I'm now grappling with the issue of creating an open and chatty atmosphere on IRC and not restricting people's behavior very much, but still keeping it a comfortable place for people who don't enjoy talking about sex and are uncomfortable with pornography. I don't think pornography has any place on my channel and I officially ask people not to "promote" pornography.
Yes he has his own irc channel, but I named my 3D anaglyphic project g3dav so I can't really cast stones.
I mention Joi's issue because it got me thinking again of the old Internet problem of mapping social constraints that have evolved in the real world into cyberspace equivalents. The usual example is the "bad part of town" construct. In the real world pornography isn't such a big deal because the strip clubs, adult bookstores and theaters are all in the "bad part of town" where your innocent child or delicate sensibilities won't be wandering around and unexpectedly stumble upon a patch of lurid activity. Of course on the Internet you're never more than a few keystrokes or a random mouse click away from something that would just ruin your day. For example (and I seriously suggest you DO NOT CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINK and just take my word for it): http://www.goatse.cx/ (told ya).
When WASTE was released it turned up the heat on some musings about the graph network of the Internet social fabric that I had simmering on a back burner for the past couple of years. I've since then had a number of discussions with others about what an Internet based on a peer-to-peer network-of-trusted-networks would look like. Joi's post caused me to re-examine the "bad part of town" problem in new terms.
So here's my five minutes of brain storming on the matter:
IRC is a wide open public chat system. The barrier to entry is low and most channels are public and unmoderated. You can have a private IRC channel that is hidden and/or invite-only (I've been on one for 6 years now actually), but that wouldn't work for something like #joiito because I'm pretty certain Joi wants to participate in communication between total strangers (people whose only assured commonality is that they read his blog), not just people already in his social network. In the real world you can have a gathering in a public place, say a weekly meetup at a cafe, and be reasonably certain that the meetup won't be overrun with people who are behaving in a matter that is disrupting the social norms. If you're having a gathering to discuss the works of Don Delillo and someone comes in and starts taping Hustler centerfolds to the furniture the problem will be taken care of in rather short order. Meatspace allows a number of mechanisms for resolving and preventing it. Social shame. Security guards.
Moderators are the IRC equivalent of security guards, but many people find the idea of moderation a bit draconian. There currently isn't much of a cyberspace equivalent of social shame though. No one knows you're a dog, yada yada yada. Some people basically behave like cretins online.
In the new network we are imagining these days Trust Networks can implement a social shame mechanism. WASTE allowed for encrypted communication though public key cryptography. The nice thing about this is that it not only provides a good level of encryption but it also provides identity authentication. I believe it has been suitably demonstrated that people are willing to give up anonymity when the occasion calls for it (although, strictly speaking it's not necessarily your real world identity that is authenticated but your online identity, so some level of anonymity is available, like a blind study). Once your identity is established then social networks such as FOAF and reputation systems can create a foundation for the same sociological mechanisms which work in the real world.
So imagine that Joi creates an IRC channel and configures it so that anyone with up to 6 degrees of separation from him can join it. Besides the popular folk wisdom, I know from examining the growth-per-hop of my own social network that the chances are pretty good that most everyone who would want to join #joiito would meet that requirement.
In this scenario, anyone who is on the chat channel has a reputation to protect. And even if someone doesn't care about their reputation, then someone along the network path leading back to Joi will care. Joi is friends with Alice. Alice is friends with Bob. Bob is friends with Chuck. Chuck posts the goatse.cx URL to #joiito, which everyone knows is a no-no. Chuck gets warned, but he keeps it up. Chuck gets banned. Additionally Bob gets marked as someone whose friends aren't to be allowed into the group. Bob is automatically alerted to this and isn't too happy. Bob emails Chuck and says "Dude, what the hell is wrong with you?" Perhaps Bob could at this point drop Chuck from his to-be-trusted set of friends, which will automatically lift the ban on his other friends. Note that there can be different sets of social network connections, like "I vouch for this person in this context" categories, such as "professional", "polite", "intellectual", "cool".... Perhaps the #joiito configuration specfies the "intellectual" and "polite" connections.
Chuck could create a new persona and try to get into the network again, but someone has to exchange links with him. If anyone becomes known as someone who links to just anyone then they will become untrusted themselves. It seems to be feasible to embed a reasonable social shame and reputation mechanism that is no more draconian than the one that works in the real world.