Joi Ito was the first blogger I ever met - at least knowingly. He is also one of several people who inspired me to leave TV journalism and get involved with the web, free culture, and online citizen media.
Joi's keynote speech on the final day of Wikimania was not about wikis or Wikipedia specifically - but about the core set of beliefs underpinning this community: free culture and what Joi calls the "sharing economy."
Joi (who has been reading the Dalai Lama recently) points out that there is a difference between "happiness" and "pleasure." Pleasure can be obtained with money. Happiness cannot be.
"We make decisions every day without thinking about the difference between pleasure and happiness," he says. "We need to think about this more."
He's right. People who work on any of the Wikimedia projects are certainly not motivated by money: Nobody who creates any of the content gets paid a cent. (The funds raised are spent on computer server space, administrative and technical staff needed to keep things running, legal counsel, etc.) The Wikipedians I've been hanging out with over the past several days derive happiness and feelings of self-worth and belonging by being active participants in a global community. People gain lasting and deep friendships - and sometimes even fall in love - while spending hours every week working to build a free body of knowledge online.
Journalists and other media professionals I know tend to be perplexed as to why people would spend so much time writing and editing articles for free. A friend who works for a major web company recently expressed shock that the Wikipedians hold their conference over a weekend when they could be home with their families. Of course since most Wikipedians have other jobs, weekends are the only time many can make a conference. But more importantly, the people attending Wikimania are here because it contributes to their happiness.
Joi spent a lot of his talk discussing Creative Commons (click here and here for more about CC as an alternative form of copyright that encourages sharing). Beyond the legal issues of intellectual property law, Joi's larger point is that people will be happier, more innovative (which is good economically in the long run) and more free if we focus less on the money we think we will make from our creations in the short term, and more on how our work will contribute to well being and happiness of others.