Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Recently in the Technology Controversy Category

A few weeks ago I was asked to make some remarks at the MIT-Harvard Conference on the Uyghur Human Rights Crisis. When the student organizer of the conference, Zuly Mamat, asked me to speak at the event, I wasn't sure what I would say because I'm definitely not an expert on this topic. But as I dove into researching what is happening to the Uyghur community in China, I realized that it connected to a lot of the themes I have run up against in my own work, particularly the importance of considering the ethical and social implications of technology early on in the design and development process. The Uyghur human rights crisis demonstrates how the technology we build, even with the best of intentions, may be used to surveil and harm people. Many of my activities these days are focused on the prevention of misuse of technology in the future, but it requires more than just bolting ethicists onto product teams - I think it involves a fundamental shift in our priorities and a redesign of the relationship of the humanities and social sciences with engineering and science in academia and society. As a starting point, I think it is critically important to facilitate conversations about this problem through events like this one. You can view the video of the event here and read my edited remarks below.


Edited transcript.

Hello, I'm Joi Ito, the Director of the MIT Media Lab. I'm probably the least informed about this topic of everyone here, so first of all, I'm very grateful to all of the people who have been working on this topic and for helping me get more informed. I'm broadly interested in human rights, its relationship with technology and our role as Harvard and MIT and academia in general to intervene in these types of situations. So I want to talk mainly about that.

One of the things to think about not just in this case, but also more broadly, is the role of technology in surveillance and human rights. In the talks today, we've heard about some specific examples of how technology is being used to surveil the Uyghur community in China, but I thought I'd talk about it a little more generally. I specifically want to address the continuing investment in and ascension of the engineering and sciences in the world through ventures like MIT's new College of Computing, in terms of their influence and the scale at which they're being deployed. I believe that thinking about the ethical aspects of these investments is essential.

I remember when J.J. Abrams, one of our Director's Fellows and a film director for those of you who don't know, visited the Media Lab. We have 500 or so ongoing projects at the Media Lab and he asked some of the students, "Do you do anything that involves things like war or surveillance or things that you know, harm people?" And all of the students said, "No, of course we don't do that kind of thing. We make technology for good." And then he said, "Well let me re-frame that question, can you imagine an evil villain in any of my shows or movies using anything here to do really terrible things?" And everybody went, "Yeah!"

What's important to understand is that most engineers and scientists are developing tools to try to help the world, whether it's trying to model the brains of children in order to increase the quality and the effectiveness of education, or using sensors to help farmers grow crops. But what most people don't spend enough time thinking about is the dual use nature of the technology - the fact that technology can easily be used in ways that the designer did not intend.

Now, I think there are a lot of arguments about whose job it is to think about how technology can be used in unexpected and harmful ways. If I took the faculty in the Media Lab and put them on a line where at one end, the faculty believe we should think about all the social implications before doing anything, and at the other end they believe we should just build stuff and society will figure it out, I think there would be a fairly even distribution along the line. I would say that at MIT that's also roughly true. My argument is that we actually have to think more about the social implications of technology before designing it. It's very hard to un-design things, and I'm not saying that it's an easy task, and I'm not saying that we have to get everything perfect, but I think that having a more coherent view of the world and these implications is tremendously important.

The Media Lab is a little over 30 years old, and I've been there for 8 years, but I was very involved in the early days of the Internet. The other day, I was describing to Susan Silbey, the current faculty chair at MIT, how when we were building the Internet we thought if we could just provide a voice to everyone, if we could just connect everyone together, we would have world peace. I really believed that when we started, and I was expressing to Susan how naïve I feel now that the Internet has become something that's more akin to the little girl in the Exorcist, for those of you who have seen the movie. But Susan, being an anthropologist and historian said, "Well when you guys talked about connecting everybody together, we knew. The social scientists knew that it was going to be a mess."

One of the really important things I learned from my conversation with Susan was the extent to which the humanities have thought about and fought about a lot of these things. History has taught us a lot of these things. I know that it's somewhat taboo to invoke Nazi Germany in too many conversations, but if you look at the data that was collected in Europe to support social services, much of it was later used by the Nazis to roundup and persecute the Jews. And it's not exactly the same situation, but a lot of the databases that we're creating to help poor and disadvantaged families are also being used by the immigration services to find and target people for deportation.

Even the databases and technology that we use and create for the best of intentions can be subverted depending on who's in charge. So thinking about these systems is tremendously important. At MIT, we are, and I think that Zuly mentioned some of the specifics, working with tech companies that are working directly on surveillance technology or are in some way creating technologies that could be used for surveillance in China. Again thinking about the ethical issues is very important. I will point out that there are whole disciplines that work in this, STS, science technology in society, that's really what they do. They think about the impact of science and technology in society. They think about it in a historical context and provide us with a framework for thinking about these things. Thinking about how to integrate anthropology and STS into both the curriculum and the research at MIT is tremendously important.

The other thing to think about is allowing engineers more freedom to explore the application and impact of their work. One of the problems with scholarship is that many researchers don't have the freedom to fully test their hypotheses. For example, in January, Eric Topol tweeted about his paper that showed that of the 15 most impactful machine learning and medicine papers that had been published, none of them had been clinically validated. Many cases, in machine learning, you get some data, you tweak it and you get a very high effectiveness and then you walk away. Then the clinicians come in and they say "oh, but we can't replicate this, and we don't have the expertise" or "we tried it but it doesn't seem to work in practice." We're not providing, if you're following an academic path, the proper incentives for the computer scientists to integrate with and work closely with the clinicians in the field. One of the other challenges that we have is that our reward systems and the incentives that are in place don't encourage technologists to explore the social implications of the tech they produce. When this is the case, you fall a little bit short of actually getting to the question, "well, what does this actually mean?"

I co-teach a course at Harvard Law School called the Applied Challenges in Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence, and through that class we've explored some research that considers the ethical and social impact of AI. To give you an example, one Media Lab project that we discussed was looking at risk scores used by the criminal justice system for sentencing and pre-trial assessments and bail. The project team initially thought "oh, we could just use a blockchain to verify the data and make the whole criminal sentencing system more efficient." But as the team started looking into it, they realized that the whole criminal justice system was somewhat broken. And as they started going deeper and deeper into the problem, they realized that while these prediction systems were making policing and judging possibly more efficient, they were also taking power away from the predictee and giving it to the predictor.

Basically, these automated systems were saying "okay, if you happen to live in this zip code, you will have a higher recidivism rate." But in reality, rearrest has more to do with policing and policy and the courts than it does with the criminality of the individual. By saying that this risk score can accurately predict how likely it is that this person will commit another crime, you're attributing the agency to the individual when actually much of the agency lies with the system. And by focusing on making the prediction tool more accurate, you end up ignoring existing weaknesses and biases in the overall justice system and the cause of those weaknesses. It's reminiscent of Caley Horan's writing on the history of insurance and redlining. She looks at the way in which insurance pricing, called actuarial fairness, became a legitimate way to use math to discriminate against people and how it took the debate away from the feminists and the civil rights leaders and made it an argument about the accuracy of algorithms.

The researchers who were trying to improve the criminal risk scoring system have completely pivoted to recommending that we stop using automated decision making in criminal justice. Instead they think we should use technology to look at the long term effects of policies in the criminal justice system and not to predict the criminality of individuals.

But this outcome is not common. I find that whether we're talking about tenure cases or publications or funding, we don't typically allow our researchers to end up in places that contradict the fundamental place where they started. So I think that's another thing that's really important. How do we create both research and curricular opportunities for people to explore their initial assumptions and hypotheses? As we think about this and this conversation, we should ask "how can we integrate this into our educational system?" Our academic process is really important and I love that we have scholars that are working on this, but how we bring this mentality to engineers and scientists is something that I'd love to think about and maybe in the Breakout Sessions we can work on that.

Now I want to pivot a little bit and talk about the role of academia in the Uyghur crisis. I know there are people who view this meeting as provocative or political and it reminds me of the March for Science that we had several years ago. I gave a talk at the first March for Science. Before the talk, when I was at a dinner table with a bunch of faculty (I won't name the faculty), someone said, "Why are you doing that? It's very political. We try not to be political, we're just scientists." And I said, "Well when it becomes political to tell the truth, when being supportive of climate science is political, when trying to support fundamental scientific research is political, then I'm political." So I don't want to be partisan, but I think if the truth is political, then I think we need to be political.

And this is not a new concept. If you look at the history of MIT, or just the history of academic freedom (there's the Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure) you will find a bunch of interesting MIT history. In the late 40s and 50s, during the McCarthy period, society was going after communists and left wing people out of the fear of Communism. And many institutions were turning over their left wing Marxist academics, or firing them under pressure from the government. But MIT was quite good about protecting their Marxist affiliated faculty, and there's a very famous case that shows this. Dirk Struik, a math professor at MIT, was indicted by the Middlesex grand jury on charges of advocating the overthrow of the US and Massachusetts governments in 1951. At the time MIT suspended him with pay, but once the court abandoned the case due to lack of evidence and the fact that states shouldn't be ruling on this type of charge, MIT reinstated Professor Struik. This is a quote from the president at the time, James Killian about the incident.

"MIT believes that its faculty, as long as its members abide by the law, maintain the dignity and responsibility of their position, must be free to inquire, to challenge and to doubt in their search for what is true and good. They must be free to examine controversial matters, to reach conclusions of their own, to criticize and be criticized, and only through such unqualified freedom of thought and investigation can an educational institution, especially one dealing with science, perform its function of seeking truth."

Many of you may wonder why we have tenure at universities. We have tenure to protect our ability to question authority, to speak the truth and to really say what we think without fear of retribution.

There's another important case that demonstrates MIT's willingness to protect its faculty and students. In the early 1990s, MIT and a bunch of Ivy League schools came up with this idea to provide financial aid for low income students on a need basis. The Ivy League schools got together to coordinate on how they would assess need and how they would figure out how much financial aid to give to students. Weirdly, the United States government sued the Ivy League schools saying that this was an antitrust case, which was ridiculous because it was a charity. Most of the other universities caved in after this lawsuit, but Chuck Vest the president at the time said, "MIT has a long history of admitting students based on merit and a tradition of ensuring these students full financial aid." He refused to deny students financial aid, and a multi-year lawsuit ensued, in which eventually MIT won. And then this need-based scholarship system was enshrined in actual policy in the United States.

Many of the people who are here at MIT today probably don't remember this, but there's a great documentary film that shows MIT students and faculty literally clashing with police on these streets in an anti-Vietnam War protest 50 years ago. So in the not so distant past, MIT has been a very political place when it meant protecting our freedom to speak up.

More recently, I personally experienced this support for academic freedom. When Chelsea Manning's fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School was rescinded, she emailed me and asked if she could speak at the Media Lab. I was thinking about it, and I asked the administration what they thought, and they thought it was a terrible idea. And when they told me that I said, "You know, now that means I have to invite her." I remember our Provost Marty saying, "I know." And that's what I think is wonderful about being here at MIT: the fact that the administration understands that faculty must be allowed to act independently of the Institute. Another example is when the administration was deciding what to do about funding from Saudi Arabia. The administration released a report, which has a few critics, that basically said, "we're going to let people decide what they want to do." I think each group or faculty member at MIT is permitted to make their own decision about whether to accept funding from Saudi Arabia. MIT, in my experience, has always stood by the academic freedom of whatever unit at the Institute that's trying to do what it wants to do.

I think we're in a very privileged place and I think that it's not only our freedom, but our obligation to speak up. It's also our responsibility to fight for the academic freedom of people in our community as well as people in other communities, and provide leadership. I really do want to thank the organizers of this conference for doing that. I think it's very bold, but I think it's very becoming of both MIT and Harvard. I read a very disturbing report from Human Rights Watch that talked about how Chinese scholars overseas are starting to have difficulties in speaking up, which I think is somewhat unprecedented because of the capabilities of today's technology. And I think there are similar reports about scholars from Saudi Arabia. The ability of these countries to surveil their citizens overseas and impinge on their academic freedom is a tremendously important topic to discuss, and think about both technically, legally and otherwise. I think it's also a very important thing for us to talk about how to protect the freedoms of students studying here.

Thank you again for making this topic now very front of mind for me. On the panel I'd love to try to describe some concrete steps that we can take to continue to protect this freedom that we have. Thank you.

Credits

Transcription and editing: Samantha Bates

Designing our Complex Future with Machines

While I had long been planning to write a manifesto against the technological singularity and launch it into the conversational sphere for public reaction and comment, an invitation earlier this year from John Brockman to read and discuss The Human Use of Human Beings by Norbert Wiener with him and his illustrious group of thinkers as part of an ongoing collaborative book project contributed to the thoughts contained herein.

The essay below is now phase 1 of an experimental, open publishing project in partnership with the MIT Press. In phase 2, a new version of the essay enriched and informed by input from open commentary will be published online, along with essay length contributions by others inspired by the seed essay, as a new issue of the Journal of Design and Science. In phase 3, a revised and edited selection of these contributions will be published as a print book by the MIT Press.

Version 1.0

Cross-posted from the Journal of Design and Science where a number of essays have been written in response and where competition winning peer-reviewed essays will be compiled into a book to be published by MIT Press.


Nature's ecosystem provides us with an elegant example of a complex adaptive system where myriad "currencies" interact and respond to feedback systems that enable both flourishing and regulation. This collaborative model-rather than a model of exponential financial growth or the Singularity, which promises the transcendence of our current human condition through advances in technology--should provide the paradigm for our approach to artificial intelligence. More than 60 years ago, MIT mathematician and philosopher Norbert Wiener warned us that "when human atoms are knit into an organization in which they are used, not in their full right as responsible human beings, but as cogs and levers and rods, it matters little that their raw material is flesh and blood." We should heed Wiener's warning.

INTRODUCTION: THE CANCER OF CURRENCY

As the sun beats down on Earth, photosynthesis converts water, carbon dioxide and the sun's energy into oxygen and glucose. Photosynthesis is one of the many chemical and biological processes that transforms one form of matter and energy into another. These molecules then get metabolized by other biological and chemical processes into yet other molecules. Scientists often call these molecules "currencies" because they represent a form of power that is transferred between cells or processes to mutual benefit--"traded," in effect. The biggest difference between these and financial currencies is that there is no "master currency" or "currency exchange." Rather, each currency can only be used by certain processes, and the "market" of these currencies drives the dynamics that are "life."

As certain currencies became abundant as an output of a successful process or organism, other organisms evolved to take that output and convert it into something else. Over billions of years, this is how the Earth's ecosystem has evolved, creating vast systems of metabolic pathways and forming highly complex self-regulating systems that, for example, stabilize our body temperatures or the temperature of the Earth, despite continuous fluctuations and changes among the individual elements at every scale--from micro to macro. The output of one process becomes the input of another. Ultimately, everything interconnects.

We live in a civilization in which the primary currencies are money and power--where more often than not, the goal is to accumulate both at the expense of society at large. This is a very simple and fragile system compared to the Earth's ecosystems, where myriads of "currencies" are exchanged among processes to create hugely complex systems of inputs and outputs with feedback systems that adapt and regulate stocks, flows, and connections.

Unfortunately, our current human civilization does not have the built-in resilience of our environment, and the paradigms that set our goals and drive the evolution of society today have set us on a dangerous course which the mathematician Norbert Wiener warned us about decades ago. The paradigm of a single master currency has driven many corporations and institutions to lose sight of their original missions. Values and complexity are focused more and more on prioritizing exponential financial growth, led by for-profit corporate entities that have gained autonomy, rights, power, and nearly unregulated societal influence. The behavior of these entities are akin to cancers. Healthy cells regulate their growth and respond to their surroundings, even eliminating themselves if they wander into an organ where they don't belong. Cancerous cells, on the other hand, optimize for unconstrained growth and spread with disregard to their function or context.

THE WHIP THAT LASHES US

The idea that we exist for the sake of progress, and that progress requires unconstrained and exponential growth, is the whip that lashes us. Modern companies are the natural product of this paradigm in a free-market capitalist system. Norbert Wiener called corporations "machines of flesh and blood" and automation "machines of metal." The new species of Silicon Valley mega companies--the machines of bits--are developed and run in great part by people who believe in a new religion, Singularity. This new religion is not a fundamental change in the paradigm, but rather the natural evolution of the worship of exponential growth applied to modern computation and science. The asymptote of the exponential growth of computational power is artificial intelligence.

The notion of Singularity--that AI will supercede humans with its exponential growth, and that everything we have done until now and are currently doing is insignificant--is a religion created by people who have the experience of using computation to solve problems heretofore considered impossibly complex for machines. They have found a perfect partner in digital computation--a knowable, controllable, system of thinking and creating that is rapidly increasing in its ability to harness and process complexity, bestowing wealth and power on those who have mastered it. In Silicon Valley, the combination of groupthink and the financial success of this cult of technology has created a positive feedback system that has very little capacity for regulating through negative feedback. While they would resist having their beliefs compared to a religion and would argue that their ideas are science- and evidence-based, those who embrace Singularity engage in quite a bit of arm waving and make leaps of faith based more on trajectories than ground-truths to achieve their ultimate vision.

Singularitarians believe that the world is "knowable" and computationally simulatable, and that computers will be able to process the messiness of the real world just like they have every other problem that everyone said couldn't be solved by computers. To them, this wonderful tool, the computer, has worked so well for everything so far that it must continue to work for every challenge we throw at it, until we have transcended known limitations and ultimately achieve some sort of reality escape velocity. Artificial intelligence is already displacing humans in driving cars, diagnosing cancers, and researching court documents. The idea is that AI will continue this progress and eventually merge with human brains and become an all-seeing, all-powerful, super-intelligence. For true believers, computers will augment and extend our thoughts into a kind of "amortality." (Part of Singularity is a fight for "amortality," the idea that while one may still die and not be immortal, the death is not the result of the grim reaper of aging.)

But if corporations are a precursor to our transcendance, the Singularitarian view that with more computing and bio-hacking we will somehow solve all of the world's problems or that the Singularity will solve us seems hopelessly naive. As we dream of the day when we have enhanced brains and amortality and can think big, long thoughts, corporations already have a kind of "amortality." They persist as long as they are solvent and they are more than a sum of their parts--arguably an amortal super-intelligence.

More computation does not makes us more "intelligent," only more computationally powerful.

For Singularity to have a positive outcome requires a belief that, given enough power, the system will somehow figure out how to regulate itself. The final outcome would be so complex that while we humans couldn't understand it now, "it" would understand and "solve" itself. Some believe in something that looks a bit like the former Soviet Union's master planning but with full information and unlimited power. Others have a more sophisticated view of a distributed system, but at some level, all Singularitarians believe that with enough power and control, the world is "tamable." Not all who believe in Singularity worship it as a positive transcendence bringing immortality and abundance, but they do believe that a judgment day is coming when all curves go vertical.

Whether you are on an S-curve or a bell curve, the beginning of the slope looks a lot like an exponential curve. An exponential curve to systems dynamics people shows self-reinforcement, i.e., a positive feedback curve without limits. Maybe this is what excites Singularitarians and scares systems people. Most people outside the singularity bubble believe in S-curves, namely that nature adapts and self-regulates and that even pandemics will run their course. Pandemics may cause an extinction event, but growth will slow and things will adapt. They may not be in the same state, and a phase change could occur, but the notion of Singularity--especially as some sort of savior or judgment day that will allow us to transcend the messy, mortal suffering of our human existence--is fundamentally a flawed one.

This sort of reductionist thinking isn't new. When BF Skinner discovered the principle of reinforcement and was able to describe it, we designed education around his theories. Learning scientists know now that behaviorist approaches only work for a narrow range of learning, but many schools continue to rely on drill and practice. Take, as another example, the eugenics movement, which greatly and incorrectly over-simplified the role of genetics in society. This movement helped fuel the Nazi genocide by providing a reductionist scientific view that we could "fix humanity" by manually pushing natural selection. The echoes of the horrors of eugenics exist today, making almost any research trying to link genetics with things like intelligence taboo.

We should learn from our history of applying over-reductionist science to society and try to, as Wiener says, "cease to kiss the whip that lashes us." While it is one of the key drivers of science--to elegantly explain the complex and reduce confusion to understanding--we must also remember what Albert Einstein said, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler."1 We need to embrace the unknowability--the irreducibility--of the real world that artists, biologists and those who work in the messy world of liberal arts and humanities are familiar with.

WE ARE ALL PARTICIPANTS

The Cold War era, when Wiener was writing The Human Use of Human Beings, was a time defined by the rapid expansion of capitalism and consumerism, the beginning of the space race, and the coming of age of computation. It was a time when it was easier to believe that systems could be controlled from the outside, and that many of the world's problems would be solved through science and engineering.

The cybernetics that Wiener primarily described during that period were concerned with feedback systems that can be controlled or regulated from an objective perspective. This so-called first-order cybernetics assumed that the scientist as the observer can understand what is going on, therefore enabling the engineer to design systems based on observation or insight from the scientist.

Today, it is much more obvious that most of our problems--climate change, poverty, obesity and chronic disease, or modern terrorism--cannot be solved simply with more resources and greater control. That is because they are the result of complex adaptive systems that are often the result of the tools used to solve problems in the past, such as endlessly increasing productivity and attempts to control things. This is where second-order cybernetics comes into play--the cybernetics of self-adaptive complex systems, where the observer is also part of the system itself. As Kevin Slavin says in Design as Participation, "You're Not Stuck In Traffic--You Are Traffic."3

In order to effectively respond to the significant scientific challenges of our times, I believe we must view the world as many interconnected, complex, self-adaptive systems across scales and dimensions that are unknowable and largely inseparable from the observer and the designer. In other words, we are participants in multiple evolutionary systems with different fitness landscapes4 at different scales, from our microbes to our individual identities to society and our species. Individuals themselves are systems composed of systems of systems, such as the cells in our bodies that behave more like system-level designers than we do.

While Wiener does discuss biological evolution and the evolution of language, he doesn't explore the idea of harnessing evolutionary dynamics for science. Biological evolution of individual species (genetic evolution) has been driven by reproduction and survival, instilling in us goals and yearnings to procreate and grow. That system continually evolves to regulate growth, increase diversity and complexity, and enhance its own resilience, adaptability, and sustainability.5 As designers with growing awareness of these broader systems, we have goals and methodologies defined by the evolutionary and environmental inputs from our biological and societal contexts. But machines with emergent intelligence have discernibly different goals and methodologies. As we introduce machines into the system, they will not only augment individual humans, but they will also--and more importantly--augment complex systems as a whole.

Here is where the problematic formulation of "artificial intelligence" becomes evident, as it suggests forms, goals and methods that stand outside of interaction with other complex adaptive systems. Instead of thinking about machine intelligence in terms of humans vs. machines, we should consider the system that integrates humans and machines--not artificial intelligence, but extended intelligence. Instead of trying to control or design or even understand systems, it is more important to design systems that participate as responsible, aware and robust elements of even more complex systems. And we must question and adapt our own purpose and sensibilities as designers and components of the system for a much more humble approach: Humility over Control.

We could call it "participant design"--design of systems as and by participants--that is more akin to the increase of a flourishing function, where flourishing is a measure of vigor and health rather than scale or power. We can measure the ability for systems to adapt creatively, as well as their resilience and their ability to use resources in an interesting way.

Better interventions are less about solving or optimizing and more about developing a sensibility appropriate to the environment and the time. In this way they are more like music than an algorithm. Music is about a sensibility or "taste" with many elements coming together into a kind of emergent order. Instrumentation can nudge or cause the system to adapt or move in an unpredictable and unprogrammed manner, while still making sense and holding together. Using music itself as an intervention is not a new idea; in 1707, Andrew Fletcher, a Scottish writer and politician, said, "Let me make the songs of a nation, I care not who makes its laws."

If writing songs instead of laws feels frivolous, remember that songs typically last longer than laws, have played key roles in various hard and soft revolutions and end up being transmitted person-to-person along with the values they carry. It's not about music or code. It's about trying to affect change by operating at the level songs do. This is articulated by Donella Meadows, among others, in her book Thinking in Systems.

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Meadows, in her essay Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System, describes how we can intervene in a complex, self-adaptive system. For her, interventions that involve changing parameters or even changing the rules are not nearly as powerful or as fundamental as changes in a system's goals and paradigms.

When Wiener discussed our worship of progress, he said:

Those who uphold the idea of progress as an ethical principle regard this unlimited and quasi-spontaneous process of change as a Good Thing, and as the basis on which they guarantee to future generations a Heaven on Earth. It is possible to believe in progress as a fact without believing in progress as an ethical principle; but in the catechism of many Americans, the one goes with the other.6

Instead of discussing "sustainability" as something to be "solved" in the context of a world where bigger is still better and more than enough is NOT too much, perhaps we should examine the values and the currencies of the fitness functions7 and consider whether they are suitable and appropriate for the systems in which we participate.

CONCLUSION: A CULTURE OF FLOURISHING

Developing a sensibility and a culture of flourishing, and embracing a diverse array of measures of "success" depend less on the accumulation of power and resources and more on diversity and the richness of experience. This is the paradigm shift that we need. This will provide us with a wealth of technological and cultural patterns to draw from to create a highly adaptable society. This diversity also allows the elements of the system to feed each other without the exploitation and extraction ethos created by a monoculture with a single currency. It is likely that this new culture will spread as music, fashion, spirituality or other forms of art.

As a native Japanese, I am heartened by a group of junior high school students I spoke to there recently who, when I challenged them about what they thought we should do about the environment, asked questions about the meaning of happiness and the role of humans in nature. I am likewise heartened to see many of my students at the MIT Media Lab and in the Principles of Awareness class that I co-teach with the Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi using a variety of metrics (currencies) to measure their success and meaning and grappling directly with the complexity of finding one's place in our complex world.

This is brilliant, sophisticated, timely. Question, what do you want to do with this manifesto? Socio-economic political cultural movement? To begin with, who do you want to read this? In what spaces?I know people who are working on this on the political side. I am interested in the arts and sciences ie buildable memory cultural side.

Don't know if people would agree with my conclusions here, but I've been working on developing my music in relation to housing issues around the Bay Area recently.I believe that it's important for us to develop a sensibility for diversity not just as an abstract exercise, but in ways that reflect our day to day lives. We're in need of new visions of how we plan to co-exist with one another, and I do think that artists have the ability to pave the way here in very real ways.

I'm also heartened by organizations such as the IEEE, which is initiating design guidelines for the development of artificial intelligence around human wellbeing instead of around economic impact. The work by Peter Seligman, Christopher Filardi, and Margarita Mora from Conservation International is creative and exciting because it approaches conservation by supporting the flourishing of indigenous people--not undermining it. Another heartening example is that of the Shinto priests at Ise Shrine, who have been planting and rebuilding the shrine every twenty years for the last 1300 years in celebration of the renewal and the cyclical quality of nature.

In the 1960s and 70s, the hippie movement tried to pull together a "whole earth" movement, but then the world swung back toward the consumer and consumption culture of today. I hope and believe that a new awakening will happen and that a new sensibility will cause a nonlinear change in our behavior through a cultural transformation. While we can and should continue to work at every layer of the system to create a more resilient world, I believe the cultural layer is the layer with the most potential for a fundamental correction away from the self-destructive path that we are currently on. I think that it will yet again be about the music and the arts of the young people reflecting and amplifying a new sensibility: a turn away from greed to a world where "more than enough is too much," and we can flourish in harmony with Nature rather than through the control of it.



1. An asymptote is a line that continually approaches a given curve but does not meet it at any finite distance. In singularity, this is the vertical line that occurs when the exponential growth curve a vertical line. There are more arguments about where this asymptote is among believers than about whether it is actually coming.

2. This is a common paraphrase. What Einstein actually said was, "It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience."

3. Western philosophy and science is "dualistic" as opposed to the more "Eastern" non-dualistic approach. A whole essay could be written about this but the idea of a subject/object or a designer/designee is partially linked to the notion of self in Western philosophy and religion.

4. Fitness landscapes arise when you assign a fitness value for every genotype. The genotypes are arranged in a high dimensional sequence space. The fitness landscape is a function on that sequence space. In evolutionary dynamics, a biological population moves over a fitness landscape driven by mutation, selection and random drift. (Nowak, M. A. Evolutionary Dynamics: Exploring the Equations of Life. Harvard University Press, 2006.)

5. Nowak, M. A. Evolutionary Dynamics: Exploring the Equations of Life. Harvard University Press, 2006.

6. Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings (1954 edition), p.42.

7. A fitness function is a function that is used to summarize, as a measure of merit, how close a solution is to a particular aim. It is used to describe and design evolutionary systems.

Credits

Review, research and editing team: Catherine Ahearn, Chia Evers, Natalie Saltiel, Andre Uhl

I recently co-taught a class that merged content, students and a TA from MIT with a course that Jonathan Zittrain has been teaching for many years called Internet and Society, the Politics and Technologies of control. In addition, there was a program that ran together with it called the Berkman Assembly. It was a really great program and I hope we can do something similar again. There's an article about it on the Harvard Law site.

Just as the Executive Order from the Trump Administration calling for a travel ban from seven Muslim countries was playing out, I was meeting with Jonathan so I asked him to do a Facebook Live with me to talk about the Internet, politics and protests.

Apologies for the audio quality and sync problems.

You can find the audio on iTunes and SoundCloud.

John Brockman's EDGE asks a tough question every year. For 2017 the question was "What scientific term or concept ought to be more widely know?" My answer was:

Neurodiversity

Humans have diversity in neurological conditions. While some, such as autism are considered disabilities, many argue that they are the result of normal variations in the human genome. The neurodiversity movement is an international civil rights movement that argues that autism shouldn't be "cured" and that it is an authentic form of human diversity that should be protected.

In the early 1900s eugenics and the sterilization of people considered genetically inferior were scientifically sanctioned ideas, with outspoken advocates like Theodore Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger, Winston Churchill and US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. The horror of the Holocaust, inspired by the eugenics movement, demonstrated the danger and devastation these programs can exact when put into practice.

Temple Grandin, an outspoken spokesperson for autism and neurodiversity argues that Albert Einstein, Wolfgang Mozart and Nikola Tesla would have been diagnosed on the "autistic spectrum" if they had been alive today. She also believes that autism has long contributed to human development and that "without autism traits we might still be living in caves." Today, non-neurotypical children often suffer through a remedial programs in the traditional educational system only to be discovered to be geniuses later. Many of these kids end up at MIT and other research institutes.

With the discovery of CRISPR the possibility of editing the human genome at scale has suddenly become feasible. The initial applications that are being developed involve the "fixing" of genetic mutations that cause debilitating diseases, but they are also taking us down a path with the potential to eliminate not only autism but much of the diversity that makes human society flourish. Our understanding of the human genome is rudimentary enough that it will be some time before we are able to enact complex changes that involve things like intelligence or personality, but it's a slippery slope. I saw a business plan a few years ago that argued that autism was just "errors" in the genome that could be identified and "corrected" in the manner of "de-noising" a grainy photograph or audio recording.

Clearly some children born with autism are in states that require intervention and have debilitating issues. However, our attempts to "cure" autism, either through remediation or eventually through genetic engineering, could result in the eradication of a neurological diversity that drives scholarship, innovation, arts and many of the essential elements of a healthy society.

We know that diversity is essential for healthy ecosystems. We see how agricultural monocultures have created fragile and unsustainable systems.

My concern is that even if we figure out and understand that neurological diversity is essential for our society, I worry that we will develop the tools for designing away any risky traits that deviate from the norm, and that given a choice, people will tend to opt for a neuro-typical child.

As we march down the path of genetic engineering to eliminate disabilities and disease, it's important to be aware that this path, while more scientifically sophisticated, has been followed before with unintended and possibly irreversible consequences and side-effects.

See the answers from everyone else on Edge.


I learned about Julia Reda reading Kaz Taira's blog post about her visit to Japan for a Movements for Internet Active Users (MIAU) meeting.

Julia Reda is a Member of the European Parliament representing Germany, and she also serves as a Vice-President of the Greens/EFA group, president of the Young Pirates of Europe and a member of the Pirate Party of Germany.

She is was the rapporteur of the Parliament's review of 2001's Copyright Directive.

We set a Skype call and some of the EU's secret conversations about copyright leaked just as the call was starting so we used this as an opportunity to talk about some of the crazy copyright laws being proposed and passed in Europe right now.

I streamed the video on Facebook Live and posted a cleaner version on YouTube.

LibrePlanet 2016 and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) happened to be having meetings at MIT at the same time so Harry Halpin from the W3C thought that it would be a great opportunity to have a public discussion about Digital Restrictions Management* (DRM). The W3C was having a discussion about DRM and the World Wide Web and considering Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) which would build DRM support into the Web standards and various parties were trying argue against it. They didn't have room over at CSAIL so he approached me about having it at the Media Lab and I agree to host it as long as it was clear that this didn't didn't signal some official position by the the Lab.

We were able to pull together an interesting panel with Richard Stallman from the Free Software Foundation, Danny O'Brien from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Harry Halpin from the World Wide Web Consortium as the moderator. Harry and I were speaking on behalf of ourselves and not our (in my case various) organizations and affiliations.

As you might imagine with this group, it wasn't a debate, but arguments against DRM from a various perspectives and levels of intensity. :-)

Here's the blurb from Harry.

Will the future of the Web include Digital Rights Management? The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the MIT-based international standards body in charge of "bringing the Web to its full potential" is in process of deciding if they should continue their work on Encrypted Media Extensions (EME). The recommendation of EME by W3C would standardize the use of Digital Rights Management (DRM) across browsers. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has petitioned W3C to stop all work on EME and DRM-related technologies. The W3C will consider adopting a DRM non-aggression covenant drafted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) at its Advisory Committee meeting at MIT next week.

This is an open invitation for genuine person-to-person dialogue with people from MIT, FSF, EFF, and W3C about DRM on the Web (and any other topics of importance to the Web).

Speakers:

- Joi Ito (Media Lab)
- Richard Stallman (Free Software Foundation)
- Danny O'Brien (EFF)
- W3C Team Member(s)
- Moderator: Harry Halpin (W3C)

March 20th 2016, 8 PM

* Richard Stallman insists we call it Digital Restrictions Management although industry more commonly refers to it as "Digital Rights Management."

I wrote a bit about DRM in my PubPub post, "Why anti-money laundering laws and poorly designed copyright laws are similar and should be revised."

25638451103_17fa3bdea7_o.jpg

Sitting at home and looking out the window was a bit other-worldly. A snowy day in April is rare even in Boston. I seem to have gotten myself sick again. (After being mostly immune to everything for years, I've had a series of colds and flues this year. More on my theories about this in another post.)

For the last few days, Boris, Daiji and I have been following in the footsteps of Dave Winer and have been trying to get my RSS feed from my Movable Type Blog to become compatible with Facebook Instant Articles so that it would be approved. We have been going back and forth with the Facebook team who have been friendly and responsive. I THINK we finally have it working.

So here we go. If you read this on Facebook on the app, you should see the thunderbolt mark and it should load really easily.

Thanks to Dave for getting me going on this thread and to Boris, Daiji and the folks at Facebook who helped out. My Open Web feels a bit more loved tonight than it did before.

IMG_0600.jpg

This is what this page looks like on my iPhone.

Published this on pubpub.ito.com. Please comment there.

Abstract: Intentionally or unintentionally, poorly crafted or outdated laws and technical standards threaten to undermine security, privacy and the viability of our most promising new technologies and networks, such as Bitcoin and Blockchain. We should vigilantly be reviewing and revising laws and standards for the public good and working to prevent the creation of fragile and cumbersome systems designed to comply with these poorly crafted or outdated laws. In this post, I discuss the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's Anti-Circumvention provision, Digital Rights Management, Anti-Money Laundering Law, Know Your Customer Laws and security backdoors.

By

Interesting that Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems Corp. will use so-called mag-lev technology in an elevator for the first time.

Mag-lev allows near frictionless movement by suspending objects in midair through a combination of magnetic attraction and repulsion, but the story's kicker is that while the mag-lev elevators will be quieter and more comfortable, Toshiba said conventional elevators can travel more than three times faster.

Meanwhile, Fujitec has announced a system to organize elevator riders in order to stop bottlenecks and speed the flow of people to the correct floor. I have seen such systems in Hong Kong's municipal buildings. They are annoying at first ("Elevator 3 will now go to the 14th, 17th and 18th floor. Take elevator 4 to the 9th, 11th and 14th floor"), but they are efficient.

Regulating passenger flow is pretty low tech compared with suspending elevators on magnets, but that system seems likely to get you to your floor much more quickly. Are there any other notable low-tech solutions for high-tech situations?

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

By

New Orleans mayor just announced free Wifi for the city.

John Dvorak says vested interests are just too great from telecom providers to let it last.

Can free Wifi survive?

As the Web 2.0 bandwagon gets bigger and faster, more and more people seem to be blogging about it. I am increasingly confronted by people who ask me what it is. Just like I don't like "blogging" and "blogosphere", I don't like the word. However, I think it's going to end up sticking. I don't like it because it coincides with another bubbly swell in consumer Internet (the "web") and it sounds like "buzz 2.0". I think all of the cool things that are going on right now shouldn't be swept into some name that sounds like a new software version number for a re-written presentation by venture captitalists to their investors from the last bubble.

What's going on right now is about open standards, open source, free culture, small pieces loosely joined, innovation on the edges and all of the good things that WE FORGOT when we got greedy during the last bubble. These good Internet principles are easily corrupted when you bring back "the money". (As a VC, I realize I'm being a bit hypocritical here.) On the other hand, I think/hope Web 2.0 will be a bit better than Web 1.0. Both Tiger and GTalk use Jabber, an open standard, instead of the insanity of MSN Messenger, AOL IM and Yahoo IM using proprietary standards that didn't interoperate. At least Apple and Google are TRYING to look open and good.

I think blogging, web services, content syndication, AJAX, open source, wikis, and all of the cool new things that are going on shouldn't be clumped together into something that sounds like a Microsoft product name. On the other hand, I don't have a better solution. Web 2.0 is probably a pretty good name for a conference and probably an easy way to explain why we're so excited to someone who doesn't really care.

While we're at labeling the web x.0. Philip Torrone jokingly mentioned to me the other day (inside Second Life) that 3D was Web 3.0. I agree. 3D and VR have been around for a long time and there is a lot of great work going on, but I think we're finally getting to the phase where it's integrated with the web and widely used. I think the first step for me was to see World of Warcraft (WoW) with its 4M users and the extensible client. The only machine I have where I can turn on all of the video features is my duel CPU G5. On my powerbook I have to limit my video features and can't concurrently use other applications while playing. Clearly there is a hardware limit which is a good sign since hardware getting faster is a development we can count on.

Second Life (SL) is sort of the next step in development. Instead of trying to control all real-money and real-world relationship with things in the game like Blizzard does with WoW, SL encourages it. SL is less about gaming and more about building and collaboration. However, SL is not open source and is a venture capital backed for-profit company that owns the platform. I love it, but I think there's one more step.

Croquet, which I've been waiting for for a long time appears to be in the final phases of a real release. Croquet, if it takes off should let you build things like SL but in a distributed and open source way. It is basically a 3D collaborative operating system. If it takes off, it should allow us to take our learning from WoW and SL and do to them what "Web 2.0" is doing to traditional consumer Internet services.

However, don't hold your breath. WoW blows away SL in terms of snappy graphics and response time and has a well designed addictive and highly-tuned gaming environment. Croquet is still in development and is still way behind SL in terms of being easy to use. It will take time for the more open platforms to catch up to the closed ones, but I think they're coming.

Web 3.0 is on its way! Actually, lets not call it Web 3.0.

Ross Rader writes a passionate response to the ITU "Beyond Internet Governance" paper. This is the struggle/debate that we face today and good for Ross for articulating the position many people have but are either not in a position to say or are not informed enough to say. I would be very interested to hear the ITU's response to Ross.

UPI via The Washington Times

Tenet calls for Internet security

[...]

The way the Internet was built might be part of the problem, he said. Its open architecture allows Web surfing, but that openness makes the system vulnerable, Mr. Tenet said.

Access to networks like the World Wide Web might need to be limited to those who can show they take security seriously, he said.

If the Internet were not open, it would no longer be the Internet. it is exactly the "vulnerabilities" that Tenet refers to that allows the Internet to promote free speech, innovation and growth without asking permission, getting licenses or being controlled by governments and monopolies. Shutting down or closing the open Internet in the name of fear and terror would do more damage to global democracy and innovation than any real damage it would have on terrorists. Of course terrorists use the Internet, but so does everyone else. I think people underestimate how much damage certain types of "control" can have on the future of the Internet. Either Tenet was ignorant of the nature of the Internet or it is yet another calculated push towards turning the Internet into another version of the telephone networks or cable TV...

Does Tenet have any influence on policy anymore?

Susan Crawford mentioned this during her remarks at the public forum at ICANN. Are there any other news agencies reporting this story?

Cory blogs from the WIPO meeting about position papers from IP Justice, EFF, and the Union for the Public Domain being repeatedly stolen and thrown in the trash. Someone is obviously upset about their position on the Broadcast Treaty. Cory quotes Gandhi, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." Good luck Cory!

Anil points out that Microsoft Passport seems to have withered away silently.

"In a complete reversal of their policy and on the heels of Avex's partial cessation of copy protected CDs (translation), Sony Music Entertainment in Japan has announced that it will abolish its Label Gate CCCD format (translation) beginning in November 2004 and move back to normal CD-audio format discs for all future releases. Reasons cited are music users' increased consciousness about copyrights and maintenance of legality (conformity to the CD-audio format specification). In related news, Sony also released a slightly updated HD walkman (translation) due to pressure from the iPod, but because of hardware limitations the device still does not support MP3 playback."
Yay! Sony does something smart in the DRM space for a change.
EFF Deeplinks
E-Voting Mistake Caught on Paper

In news at once frightening and reassuring, a Sequoia electronic voting machine suffered a very public failure last week during a live demo. The machine worked fine with an English-language ballot, but failed to record votes with the Spanish-language ballot.

I still think electronic voting is a bad idea. Here is yet another example of a failure.

Lawrence Lessig
no potential for a substantial noninfringing use?

Here's a BitTorrent file that will get you, p2p, the video of the Hearings on the INDUCE Act, prepared by Tom Barger. Watch, and blog the substantial noninfringing use.

BitTorrent is one of the most efficient p2p systems and is great for distributing movies and other large files. The Induce act is trying to make illegal basic technologies such as p2p which "could induce" people to break copyright law.

With more powerful cameras and PCs, video and Flash have become important mediums for free speech. They are increasingly being used for political action. The integration of blogs and p2p technology for sharing these videos like the BitTorrent link above from Lessig are a good example. I believe this is substantial non-infringing use.

BitTorrent is very smart and allows you to download from multiple sources. Thus, the more people downloading/sharing, the faster the download becomes and the less stress it puts on any one person. Anyone who's posted a movie file to a blog knows what this is like. I'm downloading it now with 3 peers. Come on everyone, join in the BitTorrent p2p fun and help me make the download faster! (while it's still legal)

Lessig
this is the constitution on DRM

So jump over here to Amazon.com where you can purchase an electronic version of the Constitution, fitted very nicely to a Microsoft Reader (not Mac compatible), and protected quite completely with DRM. The description says you're not permitted to print it. The reader reviews report you're permitted to print it twice a year. And don't try to hack the code to print it more than twice -- until Boucher's H.R. 107 passes at least. (Though the ranking is higher than for my book. Maybe free fails after all?) (Thanks Paul!)

Now who in their right mind would buy a copy of the US constitution in a form that they couldn't freely print? Or maybe they're going to try to get the government to stop distributing for free. ;-p
Dan Gillmor
Iran's Net Censorship
Hoder points me to "Stop Censoring Us" -- a site about the increasing level of government intervention in what was emerging as relatively free speech in Iran. I'm not sure what individuals outside Iran can do about this except to offer support to the Iranians who want to speak their minds.
I once sat next to a guy from Sun Federal, a Sun Microsystems subsidiary, who was on his way back from selling a filtering system to a government. I think that most of this censorship technology is built in the US. I guess it makes sense, but it's interesting that there is very little discussion about this. (At least as far as I know...)

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

Dan Gillmor
DirecTV Reins in the Legal Attack Dogs

In one of the uglier "intellectual property" abuses, DirecTV has been suing people for possession of tools it claims can be used to get TV shows without paying for them. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society have challenged the satellite TV company on this conduct, and on Monday DirecTV agreed to modify its approach, according to this press release, which says in part:

The company will no longer pursue people solely for purchasing smart card readers, writers, general-purpose programmers, and general-purpose emulators. It will maintain this policy into the forseeable future and file lawsuits only against people it suspects of actually pirating its satellite signal. DirecTV will, however, continue to investigate purchasers of devices that are often primarily designed for satellite signal interception, nicknamed “bootloaders” and “unloopers.”

DirecTV also agreed to change its pre-lawsuit demand letters to explain in detail how innocent recipients can get DirecTV to drop their cases. The company also promised that it will investigate every substantive claim of innocence it receives. If purchasers provide sufficient evidence demonstrating that they did not use their devices for signal theft, DirecTV will dismiss their cases. EFF and CIS will monitor reports of this process to confirm that innocent device purchasers are having their cases dismissed.

Perhaps DirecTV saw some writing on the wall. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court has ruled that the company can't sue solely because someone possesses such equipment.
These are the kinds of stories that make me sometimes wish I lived in America. Good job EFF and Stanford Law School.

AKMA
Incredible - Perhaps Not True

Somebody tell me that the Patent office hasn't actually granted Microsoft's application for a patent on double-clicking.

This is why I don't like software patents.

The Register
FCC chairman hails VoIP
Michael Powell
If you're a big incumbent and you've sort of enjoyed a competitive advantage . . . you, in my opinion, ought to be terrified.

[...]

I think it's going to be the very, very best and biggest breakthrough in our ambitions and dreams about competition ever.

via Kevin Werbach

Exactly.

Reuters
Oxygen Media Inc. CEO and founder Geraldine Laybourne criticized the FCC's enforcement effort during the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn.'s (NCTA) annual trade show.

"I don't think we should use the word indecency; we should call it what it is: censorship," Laybourne said Tuesday during one of the show's panel discussions.

Laybourne's comments came after a Q&A session with FCC chairman Michael Powell and NCTA chief Robert Sachs.

"I don't agree with that," Powell told reporters after his dialogue. "For 70 years, the country has had limits on broadcast television. To me censorship is prior restraint, and I don't think anybody has been involved in that limitation on content."

via Jeff Jarvis

Umm... I don't think so.

I guess 1 out of 2 isn't bad.

There's a short interview in MIT's The Tech newpaper with Jack Valenti about DMCA. I'm glad that Jack is still willing to have discussions like this. This is what I meant when I said that I think Jack should be respected. Even if you don't agree with him, he's still willing to try to discuss his position with you.

via Creative Commons weblog

Mercury News
E-voting panel wants to dump troubled system

SACRAMENTO - Less than seven months before the presidential election, an advisory panel Thursday unanimously recommended an unprecedented ban of touch-screen election equipment used in four California counties.

The panel also urged Secretary of State Kevin Shelley to seek a criminal or civil investigation into the conduct of Diebold Election Systems, the Ohio-based firm that manufactured the troubled voting system.

Yes! We really need to get rid of e-voting. It's such a bad idea and until now, I thought we were losing the battle. We need to make sure this doesn't end with just Diebold.

via Dan Gillmor

Here are some thoughts on where I think things are going in the mobile and content space.

I wrote this essay before reading Free Culture so I'm saying a lot of stuff that Larry says better...

Several crucial shifts in technology are emerging that will drastically affect the relationship between users and technology in the near future. Wireless Internet is becoming ubiquitous and economically viable. Internet capable devices are becoming smaller and more powerful.

Alongside technological shifts, new social trends are emerging. Users are shifting their attention from packaged content to social information about location, presence and community. Tools for identity, trust, relationship management and navigating social networks are becoming more popular. Mobile communication tools are shifting away from a 1-1 model, allowing for increased many-to-many interactions; such a shift is even being used to permit new forms of democracy and citizen participation in global dialog.

While new technological and social trends are occurring, it is not without resistance, often by the developers and distributors of technology and content. In order to empower the consumer as a community member and producer, communication carriers, hardware manufacturers and content providers must understand and build models that focus less on the content and more on the relationships.

Smaller faster

Computing started out as large mainframe computers, software developers and companies “time sharing” for slices of computing time on the large machines. The mini-computer was cheaper and smaller, allowing companies and labs to own their own computers. The mini computer allowed a much greater number of people to have access to computers and even use them in real time. The mini computer lead to a burst in software and networking technologies. In the early 80’s, the personal computer increased the number of computers by an order of magnitude and again, led to an explosion in new software and technology while lowering the cost even more. Console gaming companies proved once again that unit costs could be decreased significantly by dramatically increasing the number of units sold. Today, we have over a billion cell phones in the market. There are tens of millions camera phones. The incredible number of these devices has continued to lower the unit cost of computing as well as devices imbedded in these devices such as small cameras. High end phones have the computing power of the personal computers of the 80’s and the game consoles of the 90’s.

History repeats with WiFi

There are parallels in the history of communications and computing. In the 1980’s the technology of packet switched networks became widely deployed. Two standards competed. X.25 was a packet switched network technology being promoted by CCITT (a large, formal international standards body) and the telephone companies. It involved a system run by telephone companies including metered tariffs and multiple bilateral agreements between carriers to hook up.

Concurrently, universities and research labs were promoting TCP/IP and the Internet opportunity for loosely organized standards meetings being operated with flat rate tariffs and little or no agreements between the carriers. People just connected to the closest node and everyone agreed to freely carry traffic for others.

There were several “free Internet” services such as “The Little Garden” in San Francisco. Commercial service providers, particularly the telephone company operators such as SprintNet tried to shut down such free services by threatening not to carry this free traffic.

Eventually, large ISPs began providing high quality Internet connectivity and finally the telephone companies realized that the Internet was the dominant standard and shutdown or acquired the ISPs.

A similar trend is happening in wireless data services. GPRS is currently the dominant technology among mobile telephone carriers. GPRS allows users to transmit packets of data across the carrier network to the Internet. One can roam to other networks as long as the mobile operators have agreements with each other. Just like in the days of X.25, the system requires many bilateral agreements between the carriers; their goal is to track and bill for each packet of information.

Competing with this standard is WiFi. WiFi is just a simple wireless extension to the current Internet and many hotspots provide people with free access to the Internet in cafes and other public areas. WiFi service providers have emerged, while telephone operators –such as a T-Mobile and Vodaphone- are capitalizing on paid WiFi services. Just as with the Internet, network operators are threatening to shut down free WiFi providers, citing a violation of terms of service.

Just as with X.25, the GPRS data network and the future data networks planned by the telephone carriers (e.g. 3G) are crippled with unwieldy standards bodies, bilateral agreements, and inherently complicated and expensive plant operations.

It is clear that the simplicity of WiFi and the Internet is more efficient than the networks planned by the telephone companies. That said, the availability of low cost phones is controlled by mobile telephone carriers, their distribution networks and their subsidies.

Content vs Context

Many of the mobile telephone carriers are hoping that users will purchase branded content manufactured in Hollywood and packaged and distributed by the telephone companies using sophisticated technology to thwart copying.

Broadband in the home will always be cheaper than mobile broadband. Therefore it will be cheaper for people to download content at home and use storage devices to carry it with them rather than downloading or viewing content over a mobile phone network. Most entertainment content is not so time sensitive that it requires real time network access.

The mobile carriers are making the same mistake that many of the network service providers made in the 80s. Consider Delphi, a joint venture between IBM and Sears Roebuck. Delphi assumed that branded content was going to be the main use of their system and designed the architecture of the network to provide users with such content. Conversely, the users ended up using primary email and communications and the system failed to provide such services effectively due to the mis-design.

Similarly, it is clear that mobile computing is about communication. Not only are mobile phones being used for 1-1 communications, as expected through voice conversations; people are learning new forms of communication because of SMS, email and presence technologies. Often, the value of these communication processes is the transmission of “state” or “context” information; the content of the messages are less important.

Copyright and the Creative Commons

In addition to the constant flow of traffic keeping groups of people in touch with each other, significant changes are emerging in multimedia creation and sharing. The low cost of cameras and the nearly television studio quality capability of personal computers has caused an explosion in the number and quality of content being created by amateurs. Not only is this content easier to develop, people are using the power of weblogs and phones to distribute their creations to others.

The network providers and many of the hardware providers are trying to build systems that make it difficult for users to share and manipulate multimedia content. Such regulation drastically stifles the users’ ability to produce, share and communicate. This is particularly surprising given that such activities are considered the primary “killer application” for networks.

It may seem unintuitive to argue that packaged commercial content can co-exist alongside consumer content while concurrently stimulating content creation and sharing. In order to understand how this can work, it is crucial to understand how the current system of copyright is broken and can be fixed.

First of all, copyright in the multimedia digital age is inherently broken. Historically, copyright works because it is difficult to copy or edit works and because only few people produce new works over a very long period of time. Today, technology allows us to find, sample, edit and share very quickly. The problem is that the current notion of copyright is not capable of addressing the complexity and the speed of what technology enables artists to create. Large copyright holders, notably Hollywood studios, have aggressively extended and strengthened their copyright protections to try to keep the ability to produce and distribute creative works in the realm of large corporations.

Hollywood asserts, “all rights reserved” on works that they own. Sampling music, having a TV show running in the background in a movie scene or quoting lyrics to a song in a book about the history of music all require payment to and a negotiation with the copyright holder. Even though the Internet makes available a wide palette of wonderful works based on content from all over the world, the current copyright practices forbid most of such creation.

However, most artists are happy to have their music sampled if they receive attribution. Most writers are happy to be quoted or have their books copied for non-commercial use. Most creators of content realize that all content builds on the past and the ability for people to build on what one has created is a natural and extremely important part of the creative process.

Creative Commons tries to give artists that choice. By providing a more flexible copyright than the standards “all rights reserved” copyright of commercial content providers, Creative Commons allows artists to set a variety of rights to their works. This includes the ability to reuse for commercial use, copy, sample, require attribution, etc. Such an approach allows artists to decide how their work can be used, while providing people with the materials necessary for increased creation and sharing.

Creative Commons also provides for a way to make the copyright of pieces of content machine-readable. This means that a search engine or other tool to manipulate content is able to read the copyright. As such, an artist can search for songs, images and text to use while having the information to provide the necessary attribution.

Creative Commons can co-exist with the stringent copyright regimes of the Hollywood studios while allowing professional and amateur artists to take more control of how much they want their works to be shared and integrated into the commons. Until copyright law itself is fundamentally changed, the Creative Commons will provide an essential tool to provide an alternative to the completely inflexible copyright of commercial content.

Content is not like some lump of gold to be horded and owned which diminishes in value each time it is shared. Content is a foundation upon which community and relationships are formed. Content is the foundation for culture. We must evolve beyond the current copyright regime that was developed in a world where the creation and transmission of content was unwieldy and expense, reserved to those privileged artists who were funded by commercial enterprises. This will provide the emerging wireless networks and mobile devices with the freedom necessary for them to become the community building tools of sharing that is their destiny.

Wired News just ran an article by Xeni exposing a draft letter circulated by Bill Lockyer, California attorney general slamming P2P. The metadata on the Word document shows that it has been edited/reviewed by the Motion Picture Association of America. Another example of Hollywood using the US government to push its agenda to blame and limit technology which it views as a threat.

It is me, or is this pretty "smoking gun"?

Seth says he wants to banish anonymous communications.

Seth Godin
Virus writers are always anonymous.

Vicious political lies (with faked photoshop photos of political leaders, or false innuendo about personal lives) are always anonymous as well.

Spam is anonymous.

eBay fraudsters are anonymous too.

It seems as though virtually all of the problems of the Net stem from this one flaw, and its one I’ve riffed on before. If we can eliminate anonymity online, we create a far more civil place.

I disagree. Although most vicious attacks I have received have been anonymous, I still believe there is a role for anonymity and that the value outweighs the cost.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has a project on anonymous communication on the Internet. They list a few of cases where we might need anonymous communication on the Internet.

AAAS
Case 1 - The Crimesolvers Website
Case 2 - Chatting Online About Addiction
Case 3 - The Case(s) of the Hot News Tips
Case 4 - An Anonymous Computer Hotline: Is it Worth the Costs?
Case 5 - Terror in Elb!
Case 6 - Good Communication Gone Bad
Case 7 - His Word Against Whose?
Remember that the Internet is one of the few tools for a variety of people who are at risk including whistle-blowers and human rights workers. It is very difficult or impossible to "fix" the Internet without breaking it for others.

As a former student, I sure wish I had had RateMyTeachers.com (via Seb) when I was in school. I would have had a lot to say and I would have felt justified. Maybe I wouldn't have had to start our underground newspaper. On the other hand, I can see how this might be abused. There are some thoughtful comments from many people about the "Adopt A Reporter" idea over on PressThink. This is not a new issue, but an old issue that continues to accelerate. As Loic points out, blogging helps you manage your own identity instead of leaving it up to others. Having said that, any notion that you can "control" your identity is a myth.

Over at Chanpon, someone blogged about a teacher from my high school who passed away. Some students posted some allegations in the comments. Obviously, since the teacher was dead, he couldn't defend himself. On the other hand, the students obviously felt justified and there are very few opportunities for students to speak up about their teachers. We ended up removing the entry and the comments. It was a very difficult decision, but we did what we thought was right. Blogs and other forms of publishing come with a great deal of responsibility and it is very difficult to judge what is right and wrong. That is why we need to think about justice and how we can make the institution of blogs and the Internet just. The technology influences what we can do and how people use it. Having said that, just as with politicians, we get what we deserve. Unless we have a strong sense of justice and speak up, we'll end up with bad technologies in the same way we end up with bad politicians.

David Weinberger describes how the Cato Institute's analysis of the Dean Net policy is wrong.

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've removed the CSS Stylesheets in my RSS feed until further notice. I'll let the discussions play out and will wait for the tool builders to decide what is best before I start pushing on this.

Thanks for all of the interesting feedback everyone.


Dan Gillmor writes about how censorware blocks his site. It's blocking mine too.

Dan Gillmor
Simon Phipps alerts me that one of the big censorware outfits, SurfControl, is blocking this and other blogs as a default setting for some customers. He points to Jon Udell's report of a surrealistic conversation with a company salesdroid upon his own such discovery. Good grief.

SurfControl puts all blogs under Usenet, a fairly bizarre characterization of the genre, but par for the course for the censorware mavens. They tend to sweep big categories into their filter, and then let you try to find your own way to escape.

Speaking of false positives, I'm also against blacklists because they can also cause false positives that are difficult to correct. Smartmobs was blacklisted by Verio and it took Roland two months of hell to get it sorted out.

I know I use a blacklist for my comment filtering. It's a stop-gap measure until someone figures out a better solution.

I had a weird dream last night. I had a dream that I was spinning records and I had a little chart. On one axis was the record label and on the other was the record player. When ever I played a record, I had to check the label and cross it with the record player to know what the right speed setting for the record was. In real life, I remember being annoyed when records didn't have 45 rpm or 33 rpm on their labels when I was a DJ.

Anyway, a few observations. I'm totally losing it because I remember thinking in the dream, "oh, I should blog this..." Which, I think, is a bad sign. This dream was probably partially triggered by my discussion with James Seng yesterday about identifier standards (which I will blog about later when I understand exactly what we talked about) and partially triggered by thoughts about CSS incompatibilities when trying to redesign my blog. (Which luckily Boris is handling for me right now.) The little chart I had in the dream reminded me of the CSS/browser support charts in the O'Reilly CSS Pocket Reference.

Anyway, isn't it great when we have standards that work and really ugly when we have bad standards or no standards at all? I'm not trying to take a political stand here, just observing and paying homage the the necessity of good standards.

Lauren Weinstein has a great mp3 Fact Squad Radio rant on the Versign Site Finder issue.

Cory and the EFF have been leading the charge to stop the broadcast flag proposal. Lessig chimes in. The broadcast flag is a bad thing which is anti-end-to-end. Fight for the Stupid Network!

If this entry is cryptic to you, you need to learn more about the broadcast flag and why it is bad. Click on the links.

The ultimate outrage: Rusty Lewis of VeriSign says this is a test for the Net, to see whether the infrastructure can be innovated. It's a threat: Let us do what we want or we won't invest in upgrading infrastructure, he implies.

In response to a question, he bascially indicates that ICANN doesn't have the power to keep VeriSign from doing what it's done. The company will have a dialogue with whoever wants to talk, but it plans to "reintroduce" Site Finder.

I think VeriSign has already won the key part of this war. It has persuaded reporters to call Site Finder a "service" instead of what it truly is, a misuse of its monopoly.

This sounds really bad. How can a company that tries to sell trust act in such a blatantly untrustworthy way...

After ICANN's formal letter asking Verisign to shut down Site Finder, VeriSign has temporarily shut the service down. They don't sound very happy about shutting down a "service has been well received by millions of Internet users". Good job on this one ICANN.

Via Lauren Weinstein's Blog

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.

Andrew Fried
I have been following the various threads relating to Verisign and wanted to make one comment that I feel has been missing. Simply put, I would like to publicly express my appreciation to Mr. Vixie for taking the time to add the "root-delegation-only" patch for Bind. I'm fairly new to NANOG, but I'm sure that others beside myself also feel a thank you is appropriate.
Andrew Fried, Senior Special Agent for the US Treasury Department posted this on the NANOG list regarding Verisign and the SiteFinder thing. Very cool that someone "patched" Bind to fix the "bug". Also very cool that someone like Andrew is speaking in his own voice in a public forum about this issue.

Via Boing Boing Via This demands work

If I were Microsoft I would probably like micro-content and metadata. IE and the browser wars were the pits for them. They should hate html by now. Microsoft also hates Google. Google hates metadata. Google likes scraping html, mixing it with their secret sauce and creating the all-mighty page ranking. Anything that detracts value from this rocket science or makes things complicated for Google or easy for other people is probably a bad thing for Google.

If the Net started to look more and more like XML based syndication and subscriptions with lots of links in the feeds to metadata and other namespaces, it would be more and more difficult to create page ranking out of plain old html.

My guess is that Microsoft knows this and intends to be there when it happens instead of totally missing it at the beginning like when the Internet got started. I have a feeling they will embrace a lot of the open standards that we are creating in the blog space now, but that they will add their usual garbage afterwards in the name spaces and metadata so that at the end of the day it all turns funky and Microsoft.

Just a thought...

A very important message from Cory Doctorow about the broken process at the IEEE on electronic voting machine standardization. If you are an IEEE member or have influence at the IEEE you should read this.

The IEEE, normally the sobersided epitome of integrity and accountability, has had one of its standards-committees jump the tracks. The people who are writing the IEEE standard for voting machines have been doing their best to rig their deliberative process ot exclude input from non-vendors who want the standard to include performance metrics that will guard against electoral malfeasance. This is heavy stuff: the standard this committee produces will likely form the basis of the US goverment's voting-machine purchases (as well as those of governments abroad), and if there are holes in the standard today, they will be biting our democracies on the ass for decades. There's never been a clearer demonstration that "architecture is politics."

IEEE is better than this. If you're a member of the organization, please take a moment to read up on this disaster-in-the-making and then use the form at the EFF's action-center to write to the IEEE and ask them to investigate this -- before it's too late.

..instead of using this opportunity to create a performance standard, setting benchmarks for e-voting machines to meet with regards to testing the security, reliability, accessibility and accuracy of these machines, P1583 created a design standard, describing how electronic voting machines should be configured (and following the basic plans of most current electronic voting machines). Even more problematic, the standard fails to require or even recommend that voting machines be truly voter verified or verifiable, a security measure that has broad support within the computer security community.

To make matters worse, EFF has received reports of serious procedural problems with the P1538 and SCC 38 Committee processes, including shifting roadblocks placed in front of those who wish to participate and vote, and failure to follow basic procedural requirements.We've heard claims that the working group and committee leadership is largely controlled by representatives of the electronic voting machine vendor companies and others with vested interests.

Link

Reuters
VeriSign Sued Over Controversial Web Service
Thu September 18, 2003 09:13 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - An Internet search company on Thursday filed a $100 million antitrust lawsuit against VeriSign Inc., accusing the Web address provider of hijacking misspelled and unassigned Web addresses with a service it launched this week.

I blogged earlier about SiteFinder and everyone agreed it was a "bad thing." VeriSign just got sued for it.

Thanks for the link Peggy!

dejah420@MetaFilter
Verisign modifies the infrastructure of the net to point back to themselves. Verisign has rigged all .com and .net mistyped domains to reroute to their branded search page. This makes them effectively the biggest cybersquatter on the net, and will make it impossible for most spam filters at the network level to operate as well as seriously complicating the lives of network administrators everywhere. posted by dejah420 at 8:07 PM PST
I wonder if someone at Verisign thought this was a clever hack. It's stupid stuff like this that makes it very clear to everyone that Verisign is in a position to abuse their power.

Dave Sifry, whose opinion I greatly respect, has been trying to get to the bottom of this RSS controversy. He has talked to Dave Winer on the phone in length and it appears that the issue is really the use of the name, "RSS". Please read the very interesting post (for those of you who care about RSS. ;-) ) by Sifry.

Just in case you missed this, Microsoft is supporting RSS and is letting the developers lead. Dave Winer approves. If you don't know what RSS is, here is a great article describing RSS and how to make a feed.

Dan Gillmor has a short entry about the stupid new bill in Michigan that basically makes firewalls and VPN's illegal. According to Dan, "And guess whose greasy fingerprints are all over it? Right, the movie studios."

This has already been blogged to death so I apologized to the heavy bloggers, but I have some readers who don't read other blogs so...

Here is some required reading:

Doc and David

World of Ends

What the Internet Is and How to Stop Mistaking It for Something Else.

by Doc Searls and David Weinberger

The Nutshell
1. The Internet isn't complicated
2. The Internet isn't a thing. It's an agreement.
3. The Internet is stupid.
4. Adding value to the Internet lowers its value.
5. All the Internet's value grows on its edges.
6. Money moves to the suburbs.
7. The end of the world? Nah, the world of ends.
8. The Internet’s three virtues:
a. No one owns it
b. Everyone can use it
c. Anyone can improve it
9. If the Internet is so simple, why have so many been so boneheaded about it?
10. Some mistakes we can stop making already

I think we're at a very exciting point in the history of the future. Dave wrote a great essay to kick of the year just as I was trying to collect my thoughts. Let me also be a bit optimistic for a moment and share with you what I WISH will happen. Consumer electronics and mobile devices are where computer networking was before TCP/IP. Nothing talks to anything else and everything is vertically integrated and "intelligently" organized. TCP/IP changed that for telecom/computer networks. We all know the story.

Same thing with consumer electronics. It's a very different market with lots of different constraints like power consumption, price, etc. There are a lot of people working on various layers trying to standardize with mixed results. Apple is clearly making the move into consumer electronics. Sony is trying very hard to integrate network services into its hardware. It still doesn't work well. They're too "smart". The Tivo Rendezvous support is an example of a step forward and shows the potential of open standards in this space. Apple's Safari which is based on KHTML, from KDE's Konqueror open source project is also an interesting example as well.

So, here's what I think. We all know that the network should be stupid. Network providers will be a basic utility like electricity, but they'll still make money if they stick to the network. Where is the next focus? In the hardware, content and tools. If the hardware companies are smart, they will support open standards and let the users create the content, let the community create the tools and provide API and support for open standards. Yes, they will give up some control and yes they will eventually become more of a commodity like the network, but the scale will increase and they will make money.

So here's my offer. I'll focus on trying to pitch the hardware companies in Japan to look at the MetaWeblog API and other standards that we are developing. I will TRY to invest the rest of the $15mm I have into companies that develop things are end-to-end stupid network oriented, open standards compliant, blog community supportive, non-proprietary OS based and generally un-evil. I will also try to get others to invest with us. I'm going to try as hard as I can and still be fiduciarily responsible to my investors. I want everyone else to try very hard too. Let's see if we can make this happen. Think twice before going to work for you-know-who. If you go work for you-know-who, try to get them to support open standards. If you can choose, choose something open. If you can buy/license something from the developer community vs. building it do so. And most importantly, now that we have blogs to talk on, engage us in the dialog and try to break open mobile devices and consumer electronics platforms and get them to take advantage of the most talented group of unemployedself-employed developers since before the bubble. Let's convince the consumer hardware guys to open up and focus on their strengths and benefit from this just like IBM and others were able to benefit from the Internet by supporting and embracing the developer community.

I know this is rather obvious and I'm probably preaching to the choir, but I'm serious. ;-)

code.jpegA bureaucrat that with whom we have had numerous debates suddenly visited my office today wanting to talk. Gohsuke had told him to read Lawrence Lessig's book, Code. The bureaucrat read the book over the holidays and wanted to see me right away to tell me about it. (Today is the first day of work after the Japanese holidays. He said he, "got it." He liked the book very much and finally realized the scale and the context of the issues we had been debating and now understood what we were talking about. This story has several lessons... Focusing on specifics before you share a framework is futile; a well written book by an important person (the bureaucrat insisted on confirming the social status of Lessig) can change everything; the "meta-discussion" is less threatening than specific issues with responsibilities and associated budgets. ;-) Anyway, thanks Larry!

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wired News

Kristen Philipkoski
02:00 AM Nov. 01, 2002 PST

The journal Science retracted eight of Hendrik Schon's discredited research papers on Thursday, but the information still lurks on the Internet.

In September, an investigative committee found that 17 papers authored by Schon, considered to be major breakthroughs in physics, were mostly fabrications.

But a Web search on Schon's name turns up more pages touting those "accomplishments" than his firing in September by Bell Labs, the result of his fabricating that data.

So this is an important issue, but not an impossible one. It relates to the story about "The Google Gods"
CNET News.com
Does search engine's power threaten Web's independence?
By Stefanie Olsen
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
October 31, 2002, 4:00 a.m. PT

Patrick Ahern has witnessed the power of Google--and the difficulties of trying to do business without it.

Data Recovery Group, where he is president, would typically come up around the fourth listing on Google's popular search engine last year. Then in January, when Google removed the company from its listings without explanation, Data Recovery saw a 30 percent drop in business.

I have also suffered as I wait for Google to update it's database. It just today finally dumped my old URL's and rolled over to my new ones making my site google searchable again. It took months for Google to index me properly when I first got started. It was very frustrating. Having said that, I've run a search engine and I know how difficult it is to keep everyone happy.

blog theme song on... So maybe blogs, meta-indexes and things like weblogs.com to keep track of updates... basically the whole xml thing will help solve the issue of keep track of "the living web"...

windowsswitch.jpg VS macswitch.gif
I found this on David Farber's list. Aparently Microsoft tried to do a "switch" campaign like Apple did using "real people" to explain why they switched from Apple to Microsoft. Readers on Slashdot found the women in the ad in a catalog of stock photos and she is aparently not a "real person." Microsoft has since taken down their page, but Google has a cache.
Although it is flipped horizontally, it is obviously the same image as the image in the gettyimages database

Spotted on David Farber's IP

Australian IT
Phone system could have your number
Kate Mackenzie
OCTOBER 07, 2002

A SINGLE telephone number doubling as an email address could soon be available in Australia despite fears the technology could become a de facto identification number.

Under the ENUM system being analysed by the Australian Communications Authority, one number could track down a person via a home or mobile phone number, or an email or website address.


This is SOOO bad. Where is my favorite Australian privacy expert Roger Clarke?

In Japan the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications (who brought us the National ID system I've been protesting) also controls all of the phone numbers. This is yet another stupid idea that links identity to some sort of government number. Why can't we all have a variety of screen name/email addresses and dump phone numbers all together. Why don't we just phone email addresses? This whole idea is backwards...

I can understand the desire to trace everything to a physical body, but don't they understand that it means that ANYONE with a PC and a brain will be able to trace stuff back to us? The risks, I believe, outweigh the benefits.

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

mouse.gif

lessig_forehead_thumb.jpg
Think... think...
I was supposed to see Lawrence Lessig a few weeks ago, but he cancelled the meeting because he was busy preparing his argument for the U.S. Supreme Court. I forgive you Lawrence. ;-) This is a very important case for the future of copyright. As the digital world and all of our blogging and links show that copyright is less important when everything is live, the copyright manufacturers are trying to push the law in the other direction. All hands on deck to prevent a serious step backwards in the way we think about information.

1790.gifI am doing my part in Japan organizing study groups and lecturing, but the US laws always tend to be "globalized" so I think the real battlefield is the US at this point.

eldred.cc

This site collects material related to the constitutional challenge of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which extended by 20 years both existing copyrights and future copyrights.

Eric Eldred is the lead plaintiff on the case (for other plaintiffs, click here), and on May 20, 2002, opening briefs were filed in the Supreme Court. Arguments will be heard October 9th, 2002, and a decision is expected next spring. Watch here for the latest news, and click on "how you can help" to join our (e) campaign.

Saw this on Scripting News.

Larry Lessig admits it: he’s nervous.

John Markoff quoted me in his New York Times article (thanks John!) on the lawsuit between Shuji Nakamura and the company he was working for when he did the research on and filed the patents for the blue LED. This is a landmark suit for Japan and should have some interesting reprecussions in the relationship between Japanese corporations and its researchers.

The New York Times
A Rebel in Japan Is Hailed as an Innovator in U.S. By JOHN MARKOFF

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 17 — Ordered to stop the scientific research he thought extremely promising, Shuji Nakamura hid the work from his superiors at a Japanese chemical company. He secretly obtained patents in the company's name.

Dr. Nakamura's mission paid off: his inventions revolutionized the world of consumer electronics. One helped make possible an array of products, from flat-panel computer screens to video billboards to long-lasting, efficient flashlights. Another will make it possible to store 5 to 10 movies on a single DVD-like disk.

Dr. Nakamura has been celebrated in the United States as an innovative pioneer. But in Japan he is more controversial. After it was clear his inventions would make a lot of money, his bosses took them to market without additional compensation for him. So Dr. Nakamura sued the company, claiming that the patents were a result of his efforts and he should receive royalties.


Joi's quote in the NYT

"This will teach researchers and companies alike to negotiate and make explicit rights and compensation in advance," said Joichi Ito, president and chief executive of Neoteny Company, a Japanese investment firm. "This is great because it will help force technical people to think about business and companies to think about incentives."

Generally researchers in Japan think that business (some call it the "money game") is dirty and I think the thought of suing a company or fighting for compensation is a bit beneath some researchers... Many researchers feel that the lack of compensation is a tradeoff for getting to do what they want without having to worry about business. This is changing. Companies are pushing researchers to think about returns and many there is general support to spin ventures out of universities and corporate research labs. The rights and the compensation are very unclear at this point and this case should push the debate forward...

logoars.GIFI was interviewed yesterday by NHK to talk about the Net category winners and the jury process this year. I talked about how in the early days, we approached the category from a media theory perspective. Derrick deKerkhove and Mitsuhiro Takemura were both on the first jury and they are both very media theory oriented. The jury, over the last seven years has swung around a bit, but we had always tried to look beyond the interface to find the "webness" or the community beyond. We always used to look at flashFlash animation sites as superficial and thin.

At this year's jury meeting, I said something about flashFlash being superficial, Joshua got really mad and argued that flash could do everything Java could do but better. He said that flash talked xml and could be used to do just about everything. He said that it got a bad rap because people thought it was a design tool developed by Macromedia. He said that he hated "old school" guys like me that kept the Net from moving on and getting to the next level. I have to admit, I underestimated flash, but Joshua's religious ferver was also pretty interesting. Joshua won last year with his site, Praystation, which is an amazing flashFlash site that makes flashFlash examples available and has lots and lots of great examples of how to make flashFlash do cool things.

Later, at the ORF studios, I saw Joshua "the first guy to ever call Joi Ito 'old school'" Davis. He was nice and acted almost like he felt sorry about being mean to me. Maybe it's because he's coming to Tokyo next month. ;-p Anyway, I like Joshua and he really opened my eyes to flash so now I'm anxious to learn flash. I told him that I was having difficulty figuring out how to get started with flash and that I wanted to have someone help me build a flash interface to blogs. He said he would help. Cool.

So, to get back to the NHK interview. I told them that we are now seeing artists drawn into the expressive flexibility of flashFlash, finding that they can dig into content using xml and other tools and that there is a meeting of the political, "old school" Internet and design people causing greats sites like They Rule and projects like Carnivore to be born.

Dan Gillmor
Music Industry's Death Wish

Dan Bricklin has looked closely at the numbers in the music industry, and suggests that the record companies are killing themselves by stamping out music downloads. He makes a compelling case in this essay.

His bottom line: "Given the slight dip in CD sales despite so many reasons for there to be a much larger drop, it seems that the effect of downloading, burning, and sharing is one of the few bright lights helping the music industry with their most loyal customers. Perhaps the real reason for some of the drop in sales was the shutdown of Napster and other crackdowns by the music industry."

I don't expect the music companies to pay attention to inconvenient facts. That would be out of character.


Interesting perspective. I am feeling very sick of the music industry. They can keep Britney Spears and their lawyers. I actually have really cut back on buying CD's generally. When I see a CD, I see don't an artist selling music, I see an enslaved artist boxed up in a the shrinkwrap of a industry trying to protect itself by choking the customers and the artists that it is meant to be serving.

No, now I get my musical kicks from open air concerts, ring tones in on my cell phone and cool flash sites like Joe Sparks and his Radiskull and Devil Doll.

Do I need the record industry to enjoy music? Hell no.

One interesting thing to note is that the karaoke industry used midi files to play back music on synthesizers inside of karaoke machines. This lead to a huge industry of midi files. They decided to do a flat fee payment system to simply the billing for the little bars that played the music. Then, when ring tones became popular for cell phones, they used the same flat fee model to license the music. THAT is why ring tones are a huge money making business in Japan. Simple billing, cheap billing and no record companies.

(Apologies to my record company exec friends and to my friends who sell CD's... but you guys suck these days.)

In case you missed this in my Toshio Yamagishi entry...

There is an interesting discussion going on in a Yahoo Group called Decentraliation. Rich Persaud made an interesting comment. I responded. People asked me to post Toshio Yamagishi's paper so I got permission and here it is.

Toshio Yamagishi

Dear Joi,
I have sent the paper out for review--it will take some time for the
paper to get published. Yes, I'm happy that it is widely distributed.
You may do whatever you want to do with the paper.
Best regards,
Toshio

Improving the Lemons Market with a Reputation System: An Experimental Study of Internet Auctioning by Toshio Yamagishi

I'm sorry if this is redundant, but I wanted to sort out this thread and make sure people saw Toshio Yamagishi's paper which is great.

stewart.jpgStewart Alsop (who I met recently at the Fortune Brainstorm 2002) writes in his column in Fortune Magazine about GoodContacts.

When Barak was visiting a few weeks ago, he was raving about it as well. GoodContacts is basically a contact management package that talks to Outlook or Act! and spams them with email and asks people to update their info. The good thing about GoodContacts is that they don't keep your contact list, they just enable you to spam from your computer. That's why I thought about using it until I realized I would have to switch to Outlook. (and why I am still drooling) It is viral, useful and cool. It triggered a "flashbulb moment" for Stewart.

Stewart Alsop

And that leads me to the flashbulb. Imagine that we all have one phone number and one e-mail address that knows where we are. Imagine that the network keeps track of our location and our personal data, and automatically updates anyone who might be interested. Imagine that we don't have to think about whether the right phone number or address is stored in the network or our PC or our PDA or our phone. Imagine that all these little details of personal life are just handled. Yeah, yeah, I'm dreaming. But if that stuff happens, it will start with dumb little programs like GoodContacts. That's enlightening.

boldface added by Joi for emphasis

I have great respect for Stewart and all this SOUNDS good, but the lightbulb that flashed for me was. OUTLOOK? PERSONAL DATA? Ack! I would like something with similar functionality. It would be great, but I still can't imagine using a Microsoft product for contact management considering all of the security and privacy problems they have. I also would HATE for all of this information to ever end up not being local. Be careful when you ask "the network" to do stuff for you. I envision something similar, but a much different architecture.

Think IM buddy lists. Everyone should be able to have identities that are separate from their "entities". (see my paper about for more thoughts about this) You should be able to have multiple identities for the various roles. Each identity would be attached to different attributes such as memberships, age, corporate roles, or writing pseudonyms. Locally, you would be able to attach current information such as shipping address, home address, current phone, voicemailbox, etc. to each of the identities, being able to manage which identity was "active" or capable of routing to you at any given time. At work you would want your personal phone calls screened, your business contacts on. At home, you could reverse them.

Managing our identities and personal information in this age of privacy destruction will be essential. I truely believe that privacy underpins democracy and that "viral" solutions that give people like Microsoft or their software, access to our contact info should be watched carefully. Peer to peer, multi-vendor, multi-id, hash/digital signature based connectivity is much more interesting for me.

But maybe Stewart was going to get to the architecture next. I think it's a great idea, but the architecture discussion has to happen NOW.

siacover.jpg
Finally finished reading this book. Mimi recommended it to me when I was trying to write my paper for Ars Electronica. Now I can't remember the context of her recommendation. Anyway...

A dense book, but a great book.

It approaches the process of the progress of science and the development of "facts" from the human and social perspective. Latour starts out the book by chronicling the discovery of DNA and the development of the Eclipse MV/8000 computer. He shows how "facts" are black boxes that become fact through a process of competition that involves building networks of references until people start to refer to your theory as a fact and use it to build their facts. In fact, black boxes can be re-opened, but it becomes increasing difficult and costly to do this. I felt this very much when working at ECD. We worked in the area of disordered materials. Most devices are/were made of solid state crystalline materials. It is very difficult to get people think about devices in other ways. In this way, ECD discovered huge bodies of amazing materials with amazing properties, but convincing the world of the reality of this alternative universe took decades and the resistance was phenomenal. (It took Stan Ovshinsky, an amazing leader with the combination of a scientific mind and the will of a political activist to convince the world.)

Latour writes about how many scientists believe that "Nature" can tell us if the facts are true. He explores laboratories and their methods and shows us that "Nature" doesn't really "tell us" anything. Nature proves something only after something becomes a fact. Laboratories are design to prove or support facts and the design of the experiment and the interpretation of the data are ambiguous and always disputable. It costs a great deal of money to open a "black box" and to create a laboratory to create or debunk scientific facts. The more "scientific" one gets, the more ambiguous the facts become and the higher the costs become. Because of the time and the costs involved, this questioning of fact and creation of fact becomes an enterprise that require a great deal of funding and thus a great deal of political and non-scientific activity.

He makes an interesting point about scientific papers which I will quote :

There is something still worse, however, than being either criticized or dismantled by careless readers: it is being ignored. Since the status of a claim depends on later users' insertions, what if there are no later users whatsoever? This is the point that people who never come close to the fabrication of science have the greatest difficulty in grasping. They imagine that all scientific articles are equal and arrayed in lines like soldiers, to be carefully inspected one by one. However, most papers are never read at all. No matter what a paper did to the former literature, if no one else does anything with it, then it is as if it never existed at all. You may have written a paper that settles a fierce controversy once and for all, but if readers ignore it, it cannot be turned into a fact; it simply cannot.

You may protest against this injustice; you may treasure the certitude of being right in your inner heart; but it will never go further than your inner heart; you will never go further in certitude without the help of others. Fact construction is so much a collective process that an isolated person builds only dreams, claims and feelings, not facts. As we will see later in Chapter 3, one of the main problems to solve is to interest someone enough to read at all; compared to this problem, that of being believed is, so to speak, a minor task.


So! This ties into our discussion of blogs. (I get to talk about blogs again.) Remember that article by the Brazilian who was abused by INS in LAX? It was posted/blogged on the Net and David Farber wrote about it on his mailing list. Someone wrote that they had a brother that was in the same Rotary Club as the victim. Then, Brock Meeks called INS and confirmed the incident. This "theory" quickly became fact or very close to fact. People prodded and probed many of the weaknesses in the original article and conducted experiments. But... I think one of the most important things was that the current global political climate made the original claim very relevant. People read it and blogged it. Now we know for a "fact" that INS has cells in LAX that they throw people into for not having the right "papers."

Omi-san, a friend who left NTT recently is working on a database for academic papers. I am going to see her again soon to show her blogs and how blogs can create automatic links such as the trackback feature that Movable Type has. I think that blogs will have a huge impact on journalism and news, but after reading Science in Action, I realize that blogs or something similar to blogs could have a HUGE impact on Science. Science is obviously more rigid and structured, but the ability to link quickly and amass support for your claim or idea should be great. The blog architecture is probably much more suitable for many types of exchange than the current model of professional journals.

Japan has a process where they make boards and inquiry panels to discuss important issues with experts and the public. These inquiry panels are defined by law and are supposed to be an important part of the law making process, but in fact they are often used to diffuse public pressure and just act like they care. I am often asked to join such panels and I find I learn a lot about what is going on and can usually influence the direction ever so slightly. I usually feel this is better than not doing anything, but I am often citied as having been co-opted. In the past, the issues haven't been so important or public so it hasn't really mattered. This time it does.

A month or so ago, the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications which is in charge of the National ID that I have been protesting approached me and asked me if I could organize a panel to review the privacy issues around the National ID. I consulted with our protest movement we decided that if the results were made public and we could fund some privacy research, this was probably a good thing. We are now in the process of organizing a global survey of privacy technology, privacy commissioners and other things that would be useful in considering how to set up the Japanese government privacy policy. We hope to create a recommendation about what Japan should do in creating new system as well as what we can do to minimize privacy invasiveness in the current system. So far so good.

Now I have been contacted again, but this time the request is to be on the board of the National ID committee and be in charge of privacy! Apparently this is a request from the minister. (Very interesting since I practically called him a liar on a live national news program where we debated against each other and I think he called me something that sounded a lot like "stupid." Anyway...) It is probably a move to try to co-opt me. I replied saying that I have no intention of stopping my anti-National ID activity or becoming "quiet." I said I would consider taking the post if I was allowed to be completely open and public about what we discussed in the meetings and if I were allowed to continue to protest the National ID. I think that if I were to take such a post, it would negatively impact the movement. Having said that, as we all know from Karl Auerbach's ability to really be a pain in the ass to ICANN as a board member, I think co-opting doesn't work when one is able to be public with one's comments. So I'm thinking about this. If they come back and tell me that I have to stop protesting or I have to keep the meeting discussions confidential, I will obviously say, "No." On the other hand, if I am able to blog everything that is going on inside, I wonder if they will be able to co-opt me. Anyway, this may end up being quite an interesting test for this medium and my blog...

On the other hand, (since I know my investors, board members and employees are now reading my blog...) I probably don't have to time to do the job properly considering the fact that I have a REAL JOB and this whole thing was supposed to be just a hobby... hmm.... And if I focus my REAL JOB too much on my hobby, it compromises my independence... hmm... All this is SO difficult.


found on Slashdot
An article in Popular Science about what a national ID would look like and contain. On the issue of social security numbers on ID card, they mention that even though social security numbers on ID cards have been rejected by the federal government, "it's a good guess the Department of Homeland Security would manage it".

On smart card technology, they say:

For example, an ER doctor could view medical information and enter data about treatment (if the card's data storage device is read-write capable), but could not see security-related data (such as a traveler's flight history, or a non-citizen's visa status) that an airport or INS official might require. But how secure are smart cards? Detailed instructional hacking sites can be found on the Web, many focusing on European cards. And the more data on a card, the more valuable the card becomes to an identity thief.
Yup. This is definitely a risk. I wonder how many terrorists would actually use un-forged ID cards when traveling?
Popular Science | Your ID Please, Citizen

found on POLITECH. My comments in italics

NASA plans to read terrorist's minds at airports
By Frank J. Murray
THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Airport security screeners may soon try to read the minds of travelers to identify terrorists.

Officials of the National Aeronautics and space Administration have told Northwest Airlines security specialists that the agency is developing brain-monitoring devices in cooperation with a commercial firm, which it did not identify.

Space technology would be adapted to receive and analyze brain-wave and heartbeat patterns, then feed that data into computerized programs "to detect passengers who potentially might pose a threat," according to briefing documents obtained by The Washington Times.

Now this is scary... oops. That thought would probably set off a alarm... Aren't these polygraph sort of technologies notoriously inaccurate? Linked with all of the horrible things we are hearing about treatment in airports and the new database of fingerprints and photos they are making, are we going to end up with a database and a jail full of all of the people who would be nervous about having their brains scanned?

NASA wants to use "noninvasive neuro-electric sensors," (Sounds like an oxymoron.) imbedded in gates, to collect tiny electric signals that all brains and hearts transmit. Computers would apply statistical algorithms to correlate physiologic patterns with computerized data on travel routines, criminal background and credit information from "hundreds to thousands of data sources," NASA documents say.

The notion has raised privacy concerns. (duh...) Mihir Kshirsagar of the Electronic Privacy Information Center says such technology would only add to airport-security chaos. "A lot of people's fear of flying would send those meters off the chart. Are they going to pull all those people aside?"

NASA plans to read terrorist's minds at airports -- The Washington Times

Here's another example of the clash of cultures on the Internet. Google, trying to do a good thing has run into the wrath of old school Usenet types. ;-)

From David Farber's Interesting People Mailing List:

Abstract

This article explores the conflict between the cooperative online culture of users who have created Usenet and the corporate commodification of Usenet posts by companies archiving the posts. The clash of decision-making processes is presented thorough the details of how Usenet users choose to petition a company to provide protection for the public archives it had collected. The company disregarded the petition and the archives were sold to another company. The new company has begun to put its own copyright symbol on the posts in its archives. How will such a commodification affect the cooperative nature of Usenet itself and the continuing vitality of Usenet's cooperative culture The article explores this culture clash and considers possible consequences.

from "Commodifying Usenet and the Usenet Archive or Continuing the Online Cooperative Usenet Culture?" by Ronda Hauben
in Science Studies 15:1(2002), 61-68

http://www.columbia.edu/~rh120/other/usenetstts.pdf

So it is a fight to be the most simple? Goggle beat Infoseek by being more simple and user oriented. Web services take that to the next level. If companies start competing to be easier to integrate, more open and more simple that's a great thing for us!

Quoted from the Goggle Weblog:

Google tells Amazon Light to Cease and Desist

Amazon Light, a very cool new use of the Amazon Web Services recently introuced (and clearly inspired by Google's Web API) provides a cleaner-than-Amazon interface to the same data. However, they recently report that they've been asked to cease-and-desist by Google's lawyers. The site was very much like Google's (screenshot) but it was clearly in good taste. I'm not sure why Google is so testy about it. Is a books.google.com coming soon?

I wonder if they'll go after Whois Report next.

[Thanks to Kevin Burton for alerting me to this.]

Posted by Aaron Swartz on July 19, 2002 07:33 AM

From Slashdot:

Posted by CmdrTaco on Thursday July 18, @01:06PM
from the where-have-I-heard-this-before. dept.
Michael Long writes "Forgent Networks (www.forgentnetworks.com) has announced that it owns the software patent on JPEG compression technology, and has stated that it is "in contact" with computer, software, camera, and other digital imaging product manufacturers regarding licensing terms. This ambush of the digitial imaging industry will probably stand as the worst public relations nightmare a company can inflict upon itself."


Thanks for sending this Sen. This is pretty intense. I wonder if this is the product of some vulture capitals, was planned from the beginning, some lawyers having fun, or something someone found when sifting through the assets of some acquisition. In any event, this should shake up the industry. Glad I don't manufacture digital cameras.

The Internet Multicasting Service and the Internet Software Consortium are two well respected non-profit public engineering organizations on the Internet. I recently talked to Carl Malamud since he's in Japan for IETF doing his thing. He is one of principles of IMS and according to the IMS web page "created the first Internet radio station and put the SEC's EDGAR database on-line. A serial social entrepreneur, he's helped run a number of nonprofit organizations and committed two Silicon Valley startups. Carl is the author of 8 books, numerous articles, a few RFCs, and takes up way too much space in Google."

I first met Carl through Jun Murai when we worked on the Internet 1996 World Expo together.

Anyway, he asked for my support for their bid and talked me through it. I think it's great and am very supportive. I think it's by far the best bid and the best structure and I think could be come a model for many other TLD's.

From: Carl Malamud To: jito@neoteny.com Date: Mon, 15 Jul 2002 23:43:42 -0400 (EDT)

Our proposal for .org is not only the only pure non-profit bid, it is the only one that treats the .org registry as a public trust. We're proposing a fully-open, transparent operation: all statistics, finances, and source code will be published. We consider .org to be a public trust, not a public trough: that means that all revenues will be devoted to the .org domain and to public infrastructure.

We'll also make some real changes to how this crucial piece of public infrastructure runs. For example: our performance specifications meet or exceed each of the other bids. (E.g., zone files for the DNS will be published in 5 minutes or less in contrast to the current 24 hours.) We'll be deploying secure DNS. We've got some advanced development work already published that shows how small namespaces (e.g., personal namespaces like Whois) can be changed.

Our team has been doing this for 10 years+. In contrast to the other bids, ours is about people. We're personally signing up to run .org, not promising that some newly-formed organization or some opaque MIS staff will do this.

Bottom line: a rock-solid public infrastructure based on our extensive experience doing this. Most importantly: the first truly open and transparent registry. It doesn't matter if you think there should be a million TLD's or ICANN should be abolished or whatever: the first step is to create a reference implementation so everybody knows how registries should operate. We're proposing to run and then document a best current practices registry.

Their proposal http://trusted.resource.org/
Their "show your support page" http://not.invisible.net/signals/bin/000055.shtml
News and information about the .org bid http://not.invisible.net/signals/memes/org.shtml
ICANN .org Reassignment: Request for Proposals http://www.icann.org/tlds/org/rfp-20may02.htm

jyukicameras.jpg
Lights, Camera....

...and there was no action.

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

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

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

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

jyuki.jpg

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

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

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

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

There is a Japanese web page describing our efforts.

We have formed a Japan chapter of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. Shinji Yamane, who has been working on this project for quite a while will be the chair. Kazuo Fujimoto will be the secretary and I will be the treasurer initially. I am trying to get CPSR to help me show the technical problems with the National ID program that Japan is trying to implement. We have a local movement protesting the national ID.