Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Recently in the Social Software Category

There seems to be some sort of general rule that technologies and systems like conversations on the Internet, the US democracy (and its capture by powerful financial interests), the Arab Spring movement and many other things that were wonderfully optimistic and positive at the beginning seem to begin to regress and fail as they scale or age. Most of these systems seem to evolve into systems that are resistant to redesign and overthrow as they adapt like some sophisticated virus or cancer. It's related to but harder to fix than the tragedy of the commons.

I want to write a longer post trying to understand this trend/effect, but I was curious about whether there was some work already in understanding this effect and whether there was already a name for this idea. If not, what we should call it, assuming people agree that it's a "thing"?

I Twittered this but forgot to blog it. :-P

From the Twitter Blog:

Despite the fact that Twitter is in English, we continue to see exciting growth from all over the world. Japan, in particular shows a very strong and growing demand for Twitter services. Movatwitter and Twitterpod are great examples.

To support continued growth in Japan, Twitter has formed a partnership with Digital Garage to create the official Twitter Japan service. As part of this arrangement, Digital Garage has made an investment in Twitter, Inc and will commit engineering and other development resources to help us bring Twitter to Japan.

We're really excited about Twitter Japan because it's a big step towards our goal of becoming a worldwide communication network. We'll have more news for you about Twitter Japan and Twitter in other parts of the world as we make progress.

Gratz Rocky, Minami and the team who worked on the deal.

I am a co-founder of Digital Garage and I am on the board. Digital Garage is a strong supporter of CC and the main sponsor of my lab. While I continue to do some deals personally, most deals that involve active support in Japan involve my team at Digital Garage.

BTW, I'm Joi on Twitter.

At LeWeb3, Dopplr announced (the release) that they have officially launched and are now open for registration without invitations. BBC did a nice story.

Dopplr is currently my primary way of figuring out where I can meet friends coincidentally because it allows me to track where my travels overlap with my friends.

The only problem is that I can’t yet mark what days I’m busy so all of the extra opportunities to meet often stress my already busy scheduling. Personally, I think the net result is that we have more informed choices and opportunity, but we have to build the tools and the social norms for all of this, just like we’re having to develop them for the always-on mobile Internet.

PS I’m an investor in Dopplr.

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.

I've blogged about Continuous Partial Attention. There is a difference between having CPA and multi-tasking. Linda Stone is the person who first turned me on to this concept and now she has a wiki about Continuous Partial Attention. Yay!

Technorati Tags:

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


I recently heard about lobbyists in Europe fighting for the rights of peer-to-peer software users by employing a peer-to-peer platform to analyze the law extremely quickly.

Any other recent examples/new uses of peer-to-peer software in politics?

As a journalist, I admit to having more than a passing interest in the future of media/publishing. For "next generation" publishing, I currently see two main technical developments...

-wireless connections for ubiquitous Internet, and

-smaller and easier-to-read screens,

...that are bringing two main social changes...

-increased trust/reliance on peer-to-peer communication, and

-a more conversational style of journalism that contrasts with the previous model (that more resembled lecturing).

You can see the changes already having a concrete effect, with U.S. news magazines responding to the Internet -- in part by cutting back their foreign staff and editions.

What other broad forces (social or technical or others) will lead the next generation of publishing?

(I cross-posted this conversation on the International Herald Tribune blog)


Currently in rural southern Ireland and unable to connect to my Gmail account.

Problem could be Gmail server overload with so many people on holiday or it could be the slow dial-up connection.

It has been interesting, however, to see how I quickly turned to my blog as a form of communication to reach the outside world.

As someone who is a relatively recent convert to blogging, it reminds me of the adage that once you go digital, you never return to analog.

Having been a sceptic about blogs, I am now a convert. This is a new medium of communication that will be integrated into our lives over time.

In that vein, the BBC had an interesting piece on Digital Citizens.

Exciting to watching the emergence of digital socialization!

Videopodcasting seems an obvious candidate to take off in the next 12 months, but any thoughts on what other new aspects of digital socialization will emerge in 2006?


Just read the newly crafted elevator pitch for Benetech in a letter from Jim Fruchterman, the CEO, Chairman and Founder.

His pitch:

Benetech creates technology that serves humanity by blending social conscience with Silicon Valley expertise. We build innovative solutions that have lasting impact on critical needs around the world.
Webcams and other digital communication could give ordinary people feedback on results acheived due to donation of their money and time.

This would give the power of oversight formerly reserved for wealthy philanthropists.

Does this hint toward disruptive digital technology underming the NGO world with individualized philanthropy that cuts out the middle men?


Highlights from my story on Lunarstorm, the giant Swedish online community.

Claiming a youth audience three times larger than MTV in Sweden, two times larger than the entire readership of all of the Swedish evening newspapers combined and more members logging on daily than the total number of young Swedes watching almost every television show, Lunarstorm has become an accidental media titan here.

Lunarstorm's impact on Swedish youth is widely recognized. Church leaders used the community to console young people in the aftermath of the Asian tsunami that killed more than 500 Swedes. Meanwhile, concerns over the safety of minors prompted creation of a full-time security staff of six to scour the site for predatory behavior.

The site's question of the day - polling for anything from your favorite potato chips to political parties - garners an average of 150,000 respondents, more than any poll in Sweden apart from the actual national elections themselves.

Can closed garden communities survive - even if free - or are they Compuserves amid a more broadly emergent digital lifestyle?


Dear All,

As happened in previous posting, I am happy to revisit the issue of my guest blogging on Joi's site.

Why blog with Joi?

As Joi mentioned, I am trying to fast-forward into new media. Whether covering war, disease outbreaks or eathquakes, I always head for the frontlines.

The frontlines in blogging include the readers of Joi's blog. Great ideas have emerged in discussions here on how to combine blogging with more traditional media.

If you want to shape traditional media's interaction with bloggers, please join the discussion. If not, excuse us and rest assured that I will not be here forever (see next question).

How long will I blog here?

I blog here at Joi's invitation and would never impose on his kindness. I will be launching the first-ever blog-based column of the IHT in the coming months and will migrate the bulk of my postings over to that blog over time.

Is someone here paid by the International Herald Tribune?

Absolutely yes! I am a full-time employee of the IHT/NYT and have been for more than a decade. (Details at Other than my salary, no money changes hands.

Back to topic: Blogs and Traditional media

Funny self-observation: Just realized that in my postings I have dropped the Posted by Thomas Crampton in favor of By Thomas Crampton. That makes my online byline similar to my print byline.

Also, my blogging style has changed over time. Specific quesitions get more useful responses than general ones broad ones. You need to know what you are looking for.

What other tips to encourage discussion?


Pitch to the editors of the International Herald Tribune about launching the paper's first blog-based column went well!! (Incorporating many of the ideas from this blog.)

Sounds like I might be the first-ever official blogger of the IHT.

Still wrestling with a variety of details - technical and editorial - for version 1.0. It will be rudimentary to begin with (and quite labor intensive for me).

Thanks for further ideas and I will be counting on readers here participating through this blog (or directly on the IHT site.)

How would you prefer to give submissions:

a- I edit them from a blog-like discussion?

b- People have a limited space (100 or 50 words) to give their take on something?


On Monday the Tech editor and I will pitch the blog column idea to the top editor of the International Herald Tribune.

Great suggestions when we discussed it here earlier.

Current thinking:

The Column: Of about 700 words will appear occasionally (until we can be sure quality is high enough) in the tech pages of the newspaper.

The Title: Lessons Learned; Digital Conversation; Any other ideas? (Actually, any other ideas might be a good name!)

The Form: Could be broken into three sections of roughly 200 words or one long column if interesting enough.

The Content: Would come from you. Best, I think, to ask people to submit 100 words on a given topic. That would enforce tight writing and avoid the impossible task of trying to summarize a blog discussion. People could submit multiple items, but none longer.

The Ideas: Would come from you. But the topic would need to stay relevant to the issue of technology, since that is where the column appears.

Any thoughts? I need a strong pitch for Monday morning!!!

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Tech editor of the International Herald Tribune seems open to publishing a column of blog-generated ideas.

I need topics of interest our newspaper's readers (wealthy global audience of frequent travelers with diverse interests in politics, economic and culture).

Conversations on this blog that might work have included my postings on Global Sociology of Online Shopping or Joi's post on ideas for new inflight software.

Input welcome on:

Layout - should it be in blog-style or reworked into a newspaper format. I tend to prefer reworking it, but my editor liked the idea of experimenting with a new formatting that might resemble an online chat.

Topics - Ideas for topics that would get the best response and interest our readers. I prefer things that are less about tech-issues than about ideas that may relate to technology.

Writing form - should it be written from a blog or could it be compiled on a wiki-style platform? This would require me to lay out the format and ask for people to help filling it in, but if someone has some appropriate social software platform, it might be fun to test the concept.

Online communities - A futher thought on the above concept is that it may be fun to involve specific online communities in writing guest columns. This would mean asking for the communities - friendster, asmallworld, openbc or another one. The idea would best to use a community with a particular purpose or outlook rather than a generic one. That would allow us to explore how these communities are different. Anyone senior enough at one of these communities should feel free to get in touch.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Just returned to Paris from Munich where I went to write a story on the progress of Open Source implementation by the city government: Microsoft Chief Dines in a Linux City

The project has been troubled but is still on track.

Attended a small dinner hosted by Dr. Hubert Burda of Hubert Burda Media that was attended by the CEOs of BMW, Adidas and other major German companies. Steve Ballmer, the guest of honor, spoke briefly about Open Source and Google.

Ballmer clearly views Google as enemy number 1. He said something like Google had better watch out because the people in Microsoft will be forced to work “harder and harder and harder and harder and harder and harder until we offer better services” repeating the word half a dozen times. Quite forceful and you can see his drive.

He was also interesting about the future of the corporation when confronted with open source. Corporations offer consistency over time and user support, Ballmer argued.

Several members of the audience disagreed: “Have you ever tried to call Dell or Apple or Microsoft for a problem you have? No, you go to online forums to look up what other users recommend.”

As for consistency over time, one reason the city of Munich went for Open Source is that they were angered about being forced to pay for an upgrade to Windows XP.

They expect the savings, however, is expected not in the licensing fee for the software, but in the ability to switch service companies. If you buy Microsoft, only Microsoft can provide servicing. If you use open source, you can change service providers.

To come back to the original question: How will corporations look in a world where collaborative volunteer efforts do things for free on the Internet? Will corporations disappear?

Posting by Thomas Crampton

Time for some reflection after more than a month of blogging here courtesy of Joi.

For my part, I have found Blogs are different from journalism because:

Involvement: In blogging you engage and try to spark conversations, not lecture. You succeed by getting feedback, not by writing something conclusive. A successful posting is a work in progress.

Timing: Not so important as I thought it would be. When I blog about a news article that I wrote three days earlier, the conversation takes off as if it were new. In that way, Blogs are more like a cocktail party conversation.

Tone: Blogs are more informal and personal. You are forced the kind of self-references that most news organizations try to beat out of journalists from birth.

Opinions: Blog postings work best with strong opinions in them. This is problematic for a journalist because we are supposed to avoid that. You can often get the same effect, however, by asking sharp questions.

Length: Postings are never longer than a few paragraphs and often broken into bullet point style (like this posting)

Reporting: I have not yet done any primary reporting in order to write a Blog posting. The most I do is look up things on the web and riff off knowledge or experience I already have.

Simple and quick: Blogging takes far less time than I expected. Since it is asynchronous communication, you can log on once or twice a day or take part more actively. Very much enjoy checking in with old postings to see how the conversation has evolved.

These thoughts came yesterday in London while participating at a conference organized by Accountability on a panel hosted by Michel Ogrizek, vice chairman of Edelman, the other panelists were David Weinberger of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and John Lloyd of the Financial Times.

The audience and other panelists raised many great points - some of which I have plaguarized above - and we could only conclude that the interface between Blogs and journalism is a hot zone that will be fun to watch.

Additions and critiques to this list welcomed!

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Wrote an article on the Smallworld website.

Idea behind the site is that there is a group of interconnected people around the world who have similar interests, concerns and problems. These people are wealthy, well-traveled and well-educated. They smallworld is the invitation-only community for these people.

Could gated communities grow more common on the Internet?

Counterintuitive for an open medium, but it does allow creation of self-selected target groups for advertisers, kind of like luxury magazines. Could almost be seen as the next generation of online publication.

UPDATE: Xeni's Wired article on ASW.

more on the announcement

As you may know, I left my job a few weeks ago in order to devote myself full-time to In order to make that posssible, I accepted an investment from a group of thoughtful and influential investors. The group I chose to work with understands my commitment to maintaining the integrity of the service and the security of your data. They were also willing to take a minority stake, which will keep me in control of the future of

Union Square Ventures leads the investment group, and the other members are, Marc Andreessen, BV Capital, Esther Dyson, Seth Goldstein, Josh Koppelman, Howard Morgan, Tim O'Reilly, and Bob Young.

I'm very excited about this opportunity to focus on and put together a team to help me grow the service. My first priority is improving reliability and responsiveness, with new features following soon.


joshua schachter
joshua at

Sounds like a great bunch of investors. Congratulations Joshua. Welcome to the wonderful world of startup companies. I'm looking forward to all of the "if only we had more resources" features you have in store for us.

Launch of Sixfoo! 660°

Something from yesterday.

via Quiplash on Flickr

I'm now at the Creative Capital Conference. Free WiFi. Yay! The DNS from the DHCP didn't work though so you have to find one and enter it directly... anyway.

It looks like a very interesting conference. Some of my favorite speakers are here including Charles Leadbeater and Pekka Himanen (who I was just with in Madrid). The other speakers sound interesting too and I look forward to their presentations. I will be giving a keynote on the 18th at 11:00, doing at Q&A at 11:30 and will be on the "Publicly Financed Content" panel at 13:00.

Today, the 17th, there will an all-afternoon gathering of Creative Commons projects from across Europe. This is the first time they've assembled in one meeting and I look forwarded to hearing about all of the projects.

The mayor of Amsterdam is speaking now kicking off the talk with a quote from Richard Florida talking about how businesses seek out creative people, but people seek out cities with other creative people. He is talking about the creative capital of cities.

I've been using Richard Florida's "Creative Class" to identify the new class of people who are anti-establishment, proactive, creative, connected... you know... us. Francesco Cara and Jyri Engeström turned me on to Richard Florida's work. (Everyone else in the world appears to already have known about him once I started to get excited.) I just read Karrie Jacobs's criticism of Richard Florida and his Creative Class quoting a discussion with John Thackara, the organizer of Doors of Perception, the conference I will be speaking at next. (via Gen Kanai) It's an interesting criticism and it argues that "In other words, Florida has taken something qualitative and turned it into something quantitative." I agree with some of the points, but I think that there is a class of people who seem to have more similarities across countries than other people in the region. If you look at the proliferation of things like social networking software and blogs in countries like Brazil and Iran, I think that broadband users in these countries have more similarities to the creative class in other countries than to their parents. I think that from a social software and remix culture perspective, this is very interesting.

Clip Image001Clip Image003Clip Image004
A special form of "toothing" for Valentine's day. Encode your bluetooth device with your preferences, choose some images and participate in Bluetooth Valentine's Day. See the site for more details.

via Sander

Howard Rheingold, Lisa Kimball and I had a telephone conversation to kickoff our keynote for OSN 2005. (17 min mp3 11.2 MB). It will soon be available in other formats on

Tomorrow is the official start of the Online Social Networks 2005 conference. It will be a gathering of some interesting people in the field in an online forum and they will be charging $35 if you sign up today and $50 after that. The conference goes from February 9 through the 23rd. For more information, see their website. I will be one of the keynotes and will also be on a panel on Extreme Democracy.

I'm not sure how much of the conference will be made "public" but I'm sure that's one of the first things we'll discuss.

I was going to do more research before I posted this, but since it appears that I've created a minor epidemic in my local community, I'm posting this a bit uninformed. I received an email inviting me to, which I would normally ignore, but it was from someone who's judgment I trust. I clicked through the signup process without finally completing it, but unwittingly gave the service access to my MSN IM information. This spammed my whole buddy list with invitations. It was unintuitive to unregister even though I hadn't completed the registration process. Also, I heard from someone that if you don't unregister, the service continues to send invites to people you add to your buddy list. Anyway, I have no idea if the service is interesting, but the the fact that you invite your whole buddylist before you actually try the service and the difficulty and deleting your account makes me skeptical about it.

Anyway, I'll post more information when I get it and apologies for sending invites to people to a service I'm not even using.

This is the first time I've used rel=nofollow in a post. ;-)

Smart Mobs
Omidyar Network cooperation experiments, reputation system

The Omidyar Network reputation system is a new experiment in designing the social architecture of an online social network. We'll check back in a year and see how the architecture has influenced the Omidyar Network online community.

Something tells me that the $25,000 offered by the network to its members, to do whatever they agree to do, will energize the experiment.

When you join, you start with a feedback bank of 10 points. Your feedback bank can be given away, one point at a time, as either positive feedback or negative feedback to any member, workspace or discussion.

As you use, your feedback bank will increase, based on how you use, and what you do. You basically get more "credit" in your feedback bank the more you contribute. If you simply "lurk," which means you don't ever post a comment or start a discussion, etc., your feedback bank will grow far more slowly. If you are an active discussion participant, and you contribute to a group's workspace, your feedback bank will grow more quickly. In fact, even the act of giving feedback will help your feedback bank grow. If someone gives you positive feedback, both your score and your feedback bank will increase by one.

It will be interesting to see if the eBay like reputation system codification works in this situation. I just joined and will be lurking about. See you there.

Chiara Fox . com
LinkedIn Craziness

Everyone at PeopleSoft is going a bit nuts with getting their networks up-to-date and whatnot. Not surprising since it's a little more than a month until the axe drops upon most folks here. Invitations to LinkedIn are flying around like nobody's business.

If you search for PeopleSoft employees who have joined in the last 30 days, you get over 3,700 results. There are 5,500 or so employees listed in total which is around half of their employees. It probably has something to do with the fact that 6,000 PeopleSoft employees are supposed to get the axe today.

I guess The LinkedIn PeopleSoft Alumni Network will probably be growing soon.

PeopleSoft® Alumni Network is a non-profit, volunteer-run, professional networking corporate alumni association for former PeopleSoft employees.

If you are currently employed by Oracle|PeopleSoft, you are not eligible to join the group unless you leave the company or receive a "pink slip".

Liz has announced her new Lab for Social Computing at RIT over on Many-2-Many. I'm excited to be on the advisory board and look forward to seeing some great work from lab.

I just got the following message on Orkut.

Limit reached for number of friends

You have 1024 friends. You can only have up to 1000 friends. Before you can add more friends, you need to remove friends.

Partially because I was getting sick of social networks systems, partially because they were trying to be "exclusive" with invite only and partially because it was easy, I took the policy of saying yes to every friend request that didn't look like a fakester. Now I've found the edge of Orkut. According to Orkut, you can only have 1000 friends. I guess that's OK compared to the 150 or so for AIM. This error message reminds me a bit of real life. I know need to forget someone every time I meet someone I want to remember because I'm having a buffer overflow on my people recognition memory.

Now the question is... What do I do with my Orkut network now that I'm "done"?

I participated in the Global Voices session at the Berkman Center and promised earlier to post my thoughts. The bad news is that we didn't get far enough to come up with a conclusive plan, but the good news is that I think we have enough momentum to move forward. The discuss was quite sober and practical and was not nearly as techno-utopian as we are often criticized of being and often tend to get.

I think the key difference between this meeting and others that I have attended was the large number of mediums (Wikipedia, OhmyNews, traditional journalism, human rights organizations, bloggers, TV and radio) as well as the strong regional diversity (Iraq, Iran, Malaysia, Kenya, Korea, China, Japan, Pakistan, US and many others). Most of the people in the room were already members of a variety of organizations and projects so we tried to find a common ground. I think that we came to a consensus that freedom of speech and providing voice was extremely important and this could and should take various forms. We agreed to commit to working together to help each other in our efforts. I'll post more when we are a bit more organized, but you can see the discussion we are having on the blog, see a partial list of the participants on Hoder's wiki (it will be moved to a permanent place soon), see a log of the real-time transcripts provided by SJ and join us on #globalvoices on Freenode to chat. There are more resources on the blog. Sorry it's a bit disorganized right now. We will try to organize it more soon. One of the things we hope to do is be much more inclusive of ways to participate and not focus on any one mode. This will complicate things a bit, but I think it's worth it.

I was just on a panel with Yossi Vardi, the founding investor in ICQ.

Yossi Vardi
There are three big brands that we have created which are well known enough to have approximately 20 million or so links on Google. They are The Bible, Jesus Christ and ICQ. The first one took 3500 years, the second one 2000 years and ICQ only 8 years as of next week. As you can see, they all spread virally.

You're actually just a ball in a pachinko game in the grand scheme of things. Friendster Pachinko.

Via Xeni and Waxy

This morning I feel like an IM switchboard operator.

"Hey, ABC is hitting us 30 times a sec and our system is getting DoS'ed"

"OK, let me IM the VP Engineering at ABC"

"Here's his nick, he's waiting for your IM"


"Hey, I can't seem to reach XYZ."

"Hmmm... OK I found him. He says he'll IM you in 10 min so please hang on."

Don't get me wrong. I love being useful and the IM introductions and switch-boarding is a very high return on time for making connections. Much more efficient and useful than email stuff. It just feels funny. I feel like an operator answering calls like, "Hello Operator? Please get me the police!"

Suw blogs about Yet Another Pointless Social Network (YAPSN) issues. Interesting post and something that I've been observing myself. How can you get people to keep coming back to a Social Network Service like Orkut or Friendster once the initial fun of creating the network is gone? I think that a lot of the YAPSNs focus too much on the size of your network. When Orkut was publishing the "most networked" top 10, everyone was running to have the biggest network. It was a game. I now have 1001 "friends". Whoopie! This is incredibly useless data for me. Sending a message to all of them would be spam. I really don't have much use for Orkut's network at this point other than to fiddle around and look at pictures when I'm bored. (Some of the communities on Orkut are interesting so I drop in from time to time.)

I personally find LinkedIn useful. (Not just because Reid is my friend.) LinkedIn is not about fun. It's about work. There is really no way to have too much fun on LinkedIn, so my network is very utilitarian and I'm mostly connected to only people I actually know and would write a reference for. This is a useful data set. You'd think LinkedIn wouldn't be viral since it's not that much fun, but it's growing faster than any of the social network services.

But as Suw points out, social networking is a natural byproduct of doing things like photo sharing and music listening. I think that the way for many of these YAPSNs to survive will be to integrate with external sites such as and flickr. However, once you've grown your social network to 1001 friends, there really isn't any way to unpollute your data so at least for me, I can't imagine how Orkut could become more useful to me. I guess I could eBay my Orkut account and start again. ;-P

I found editorgrrl in my neighborhood. She and I have extremely similar taste, but she seems to have a bunch of stuff that I don't have in my profile so I listen to her personal radio a lot. I notice my profile becoming more and more similar to hers as her playlist starts to influence my playlist. I just noticed that this feels a bit like online music profile stalking...

I also realized that if you had a crush on someone, you could listen to their music all day long. You would show up in their neighborhood. You would get to know their music. Or... you would keep hitting "ban" and you would realize that you should NOT have a crush on them. ;-)

I am not recommending that this be a primary reason to use, but just a thought...

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.

Yes. Yet another social networking site... I decided to play with this one for awhile before blogging it to make sure it was significantly different. I think it is. Plazes takes your IP address and tries to figure out where you are asks for the address of where you are and maps it to the MAC address of the router you are connected to. If you are in a new "plaze" you can register it by entering the address, uploading pictures, making comments. You can see who is online and where they are. You can see people by how far away they are from you. I imagine that once it gets going, most common hang outs will have lots of comments and pictures and you will be able to find people in your vicinity to hook up with. It's a bit like a laptop version of dodgeball. I'm "Joi" on Plazes.

And in other YASNS news, I finally got my wallop (Microsoft Research's SNS) invitation. I'm "Joi" there as well.

Cory @ Boing Boing
Friendster cans coder for blogging

Joyce Park is a coder who worked at Friendster, leading the charge to re-engineer the poky, Java-based back-end with fast PHP. She blogged about it, got slashdotted, got written up in the press -- and got fired. Even though there was nothing confidential in her blog posts, the new CEO shitcanned her.

[I]t's especially ironic because Friendster, of course, is a company that is all about getting people to reveal information about themselves...
Link, Link to Jeremy Zawodny's instructions for resigning from Friendster

(Thanks, Jeffreyp!)

I can't find any more information on this story, but this sounds like pretty crappy behavior on Friendster's side. I haven't used Friendster in months. Maybe it's time to drop out.

I have my PowerBook on my insTand next to my bed with a clock screen saver alarm clock. Usually, I wake up before my alarm goes off and wake up the computer instead. As soon as my status on my IM clients goes from idle to available, I get a little flurry of requests for contact. "Did you see my email?" "When can we talk?" "Don't forget our conference call coming up." "We're on a conference call right now you might want to join." I queue up these real-time requests like some sort of air traffic controller, put on my headset hooked up to my Vonage phone and get started. Today, I started the morning with an conference call on the fly with a few people on a one of the many free conference call bridges. During the call, I got an IM that I might want to drop into another conference call in progress. After my first call, I joined the second conference call which was already well on its way. I got the URL of the wiki page of the agenda and notes via IM, scanned them, and made a few comments. Then I was off again to my next call which I had queued with someone on IRC.

My question is, am I a weirdo or an edge case for how people will work once we all have IM and voice and conference calls are free.

Pierre Omidyar the founder of eBay has a new project called the Omidyar Network. They just invested in SocialText, a wiki company that I've invested in and am on the board of. Pierre blogs about the Omidyar network and the investment in Socialtext. If you have heard of the Omidyar Network:

We believe every individual
has the power to make a difference.

We exist for one single purpose:
So that more and more people discover their own
power to make good things happen.

We are actively building a network of participants
because we know we can't do this alone.

Other investors in this Series A funding include Reid Hoffman, Mark Pincus and Jun Makihara. Full story on Socialtext page. Congrats and thanks to all involved.

Chatango is a lightweight flash based chat program that lets you put a chat window on your web page. If I'm online, you can chat with me. Otherwise you can leave me a message. I'm going to try it out in this post. If it proves to be useful, I'll give it a more thorough testing in my sidebar.

This button should let you know if I'm online or not.

I use MSN Instant Messenger, AIM, Yahoo, ICQ and Jabber and generally tried to keep groups of friends distributed across the different networks so that I wouldn't run into the buddy list limit. Today I hit my AIM buddy list limit. I think the limit is 150. For some reason, people aren't supposed to have more than 150 friends. Now, every time I want to add a friend on AIM, I have to delete someone else. I guess this might be good discipline, but I think this is a stupid feature/bug.

I get this feeling that the diffusion of new services and technologies such as blogs and social network services are not normal. Normal diffusion patterns are sort of bell curves that track mass media attention and other factors including effort on the supply side. With social network systems, there seem to be regional explosions of users. Orkut now has more Brazilians than Americans and I have yet to hear a good explanation of why. There are very uneven proportion of bloggers in different regions. The last I looked, Poland and Iran seem to have an unnaturally high number of blogs. Does the digital word of mouth nature of social software make it's diffusion faster (viral) and non-linear? Is the diffusion of other technologies in these markets and segments that are networked also change?

Is there anyone doing good work in this area? I'm sure marketers have their theories on this. I can imagine anthropologists and sociologists also studying this. What is the right way to study this?

Xeni interviewed a bunch of us for an article on social networking services and it's now online on MSNBC. The focus is whether these services are useful for business networking.

Stephanie writes about her collaborative note taking effort using SubEthaEdit and a wiki. We always talk about doing this, but I think this is the first successful case I've seen. Very cool.

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!

I'm here in Switzerland at the University of St. Gallen ISC-Symposium again. I spoke at a leadership session last year about Emergent Democracy, but felt I didn't get the most out of the conference because I didn't get a chance to get to know the students who were attending, which is why I came. The 200 or so students attending this conference are chosen from hundreds of paper submissions from all over the world and they are an diverse and interesting group. In the addition to the students, there are a lot of government and business big-shots, but I get a chance to hang out with most of these guys at other conferences. I later found out that my friend Martin has been giving the pre-conference talk to just the students to prepare them for the conference and he said that this was a blast because he got to know the students.

This year, I asked the organizing committee and was able to get them to let me participate in the pre-conference too. Martin and I got a chance to do our respective rants about politics, racism, war and a variety of other topics. We asked the students to talk about what they thought was wrong with the world and their respective regions. It was quite enlightening and we had a great mixing dinner afterwards. There were people from just about every region, but the small number participants from the Middle East and North America was interesting. I could tell that the students were actively networking and I think this process can form the basis of a really important channel of communications for the future.

I talked a bit about the possibility of using social software to support this sort of global networking so I hope everyone takes a look at blogging, wikis and other tools.

I woke up at 7:30AM when my phone beeped with an incoming SMS. It was a message telling me that Min had just checked in. I forgot to turn off dodgeball and the SMS was telling me where Min was in SF and that she had checked in. Now I know why they call it "dodgeball". ;-p For those who haven't tried it yet, dodgeball is a cool new service that is a location based SNS that lets you "check in" and it sends a SMS to your friends to tell them where you are. But it's not very useful when I'm in Madrid and Min's in SF. ;-)


Emily @ Smart Mobs
Dog Blog

Red Ferret's dog blog. (Thanks Anil). Peter Steiner's original "dog on the Internet" cartoon can be viewed in the Cartoonbank of the New Yorker.

My puppies are more into moblogging, and of course Bo and Pookie have recently joined Dogster.

I've been getting a lot of SNAM (Social Network Spam) so I'm happy to hear that LinkedIn has a new flag that you can set that prevents you from receiving invitation from people who are not in your address book. It's a bit snobbly, but it prevents you from having to turn down invitation requests from people you don't know. On LinkedIn, I generally don't accept invitations from people I don't know because the purpose of the network is to refer people to each other and you can't really write a reference for someone you don't know. Although this probably lowers the "virality", I think this feature will enhance my LinkedIn experience and hats off to Reid for implementing it.

For people who are on LinkedIn, here's the URL to set the flag. If you haven't uploaded your address book, this will effectively make it impossible for people to invite you though.

Somewhat scary, but pretty interesting Orkut datamining. An Orkut density map and a Orkut Personal Network GeoMapper. Here's a map of my network. It doesn't seem to map my complete network. It's also too bad it's not global yet.

Via Sanford

Although I had some problems with the Plaxo model, I hate hearing stories like this. Sean Parker, the founder and visionary behind Plaxo was kicked out rather rudely by the VCs. I don't know the details, but it sounds bad.

The company sent out an anonymous, terse statement that Parker is ``no longer with Plaxo,'' but called him a ``visionary, creative entrepreneur'' and ended with: ``We thank him for his hard work and wish him well.''

In reality, though, a source said Parker has been locked out, and everyone at the company has been instructed not to talk with Parker, except by way of the company's lawyer, Ray Hickson.

When contacted and asked whether this arrangement is ``normal,'' Hickson said: ``I can't discuss a client personnel matter with newspaper reporters.''

Parker himself issued a terse statement: ``While the company is moving to a new stage of its growth, the management team remains committed to executing my original vision,'' he said. ``The company remains in capable hands.''

I've founded several companies and as companies grow, the skills required to be the chief executive change. When I've founded (or helped found) companies in the past, I've usually stepped aside to allow someone with better administrative and sales skills to lead the company after it's up and running. This was the case with Digital Garage and PSINet Japan and to a certain extent Infoseek Japan. I seem to be the most useful getting things going, not running them.

As a VC/investor, I've seen my share of visionary CEOs who can't run the company, but we usually try to keep them involved in some way and stay on good terms so we can invest in their next good company. I don't see how you can continue being a VC in the valley being cruel to serial entrepreneurs.

Pierre Omidyar of eBay is probably one of the best examples of knowing when to bring on a real CEO, but staying involved as the founder. I think he and his investors were smart about this.

Jason Calacanis blogs about this on thesocialsoftwareweblog

Although I think the "socially awkward" and the "what's the point" problem of some social networking sites is a problem, I think the "suck up your email addresses from outlook" and the one click "spam all of my friends" features are the most troublesome. Stowe Boyd talks about his accidental "spam my friends with one click" episode with Zero Degrees.

Actually, what I find scarier is the way Spoke takes all of your email address from your headers and makes a network out of them. Even if you don't "join" Spoke, if someone who you exchange email with joins, you're actually already in Spoke.

I think the key is user control and a clear interface of what is happening. I think UI used to be a lot about making things "seamless". I think when you are dealing with sensitive privacy related information, your UI has to make it very clear where your data is, when it is going to be transfered to another machine, and what the privacy policy of the said machine is. Every time data moves across a boundary, the user should know this an be provided a choice. UIs that deal with personal information should be about showing the seams, not being seamless.

Ross and Judith also chime in.

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.

Apologies to friends who use Plaxo, but I'm opting out of Plaxo since it has become a source of spam for me and I feel like I'm doing all the work. Anyone who wants to find my contact info can just Google me or find it on my wiki page.

via Dan Gillmor

Ze Frank, who was on my panel yesterday has a hilarious movie. MUST See. Makes fun of Friendster, Orkut and Wallop.

And Ze is a VERY funny guy. Check out his web page.

Isn't it funny/interesting that Wallop, Microsoft's social networking project is built using flash, xml and sql while Orkut, Google's social network project is built using .Net and C#? Microsoft avoids being locked into the Microsoft platform while Orkut is completely locked in. hmmm... What does this mean?

I've been talking a lot about the Full-Time Intimate Community lately. I comes from work that Misa Matsuda is doing at her lab and I heard about this from my sister who is doing a lot of work in this area. It's a study about the mobile phone email communications of people in Japan and how people seem to keep in close contact with four or five people using a constant stream of messages. The point is that the content of the messages aren't as important as the fact that the people in this "Full-Time Intimate Community" are aware of the current state (awake, in bus, at school, happy, sad) of each other. It's a Granovetter "strong tie" community. Granovetter talks about how more valuable content flowed over "weak ties" and talked about the "strength of weak ties", but in the FTIC, it's not the "content" but rather the intimacy that is being transmitted. (Help me out here academics. I'm getting in a bit over my head. ;-p ) It's very much part of my "context vs content" rant about how presence and context is, in ways, more interesting than content and that content is just the carrier signal or substrate upon which community is built.

The fact that Glenn picked up "Full-Time Intimacy" as his title for the blog entry about the NPR SXSW audio postcard by Mary Bridges and Benjamen Walker makes me think that this word/meme has legs. ;-)

Orkut's "my friends" window seems to put the most recently active users on top. In other words, the people in your friends window are probably recently online. I have begun to use this method to find active people on IM, email or IRC.

I'm on two panels today. I am moderating this panel:

Mobile Gaming and Entertainment
Monday, March 15
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Mobile applications that succeed as commercial products require careful planning and evolution to work with cellular networks and operating systems. What are the steps leading to successful commercialization?

Joichi Ito , CEO - Neoteny
Art Min - Metrowerks
Mario Champion , Chief Creative Officer - team smartypants inc

Dave couldn't make it to SXSW so I'm taking Dave's place on this panel:
Ridiculously Easy Group Forming
Monday, March 15
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Ridiculously easy group forming is what happens when "everyone is empowered to create open channels where any blogger can contribute content," according to internet hippie Gary Murphy. This panel offers perspectives on group forming and information sharing via the latest social software tools.

Adam Weinroth , Pres - Easyjournal
Tantek Çelik , Diplomat - Microsoft
David Sifry , CEO - Technorati Inc
Pete Kaminski - Socialtext
Sam Ruby

Hope to see you there.

i_injailI was making fun of Marc Canter because he kept on ending up in Orkut jail, but I got this message today when I tried to invite a friend into Orkut.

To keep a trusted community, we have implemented an automated system that tries to identify members who may be abusing it. While your account is being reviewed, you will still be able to login, but the system will prevent you from performing any actions such as inviting friends or posting messages.

If your account has been flagged by mistake, we're very sorry. Certain actions can trigger our alarm by accident. If you think you have been mistakenly suspended, please send an email to with your username, and we'll review your account as soon as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience.

I haven't invited very many people and have only sent three private messages. I wonder what the triggers are. Maybe approving too many friend request. Hmm...

Loic's going to Germany and is trying to hook up with bloggers there.

brought to you by #joiito meetupster

At risk of being labeled an echochamberist, I'm going to agree that danah has a good point in her post about echo chambers. (See David Weinberger's article for more background.) I think it is natural to communicate most with people whom you share context and I believe that if you separate strong ties and weak ties a la Granovetter's Strength of Weak Ties, there is definitely a lot of "strong tie" hang-out-with-your-friends action that goes on on blogs. I think that's natural. Most blogs are conversations between a small group of friends.

It's clear that it's fun and easy to hang out with people you like and trust and shared context allows you to relax and communicate easily. I do not think, however, that hanging out with your friends is exclusive of caring about or listening to people outside your immediate group of friends. This is especially true if you care about diversity or the pursuit of truth. The difficulty with blogs is that a variety of contexts are collapsed and the conversation with your friends, the conversation with a larger community and the general pursuit of diversity and "triangulation" all happens in the same place.

Normally, chatting in the kitchen with my family, hanging out at a geek conference and giving a plenary at an international conference are different contexts for me where I am performing a different facet of my identity and where my mind is in a completely different mode. On my blog, I somehow mix all of these together.

I think that in the real world the amount time communicating with your strongs ties is generally greater than the amount of time communicating with your weak ties. Weak ties are like transferring information across communities and boundaries whereas communicating inside of your group is more like digesting these thoughts. I suppose the question is whether talking about things among your friends tends to reinforce and amplify misconceptions or leads to greater understanding of the issues.

On the one hand, sharing context allows you to communicate efficiently and place new ideas into existing frameworks without the risk of constantly talking past each other. On the other hand, it limits your ability to "think outside the box" and a poorly organized group probably causes mutual back-patting. I think that's what the echo chamber is currently being blamed for causing. Shouldn't we recognize the fact that people will hang out with their friends and create communities and try to focus on how use these communities together with our weak ties?

I think that the project that Ethan and I are planning is an example of this. The idea is to take a group of bloggers to Africa. The strong ties allows us to have a group of people with whom we share a context so that we can support each other and work together to think about and create action based on things we see and learn in Africa. Going to Africa is an attempt to forge weak ties with a community outside. I think that without the smaller group of friends, trying to tie my Africa experience into my daily life would be more difficult and I think that going to Africa will enrich my local community with lots of new information and culture. I think the perfect balance is what we are trying to achieve.

nohsI was excited when I got my entry in the Internet Movie Database. I was thinking about how vain it was to be excited by this. It felt like being in some sort of elite Orkut. Just like Orkut, there was a "click here to add photo".


$35 - Submit a Person's Headshot or a Film's Poster
Replace the "no headshot" or "no poster" icon on their main page with a headshot/poster or change the current headshot/poster to a new one.

$10 - Submit a Gallery Photo for a Film or Person
Add an image to your film's "studio stills" gallery or your personal "publicity photos" portfolio.

Why Do I Have To Pay?

When you use this service you get to make sure the image you want is on the first page people see when they look you up or look up your film, and/or that there are images you have chosen in the photo gallery.

Without this service, you leave all the decisions of what is used, when it is used, and if it is used, entirely up to fate and our editors.

There are many factors that make it just too expensive for us to provide this service for free, so we have to charge you for it or not provide it at all.

Ahh, the business model. ;-)

I was talking to Peter yesterday about the risk of accidentally getting on weird lists or being profiled as a threat. Hanging out with, or communicating with the wrong people online or on the phone could land you on a list that might get you hassled at the airport or worse. They apparently used social network theory to find the person who would know where Saddam was. Similarly, I could see people using all sorts of social network theory to figure out who to wiretap or hassle. The thought was that if you hang out with enough people, you might be able to confuse such analysis or profiling. Name-dropping on my blog is a form of social chaff since connections to random nodes must be confusing to analysis. I can see the gapingvoid card, now: "I'm just talking to you because you're social chaff". (Chaff is the strips of foil that fighter-planes drop to confuse radar as countermeasures to tracking.)

I finally met someone who went on dates with three people she met on Orkut. So far so good she reports.

Orkut is supplying me with a life so, via orkut, I got comped into Etech, I got a meeting with VCs, 3 dates had, three arranged, and lots of people have walked up to me and said, "oh! hi!"

I just heard from Paul Martino, the CTO and Founder of, that they were working on FOAF and RSS support for Tribe. Cool. There are going to be a lot of issues such as privacy, but I think that having companies like Tribe seriously working on FOAF will bring these issues front and center and make some of these theoretical discussions very concrete and productive.

I'll be giving a plenary keynote at MILIA in Cannes, France on Thursday, April 1 at 9:30 AM. The title of the talk will be "Mobile Lifestyles" but, I'll build on the presentation at I gave at the Sony Open Forum and add some stuff about mobility. I'll be in Canne from March 31-April 3. If you're going to MILIA this year, let me know.

Wiki page of talking notes. Please make suggestions here.

I will be moderating a panel at ETech at 2:45pm on Feb 10 called "Untethering the Social Network or What Happens to Social Networks in the Untethered Wilds?" The panelists are danah, Scott, Mimi and Howard.

It should be one of the less geeky panels at this geek-a-thon.

And yes... Mimi is my sister and Scott is my brother-in-law. This is what happens when you talk about work at home too much. This is the first time my sister and I will be on a panel together.

Untethering the Social Network or What Happens to Social Networks in the Untethered Wilds?

Joichi Ito, Neoteny
danah boyd, U.C. Berkeley
Scott Fisher, Division of Interactive media, USC School of Cinema-Television
Mizuko Ito
Howard Rheingold

Track: Untethered
Date: Tuesday, February 10
Time: 2:45pm - 3:30pm
Location: California Ballroom C

Users, not vendors, create communications revolutions, and the untethering of social networks from desktops promises a user-generated revolution over the coming decade as profound as the Internet revolution of the 1990s and PC revolution of the 1980s. This panel addresses how the coordinated actions of diverse connected users challenge fixed visions of technology deployment, particularly as social software migrates from the desktop into the mobile settings navigated by handhelds. We will discuss how undisciplined behaviors and places push back on models of social software and how this can and should affect technological development. We will consider the role of social networks in the development of and participation in mobile technology. Case studies used in this conversation include pervasive gaming, media mixes, mobile texting, and mobile blogging. This panel presents a good opportunity to discuss the role of social research in technology development.

The "hot" Reverend AKMA says about Orkut, "That’s the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it."

danah has finally posted her long awaited rant on Orkut. Orkut, in case you don't know, is the social networking site developed by a guy at Google. Orkut also means "orgasm" in Finnish. I've been through so many of these now that I'm playing around. When it's running, it's fast so I'm adding everyone I recognize, (I guess danah would call this "misbehaving") and trying to beat Marc Canter in my local game of "king of the mountain." Lucky for me, he's been thrown in jail. Orkut's kind of like... people surfing. As danah says, I do not yet know what I'm going to do when I get there, but I'm sure there'll be another toy to play with by then. ;-)

Joking aside, it's a nice interface and seems to aggregate a lot of features from other similar services, but I agree with danah's points.

I've been invited to be say something at the Social Computing Symposium at Microsoft. I'm looking forward to hanging out with some of my favorite people. (Maybe the first opportunity for me to speak at the same conference as my sister too...) I'm REALLY interested in what Microsoft is thinking about this space, and it appears that they are doing a lot of thinking.

Hugh aka gapingvoid, one of my favorite online cartoonists, let me pick a cartoon and sent me 500 business cards with my contact info on once side, and this image on the other. After getting a stack of 500 cards that say, "You are the most important person in my Life" I realized the irony and realized that maybe I chose the wrong phrase. ;-p

I do think his idea of cartoons on business cards is a cool idea.

So what I need is a bunch of different cards ranging from "You are the most important person in my Life" to "Talk to the hand." Then I can choose which cards to give to people. This would be the intentional physical version of what Cory doesn't like about social software.

Of course, I would only give "Talk to the hand" to someone as a joke... really.

Lou Marinoff described one definition of Justice as "doing the right thing at the right time." He continued by explaining that it means you have to define "right thing".

There are at least eleven ways of being right.
  1. deontology - rules tell us what is right and wrong
  2. teleology - The end justifies (or sanctifies) the means
  3. virtue ethics - goodness comes from virtues, which are like habits
  4. humanistic existentialism - what we choose to do determines what we value
  5. nihilistic existentialism - "God is dead." And we killed him. So all moral bets are off
  6. analytic ethics - "Goodness" cannot be defined or analyzed
  7. correlative ethics - every right entails an obligation, and vice-versa
  8. sociobiology - ideas of "right" and "wrong" are motivated by our genes
  9. feminist ethics - women have different moral priorities: e.g. ethics of caring
  10. legal moralism - if it's legal, it's ethical
  11. meta-ethical relativism - each situation has its own unique ethical dimension

Aeons ago, Clay asserted that power-laws existed in blogs and that it was in-equal but fair. Maybe he is basically being a deontologists with a bit of legal moralism thrown in. The rules are fair so it's OK. Marko (a philosopher among other things) asks the question, "So the interesting question this raises is: What are the principles if satisfied that would show the blogging world to be a just institutional structure? And the meta-level question: How would we justify these principles to each other?" I know that Marko is an expert on "justice" and my simple explanation above is far to simple, but this dialog about whether blogs are fair, good or just forces us to examine what we mean by fair, right and just. I think that in order for us to justify these principles, we might need to define Virtue. (Since defining "right" is so difficult.) According to Lou:

Aristotle said that Virtue is the Golden Mean between two extremes. It was all about balance. "Rational" comes from "ratio". The idea was to triangulate from two extremes of vice. For example, Courage is the mean between cowardice and rashness.
I know Dave Winer likes the word "triangulation" and the blogs are good at that. Is it possible that blogs can help us get out of the echo chamber and achieve the Aristotelian Virtue of the Golden Mean? (I know many people disagree with this, but I continue to believe as I argued in my Emergent Democracy paper that this is possible.) danah expresses her opinion that blogs are not an equalizing technology and that it is the a technology for the privileged. To her, fair (and probably just) isn't about having rules that are difficult to game, but rather about being available and designed to promote equality. She is probably more of a teleologist with a bit of correlative ethics and feminism thrown in. (Sorry, just playing with the labels a bit. Don't mind me.)

To finally tie it into the discussion about technological determinism vs social constructivism, I think we need to be aware that we have an active effect on how the architecture of this technology evolves. I don't think we can yet "show the blogging world to be a just institutional structure", but rather we can try to determine what is just and strive to make the blogging world into something we feel is just. This requires us to dive into some of the questions that even Aristotle didn't answer. What is right? What is just? Hopefully the tools themselves will help guide this discussion, but rather than be nihilistic or deterministic, I think we should be actively involved in a dialog that best represents a consensus of our views. In order for this to be just, we must try be as inclusive as possible of everyone and on this I agree with danah. The tool is not yet inclusive. I think that blogs are right in many ways, but are far from right in many others. How can we try to make blogs as right and just as possible. I think that this is the question that faces us today.

I remember when everyone shouted into their cell phones and thought that their batteries drained faster when they made long distance phones. I remember when people (who now have cell phones) swore to me that they'd never have a cell phone. I remember when cell phones looked more like military radios. I think it's fine to gripe about technology, but I would warn those people who swear they'll never use a technology. Technology evolves and so do social norms.

We've been having a dialog recently about the relationship between social norms and technology. I think this is part of the same dialog. New technologies disrupt our habits and our norms and what we feel comfortable with. I am an early adopter type who uses every technology possible and I try to wrap my life around it all. Some people try the technology and point out the tensions. Some people ignore the technology. Technology evolves along with the social norms. When it works well, we end up with a technology that contributes to society in some way and becomes a seamless part of our social norms. When it doesn't work well it either damages society or does not integrate and is discarded.

Being the techno-utopian optimist that I am, I think that writing off Skype and IM as annoying is a big mistake. They are what military radios were to the cell phones of today. I think it's important to take what David Weinberger and danah have to say about the tensions they create and thinking about how to make presence more granular, how to make it easier to manage the emission of your presence information and control access to you. What DOES free VoIP really mean? Can it be a background thing that allows us to continue to focus on our work instead of being an interruption? I am very excited by IM and VoIP and think that the tensions and the annoyances they are creating is a good a reason as any to dive into the privacy, identity, presence and interop issues that we've been talking about for so long. The more annoying it becomes, the more people will care about these issues.

I'm giving a speech about the future of the Internet tomorrow afternoon from 2:30pm-3:30pm JST. The speech will be at the Rakuten New Year party. (Rakuten acquired Infoseek Japan and I am now on the Portal Group advisory committee.) I'll try to stream it, but it will be in Japanese. My slides are in English and I've put my outline on my wiki. Please feel free to add comments or links to examples on the wiki. The outline just lists the topics I will cover, but not what I'm going to say. ;-)

I'll be giving live demos of #joiito and IM so if you're around, I might ping you.

I'll be using keynote exported to QT inside of Safari with my examples loaded in tabs.

The latest version of the Keynote QT is here.

GRIPE : Keynote doesn't let you put hyperlinks in presentations. They should either figure out some way to embed Safari inside of a Keynote presentation or allow hyperlinks. Apple Computer presentations use two machines, one for browsing and one for Keynote. Doh. Not very user-friendly.

I will be streaming this if I have enough bandwidth. Copy and paste this URL into QuickTime rtsp:// (Warning. Japanese.)

UPDATE: Sorry folks. Didn't have a Net connection so couldn't connect to IRC or get Hecklebot working.

Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten, Masuda, CEO of CCC/Tsutaya and me. Photo by Ms. Noumura.

First of all, I'm glad I'm not an academic. I wouldn't have known what a technological determinist was or how insulted one could be being called such unless danah had explained this to me awhile ago. But... now that I am sensitized, I would have to respond to Lago's claim that we are assuming technological determinism by saying that we clearly are not. Many under-estimate the impact that technical decisions have on society. Lessig's book "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace" drives this point home. On the other hand, many technologists underestimate the impact that social norms have on technology. I think it's a process and a balance that we are striving to achieve, which is very difficult considering the completely different languages these worlds speak. Laws about technology and marketing of technologies are typically where the rubber meets the road, but this is very narrow and is like trying to have a love affair through litigation or polling. I THINK what we're trying to come up with is a method that allows everyone to participate in the process of developing technologies and norms. Social software and blogs are really an amazing example of a community where technologists and users are working closely together. Is there something we can learn from this process that we can apply more generally and expand?

Ross has a good roundup of posts about this thread.

A few days ago, I quoted Wendy Seltzer in a entry about building norms together with the technologies.

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.
danah responds with an interesting point.
I think it is quite dangerous to believe that social norms are "falling behind." Social norms aren't behind; they're baffled at the direction in which things are going. They're pushing for a different direction and they aren't being heard. People are using technology to meet their needs, but they are not prepared for how the architecture is pulling them in a different direction.

Arguing that social norms can fall behind suggests that there is a hierarchy to the four points of regulation. Those points are valuable in discussion because they provide tensions. Social norms pull in different directions than the market, the law or the technology. This does not mean that it is behind. Quite often, social norms leapfrog everyone else. For example, social norms pushed Napster into creating an architecture that challenged the market and the law. It wasn't that the market was behind, but that it was pulling in a different direction and with a new tension, things need to be worked out.

Thus, rather than thinking about how social norms are behind, i truly believe that we should be understanding why social norms are pulling in a different direction. What does this say about the population being served by the technology?

This is a good point. A agree with danah that it is probably not a hierarchy. Sometimes there is a tension and sometimes norms drive technology.

I am reminded of the days when pagers were really popular among the youth in Japan. Back in the day, the pagers only sent numerical codes so kids came up with special codes to mean a variety of things such as "I love you" or "see you at 6pm". There were eventually code books published with a variety of numerical codes for phrases. You would see kids touch typing with two fingers encoded messages on public phone REALLY FAST. This was a technology being pushed beyond the limits of the designers by a need in society and a whole social norm built around a pretty skimpy architecture. These pagers eventually became alpha-numeric and when text messaging became available on cell phones, kids switched to cell phones. It is this pager culture from which the text messaging culture emerged and it was this youth culture that the carriers were tracking and designing their products for.

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.

How many people who blog know that many blogs automatically send trackbacks or send pings to pingers sites like How many bloggers know that these pings trigger services like Technorati to include their posts in an index and that any mention of my blog in their private diary cause a link to their diary to show up in my sidebar within minutes? One of the things that some of us forget is that it's not all about attention. Most people want a little more attention than they get, but they usually want it from the right people and only when they feel like it. One of the problems of using the "big time bloggers" to design the technology is that we often forget that many people would rather NOT have their contexts collapsed.

I've recently had the experience of receiving inbound links from people who write very personal diaries. I struggled when trying to decide whether I should comment, link to them or otherwise shed attention on a conversation or monologue that appeared to be directed at someone other than me or my audience. A lot of people will say at this point that posting on the "world wide web" is publishing to the public and information wants to be free, yada yada... I would disagree. The tools are just not good enough yet. Live Journal has a feature that allows you to post entries that only your friends can see. I would love to be able to add special comments interspersed in my blog posts for only my close friends.

I know the point is to keep it as simple as possible, and I can already hear the arguments, but wouldn't it be useful if there was a way to manage your audience better on a blog by blog or a post by post basis? It might also make sense to be a bit more explicit to new bloggers/journalers about what the consequences of pinging/trackbacking is.

I remember a message board where activists were preparing to march in protest against the wiretap law in Japan. This message board showed up in search engine results. A well-meaning policeman dropped into the message board and mentioned that they might want to get a permit. The community was in flames about being "wiretapped". So this isn't a new problem. Just bigger. What technology actually does and what people expect it to do are very different so the "technically speaking" answer is not always the real answer. Also, the tensions caused by the technologies should be viewed as opportunities for the innovators.

The Dean for Iowa Game just went online. It's cute and fun and captures the spirit of being a supporter. I'm glad to have played my own little part in making this happen. The game was developed by Ian Bogost and his team at Persuasive Games. Ian contacted me through LinkedIn. LinkedIn routed his request for contact via a mutual friend, Ian McCarthy who vouched for Ian Bogost. I took that request and forwarded it to Britt Blaser who is working with the Dean campaign. Britt is "Mr. Execution" and before I knew it, The Dean for Iowa Game happened. Congratulations to all involved!

Barlow and I did an audio IChat AV session yesterday. Barlow has some interesting thoughts about this on his blog. When I was in Helsinki, Matt Jones also talked about how he kept Skype on all the time in the background with his partner who was in another country and felt her presence through the ambient sounds. Another person told me about how he listened to his daughter's piano practice on Skype.

My sister calls it "ambient virtual co-presence" in her paper (pdf) about Japanese mobile culture. She talks about this in the context of texting and talking on the mobile phone. She discusses how the value was not always in the content being exchanged, but in the fact that people felt connected when they were constantly exchanging traffic. The "connection" can be IM, voice, text messages or just about anything that allows you to feel someone's presence.

Over a decade ago, Barlow blew my mind with his essay, "Selling Wine Without Bottles: The Economy of Mind on the Global Net" I think the next one is, "It's not the wine, it's the company" or something.

As Barlow points out, when all this stuff becomes literally free, we can do it "always on" instead of being so m-time "hello/goodbye" about phone calls. I do think audio will become a part of presence. My sister focuses on how mobile computing is a seamless part of our real world instead of the traditional "real life/cyberspace" notion of something we are either in our not. I think combining these two things is an area that will really change the way we live our lives for better or for worse.

I've had blogger's block lately. As more people read my blog, I realize that I am writing for larger and larger audience. Just about every time I post something, I get thoughtful comments and email from a variety of perspectives. I realize that post early/post often is probably the best policy for blogging, but the rigor in which entries are discussed and the increasing percentage of people who I meet who have read my blog cause me to try to blog about things which are interesting yet not likely to cause me to spend a lot of time defending myself. The fact is, I'm becoming more and more conservative about what I blog.

danah boyd often talks about the collapsing of the facets of our identity. (As I continue to collapse her context by linking to her constantly.) She quotes an article about "Mom Finds Out About Blog". This relates to Erving Goffman's "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" where he talks about how we perform differently to different audiences presenting different facets of our identity. The problem with many blogs is that the audience includes so many different communities of people that it collapses the facets of one's identity and requires you to choose a rather shallow facet which becomes your public identity. For instance, I know that people in the US State Department, friends from my Chicago DJ days, my employees, my family, thoughtful conservatives from Texas, cypherpunk friends, foreign intelligence officers, Japanese business associates and close friends all read my blog occasionally. In real life, I present a very different facet of my identity to these different communities, but on my blog I have to imagine how all of them will react as a craft these entries. None of them get the depth that I am able to present when I am performing for them directly. So, although I am exposing many personal thoughts such as my decision to quit drinking, the depth of my identity is becoming shallow because the context is collapsed. Most of the truly thoughtful comments I have received about my drinking have been in email and IM and I am sure my blog will not help me discover my inner goofball.

Halley writes about intimacy. What does it mean? I think intimacy relates to the Robin Dunbar's magic number 150. At this moment there are 87 people hanging out on #joiito and 216 people in my instant messenger buddy list (some are the same people). On the other hand, I have 490 connections in LinkedIn, have 510 phone numbers in my cell phone and get about 1000 new years cards. On my blog, I get about 13,000 unique sessions (30,000 page views) per day. Today, I attended a fund-raising meeting for a non-profit, and a political campaigner said that generally, one was expected to have to shake 50,000 hands to get elected.

Ross Mayfield broke the networks down into political, social and creative at 1000's, 150 and 12, but my feeling is that the political layer is 10's of thousands and next layer is business at 500 and social at 150 and creative at 12. This is not scientific, but just my personal observation. If this is true, this blog is approaching the political layer which explains why I feel that I get more business done on LinkedIn, but I feel much more candid and happy on IRC and Chat and why I still really love dinner conversations most of all. I think that if you can manage the audience size and composition on your blog, you can tune it to any of these layers. Mena often talks about how blogs are more about normal people blogging with their friends than about pundits competing against the media. I would agree and think this may be more rewarding at an emotional level than taking your blog to the political level. What you have to be careful of is that you never know when you might suddenly become popular or when your mom might drop into your blog and your context will collapse around you. Managing your audience and the facets of your identity is a very difficult thing and navigating this has and always will be one of our biggest challenges both in the real world and online.

Blogging about not being able to blog...

Ars Electronica, which is always on the cutting edge of expression using new technologies and has created a new category called "Digital Communities". I will be on the jury with Howard Rheingold, Jane Metcalfe and several other people I'm looking forward to meeting.

Among the projects, phenomena and fields of activity subsumed under the heading Digital Communities are:

social software
eDemocracy, eGovernment, eGovernance
emergent democracy
collective weblogs, social networking systems
filtering and reputation systems
social self-support groups
learning and knowledge communities
computer supported collaborative processes
gaming communities
digital neighborhoods, community networks
free net initiatives, wireless LAN projects
digital cities, urban development projects
citizen involvement initiatives, citizen conferences


Total: 40,000 Euro

2 Golden Nicas
10,000 Euro each

4 Awards of Distinction
5,000 Euro each

Up to 14 Honorary Mentions

Please see the web page for more details, but I look forward to seeing your submissions.

I've recently been communicating with danah quite a bit about her identity related work. She's got a very unique research style which I identify with. I like to immerse myself in what I'm trying to learn and use myself as the test subject. It must be harder to do this as an academic, but danah seems to be able to do it. She immerses herself, but leave enough room to be objective. Good article about her and her work in the New York Times.

I had an iChat with my sister Mimi last night. (Luna and Eamon are my niece and and nephew 3 and 5)

iChat with Mimi
Mimi: It's so funny... watching Luna and Eamon. they are sure that they are going to get married. They were both so crushed when we broke it to them that it is not the way it works, though now Luna's latest is that she is going to marry her best friend haley

Joi: hehe

Mimi: kids are so great because they don't buy the societal expectations yet

;-) I thought this was great. I've been thinking a lot about identity after danah boyd helped connect my notions of identity on the level of privacy and security and identity on the level of my personal identity as a Japanese/American chanponite. I promise to post my notes from this weekend which will put a sharper point on this from a Japanese identity perspective, but what is amazing as you start to deconstruct the notions of identity is how contextual, cultural and artificial it is. I think that approaching the issue of identity from a technical perspective or a "productivity tool" perspective is the wrong approach and that we have to listen to the sociologist and anthropologists in this space A LOT MORE before we get too far down the road.

Lucky for me I've got a sister in this space too. ;-)

I was just looking at my United Airlines mileage online and realized that I'll hit the 100,000 mile mark with United on this next trip I'm making. Looking at my travel patterns, it seems to be tracking my network that has expanded over the last few years through people I've met online. My body is like a packet that's chasing around the bits.

I've also started getting invitations just about every day to parties all over the world. "Just in case you're in the neighborhood." This is really weird. The funny thing is, sometimes I am in the neighborhood. I wake up each morning often not sure what city I'm in or in a mild panic because the city I was in in my dream is not the city I'm in right now.

I know many people who travel more than I do, but I'd been pretty grounded for the last few years so this year has been a fresh experience for me. Connectivity like my Danger Sidekick, wifi in airports, IRC, my blog, wiki and all of the other social software stuff has made travel a much more enjoyable experience. I feel like I have friends in every region, I'm rarely lonely, and with IM and IRC, there are always a bunch of friends to hang out with while I wait in airports or take cabs around town. The fingerprinting and possible harassment at the US border is the sand in the vaseline. (And I don't remember where I got that metaphor, but I like it. Someone used it in reference to copy protection I think.)

Maher Arar, a dual Canadian-Syrian citizen was arrested at a stopover in JFK in New York and deported to Syria by the US government. It seems to be unclear how they decided he was a "suspected terrorist" but it took close to a year in a prison in Syria and a lot of torture for them to decide that he was OK to be sent back to Canada. Obviously, it's probably easier for a Syrian national to get on a "list" than a Japanese, but this really scary. They say he had had a relationship with another suspected terrorist who is also being imprisoned and tortured now in Syria. He says he barely knew the guy.

So what does this mean for us? If we meet someone, we should not "become friendly" with them until we are certain that they are not a suspected terrorist. What does this mean? We need to make sure they don't hang out with other suspected terrorists. So if you believe in six degrees, it's likely at some point you will be a suspected terrorist.

How do they know if you hang out with someone? Friendster? LinkedIn? Your email? We need to be VERY careful about the privacy of not just the content of our communication, but the privacy of who we are in touch with, often called sigint, or signal intelligence.

Seriously though, this will cause a chilling effect on meeting, calling, emailing or otherwise "being in touch with" anyone who you don't know very well that could land you on the "suspected terrorist" list.

For articles about the Maher Arar case, just do a google news search. The article where he finally talks to the media directly is here.

Seth Godin did an article for Fast Company about how I use my blog and IRC and am adapting my work-style to the social software. His perspective is interesting. I hadn't thought of it as a "virtual organization". I'm also glad he got this part right:

Seth Godin
It's important, though, to not think of this as Joi's powerful new network or Joi's group. "Joi Ito is no longer a name, it's a place," he says. He coordinates a collective, one in which he's a member, not the chief.

Thanks Seth!

Spent part of the day at Disney Sea with Mizuka for her birthday. There were lots of lines and lots of crowds. When we encountered crowds I realized that my behavior was a bit different than most of the people, but obviously not unique. I would avoid crowds and try to go in the opposite direction of crowds. If I noticed I was near the front of a crowd or ahead of a crowd, I would accelerate and try to stay ahead. Otherwise I would change course or go the other direction. If there were lines, I would choose the shortest one.

I saw some people doing exactly the opposite. Even though there were ticket windows open, they would go to where people were lined up. If there was a crowd, it often attracted more people. Even if people were ahead of the pack, they walked slowly and were engulfed by the crowd.

I think investing and business development is a bit like a theme park where new rides are opening and various things changing, with the crowds rushing from one area to another. I think you should focus on trying to find cool things to do in less crowded spaces. Don't be worried because there's no one there yet. You should try to stay ahead of the crowd if the crowd is headed in the same direction. If you see the crowd coming your way, get your business done quickly.

The social software space is starting to feel a bit crowded. ;-) I think we're still near the head of the crowd, but pretty soon it's going to feel like a crowded Disneyland ride I think... This doesn't mean I'm going to start running in the opposite direction, but there are lots of things we need to do before the follow-the-pack'ers all arrive.

Socialtext announced the released version 1.0 of their workspace package. It's groupware thingie for enterprise. I'm using it for a lot of my workgroups. It's basically a wiki with a blog-like feature that sort of looks nice and has login, which makes it not really a wiki, but not a blog... I guess it's a workplace. Anyway, as you know, I love this kind of alchemy.

They also announced Kwikspace based on Kwiki as an open source project.

Disclosure: I'm an investor in Socialtext

I will be facilitating a session today on community at Bloggercon at 1:30pm. I'll be on IRC so drop by if you're free. Some talking notes here.

UPDATE: Thanks for everyone that dropped in. It was a lot of fun. Special thanks to Kevin Marks for the tech and other support. Picture on Bloggercon page.

Tim Oren rants about how metadata is NOT the next big thing. He quotes Cory's 2001 often cited Metacrap rant. Both good rants. But I disagree. I think that blogging tools allows the producer of the content to enter metadata about the micro-content much more easily than ever before. If you're writing about a book, you'll enter the ISBN number because you want to get the cover art and the affiliate link to Amazon. You'll insert the GIS info into a picture you take on your camera phone because it's just one button away. You'll create your FOAF file so you can search for friends of friends near you. I agree that the discussion about the name spaces and the semantics is messy, but I think it's silly to write off metadata as a pipe dream. Have been to All Consuming lately? How do you think that works? MusicBrainz and Creative Commons are also non-metacrap metadata projects.

Fortune's David Kirkpatrick just posted his story on social-networking sites. My obsession with LinkedIn is cited in the story.

When I was in New York, I met Britt Blaser and Josh Koenig. They came to the Six Apart meeting. They are both working on the Dean campaign and it was great talking to them. I had seen both of their names online and I tried to store their faces in the approximate location in my brain of where I thought I had remembered seeing them online. Then when I was reading an entry on Britt's blog about how much fun they were all having working on the campaign, I clicked thru to Josh and remembered Josh was Outlandish Josh. I was on the phone with David Kirkpatrick of Fortune yesterday so Fortune magazine was fresh in my mind. I remembered that I met someone at the Fortune conference in Aspen who was a "friend of Josh, Outlandish Josh." A few more synapses fired and now Josh has unique spot in my brain. The problem is, I remember people mostly by their first name and there are also Josh and Josh. There are way too many Daves and surely a lot of Ross's. Lots of neuronal name space collisions. On IRC people naturally pick nicknames so there are no name collisions and I find it convenient to remember and refer to people by their IRC nicknames. (Although it's a pain when they contain non alpha-numeric characters.)

I wonder if there is any way for social software to help me remember people and keep them sorted and in context in my brain... Maybe photo albums, my own blog and links to other blogs is maybe the best way. I wonder if I should make a search engine for my own blog instead of using Google so I can sort comments by person and display inbound and outbound links, link to Technorati ID's and other cool things. Maybe I can get Jibot to help...

IBM has a very cool project called "History Flow" that visualizes the evolution of documents and the interactions of multiple collaborating authors. There are many interesting views. They are using wikis for this.

Thanks for the link Clay!

Brendyn has created a page that lists the online/offline status from jibot as titles and links to all of the recent blog entries of the regulars on #joiito from their RSS feeds. Very cool!

Technical synopsis from Brendyn

M. S. Granovetter .The strength of weak ties : A network theory revisited. In Sociological Theory (1), 1983. is an important paper for understanding social software. Unfortunately, it's an academic paper and therefore NOT ONLINE. (I'll rant about that later). In the paper, Granovetter describes strong ties and weak ties. Strong ties are your family, friends and other people you have strong bonds to. Weak ties are relationships that transcend local relationship boundaries both socially and geographically. He writes about the importance of weak ties in the flow of information and does a study of job hunting and shows that jobs are more often found through weak ties than through strong ties. This obviously overlaps with the whole 6 degrees thing. I do believe there are some "nodes" but think that it is much more complex than a simple power law with a few number of local maximums.

After reading Shannon "Pet Rock Star" Campbell's piece on her quest for a job at a temp agency and the "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" page, I decided to look at all of "this stuff" from the perspective of jobs.

I was recently at an advisory board meeting for a trade school. We had just done a survey of employers asking for what they their primary criteria for choosing new employees was and it was overwhelmingly about execution and character and very little about skills. Skills, they said, could be taught later. I believe that "character" in the context of a job is your self-esteem and your passion for what you are doing.

What I would like to assert is that social software can help people with their self-esteem and can also help you find others who can find your assets and interests more valuable and place people in jobs where one can have "character". I wrote about this self-esteem thing earlier and in a trackback on that item, you can find a link to "Exhibit A". Boris writes first hand about the development of his self-esteem through blogs and IRC.

Shannon is a really interesting "case" for me. She is witty, has great character, is a brilliant musician, is a poster-child for the Creative Commons (I first heard of her when Larry Lessig was raving on about her over lunch), and she's worried about her interview at a temp agency in South Carolina. Something's wrong here. I know several other people on my IRC channel who are looking for jobs where they are surrounded geographically by people who don't understand or are unable to "leverage" the assets of that individual.

What I can see emerging is a way to amplify the strength of weak ties. (I knew this before, but it's becoming more crisp to me now.) IRC allows me to see the style and personality of many of the people online. Blogs help me see what their interests are and focus is. LinkedIn provides a professional context for referrals. I think that supporting the process of developing your assets and character and finding a job that best suits you will be one of the single most important benefits of social software. I know I've been ranting about Emergent Democracy and about level 2 and 3 in Maslow's hierarchy of Needs, but I just realized that social software may be most important in addressing level 1, finding the job that brings home the bacon. I know this is stupid of me and everyone is saying "doh" right now, but this, to me, is a big "ah ha".

I recently hired two people who were IRC regulars. I felt very comfortable after "getting to know them" over the last few months on IRC. Of course face to face meetings and interviews were essential, but the time spent with them on IRC really added to my ability to judge their character. I realize now that I am actively recruiting from my network of weak ties on the Net and also using the Net to meet interesting people to connect with others who might be good collaborators for those interesting people. The Net has always been a big part of my arsenal of networking tools, but I think it's reaching a whole new level.

Xeni's on NPR today talking about Friendster, LinkedIn and other social networking tools.

Here's the RealMedia stream.

Khalid on #joiito pointed me to the following article.

New Scientist
Email experiment confirms six degrees of separation

Despite enabling almost instantaneous global communication, email appears not to have made the world a more close-knit community.

It's an interesting article about how an email six degrees experiment shows we are no closer than when Milgram did his famous experiment in 1967. (Milgram did an experiment which resulted in the assertion that we are only six hops away from anyone else in the world.) I referred to Milgram's famous experiment in my Emergent Democracy paper. When the paper was being reviewed by Shumpei Kumon, he referred me to Six Degrees by Duncan J. Watts and pointed out to me that Watts writes about Judith Kleinfeld who found that Milgram's experiment was flawed. I removed the reference in my paper. Milgram's six degrees experiment is so widely referenced that it has become almost an urban legend, but it DID NOT show that the world was connected by six degrees, it just got us thinking about it. I think the phenomenon is real and the "small-world problem" is a very interesting field, but people should stop quoting the Milgram study as fact. The email experiment referred to in the article is being conducted by Duncan Watts as well and he has a web page with more info.

Duncan Watts
The Psychologist Judith Kleinfeld stumbled onto what nows seems like a classic instance of such misplaced faith while she was teaching her undergraduate psychology class. [...] Remember that Milgram started his chains with roughly three hundred people, all of whom were trying to get their letters to a single target in Boston. The story everyone tells has the three hundred people living in Omaha, but a closer look reveals that one hundred actually lived in Boston! Furthermore, of the almost two hundred in Nebraska, only one-half were randomly selected. [...] The other half were blue-chip stock investors, and the target, of course, was a stockbroker. The famous six degrees is an average over these three populations, and as you might expect, the number of degrees varies quite a bit between them, with the Boston natives and the stock investors managing to complete chains more successfully and with fewer links than the random Nebraska sample.

Remember also that the surprising finding about the small-world claim is that anyone can reach anyone--not just people in the same town or people with strong common interests, but anyone anywhere. So really the only population that satisfied, even remotely, the conditions of the hypothesis as it is usually stated (even by Milgram himself) was the ninety-six people picked out of the Nebraska mailing list. At this point the numbers starts to get disturbingly small: of ninety-six starting letters in that population, only eighteen reach the target.

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

"Small, Green Pieces of Paper"

Douglas Adams
From the radio script for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western spiral arm of the galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this, at a distance of roughly ninety million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet, whose ape descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea. This planet has, or had, a problem, which was this. Most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small, green pieces of paper, which is odd, because on the whole, it wasn't the small, green pieces of paper which were unhappy. And so the problem remained, and lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches. Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake coming down from the trees in the first place, and some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no-one should ever have left the oceans. And then one day, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl, sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realised what it was that had been going wrong all this time and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no-one would have to get nalied to anything. Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone, the Earth was unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass and so the idea was lost forever.
This obviously has a lot to do with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
  1. Safety/security: out of danger
  2. Belonginess and Love: affiliate with others, be accepted
  3. Esteem: to achieve, be competent, gain approval and recognition
When people are struggling to survive and be safe they don't have much time to worry about #2 and #3. Now that part of the world is relatively safe and well fed, we're stuck trying to figure out #2 and #3. Listening to CDs, watching TV and playing video games helps you forget that no one loves you and that you have no self-esteem, but doesn't address the basic problems. I have a sense that blogging can help your self-esteem, help you find more people like yourself and increase your sense of belonging. Services like meetup can take this to the real world. I really think that we have the opportunity to address some of the basic problems in the human condition through the development of social software. I'm sure there is a business model in here somewhere, but I'm fascinated by the idea of technology helping people build self-esteem and communities. I know that we've had tools for awhile now and online communities are not a new thing, but I think the barrier to entry continues to decline and the tools keep getting better. I'm also quite interested in how this relates to mobile phones. hmm...

On July 4, I mentioned here that I thought it would be cool if we made a hecklebot and I started a wiki page about it. Many people from #joiito contributed. Then on July 12, David Beckemeyer aka twostop actually built one. I received it yesterday and got it running. The same day, the hecklebot project was mentioned in the New York Times.

New York Times
In the Lecture Hall, a Geek Chorus
July 24, 2003
Meanwhile, Mr. Ito is already creating a new riff on the concept. He said he was working with a group on designing a "hecklebot," a light-emitting diode screen that displays heckling messages that are typed during online chats at conferences. "I want to make something that I can put in a suitcase and take to conferences," he said. He describes it as a subversive device that will get people thinking about the significance of the back channel. From the chat room, he said, "you could send something like, 'Stop pontificating.'
What's so great about all this is that it's like the good old days of TCP/IP and HTML when most projects are small enough that one person can hack together really useful tools and everything moves quickly without proposals, flowcharts and approvals. The idea to working demo time cycle is SO short right now. With weblogs, wikis and IRC, feedback, support and testing is extremely efficient.

Ross blogged about the article first and Liz has some thoughtful comments about the article and the idea of the back channel.

Dan also blogs about the article.

My investors, my readers and a variety of other people keep trying to get me to explain what I'm interested and why I'm interested in it. Here's a first shot at this. Thanks to Steph, Kevin Marks and others on #joiito for a first pass edit. I've put it on the wiki as well so we can continue to work on this.

Context instead of content

Attention is moving from commercially produced content to dynamic or contextual content. An example of this is the shift of Japanese youth spending from CD purchasing to karaoke to cell phone messaging. CDs let you passively consume content produced by companies. Karaoke is more interactive - you are part of the content. With Cell phone messaging, the customer creates the content. From a copyright viewpoint, CDs are strongly protected. Karaoke is less protected and usually licensed in bulk, and messaging has very few copyright issues. With 20 million camera phones in Japan alone, text messaging is adding photo sharing, making conversations look more and more like content publishing. Small morsels of content, created by users and shared is called micro-content, as opposed to expensive commercially produced and protected content.

Networked consumer electronics devices will make PCs less relevant

With each new wave of computing devices, from mainframes to mini-computers to PCs to game consoles to consumer electronics devices, there is a huge increase in volume causing a dramatic decrease in cost. The users and application developers also shift to these new platforms for better performance and smaller sizes. We still have mainframes and mini-computers but they are less relevant. PCs will become less relevant as the number of consumer electronics devices with networking features increases. Eventually digital cameras, phones, TVs, PVRs and other devices will all be connected to the Internet. People will be publishing, sharing, viewing and hearing content from the Internet without having a PC. They will be as irrelevant to consumers as mainframes.

New open standards for micro-content and metadata

The third important trend is the blossoming of open standards built for creating, publishing, syndicating and viewing/hearing micro-content. Open standards have been around for a long time, but the weblog community is making them popular. These open standards are currently being tested and developed primarily for PCs, but many of the standards could be used in consumer electronics devices, allowing smaller developers to write applications and web services for consumer electronics devices. This is very similar to the way in which TCP/IP allowed the developer community to write software for communications leapfrogging the large telecommunications companies. There are many standards for consumer electronics devices, but they are complex and mired in committees, rather like CCITT's x.25 standard that TCP/IP quickly replaced in many applications.


As broadband becomes cheaper and computing power increases, everything we're learning and building around text micro-content and metadata will be useful in dealing with multimedia micro-content and metadata. Because it is more difficult to extract meaning from images and audio, metadata about this content will become vital.

So what's going to happen?

Microsoft will continue to dominate the desktop, but it will become less relevant as consumer electronics companies embrace open standards and use Internet web services and applications to make consumer electronics devices rich with content. The content will be micro-content such as photos, audio clips, video, text, location information and presence information of friends. Digital rights management and copyright will become less relevant. Organizing your network of friends and your network of trust become more important, so that you publish to the people you wish to hear you and you are able to sort information which is relevant to you. These trust networks will require privacy and security as well as methods of managing and using the networks for a variety of applications.

As web services and metadata create a more and more decentralized and semantic web, searching will become more decentralized and contextual and less about html page scraping and one dimensional page rank.

In the future, you should always be able to see the status of your friends (if they choose to let you), create any kind of content you wish to share or communicate and publish it easily from any device. You should be able to find and view/hear any content you have access to, using your network of trust, location, keywords and timing to search for the information. The boundaries between email and web publishing will become blurred and you will be having conversations with the web.

Key Technologies:

  • Creating and managing identities while protecting privacy
  • Creating and managing networks of friends and trust
  • Searching metadata and creating context for metadata
  • Design and interface for publishing and viewing micro-content
  • Syndication standards and technologies
  • Network infrastructure to enable location and mobility
  • Technologies to move and share micro-content, especially as it grows larger
  • Web services that interact with micro-content and the physical world such as photo printing, purchasing of real world products, connecting people, etc.

The cutting edge:

Audio blogging (Audblog), mobile picture blogging with location information (Tokyo Tidbits), personal information and information about your friends in web pages (FOAF), machine readable copyright notices allowing micro-content aggregation and sharing (Creative Commons), Amazon book information and affiliate information embedded in blogging tools ( TypePad ), convergence of email and micro-content syndication (Newsgator), searching for micro-content based on context (Technorati)

I'm curious; perhaps someone out there knows...

Has anyone yet attempted to create "RSS email", where the "feeds" served to a feedreader might be automatically synthesized from the emails themselves as things such as Person (from or to), Thread, Folder, etc?  (One could probably easily implement this as a straight layer on top of IMAP.)  Rather than just inserting RSS into an email client paradigm as in Newsgator, it might be amusing to invert the solution and explore the usability issues of rethinking email as being just another form of feed served up to a reader, with plug-ins for creating & replying, etc.  Hmm.

Has anyone yet attempted to create what I guess I'd refer to as a "Hyki" - that is, a character-by-character real-time collaborative (Hydra-like, Groove Text Tool-like) editor with automatic creation of real-time linked sub-documents when CamelCase words are typed, etc.  ??

I'm curious too. That would be great.

Ray, if you find something or someone else knows. Let me know too!

I met Kris and Maciej of netomat at Supernova and just got around to downloading and playing with the beta. It looks interesting. It's like an email/wiki/link sharing tool. It's written in Java and runs on Mac and Windows. It's pretty easy to use and is more "rich" than a wiki because it has things like drawing tools that let you annotate pages in a way similar to a white board. You create pages with your netomat client. You can publish it with editing enabled so anyone can modify it. It keeps a history of changes. You can email pages to people. You can include lots of things in pages including audio, images, links, etc.

If anyone else is running the beta, send me netomat mail so that we can mess around. I am jito on netomat. My first netomat page is here.

Today they were webcasting the AO2003 conference. They had a chat that they put on the screen every once and awhile. Many of the regulars from the #joiito IRC channel dropped in to the chat to do our usual heckling. During the journalists panel that Tony was moderating, the hecklers got quite active. It was "the usual". Some people were a bit rough on Tony, but he was a good sport about it. He did say, "we should charge you guys" to the hecklers, but I was thinking that they should pay US. During a discussion about telecommuniting and the Internet enabling distributed workflow, I mentioned on the chat that I was in my underwear in Tokyo. Then someone, I think Ross, put JoiTV on the big screen. Then Tony started teasing me. Heckleback! So I thought I was hecklejacking the conferencing and then I got hecklebacked. We need start a lobby for hecklers rights. ;-P

Anyway, it was good fun. Thanks Tony.

I just got back from Supernova in Washington DC. It was great. It was great hanging out with old friends, making new ones and meeting online friends for the first time. It really reminds me of the "good old days" of The Source. At the party, people had to tell each other their IRC nicknames to recognize each other.



"oh! I'm mamamusings"

"oh! hi!"

Or in the case of bloggers:
"Halley. As in Halley's Comment"


Now there are three tiers of relationships. Normal relationships, people you know through their blogs and people who you know from IRC. I felt a little bad about the people who are not "in" this network because I'm sure a lot of our chatter and giggles were meaningless to them, but IRC is pretty open and inclusive so I decided not to worry about it.

Many of us were on IRC during the conference. I didn't get the hecklebot done, but there was a great deal of heckling going on on IRC. There is definitely a kind of attention drain in the room when everyone is on IRC. There is even more attention drain when the panelists are on IRC. ;-)

I thought about this a bit and my conclusion is that in most cases, it is better to let people be on IRC (or some other chat room) during a conference. Several reasons. If people are bored, they will do something else anyway, like sleep, do email, pick their nose, whatever. At least IRC keeps everyone semi-focused on the time/place of the conference. As Kevin Marks says, the problem with conferences is that only one person (usually) can speak at one time. On IRC everyone can talk at the same time. This is inclusive and useful. People can post useful links, give feedback to the speaker without interrupting them and everyone can contribute. One of the most important reasons for going to a conference is networking and meeting new people. The best way that I've found for meeting new people is saying something smart. It's easy if you're a speaker, but usually you have to ask some intelligent questions so people want to talk to you. IRC is great because it give everyone an opportunity to say something smart during the conference. It also lets people get to know each other during the conference without having to escape into the lobby and miss the conference entirely.

Kevin Werbach, the organizer was a good sport about all of this. He hung out on the IRC channel himself and let Liz put the IRC channel on the screen during the wrap up. It will be interesting to see how these social software tools get integrated into conferences by conference organizers themselves. There is something "naughty" about unauthorized back channels that make them fun, but better integration and more reliable connectivity would probably make them more useful. It's also easier to include everyone if it's run by the organizers. I can't remember who said this, but "in the future, the room will be the back channel for the IRC chat."

I guess my next goal should be to get a hecklebot into Davos.

Ross just announced an angel round raise for Socialtext which I participated in. Ross and his crew are working on wikis in the workplace and other social software solutions and represent the cutting edge on a variety fronts.

Had an interesting chat with Alex Schroeder on the #wiki IRC channel. We were talking about whether my #joiito channel was increasing concentration of attention, etc. Alex has written some interesting stuff on his wiki about Attention Concentration.

I thought a lot about the name of my blog, wiki and IRC Channel and chose very egocentric names "Joi Ito' Web", "JoiWiki" and "#joiito" because I wanted to make it clear that it was my own space. I have several reasons for this.

In the past, I have run maling mailing lists with names like "netsurf" which I put a lot of energy into setting up and running. At some point, these "places" became public places and I ended up becoming a custodian. It's like having people come over to your place to party leaving you to clean up the mess. I lost control of the community, but not the responsibility. If it was called "Joi Ito's list" I think people wouldn't have come into the discussion thinking that it was a public place.

Also, I think that putting my name on the blog makes it clear that it's my personal perspective and point of view -- nothing more, nothing less.

I do agree with Alex that there is an attention concentration element to my #joiito channel on IRC, but I think of my blog, wiki and IRC channel as my living room. I'm happy to host parties and discussions in my home, but am also happy visiting other homes to join discussions there. I spend a lot of time on the wikis and blogs of people who I meet on my blog, wiki and irc channel. I think that although there is some concentration in my living room, people can meet, speak and draw traffic back to their living rooms quite easily. I think it's a fairly inclusive. I'm MUCH MORE likely to go and read the blog or wiki of someone I just talked to on IRC than someone who sends me unsolicited email.

Having said that, I think that there may be other structures than "this is a place, this is my living room." I think that the best case might be if we ALL had our own blogs and we could get rid of blog comments all together and use trackbacks or a similar mechanism to have our conversations across the blogs. Then the "places" would be the topics of conversation.

I don't know what the wiki equivalent of that would be. I have a sense that wikis and irc channels work better with multiple contributors and are inherently places, compared to blogs which could turn into identities and voices that participate in places that are conversations across blogs.

Figuring out how to deal with the attention concentration issues, inclusiveness and responsibility and accountability in these places is the key to Emergent Democracy, I think.

Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn has just gone through and responded to many of the points raised in the LinkedIn wiki page. If you had posted comments and were waiting for him to respond, please go check out his comments. He has interspersed his comments in dialog in wiki style. Thanks to the people who posted comments and thanks to Reid for all of the thoughtful responses. Now my wiki is much smarter. ;-)

I've just upgraded my Technobot. It is run every 10 minutes on my server and goes to technorati, gets my cosomos, and does the following:

  • Makes my technorati sidebar for my blog
  • If there are new inbound links, it sends the link info to to the following places:
This is yet another step in the rather blasphemous experiment to connect all of the social software I can find together into one big blob. It's rather interesting watching people discover or rediscover new communication modes and the new meta-modes that the connections enable. For instance, I think that wikis and IRC seem to work well together since wikis are an easy way to log some of the interesting things in the rather transient conversations on IRC. Blogs are cool in IRC because it's a nice way to find out more about each other or to link to things one has said without quoting it in IRC.

Now I'm beginning to have the too-many-windows-to-focus-on-syndrome. Maybe I need another screen. ;-)

Thanks to rvr for helping me with the irc stuff...

I had a long talk yesterday with Reid Hoffman about LinkedIn giving him my feedback and thoughts about features and changes. Reid's very open to ideas and is working on improving LinkedIn. I suggested we take the discussion to a wiki so that we can keep track of things like feature requests and links to posts about LinkedIn. I've set up a wiki page on my wiki. Please take a look and add your feedback, links, or feature requests.

So here's an example of how Linkedin can be useful. Rebecca, the Tokyo bureau chief of CNN had emailed me asking for information on the moblog conference because she was interested in possibly covering it. I had been meaning to get around to introducing her to Adam. Then I received a Linkedin request from Adam asking to be introduced to Rebecca to see if she wanted to cover the conference. I clicked, typed something like "you guys should talk" and... done. It was a very easy way for me to add value and I ended up helping to friends without taking much of my time.

I've been getting a steady flow of requests now and about half of them are just tests, but I really do think that Linkedin will help me manage requests for introduction. I get SO many of them via normal email and many fall through the cracks. Intros are such an easy way to help people and add value, but they are really a pain to keep track of. It's usually just a matter of searching through my email to find the email address of the person that needs to be contacted, but often I'm too busy to do that. Linkedin solves that problem. It also forces the introducee to write something focused, rather than, "I wonder if you might be able to introduce me to..."

UPDATE: Discussion has moved to the wiki