Joi Ito: Untitled (Saving the World)

Fantastic way to end the first full day of SXSW sessions, with a talk by Japanese activist, entrepreneur, and venture capitalist Joi Ito Untitled (Saving the World)

Social software hasn’t solved all the world’s problems, but the long term effects will be bigger than you think.

Key difference between the way the world was messed up in the past and the way it’s messed up now: Nonlinear complexity. It’s not necessarily better for the world in the long run if you make everything more efficient.

Everything you go into a culture you find layers of things that are the opposite of what you expected. The only way to deal with complexity is to have a decentralized system (like the internet).

Teenage Hezbollah girls fascinated by Japanese anime’ – you can’t tell them apart from teenagers anywhere.

Fixing requires nonlinear change. All the estimates assume linear changes only.

World Without Oil – WWO – An alternate reality game set in a future without energy. In playing the game, you have to figure out ways to reduce consumption. The key is that you have to play it in real life also. There’s a backyard garage vibe to it where people share their tricks and energy saving hacks in the forums. People get obsessed with saving energy.

We all have a basic survival instinct as human beings. This will drive us toward these solutions.

Positive deviance (Jerry Sternin): Find the few people who aren’t dysfunctional. Instead of trying to change all the people doing the wrong thing, amplify the people doing the right things.

We need to empower people financially. We develop dependencies through financial support, and it doesn’t help anyone. We need to promote self-sufficiency, not dependency.

Ito belongs very strongly in the internet. “That’s my religion.”

Free and open source software existed before the internet but has exploded on the internet. FOSS lowers barriers to entry, raises chances of success.

THE STACK
Creative Commons – CC … yep, he really sees this as a layer
The Web – W3C
The Internet – IETF

These layers are all very inclusive, all bottom-up.

“Small pieces loosely joined” : No need for everyone to understand everything. That’s how you get to non-linear complexity – you give up the idea of trying to control it.

The explosion of innovation on the internet came from INTEROPERABILITY. You used to have to buy Banyan Vines to tie your networks and their protocols together. TCP/IP changed all that.

Creative Commons is lowering costs, i.e. lowering costs of failure, raising chances of success… this will connect back to saving the world.

Four cc licenses:
– Attribution
– Non-commercial use only
– No derivatives (documentary producers like this)
– Share-alike (copyleft)

Everyone has a certain kind of sharing they’d like to do. We want to make it easier for you to do this.
They provide both a human-readable and a lawyer-readable version.

There’s also a ton of metadata available – machine-readable way of providing copyright / copyleft licenses embedded in media in various ways.

The White House put a Creative Commons license on their site so anyone can re-use the work.

Wikipedia switched to a CC license – derivatives must be shared back.

ONE internet is what makes the internet great. Same problem with licenses and interoperability. If you allow license proliferation, content arrives in a condition where e.g. professors can’t mix Wikipedia content with content from other sources. That’s why Ito does work to eliminate other licenses that accomplish the same thing.

All TED videos are now CC-licensed.

Nine Inch Nails released “Ghost” under wide-open CC.
Record company thought it was insane but they made $1.6 million their first week, and the MP3 became a top seller on Amazon and iTunes.

Watch Clay Shirky’s presentation “The Cost of Failure”

Now you can do with so much less, so much faster, what you couldn’t do without millions of dollars before.

At a certain point the map becomes more complex, or as complex, as reality. At a certain point it makes more sense to go build than to keep talking about it.

Ito is on the board of the Global Voices organization.
A network of bloggers. Provides voice to people in regions traditionally without.
This would not be possible without the internet. Giant leaps forward for humankind.

Another org: Witness — teaches human rights orgs how to do video. Created after Peter Gabriel saw the Rodney King video and realized it would change the future of human rights.

Architecture for Humanity – share designs for building effective structures and homes in the 3rd world, log successes and failures to improve future designs.

THE GIRL EFFECT: Empowering young girls is one of the most leveraging things you can do in elevating a culture.

Mozilla Drumbeat: Lots of middle east startups use .Net. Why? Because Microsoft and Cisco go in there and sponsor them. Great, they get a free leg up, but the result is that they become part of the closed source, commercial software ecosystem, which works against the larger goals. Drumbeat works to keep the cycle open, to promote FOSS in the Middle East and elsewhere. Drumbeat is giving micro-grants and awards to small startups. Fascinating project.

Travel as much as possible. Connect with individuals in other countries as much as possible. It’s so important.

In most countries the telcos are the biggest tax payer.
And in many countries, voice over IP is illegals. No coincidence there.

The International Land Mine Treaty would never have been signed were it not for email. It allowed NGOs to run circles around governments and large corporations.

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