was an extremely friendly and straight forward guy. I'm going to see if he can help me get this blog mobile phone enabled...

Brett knows Howard and Justin... What an extremely small world...

Neerja did the IM for i-mode for AOL and it launches the day after tomorrow. I saw a demo. It looks REALLY cool. It's probably the first real IM running on i-mode.


Oki Matsumoto and I, with the help of Ichikawa-san of Keio University prepared a bunch of slides about what was wrong with Japan. Since I was bouncing around Europe having fun, I made Oki bring the printed slides to Geneva. Thanks Oki! We stuck the slides up on panels to make a booth for the Expo Bazaar during the GLT summit. We made 5-10 minute presentations to GLT's as the passed through the both and got feedback from them. I will post the presentation slides later, but the jist of our presentation was...

Japan was in trouble and needed reform, but because of the cost to the global economy of executing these reforms, it was very difficult. Also, the problems in Japan are rather well hidden and complex we tried to explain these issues. We focused on three points. Democracy, Diversity and Markets. Japan does not have any of these working well.

Diversity was necessary for markets and democracy and diversity included changing the educational system to allow a variety of respectable career paths including risk taking paths. The media needed to be more open and free to allow diversity of opinion.

Democracy required a more fair election system. It required a judiciary to help check the legislature.

Markets were important to reallocate resources. We needed a strong organization like the SEC to enforce rules in the markets. We needed corporate governance to create financial transparency.

We needed a lot of things. Yu Serizawa took notes of the session and I typed them up in random order. We will organized these notes and output them more formally after discussion with the rest of the Blueprint for Japan 2020 team in Tokyo, but for your reference, I will post the notes here as is.

Here is the powerpoint presentation of the slides for our booth.

Do we use the word revolution?

Minimize the risk of the revolution by having a blueprint

Democracy, Diversity and Market Driven

Q - Expectation for changes were high when Koizumi was elected, but did cause reform?

A - He set the mood and the atmosphere but he did not implement is not here to cause revolution.

Q - Is it going to take another 15 years?

A - Act now for the future.

A - Tipping point. It doesn't look like it's changing, but maybe we are closing on the tipping. What are the points of the disequilibrium that is pushing us to the tipping point?

Once we empower people, we may be surprised by the support from the public.

Q - How do we engage the young people who are in the end the stakeholders of the future? They will be the people leading and paying for the pension. Are they aware of the potential problems we are creating for them?

A - Media reform and education

A - Empowering

Q - Are the Japanese happy? We are rich and we work hard, but are we happy?

A - Our major problem is elders is they say, "you are demanding too much. Look at how far we have come since 1945." We would like to compare ourselves to the rest of the world, not our past.

A - We think we are rich, but we aren't. We are funding the $8t balance sheet debt.

Government is borrowing money from younger generation. They are insolvent.

Maybe get TV or newspaper to do poll of people about issues

Cause enforcement through SEC and Judiciary

Q - What happened 10 years ago?

A - Plaza Accord was US policy to force Japan to switch gears from high intensity growth and cause the bubble and the collapse (We've been driving on first gear for too long and Americans decided to wake us up in brutal way) Inability of commercial bankers and the process of using land as primary asset for loans and very little direct investment.

A - Around '85 shifting from land to building value. (For instance earthquake proof buildings)

Q - Can the global economy afford our reform?

2 Tier Society and lack of respect for entrepreneurs and risk adverse environment

All or nothing "shoganai" approach - introducing values that more commonly accepted

Q - Is the Japanese B/S really worse than the US?

In the end the government tapping on the private savings is a voluntary taxation and common in other countries

Q - Do Japanese really care about democracy?

Japan is an obedient society and system build to be controlled first by the Emperor and then the occupation so now no one is driving?

Too much democracy makes low GDP - See Latin America - maybe it worked until the global forces were open to Japan

Government served a purpose at the beginning but system failed to reinvest ourselves in the '70's

We should have known? Maybe US should have done something better than the Plaza According?

Q - What is your top priority? Is it fixing the capital markets? Is it increasing the inflow of capital? You can't change everything, but changing the capital markets is feasible, but so start there.

Comment from us - Japan isn't hooked in with the out side world.

The Japanese are not integrating with the external world from the perspective of free trade and media. Maybe Japanese language foreign media. Try to increase the engagement of Japan.

Fundamental problem that the structure does not allow change. Can we bypass by empowering individuals? (See Nagano-ken) Use ID to do polls?

Japan is a fake democracy with socialist culture. A true democracy would allow diversity of opinions, not the collusion between government and media. Government is not making policy but just allocating resources.

Yu - Collusion between all sort of other groups.

Q - What if there are no longer any resources to be allocated? What does the government do then?

Making a new post-industrial Japan. We need to dump manufacturing and shift to services, IT and Bio. How do we fix low productivity sectors?

Education needs to change to help allocation human resources to post-industrial Japan.

We need the "foam" like the backward high jump. What enables this change?

Q - Japanese recognize entrepreneurship in foreigners…

A - Japanese are partial to foreigners and keep the engagement partial

Need to open up to the world

Q - Need to be more confident in the world

A - How do you produce more confident people

A - Need to shift away from brand name and cause self-esteem - education and societal values - tend to rely on big names instead of something new - exclusive and not inclusive society

Wake up on reality of immigration - need to wake an integrate them

Are we happy or are we unhappy - figures and reports. 50% of people are unhappy with their jobs. Why can't we express the unhappiness

Double income had to be applied to agriculture so we allow subsidies which are anomalies. Japanese story is all about anomalies.

Can the world afford real change in Japan.

It is so complicated and so intricate. Where is the tipping point?

Japan Inc. doesn't work except for industries that aren't regulated.

Some things are changing. More entrepreneurs…

It's not true that people are not interested in Japan. For instance, pop culture…

No longer an economic argument

Stunned by the ignorance by outsiders on Japan

System locked into equilibrium. Can't get out of it... Diversity is push it.

Pressure points, where?

Is it a leadership issue?

Can we make the pain of not-changing bigger than the pain of change?

What are the gains of changing, not-changing. Acknowledgement of the present problems. Reckoning.

Just finished an intense weekend in Geneva at the Global Leaders for Tomorrow Summit 2002. This was one of the best conferences I've ever attended. The Global Leaders of Tomorrow is a group of 100 or so people under the age of 37 that are chosen by the World Economic Forum every year. Then for 3 years or so, these leaders attend an annual meeting in September in Geneva and a meeting at Davos during the WEF Annual Meeting. By the time you "graduate" you end up with quite an interesting network of friends. The group is very diverse. There are probably around 40% women and 40% non-business people. Geographically, members are from everywhere. Afghanistan, Africa, Arab countries, Europe, Asia, Australia, etc. We have some rather important government officials as well as successful business people. It really shows how young people are able to rise much more quickly in other countries than in Japan. This year, the only two members from Japan were me and Oki Matsumoto. I think there are more Turkish women who are members than Japanese... This is the first year I attended the summit. The meeting at the Davos annual meeting was less focused because the WEF Annual meeting was going on at the same time. Since this summit is just for the GLT's it was much friendlier and more focused.

Also, the meeting took place in the headquarters of the World Economic Forum. The location was beautiful. It is situated on the lake across from the WTO and the UN. The building was a very nice design. According to the staff, the cost of the office is still less than the average office cost in Geneva.

This year, Oki and I were in charge of setting up a booth called "Blueprint for Tomorrow's Japan Task Force" and I was the Rapporteur for the brainstorming session called "Rebuilding Modern Politics: Can the System Fix Itself?". I originally thought that the rapporteur was the facilitator. I thought that rapping was like... you know. rapping... Anyway, I found out later that the Rapporteur was supposed to listen, take notes and write a report! I quit college because I hated taking notes and writing reports...

As the rapporteur of this session, I was supposed to take notes on a brainstorming session facilitated by Ted Halstead, President and CEO of the New American Foundation, a think tank, and Philippa K. Malmgren, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, National Economic Council, USA. There were about 11 other participants. The description of the topic was:

Public interest continues to wane in almost every industrialized democratic country. What needs to change in terms of political priorities, accountability, ideology, organization and leadership in most democracies? Will the next generation of leaders be able to reverse the trend from within existing political frameworks?

The discussion went all over the place with a variety of plans like creating an international organization to consult to new democracies and a variety of ways to wake up the voters and chase away the bad politicians. With the help of everyone, I tried to boil the discussion down into some concrete issues and things that we might be able to do to address these issues.

Here is a draft version of my report that I submitted to the World Economic Forum. I think and edited version of this will end up in the briefing package for the participants of the forum next year.

Different problems in different countries

There are "mature democracies", "emerging democracies", and "waiting democracies" in the world. Each country has a variety of problems and there is no single "plan" to "fix" every democracy. Too much focus on the GDP can undermine a country's democracy. Too much focus on the democratic process can undermine the economic development of a democracy.

There are issues common to most democracies and some practical initiatives to address these issues.

Issues faced by most democracies regardless of the stage of the democracy

Control of agenda by extremists

In most democracies, for a variety of reasons, extremists have control of political agendas.

In the United States, the two party system and the ability of extremists in the parties, the religious right in the Republican Party and the minorities in the Democratic Party are able to exercise power through the ability to mobilize people while the moderates are not active and don't vote.

The referendum process in California that was initiated in part to try to bypass the extremist in the legislature has ended up being used primarily by the extremists.

In them Middle East, the extremists have taken charge of the agenda on both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides.

Lack of choice of politicians

The two party system and the electoral system in the United States does not give people a choice of alternative politicians.

The inability to displace incumbent politicians and the unwillingness of politicians to allow succession in other countries limit the choice of politicians.

Most politicians are professional politicians and it is difficult for new politicians to enter the process.

Lack of participation and apathy by young adults and moderates

Young adults and moderates do not vote in most countries.

In the US, polls show that most young people are independent, neither Democrat or Republican.

Lack of ideology in politics

Most politicians lack ideology and are focused on special interests and the interest of powerful extremists. There are few politicians willing to risk their political careers for strong policy or ideological views.

Initiatives to address issues

Better legislature

We must improve the quality and the behavior of politicians.

Encourage more politicians willing to risk their careers for ideologies and policies

There are several ways to encourage politicians to risk their careers for ideologies and policies and to encourage people willing to take these risks to become politicians.

We must encourage more non-professional politicians to become politicians or join public services.

There are several specific policies that would help.

Pay politicians more money

Currently, the cost of campaigning and the low financial incentives for politicians and public servants hinder people without the sufficient financial resources from become involved in politics. In addition, the funding requirements cause politicians to rely on funding from special interest groups.

Change election system

The election systems in many countries make it difficult for independent or new politicians to be elected. The "winner takes all" electoral college in the US forces a choice between the two parties and independents cause votes to be distributed between similar candidates diminishing their ability to win.

In other countries such as Japan, the numbers of seats in the proportional system is not balanced and cause certain regions to be unfairly represented.

"Instant run-off"

The "Instant run-off" system which has been enacted in California allow voters to vote for several candidate in order of priority so that votes from candidates which can not win can be diverted to the second choice candidates improving their chances of winning creating a more fair outcome.

Mandatory voting

Several countries have implemented successful mandatory voting. Mandatory voting will cause the moderate and the young to vote diminishing the ability of the extremists to control the election process.

Bypassing legislature

In many cases, it is impossible for politicians to resist the extremist forces and it is necessary to bypass the legislature and empower the people to organize and affect policy directly.

Technologies and methods to empower people

New technologies provide access to information and ability for the people to be empowered to learn and organize themselves into forces to back policies.

In the Middle East, The Peaceworks Network has reached people directly through multiple media forms and polled them on political issues providing a public view of the opinions of the public. These views of the public provide feedback to the public and also legitimize the moderate position of the public. This can provide politicians hampered by hardliners a position of strength when taking the moderate stance.

Media is essential component for empowering individuals

The media is an essential element in inclusion of the public in the political process and in empowering the public to take action. Liberating the media in a nation is essential, but the practical methods for such liberation is unique in each country.

martinboat_thumb.jpg joimizleer_thumb.jpg
Martin is a fellow World Economic Forum Global Leaders For Tomorrow member, but I didn't talk to talk to him face to face first. We hit up an email conversation after he made some interesting comments on my speech for the Trilarteral Commission. Martin is a serial entprepreneur who is more excited about starting new companies than running them after they are set up. He is on his 4th successful company. I guess you could call PSINet Japan, Digital Garage, Infoseek Japan and now Neoteny 3 successes and working on the next one for me too. We talked about how similar we were. When I realized that he a billionaire at one time and now a multi-hundred millionaire, I decided we weren't THAT similar. ;-p He also spends more time on public service (he is the only foreign board member of the Clinton Foundation among other things...) and spends a lot more time flying and sailing around having fun than me, but has managed to be much more successful than me. Go figure. We discussed hard work. He said that he knows many people who work hard and make a lot of money, but he doesn't work THAT hard, but has managed to make a lot of money. If I could choose, I would choose his style.

I had asked him for a good place to visit in Europe between my speech at Ars Electronica in Linz and the GLT summit in Geneva. He said that I should stay at his place in Menorca. Little did I realize what he was offering me.

Well, you've read my report on Menorca. I didn't want to disclose too much about Martin until I asked his permission to blog about him. He bought the Menorcan farm a year ago and hired Manolo who worked on the farm before the last owner let it fall apart. Manolo is working very hard to restore the orchards, houses, etc. The main house overlooking the sea should all be done in April and should be totally amazing. We stayed in the first house to be restored.

Martin decided to pop down to Menorca from Geneva to have lunch with us on one of his 4 planes. It was a Lear Jet... He took us out on his boat which is the dingy for the BIG boat he has. We cruised around the bay in Mahon. We jumped into the sea and swam around a bit. I didn't have a swim suit so I jumped in in my underwear. It was amazing weather and felt SOO good.

We showered and had a great lunch. We decided to join Martin in his jet and fly to Madrid with him today and leave with him to the GLT summit in Geneva on Friday. Sounded much better than the Lufthansa HUB-a-thon. Walking through the Menorcan airport with a nylon bag with wet clothes in it wearing shorts and getting onto a private plane was a bit weird, but we landed at a military base near Madrid with his bodyguard/driver, Felix, waiting for us who zipped us away to his house and later to a hotel. So, here I am. A few hours ago, I was combating catapillars and now I am sitting in the Inter-Continental. (room service just arrived.) And there is an E-E-E-thernet port in front of me but I have NO ETHERNET CABLE. HOW STUPID of me! I dialed Earthlink, but I couldn't log in. Luckily, GPRS is now working and it is a bit faster than on Menorca, but I want my 56K. I chatted with Earthlink support on the Net, which was VERY cool until they couldn't figure out my problem. Then it wasn't so cool anymore...

So anyway... there is definitely the prestige of having boats and planes and farms, but the geek factor of owning 4 planes and piloting yourself, the freedom cruising around in your own boats and planes, the geek factor of restoring a 200+ year old farm and the lifestyle of doing public service while being a serial entrepreneur and still being free was a true inspiration for me...

The weather is very interesting here. It is SO hot in the sun today, but SO cool in the shade. There is a nice breeze, it is dry and the sky is blue.

There is also a lot of TIME today. (On the old English language MacOS, when you rolled over the QuickTime icon in the control panels folder, the balloon help would say something like, "Time: a dimension which moves constantly from the past to the future." or something like that.) When you have a lot of time and a lot of sun, it is amazing how interesting and fun it is to do laundry and dry it in the sun.

I wonder if it is the combination of the heat and the time, but the caterpillars move REALLY fast here. Caterpillars are the only thing in the world I am really afraid of. The white cat (the one sitting in the shade in the picture) is playing with a big fat caterpillar and has lots of green caterpillar puss on its face and is now walking towards me. Ack!
Menorcan physics and Menorcan psychology. I am confronted with a combination of some of the most pleasant sensations as well as confronted with some of my most horrid childhood (caterpillars) and adulthood (connectivity deprivation) fears.
(The cat is licking the puss off of its paws and face.)

Earlier, I was talking on my "handy phone" (They call cell phones "handy phones" in Europe. They used to call them that in Japan, but recently they refer to them by their Japanese name keitai denwa.) on the roof of one of the buildings staring over the rolling hills under the blazing sun talking to Jun who is in Tokyo. We were talking about an investment opportunity. We were doing business. I wonder if there is a way to spend more time sitting on roofs under the sun in the breeze instead of sitting in muggy offices with neckties on.

I am wondering about a lot of things sitting here in Menorca. I wonder if it is like a dream and I will forget it all or it will be irrelevant when I return to Japan. I wonder if blogging it will help me remember like the people with Alzheimer's who blog.

Mizuka just swatted a pair of mating flies and they are now sitting on the floor nearly-dead, locked in a deadly love position. The ants quickly surround the half-dead lovers and begin to drag them away...


Ars Electronica 2002 Program

Plug-In VII: Global Conflicts - Local Networks
Rüdiger Wischenbart / A, Joichi Ito / J, Alex Galloway / USA, Derrick de Kerckhove / CDN, Lori Wallach / USA
Brucknerhaus, 12.9.02, 10:30 - 13:30

The Internet utopias have evaporated into the reality of our society. Nevertheless, there is evidence of the political power that actively network-linked communities can bring to bear ... not perfect, but a good start.

Suhair Mohamed Khair Al-Zahabi/Qatar. Journalist, Al-Jazeera.
Lori Wallach/USA. Director of Public Citizens’s Global Trade Watch.
Joichi Ito/J.
Alex Galloway/USA. Member of
Rüdiger Wischenbart/A/D. Journalist and consultant.

Interesting panel. I was going to talk mostly about privacy, identity and community, but I ended up spending most of my time talking about my blog. I forgot to say a few things I was meaning to say, but we only had 30 minutes for the initial presentation so I had to fit a lot in...

I talked about Lessig and Code and how code is law and architecture is politics. I talked about Roger Clarke's notions on how identity and entity are different and that an architecture that allows us to keep our identities separate from our entities would be a good thing. I discussed how privacy underpins democracy and that we need to work hard to create architectures that protect our privacy. Then I showed everyone my blog and showed how the architecture of blogs was inside out. You went to get information from individual blogs that were connected. You didn't need to segregate, filter or blog since it you were pulling, not being pushed to (except for my update spam) and since you weren't stuck in a tiny common space, people weren't forced to confront each other...

It was interesting meeting someone from the Al-Jazeera. The questions and dialog inevitably drifted towards Osama Bin Laden and Islam. I got to quote the King of Jordan and sound a bit educated about the Middle East. ;-p

umaisushikan_thumb.jpg sushikanito.jpg
What a suprise... After meeting with Oki and a Keio student to work on the "Blueprint for Japan 2020," I had to go home alone. I walked toward Akasaka station rather hungry and saw the sushi shop on the corner next to Tully's and across the street from Starbucks that seemed a bit too mass production for me, but it was Sunday night so I couldn't be choosey and I went in and sat at the counter.

A familiar face! It was Ito-san from Koh-sushi. Koh-sushi was a fairly well known sushi shop in Shibuya that closed years ago. There was a talkative Philippino there named Eddie that I remember well. Anyway, Ito-san remembered Mizuka and me. We talked about Eddie who had gone back to the Philippines and was running a Japanese restaurant and how he had to come back to Tokyo to work to make some money to make ends meet. Eddie had worked at Umaisushikan, but the mass production was too much for him.

Umaisushikan is a large place and Ito-san (pictured above) is the manager. Actually, the sushi is great. I've been walking past this place for 3 years and had only been inside once briefly. Well, now that I know Ito-san is there, I will go more often. It is a low cost and high quality place. It is large enough so I don't mind introducing it on this blog. ;-)

P.S. I don't know if this is the right reading for the name...

drag_thumb.jpg paradebanner_thumb.jpg rugbie_thumb.jpg
Mizuka, Kara, Megan, Louie and I went to the Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade today. It was quite a turnout with probably over a thousand people or so. There were drag queens, gay rugby guys and a pretty wide variety of others. It was a well organized march through Shibuya and around Yoyogi Park. It was a bit strange because they didn't stop the traffic and split the parade up into 13 paradelets each led by a car/float of some sort. Not as much punch as a full on marching parade, but pretty interesting and fun none the less. It was the first Gay and Lesbian Parade I had ever been to.

Megan and Kara said that it didn't compare to the parades in San Francisco, but it was better than they expected. Gay pride and gay rights are apparently at very different levels in different countries. In some countries, being gay is a capital crime and in other countries gay couples can get married. Japan is fairly open to gays I think, but there are no provisions that I know of support gay rights specifically. It is probably a lot like feminism in Japan. Mimi's theory is that since there is less violence against women, the feminist movement in Japan doesn't get as much backing as the movement in the US. Similarly, there are probably much fewer hate crimes against gay people and they are accepted as part of the culture.

But what do I know. I'm not an expert. It is interesting though. Megan says that probably 5%-10% of the world is gay.

We also saw DJ Patrick and I got to introduce him to Megan, which I had been hoping to do for a long time...

We walked around Harajuku afterwards and had Chinese tea at the new place at Ometesando crossing. It is affiliated with Yu-Cha up the hill. Yu-Cha is really nice generally, but they add that stuck up Japanese attitude into the tea ceremony and make what should be a more casual experience a very stuffy one. When Megan was trying to take a picture of Mizuka playing with Louie, they made a big stink that they didn't let people take pictures in the store...

Chinese tea should be more fun...

I had lunch with Megan, Kara and their 3 month old son Louie yesterday. Kara was invited to Japan by the Japan Society on the U.S.-Japan Foundation Media Fellows Program. Steven Levy, one of my favorite journalists was also recently here on this program. This is a great program since I get the benefit of all of these great journalists hanging around Tokyo in rotation, especially since even the New York Times thinks people are losing interesting in Japan. (As Tokyo Loses Luster, Foreign Media Move On Thanks for the link Justin.) (Can't find the article right now...)

I think I may have met Kara before, but we never really had a chance to talk. Kara reports on Silicon Valley for The Wall Street Journal. I've known Megan since she worked at Apple a LONG TIME AGO. I THINK we met through Jeffrey Shapard or someone else when we were trying to get a demo together for SOMETHING in Japan. (As I have written before, my memory sucks...) Anyway, Megan is one of the most intelligent, happy and nice people I know... in fact that most people know. But you all know that. She knows EVERYONE.

Megan was designated as a Technology Pioneer in 2002 by the World Economic Forum so I see her at the World Economic Forum events regularly. Megan helped us when we were trying to get Magic Box Productions going. She's also been great in introducing me to interesting folks. After Apple, she went to General Magic where I think she was the chief engineer or something. After that, she went and started PlanetOut which has become the largest gay/lesbian site in the world. Megan is now Vice-Chairman of PlanetOut.

So we hung out and talked and it was great fun. I always talk too fast and too much when I get excited. We all kept interrupting each other, but for some reason it worked out OK and I think we got a lot of talking done. Kara, Megan and I talked a lot about where we thought things were going. We talked about my blog, Japanese companies, OTHER PEOPLE ;-), and technology. Kara was great because she knew so much about everything and pushed me to be more concrete about what I was saying. She also didn't hesitate to roll her eyes when I said something that didn't make sense. I had been wondering who could deserve to be Megan Smith's partner, but Kara definitely passes. Louie was really cute and didn't cry once. He gave me his meishi and it had his email address on it. He laughed at me a lot. I couldn't tell whether he liked me or thought I looked stupid.

I'm really glad they're in town and I'm sorry I'm going to miss most of their trip since I'm leaving for Europe with Mizuka on September 11. (And no, I didn't get a discount airfare.) Mizuka and I will be joining them tomorrow to go see the Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade 2002. (entry in PlanetOut | their web page) Hopefully, I'll have some pictures later from there.

lmboard_thumb.jpg lmc_thumb.jpg 451_thumb.jpg lmccontrol_thumb.jpg
Mizuka was eating dinner at Yanai-san's house after her MagLev ride so I went there and borrowed their shower to wash away the Kasumigaseki sweat. Then Mizuka and Makiko-san told me about their ride. They got to go 451 km/hr. Aparently the German MagLev only goes 400km/hr. The Japanese MagLev has gone a max 554 km/hr with someone in it. Anyway, it sounds pretty cool to me. They said that there was a boarding plank like boarding an airplane and the door slid open up. They also said it rattled more than they though it would. On the other hand, it was FAST and FUN. I wish I were there...

I suck at squash, but I still like to play. I played squash with Yuichi and Shane this morning from 6:30am. It took me only 13 minutes where it usually sometimes takes up to an hour. Just driving to the gym is worth getting up early for. I really suck at squash, but I beat Shane 2 out of 3 today. I only sometimes beat Shane, but this is the first time I won more matches than him. I've never beat Yuichi who is really good.

This is the first meeting of the overview committee of the National ID system. The press were ALL here and I got a lot of TV cameras in my face. I guess I'm going to end up on the evening news. I wonder what the comments will be.

Ishii Takemocho-sensei, a good friend and an very honest person was chosen as the chair. I'm going to go and see him soon. Kazuhisa Ogawa, the military analyst who I also respect highly for his outspoken and thoughtful style is also on the committee.

I pushed very hard to have this committee as open as possible and they agreed and announced that all of the minutes and the agendas will be posted on the web page and that they will have a press briefing after every meeting. I guess this is OK. Having the press actually in the meetings would be difficult to manage. Also, I got approval to blog freely. ;-) So here I am...

Had dinner with Dan Gillmor. He was in town for a few days to visit with Noriko-san. We had dinner at Kanayuni. We talked a lot about blogs and the future of the audience. I've been looking for a word for what Dan is called the "former audience." I told him that that sounds like "The artist formerly called Prince" and didn't really sound very good. I wish someone would come up with a word for it. The idea, for those of you who haven't been keeping up with our dialog is that the audience and the players are connecting directly and disintermediating the journalists. The audience and personal publishing is making the audience the media... etc.

I introduced Dan to Nishimura-san, the guy who runs 2ch. He should be meeting with him this morning. That may turn into an interesting story. As blogs explode in the US, 2ch, the anonymous discussion site booms in Japan. I wonder if this is random or reflects a basic difference in Japanese and US culture. It is kind of cliche, but blogs are maybe better for opinionated people who want to become famous. ;-p

After Koyasan, we went to Kyoto. The evening we arrived, we had a great kaiseki dinner at Sakamoto, one on our favorite kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto. It is in the Gion district and is on the river with a great view during the cherry blossom season. After dinner, we went to Minoya, a tea house. I wrote about tea houses in 1994. Ichisuzu, whose photo appears in my entry from 1994 joined us. The picture to the right is a picture of Mizuka and Ichisuzu. Ichisuzu told us that Mamehide who I also met in 1994 left Kyoto to go to school to learn to be a painting restoration professional and that she was moving to Italy soon. She is the talk of the town.

Here are some pictures from Minoya.

Kaoru Yoshimura who runs the tea house is an old family friend. About 24 years ago my mother taught English at Minoya to the geisha and the maiko. Mrs. Fukui, the wife of my father's teacher, Professor Kenichi Fukui who would later win a Nobel Prize for his orbital frontier theory in chemistry introduced my mother to Minoya. Kaoru, who was the daughter of the okasan of the tea house, watched my mother teach. She was 17 or so at the time. When my parents took us the the US, Kaoru wrote my mother every day asking to join us in the US. My mother talked to Kaoru's mother and convinced her to let Kaoru come to the US and help take care of the kids. I was 3 at the time. She was my babysitter. After several months and 20kgs of weight gain, Kaoru returned to Kyoto. Her mother passed away and she now runs Minoya. I visit Minoya several times a year to catch up with everyone in Gion and visit temples, drink sake under the cherry blossoms and to go to the special events where the geisha and maiko perform.

I used wait until the guests left the tea house and sleep on the floor of the tea house. Now I stay at a wonderful inn called Iyuki. Iyuki is at the top of the hill over Maruyama Park and has one of the best views of cherry blossoms during the season.

Here are some pictures of Iyuki.

The next morning, Mizuka and I went to visit Mrs. Fukui. Mrs. Fukui was a very good friend of my mother. Dr. Fukui was my father's teacher and a great mentor of mine. Even when I was a small child, Dr. Fukui would spend hours talking to me about science. He was a very pure scientist who thought very little about his personal gain. He was so "neutral" that the Emperor often consulted with him on issues such as the notion of moving the location of the capitol. Dr. Fukui was the typical abscent minded professor and it was Mrs. Fukui's full time job to take care of him. Once, when he was going to Stockholm to give a speech at an anniversary meeting of the Nobel Prize, he forgot his Japanese Imperial Award medal. I was enlisted to take it to Stockholm and pin it on Dr. Fukui. After Dr. Fukui passed away, Mrs. Fukui suddenly had a lot more time to think, but less information from the outside. I have made it a point to drop in and see her when I can to talk to her about everything I am thinking about. With more time, she has reflected on many of the things that Dr. Fukui thought about. She has much more experience in education and religion than Dr. Fukui did and she has begun to develop many notions which I believe are essential for changing Japan. It was great talking to her after Koyasan. I talked to her about religion, the National ID and my unhappiness with the current government. She echoed our concerns and also told us she was very worried with the youth of Japan. She thought Mizuka and I were radical but that Japan needed a bit of radicalism to force change.

This morning was nice an cool after a rainy night. Mizuka and I went to get the morning paper and there was this homeless guy rustling around at the entrance to our home. It appeared like he was changing or something so we decided not to bother him and let him get dressed or whatever in peace. After quite awhile of what sounded like complete overhaul of his wearable computing gear, we heard him leave. When we got to the entrance where the paper is, we noticed a big mess. I wonder if the mess he left (some old rice, cat food and wrappers) was just laziness, a political statement of some sort, something he thought was funny, a work of art, a gift for us, or none of the above. In any event, we found it very annoying. I guess if he thought it was a gift, it would be kind of like what the Americans do to some countries. ;-p Anyway, the next time he comes back, maybe we should engage in some foreign policy and tell him that we in fact don't need any food, but that we are happy with him using our territory to organize his next movement as long as he leaves nothing behind.

joipamph.jpg speak.jpg gaitomedia.jpg

Today I will be on the news at 5:30pm on TBS and 10:30pm (thanks Sakiyama-san) on Fuji TV protesting the National ID. From 1pm to 3pm today, Yoshiko Sakurai, her team and I held a rally passing out pamphlets and giving speeches in the middle of the busy shopping district of Ginza. The media was around in force today, but it is really too little too late. We've been doing this since September of last year and the day before it goes live, the media is finally focused. We will continue our struggle, but it will be harder now that the law is officially running. At least now almost everyone I meet says that they have been protesting this all along instead of threatening me that I will lose everything if I continue...

I have been interviewed several times by TV. It seems that the media is focused very much on the security of Jyukinet. I believe, that although this is very important, the bigger risk is the use of the 11 digit number in databases in the bureaucracy and the effect that this will have on the ease in which lists can be created, cross references and leaked.

The media is also discussing quite a bit, the storage on the IC card. This is practically irrelevant. What is relevant is the IC card being using to link real world transactions to databases.

The other big risk is that 11 digit number can be written down, read and distributed easily. Why didn't they use digital signatures or some sort of hash function that is not human readable?

Everyone wants me to talk about the security of the Jyukinet, and the cut the sections where I talk about the nature of identity and the concept of privacy underpinning democracy. Oh well.

With respect to the security of the network, it is important to note that the Somusho is saying that it is safe because they have firewalls and leased lines, but anyone who knows anything about computer networks know that this is not true. No network is safe. Having said that, I think it is important to focus, not on the technical issues such as firewall security, but on the fact that the safest network is a small network with the least number of users and terminals.

I was was scheduled to participate on the last panel discussion at a e-government conference held by the Nikkei today. I was supposed to go straight from the airport after returning from Aspen. There were terrible thunderstorms in Tokyo and the traffic was terrible. It was obvious I would not make it in time. Luckily Ushii was on the scene and the moderator, Sekigushi-san had a computer connected to the Internet on stage. I was able to email them my comments which they put up on the big projector. As usual, I was protesting the national ID and preaching privacy.

Anyway, sorry Sekiguchi-san for not making it! Ushii sent me to photo to the right from his computer on the scene. I felt like I was "virtually" there. Thanks to my Crusoe empowered Sony Vaio and my NTT Docomo Foma 64k card, I was able to keep in touch with the moderator, Sekiguchi-san and Ushii through the session...


Shimon Peres says...

First, he told us that he had just received a call from the Prime Minister and that another bomb had gone off in a University...

"I have no hatred in my heart for the Palistinians."

He thinks that maybe the Palestinians may be able to build the first real Arab democracy since they are building from scratch and have watched other Arab nations and their problems.

"We are just two tragedies meeting in the same place. I hope that this doesn't turn into a third tragedy."

"I believe that the greatest liberation in the 20th century was the liberation of women."

"Since we can't build a world government, let's build a world NGO. Have the companies come together and pay insurance. Have a board of directors with members such as Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela. Totally based on volunteering. No one forcing. This may be able to handle the problems that globalization is creating."

"Television made dictatorship impossible, but it made democracy intolerable."

"What can you learn from History? Very little... History was written with red ink, wth bloodshed. We should educate our children how to imagine, not how to remember."

Some students and a Rabbi were discussing how you can tell when night is over and day has come. One student said that when you can tell the difference between a lamb and a goat, day has come. Another student said that when you can tell the difference between a fig tree and and an olive tree, the day has started. The Rabbi says, when you see and white man or a black man and you call him your brother, the day has come. When you see a rich man or a poor man and you call him your brother, the day has come.

I don't know the publishing rules for this conference. I looked through all of the materials and there was no comment about usage of what we learn. They never mentioned it at during any of the sessions either so I am assuming it is OK. If someone thinks this is inappropriate, please email me. I think his comments were great and can't see how it could damage anyone...

cocktails.jpg nedstewartpaul.jpg shimonbill.jpg

Was all ready to go with my 3 minute brainscan, but got bumped because the schedule got out of control... Oh well. I guess I'm supposed to do it today. My China panel is also today.

Yesterday we had cocktails at a house in the mountains of Aspen. It was huge and beautiful. The view from the deck was amazing. No wonder everyone dreams of having a home in Aspen.

Later, we had dinner at an Italian resetaurant near the hotel. I missed the first bus and showed up after Paul, Ned and Stewart had almost finished eating...

Afterwards, we went to the bar at the hotel where Bill Clinton and Shimon Peres were have a dialog over drinks. My jet lag was catching up and I was full of wine and pasta so I couldn't "get into it" for too long, but it was a frank dialog. Including his remarks during the day session, I was extremely impressed with Bill and his intelligent comments. He had very thoughtful comments on the global ecology, the Middle East, the HIV problem and many other things. I wonder why he didn't share more of his thoughts on these important issues when he was in office. I guess he couldn't afford to do it politically.

I didn't really get to hear very clearly what Shimon Peres was saying, but he will be making a more formal presentation during the day today so I will get a chance to hear him again...

sushi2.jpg sushi1.jpg
In terminal 1 of Narita airport there are two sushi shops: Sushi Iwa and Kyotaru. Kyotaru is a big chain and fairly low quality. Sushi Iwa on the other hand is a high quality sushi joint that I ALWAYS go to before leaving Japan on a trip. After the rennovation of terminal 1, Sushi Iwa significantly upgraded the quality of the material they serve and is definitely a treat. The staff are friendly and happy to fulfill any silly requests. They will also pack boxes to go if you want to eat it on the plane. When you go, sit at the counter. Also, remember that the material will get better as the staff get to know you. This is true in any sushi shop since on every piece of fish, there are tasty bits, and not as tasty bits. I find this is true in Chinese restaurants as well... Saegusa-san thinks that chefs can only make a few truely good meals every evening and they choose who gets them. Anyway, smile at the sushi chefs a lot and ask for a recommendation and you'll probably get something good.

As usual, I had a wonderful meal before I left. The shellfish were especially good today.

I just arrived in Aspen after stopping in Seattle and Denver and I haven't eaten anything since my sushi. ;-)

minetal.jpg rangers.jpg utsumi.jpg aerateam.jpg mizjoi3.jpg

We had a costume party today. We had an Indian chef come and cook a wonderful curry feast. (Thanks for the intro Kumi!) We invited people from Neoteny and it's portfolio companies as well as people from Mizuka's dental clinic. It's amazing how many people cancelled at the last minute. My guess is that many of the people wimped out. ;-) It was a lot of fun though. We prepared power ranger sort of wear for those who didn't come with outfits. Luckily there were five people without outfits so we were able to get a power ranger group photo.

Utsumi, the CEO of Genec, came as his head on a platter. I wonder if that had a deeper meaning...

Lights, Camera....

...and there was no action.

As we approach the August 5 start date for the national ID, Yoshiko Sakura, Ben Shimizu and I (with a lot of help from Gosuke Takama) are leading a drive to sign up as many politicans as possible to pass a bill freezing the start of the national ID program for 3 years until we can have sufficient public debate and technical planning. The architecture is bad, the security sucks, there aren't sufficient guidelines on what the government can use the information for and there is no watchdog organization or even a privacy commissioner. Having said that, even if the security was better and there were a privacy commissioner, I still would be against the national ID. The architecture is wrong and the basic approach to information about people is wrong. There are much better ways to do the same thing without using a single IC card and a single human readable 11 digit number. 83% of Japanese interviewed in a recent survey don't even know that the national ID program exists!

Last week, Yoshiko Sakurai with her amazing pursuasiveness signed up many of the leading LDP politicans including Kamei, Hirasawa and Shiozaki as well as members of all of the major opposition parties. Yesterday was a press conference to announce that we had signed up enough diet members to stop the August 5 launch... not. Over the last few days very strong invisible forces moved to try to squash our movement by putting pressure on the politicans supporting our movement. Koizumi-san, who I strongly support, made a stupid comment yesterday saying that he was for the National ID. (Never attribute to malice, that which can be sufficiently explained by stupidity. I guess in this case, ignorance.) The mayor of Yokoyama, the young Nakata apparently rushed to see Koizumi-san and explain that he should not support the National ID. The dark forces were very quick to label our movement as anti-Koizumi. Sakurai-san is trying to get us a meeting with Koizumi-san to explain the situtation to him and get him to understand. The press conference ended up being us, a bunch of press and the few bold politicians willing to publicly show their support to our movement. (The photo is a picture of the Network TV cameras from my seat. The empty area in the middle was where we were going to seat the politicians. The room is a room in the diet offices building.)

So, we're not back to the drawing board, but have been pushed back once again. With the US pushing for a privacy czar and concerns being raised in the global debate, I'm hoping that the global environment might help... but this may be wishful thinking.

Anyway, if you don't hear from me for awhile, call the Amnesty International and tell that I was last seen protesting the Japanese National ID.

Saegusa-san just turned 60 which is an important birthday in Japan. It is called kanreki. The first birthday party was a suprise party at Blue Note Tokyo after the Enjin01 meeting. The second party was at a small temple in Akasaka and we wore traditional Japanese summer ukata. There were booths with sushi, curry, yakitori and traditional Japanese games. And lots of beer. This picture is Mizuka, Saegusa-san and me at the temple. About 400 people came. It was a very eclectic crowd with ex-prime ministers, artists, company presidents, journalists and actors. I did feel a bit young. When someone asked me where I was going dressed in a ukata, I said, "to my friend's kanreki party", and they looked at me kind of funny. I guess it's not so strange calling people 25 years older than you "friends" in the US, but in Japan it is strange enough to be gramatically incorrect. For some reason, most of my best friends are all much older than me. Interestingly, many of their wives are Mizuka's age. ;-p


We just got back from the World Cup finals. I had a very difficult time choosing which team to back. I know more Germans than Brazilians, but the Brazilians seemed nicer and more fun. They were also more likely to win. Mizuka definitely wanted to cheer for Brazil so that settled it.


We had front row seats on the second story. My Hasselblad didn't really work from where we were. The lense was too dark and my film was too slow... They were out of the "Sky Box" seats, but I figured that hanging out with the real fans would be fun.

Unfortunately, we ended up sitting with a bunch of rowdy Brits. They seemed to think that I didn't understand English. They gabbed on about all kinds of things that I won't post here, but when Mizuka left to get us some drinks, I told them them what I thought about their behavior. Actually I was quite upset and it was ruining my experience. I said that I thought they were really rude and that I bet that they were fixed income dealers from England. Interestingly enough, one was!

Later, one of the guys behind me was cheering for Germany and the rest of they guys said that they would all punch him when Brazil scored. I told the guy I would punch him too. He laughed. When Brazil scored their first goal, I turned around and punched him quite hard. He was noticably upset, but I guess he didn't have the guts to really start a fight so we shook hands and let it go.

Anyway, they were quieter after that and everyone around us had more fun, I think.

Brazil won as expected and they went running around thanking their fans, which was nice.

We quickly escaped the scene and were able to catch a taxi to get onto the highway before they shut it down to let the emperor drive back. 30 minutes later, Mizuka and I were eating and drinking near our house at Mitate where everyone had just finished watching on TV. We got a warm welcome from the staff and service the best we had experienced. The staff said that they cried when Renaldo scored his goal...


And now it's back to normal for Tokyo and Brazil is on the brink of banruptcy...


We had another meeting to plan our strategy to stop the implementation of the Japanese national ID program. This program, which as already passed as law will assign 11 digit numbers to everyone and will cause to be distributed by the local governments, IC cards that will become ID cards including the national ID. The network architecture is a mess, the security is weak, there is very little in place limiting the use of the collected information, there is no privacy watchdog organization and the privacy bill that is trying to be passed right now actually deliberately allows for the government to use collected information quite freely.

Originally, the privacy bill was supposed to be in place before the national ID could be implemented, but somehow the the bureaucrats have convinced themselves that they could move forward with the national ID without the privacy bill. The privacy bill is very poorly written anyway and doesn't protect us from abuse by the government and is overly restrictive for business.

I have been involved in trying to stop this bill since November last year, but since the law had already been passed (I didn't even know about it!) it's been quite an uphill battle. We are getting close though. There are very few politicians who feel strongly about it so I think we might be able to convince enough politicians to put the program on hold until we can discuss the risks more.

This process has really shown me how broken the law making system is in Japan. Almost everyone we talk to is now against it, but we still can't stop it. It is like a tanker with no one on board.

There is a Japanese web page describing our efforts.


Foma pcmcia card. A 3G data card that does 64K

My new SO504i

Today we had an i-mode council meeting. The i-mode council is a group of advisors for the i-mode group at NTT Docomo. It's an interesting meeting because we get to hear what NTT Docomo is thinking and the discussion is always very interesting.

I tried connect to the DDI Pocket 64K PHS Data network, but suprise suprise, I couldn't connect from the NTT Docomo meeting room. I complained and they lent me a new Foma 3G data card. It's much faster even though it is also only 64K because it doesn't have to go through the switch like the PHS card. It is much more expensive than the PHS network, but this one is Docomo's. On wonder how long I can keep it. ;-)

They also upgraded my SO503i to the new SO504i. The new i-mode phone goes 28.8K which feels MUCH faster than the old 9600 bps 503. The Java i-apli's run much faster and they can run in waiting mode and have news and weather pushed to them. We saw a demo of some old Nintendo games ported to the phone and they basically run as fast as the old game machines and the displays have more pixel depth!


This is Yokoyama-san showing us his new Kyocera PDA. It was recently announced, but they haven't priced it yet. It is fast because there really isn't very much operating system to get in the way of performance. His company, MCT did most of the software inside in Java. He showed us a pretty groovy pinball game and it was FAST. It is running on Tao.

So what it is about embedded systems these days. Except for a very small number of companies, most of them are struggling. I hear they can't get funding in Silicon Valley. (Who can!) There's lot of work to do, but nothing huge and scalable. I think it is because the hardware companies are still in charge of what goes on inside. We need to figure out a new architecture that puts the application guys in charge of the hardware and the semi-conductors.

Yokoyama-san's PDA was definitely cool and impressive, but it probably would have been a lot more impressive if we had been able to design all of the architecture from scratch...


Today was the first shareholders meeting since Pia went public. Pia is the largest ticketing company with 60% of the market in Japan. They started as a publisher of magazines about leisure such as movie guides and the publishing business continues to be a big business. The shareholders meeting was in a large event hall called Blitz in Akasaka. A pianist played on stage before the event which was very well produced and very appropriate for an entertainment and leisure company.

I was officially elected as their first outside board member at this shareholders meeting.

So I was with Frank Boosman in a meeting and I was talking about how excited I was about setting up a blog. He said, "Oh No. Now all you'll be thinking about is whether something will be material for your blog." Well Frank. That was material for my blog. ;-p

This is a picture from my seat on the floor at the Trilateral Commission conference during a break. Interesting that I was seated next to Tim Collins... ;-)

Here is a picture of my bathtub at the hotel. Pretty bourgois, huh? ;-)


This is a letter I got from Prime Minister Koizumi asking me to join the cabinet consumer policy committee. Actually, the reason I was invited to this committee is because professor Iwamura suggested I be added to represent the position that the Net provides a new way for companies to interact with its customers. This is a pretty important committee and I feel a bit out of place, but it's a great opportunity to try to get stuff about the Net built into some of the basic laws governing information disclosure and corporate governance.

Version 1.4 of my Nukamiso guide. Nukamiso is a Japanese pickling process.

My nukamiso in old ceramic urn.

My nukamiso in newly acquired cedar tub.

Nukamiso (Version 1.4)

By Joichi Ito

August 10, 1998

Last Revised April 4, 1999

Why we mix the Nukamiso

The Nukamiso needs to be mixed at least twice a day in the summer and once a day in the winter. If the Nukamiso is not mixed regularly the following may occur:

  1. Bugs such as small flies may collect and lay eggs.
  2. The Nukamiso may turn sour. See procedure for dealing with sour Nukamiso below.

Procedure for mixing the Nukamiso

  1. Clean hands and dry thoroughly.
  2. Prepare paper towel for wiping container.
  3. Mix Nukamiso thoroughly taking care to mix the bottom of the container. Remember, the main point of mixing the Nukamiso is to allow it to contact air.
  4. Try to keep Nukamiso fluffy and not compressed in order to allow air to stay mixed with the Nukamiso afterwards.
  5. After mixing thoroughly, pat the surface of the Nukamiso to make sure it is flat. (This is to insure that water does not collect in wells in the surface.
  6. Wipe sides inside of container to make sure there are is no Nukamiso on the walls.
  7. Close container and store.

Procedure for inserting vegetables into Nukamiso

  1. (Optional) Wash Vegetables.
  2. Cut vegetables.
    1. Do not cut cucumbers.
    2. Cut daikon into short quarters.
    3. Cut kabu into quarters or eighths.
  3. Rub salt onto vegetables. If vegetables are dry, wet hands and rub salt on vegetables with wet hands.
  4. Bury vegetables in Nukamiso.
  5. Vegetables buried deeper in container will pickle faster.
  6. Lay long vegetables flat so that they pickle evenly.
  7. Flatten surface of Nukamiso, wipe walls, close and store as in Procedure for mixing Nukamiso

Pressure during flattening

Increased pressure on the Nukamiso while flattening will increase the speed of fermenting but will increase the risk of suffocating the Nukamiso causing a fermentation error. Leaving the Nukamiso too fluffy will slow down the process and may cause irregular pickling on the vegetable surface.

Duration to pickle vegetables

In general cucumbers should be pickled for 4-5 hours, daikon for 10 hours. okura for 1-2 hours., shirouri for 4-5 hours, and carrots and eggplant for 10-12 hours, kabu for 15 hours. The duration must be adjusted to reflect the seasonal changes in temperature. These durations are for summer pickles. In spring and fall cucumbers should be pickled for 10 hours or so and in the winter 16 hours or so. Adjust the durations for other vegetables using a similar scale. Because it is the temperature that affects the speed of fermentation, the temperature of the room is what ultimately determines how long to pickle vegetables.

Procedure for removing vegetables from Nukamiso

  1. Find vegetables in Nukamiso and remove without wiping excess Nukamiso off of vegetables.
  2. After removing vegetables, mix, flatten, wipe walls, close and store and in Procedure for mixing Nukamiso.
  3. Wash vegetables in cold water.
  4. Cut and serve.

Procedure for increasing Nukamiso

Twice a month or so, the Nukamiso must be increased. nuka, salt, chopped red chili peppers and kombu should be added. Nuka and salt should be added at a ratio of 500g nuka for 95g salt. It is recommended by some that some of the old Nukamiso be discarded during this procedure to allow for more new Nuka.

Wet Nukamiso

Wet Nukamiso can suffocate the fermentation process. To decrease water level, use a device designed for this or a combination of some kind of sieve and paper towels to soak up extra moisture.

Procedure for fixing sour Nukamiso

  1. Add eggshells or add a mixture of Japanese mustard, eggshells and other things designed to help sour nukamiso.
  2. Keep lid a little off center and allow air to enter container. Mix 3 or more times a day.
  3. Increase the salt content to slow down the fermentation process.


Why Nukamiso turns Sour

Too little air (not enough mixing or too watery) or chemicals (hand cream) can cause the fermentation process have problems and leave an acidic material that causes the nukamiso to turns sour. Mixing frequently and removing exccess water are is important in preventing such a crisis.


Initializing the Nukamiso

  1. Add 380g of salt to 2300cc of water and bring water to a rapid boil.
  2. Cool the water and add slowly to 2kg of nuka mixing and kneading while adding the water.
  3. Add 5-6 dried red-hot chili peppers chopped into rings and 10g of dashi kombu cut into thin strips and mix thoroughly.
  4. Insert cheap vegetables such as cabbage or hakusai following the procedure for inserting vegetables.
  5. A day or so later, remove vegetables, throw the vegetables away and repeat step 4. Repeat one or two more times until Nukamiso has come alive.
  6. White bread and beer can be added at step 4 to increase speed of fermentation. 1 slice of bread and 150cc of beer or so is sufficient. The bread should be torn into small pieces.
  7. Mature Nukamiso from another culture can be added after step 5 to increase the flavor and complexity of the Nukamiso.

The Container

I've seen people use plastic bags, tupperware, plastic buckets, ceramic urns, and cedar tubs. Wood seems to be the best because it allows some air through and adds flavor. Used sake "taru" are supposed to be quite good. Also, since one wants to lay the vegetables flat, remember that the container should be as wide as the largest vegetables are long.

The Old Refrigerator Trick

Some people put the nuka in the refrigerator and only mix it a few times a week. It takes vegetables a long time to pickle, but the care is quite easy. I've never tried this, but I can't imagine that the nukamiso is very happy or the pickles would taste that great, but if you can't deal with mixing it everyday, it might be worth a try.

Dealing With Your Nukamiso When You Travel

If you are leaving for a few days, you can cover the top of the nukamiso with salt and stick it in the refrigerator. When you return, throw away the top layer of nukamiso. If you need to leave the nukamiso for more than a few days, leave it with a friend that you trust. Remember that the nukamiso will start to taste like your friend so choose a friend that you like.

Material added to Nukamiso

Nails - The iron in the nails prevents eggplant surfaces from oxidizing and turning brown. Iron paperweight sized products are available which do the same thing.

Garlic - Garlic adds flavor and aroma.

Chips of Katsuobushi - Katsuobushi is the dried makerel used to make the shavings used for Japanese cooking. Pieces chip off during the shaving process and these pieces can be inserted into the Nukamiso. They add a nice woody flavor to the Nukamiso.

Japanese Mustard - Helps control the fermentation of Nukamiso.

Dried Shiitake Mushrooms - Adds flavor and aroma.

Bread Crumbs - Helps fermentation and adds flavor.

Beer - Helps fermentation and adds flavor.

Chili Peppers -Helps control fermentation, adds flavor.

Dashi Kombu - Dried kelp used for making broth in Japanese cooking. Adds flavor and depth to Nukamiso.

Salts - Salt is the single most important part of the Nukamiso. Too much kills the flavor, too little lets the fermentation get out of control. The balance of the salt on the vegetable is essential for the final saltiness of the pickle.

The Art of Nukamiso

There are many things that affect the character of Nukamiso. My friends in Kyoto add beer, bread, garlic, konbu and chili peppers. My friend in Tsukiji uses only broken pieces of dried katsuo (for katsuobushi) and konbu and chili peppers (un-chopped). My Nukamiso is a combination of three 50 year old Nukamiso's and a 25 year old Nukamiso, two from Kyoto and two from Tokyo. Nukamiso evolves and older Nukamiso's have a much more complex flavor and character. Everyone agrees that one must use one's bare hands. When Nukamiso is in good character it is a pleasure to mix and the smell can make one salivate. On the other hand, Nukamiso in bad character smells like garbage or very sour. Mixing frequently, above all else is the most important thing. After that, it appears that the ammount of salt in the Nukamiso is another key factor. It is difficult to smell the salt, so one should taste one's hands after mixing to check the level. It can be adjusted by adding salt directly or salting vegetables more heavily or lightly depending on the adjustment. Finally, it is important to feed the Nukamiso so even if there are is no need to pickle anything, pickling even throw-away vegetables regularly to keep the Nukamiso in shape is important in maintaining flavor.

Release Notes

Version 1.4 4/4/99 - Added seasonal time difference, material added to and packing pressure sections.

We went to Howard Rheingold's home to interview him and his daughter Mamie for the show as well. Howard spoke to us on the topic of virtual communities.


I went to Timothy Leary's home with Sakamoto-san, Tanizaki-san, and Ota-san to shoot Tim for The New Breed. Tim and I did a interview together.


This is a picture of me hanging from a wing of an airplane. I have only gone once, but skydiving was much more serene and a lot less scary that I thought it would. I would love to go again, but it is difficult to do in Japan.

When I visited Seattle with the MacZone Japan team, we (I) decided that we should all jump out of an airplane together to "bond" as we set out on this venture.

Category Archives

Monthly Archives