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Visitor from the Next Planet: Joi Ito

     Joi Ito could make you feel better about the digitized global time, space, psychology and politics that we’re all, willy nilly, entering. He has been living out there all his 37 years, bobbing and weaving between Japan, the States and Canada through his school years (college never completed).  He’s been dancing with Internet technology since his childhood, politicking, investing, thinking hard about democracy and business, writing, making friends and taking pictures all the way.  And famously blogging.  It’s been a “continuous identity crisis,” he says, a link with Colin Powell, whom he admires.  Joi Ito was a disk jockey in Chicago before he rerooted himself in Tokyo. His family heritage, through a dozen generations, is study and teaching.  One of his great-grandfathers tutored the Emperor of Japan in geography.  “I am trying to understand at a meta-level what we, the globe, are about,” he said in our conversation this morning.  “Most Japanese think I am very Japanese… Most Americans feel that I understand how they feel.”  He slings VC lingo and the table talk of too many Davos economic summits.  But he gets invited back to those places, I conclude, for the clarity of his big vision of adhesive networks that could heal the species.  Our introductory gab over coffee in his hotel room today is here in two 15-minute pieces:  Part One is Joi Ito’s account of this blogging tipping-point, a technological and social convergence at a moment when institutional media have become part of the world’s problem.  Part Two is his close observation of digital communities in real life, starting with his own round-the-clock, round-the-world chat space, which has regulars, guests, events and even a chaplain, “like MASH,” he said.  The Internet has become “a working anarchy” with redemptive possibilities if we “allow the interesting memes inside this diversity to emerge.” 

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