Interview with Joichi ITO

560px-Joichi_Ito_Headshot_2007 According to Wikipedia Joichi Ito, more commonly known as Joi Ito, is a Japanese-born, American-educated activist, entrepreneur, and venture capitalist. Ito has received much recognition for his role as an entrepreneur focused on Internet and technology companies.He was listed by BusinessWeek as one of the 50 “Stars of Asia” in the “Entrepreneurs and Dealmakers” category in 2000. [10] Ito was selected by the World Economic Forum in 2001 as one of the “Global Leaders for Tomorrow”.

This is an email interview and it happened because I was trying to iinvite Joi to the Medienwoche in Berlin, but he won”t be able to attend.

Photograph of Joichi Ito by Mizuka, from Joichi Ito’s Photos on Flickr, published under a Creative Commons license.

Why do you think that Creative Commons is so important for the future? 560px-Joichi_Ito_Headshot_2007Creative Commons license are based on copyright. So it applies to all works that are protected by copyright law. The kinds of works that are protected by copyright law are books, websites, blogs, photographs, films, videos, songs and other audio & visual recordings, for example. Software programs are also protected by copyright but, as explained below, we do not recommend that you apply a Creative Commons license to software code or documentation.

Creative Commons licenses give you the ability to dictate how others may exercise your copyright rights—such as the right of others to copy your work, make derivative works or adaptations of your work, to distribute your work and/or make money from your work. They do not give you the ability to restrict anything that is otherwise permitted by exceptions or limitations to copyright—including, importantly, fair use or fair dealing—nor do they give you the ability to control anything that is not protected by copyright law, such as facts and ideas.

Creative Commons licenses attach to the work and authorize everyone who comes in contact with the work to use it consistent with the license. This means that if Bob has a copy of your Creative Commons-licensed work, Bob can give a copy to Carol and Carol will be authorized to use the work consistent with the Creative Commons license. You then have a license agreement separately with both Bob and Carol.

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One final thing you should understand about Creative Commons licenses is that they are all non-exclusive. This means that you can permit the general public to use your work under a Creative Commons license and then enter into a separate and different non-exclusive license with someone else, for example, in exchange for money.

If you do not use a Creative Commons license, it is not clear to people reading your blog what rights they have to reuse your work. Other than “fair use” or other narrow uses permitted under the laws of various countries, people will have to ask specific permission to reuse photos, text and screenshots of your blog. With a Creative Commons license, people can know if they can use things from your blog without asking permission. The CC license also stipulates that they must give you attribution so that when they use things from your blog, they are required to put your name on it.

For most bloggers who are looking for an audience and to join the conversation, allowing people to use your work and share your knowledge increases the likely hood that you would be quoted on other blogs. If you choose the most liberal license, CC-BY that allows commercial reuse, you are more likely to show up in a newspaper, magazine or TV show. As a blogger, you should weight the “cost” to you of someone using your work in a commercial way, with the attention you would receive by being shown on TV, etc.

Many main stream media publications already quote and use material blogs without permission, but CC allows them (and non-commercial users like bloggers) to know your intent which is important for the ethical and legally conscious sites and shows.

For a long time, the general consensus was that games were for entertainment. In the mean time is has become apparent that games communicate, but differently than other media: they not only convey a message, but they also make it something to be experienced. What are the cultural values of games?
560px-Joichi_Ito_Headshot_2007 I am a Guild Custodian of the World of Warcraft guild, We Know. In a speech I gave last year at Ars Electronica I was talking about WoW community and what makes it so special. I think inside this story you will find a lot of reasons why games are most certainly of cultural value. Online communities are countless. What are the key factors for a valueable community? 560px-Joichi_Ito_Headshot_2007“valuable community” is difficult to define. Some communities create valuable assets like the linux or Wikipedia community, some provide support for people with medical problems, some are activists and deal with things like human rights, some create content, some are just fun. I think “valuable” is really not the right way to look at it. I think that there are communities that are stable with good rules, governance and a strong sense of mission and belonging tend to last longer and have happier members. I think the key factors in real world communities and online are very similar, but online communities can get larger and more complex with less money. This allows more of them to be emerge and more experiments to be tested. How would you describe the *differences between* a network like youtube and facebook?560px-Joichi_Ito_Headshot_2007YouTube requires less interaction with other players and has more “viewership” than facebook where the primary activity is interacting with other members and creating networks. They are both similar in that they are a kind of mild entertainment to pass the time. How will media change?560px-Joichi_Ito_Headshot_2007I think that media is changing from a top down to bottom up system. The big 3 news networks in the US lost a lot of control when CNN released the Jennifer Flowers news to the local news pool and the US news ran the story even tho the big 3 didn’t run it at the beginning. Similarly YouTube and blogs are taking it the next step. I think that for both news and political debate as well as “content”, there is a kind of amateur revolution which may not completely replace media, but will change the landscape dramatically. Where will advertising go?
560px-Joichi_Ito_Headshot_2007 I think it will continue to drive a lot of the media business. Google is becoming the largest ad company in the world, however, so those in power may change.


Some more personal questions:What does photography mean to you?Photography is one of my passions. I believe that the new tools are allowing a new generation of amateurs to participate and I think CC is key in unlocking a lot of the creative potential that is emerging in photography.Why are you blogging?The reasons change a lot, but like the links I posted above… sometimes I have to say something and it’s easier to say it once. It’s also a great way to find other people who are interested in a common topic or to find out more information about something I don’t know a lot about. How will your children and grand children learn in the future?first answer: Very differently. 😉
follow up: Hehe.

OK. Our children consume media in very different ways. Their behavior is VERY different. There is a huge gap between each generation.

If you look at the modes of media, they seem to go from things->relationships from content->context

CDs/books/magazines -> video games -> Karaoke -> Text Messages

More and more young kids are part of the media, part of the conversation and it is beyond just interactive or choice. THEY ARE THE MEDIA… Look at Wikipedia, it is a community, not a reference only.

Now that’s our current generation. You have to imaging that each new generation will continue to evolve and become more different. I can only assume that the key thing that kids will learn is how to connect, trust, communicate and hopefully have compassion… and that once connected, they will be able to learn anything they want. What is your favourite software?Flickr.


About JOI: Joichi Ito is a co-founder and board member of Digital Garage and the CEO of Neoteny. He is the Chairman of Creative Commons. He is on the board of Technorati and helps run Technorati Japan. He is the Chairman of Six Apart Japan the weblog software company. He is the board of a number of non-profit organizations including The Mozilla Foundation, The Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and WITNESS. He has created numerous Internet companies including PSINet Japan, Digital Garage and Infoseek Japan. He has served and continues to serve on numerous Japanese central as well as local government committees and boards, advising the government on IT, privacy and computer security related issues. He is currently researching “The Sharing Economy” as a Doctor of Business Administration candidate at the Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy at Hitotsubashi University in Japan. He is a fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Communications. He maintains a weblog where he regularly shares his thoughts with the online community. He is the Guild Custodian of the World of Warcraft guild, We Know.

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