Friday, July 16, 2004
Joi Ito, named by CNN as of Japan's biggest Internet stars, offers an inside look at Brainstorm 2004 on his weblog.
Brainstorm is a gathering of the smartest, most influential people we know to discuss the evolving role of business in the world at large.
Participants discuss some of most difficult issues, including political, religious, and military tensions; global warming; the economic divide between haves and have-nots; and the social responsibilities of corporations.
Joi Ito took some interesting notes on the session titled: "The decline in America's reputation". I took some quotes from his notes.
For example, I just couldn't agree more, when a read the advice by foreigner to American about their voice:
"If you must talk, can you at least lower the volume..." -
The presentation made it clear that people outside of America have many negative feelings towards America and that most American's didn't care.
Tools to help Americans behave seems to be one of the answers...
African participant : is there a way for cultural exchange that is less superficial than movies and brands. Maybe people are more similar than we think. How about exchange programs that allow people to live together.
Japanese participant : Q: To what extent does change of government affect how people hate America. A: Resentment has grown over a long period of time, not just during this administration. "Insensitive, arrogant and materialistic." These issues we can address without just government change. Business could address non-government issues and also influence government.
I personally enjoy the idea of having somebody taking notes from this kind of meetings. Ito is not somebody who does this unexpectedly. He is known to be passionate about the possibilities that weblog's offer. Here's what he said earlier on CNN:
"Weblogs are doing a lot of what people were excited about the Net when it first came out -- the fact that anyone can be a publisher,"
In a [Japanese] society that emphasizes conformity and harmony, blogging makes it easier for people to express unpopular opinions and get tangled in emotional debates.
"The thing neat about weblogs is you find each other," Ito said. "It gives you a feeling of empowerment. For grass-roots movements and things like that, it will be great."
"Blogging will fundamentally change the (way) people interact with media and politics and provide us with an opportunity to overhaul our outdated democracies," he said.
The BBC reports that in the South African city of Cape Town efforts are made to reduce crime in an innovative way. Not using any specific technique but just by staring at suspected criminals such as prostitutes and drug dealers.
Three nights a week a group of up to 30 people from Sea Point go out, stand on the pavement and give wrongdoers "the evil eye". Sea Point is notorious for crime and has a sleazy reputation, where groups of drug dealers can be seen lurking in alleyways and girls stand on street corners in miniskirts waiting for business.
The Yellow Bibs, as the neighbourhood group is known because of the uniforms they wear, say it only takes about 15 minutes before the people they watch start to feel uncomfortable and leave.
The initiative was the brainchild of a local city councillor. He says about 50 shops and local businesses have re-opened and criminal gangs have moved out of the area.
He explains how the residents' icy stares unnerved one group of sex workers recently. "The prostitutes told me I couldn't stand there all the time," he recalls. "I said of course, I could. They got irritated and left, but we followed them. They tried to sneak back, until they couldn't stand it anymore, so they got fed up and said they were going home to watch TV."