Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson is the managing editor of The Japan Times, where he has worked since the birth of HTML. Once upon a time, he was on the features desk and wrote regularly about culture and technology. He can be found on way too many social platforms, including Mastodon,, Bluesky and Threads.
For Mark Thompson's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
Jul 12, 2000
I-mode uber Alles
A small cheer could be heard recently when it was announced that NTT DoCoMo would add English-language content to the menus of its i-mode cell phones. It went official July 3, and, well, the selection wasn't that big of a surprise. In fact, some of it had already been available in previous months (and on competitors' handsets).
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
Jun 28, 2000
All thumbs
In past columns, I've expressed my support for those people you've probably seen silently staring at their cell-phone screens, furiously typing away or intently scrolling. I recently joined their growing number. I think of it as a test drive; others might call it an occupational hazard. At any rate, I wanted to see what this wireless world is all about, and NTT DoCoMo's i-mode seemed like the quickest ticket. (I know it's not the only game in town, but the voluminous i-mode content makes DoCoMo king).
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
Jun 14, 2000
Gateways to synergy
Every time I visit a particular convenience store, I wince at the repeated announcement of its Web site: "Eichi chi chi pi koron surashu surashu daburyu daburyu daburyu dotto . . . " It is supposed to be such a cutting-edge play, but it only reminds me of how clumsy the analog world can be, and of how far it is from the digital domain.
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
May 24, 2000
Shopping with the herd
We track the tickers of global auctions. We flock to comparative shopping sites seeking the deal of the century. We sign up for sweepstakes galore and even occasionally invite vendors into our in-boxes to inform us of their latest discounts.
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
May 10, 2000
Sea of love
Ponder, if you will, these two recent headlines:
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
Apr 12, 2000
Just browsing?
It used to be so simple. You had Eudora for your e-mail and your tiny Mosaic browser for trolling through text-only university archives and contemplating the bright future of the World! Wide! Web!
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
Mar 29, 2000
Get Shorty
For many of us living in Japan, the Academy Awards ceremony serves as a reminder of where we are in the bigger scheme of things: behind the curve. We often haven't seen many of the nominated or winning films, some won't be here for another year, and others might not come at all. This is a distribution matter, and an explanation of it (if there even is one) is beyond the scope of this column. Suffice it to say, the Japanese market is a crucial one, and Japanese distributors tend to be extremely cautious with their release schedules. (Then again, I'll never understand the logic behind Christmas films in August.)
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
Mar 15, 2000
Seeds of knowledge
Welcome to the digital revolution, where we crunch numbers, process information and mine data. Maybe we don't get grease under our fingernails, but one wonders how far we've progressed beyond the industrial revolution. Though the metallic cling-clang of factories is rare, isn't there something familiar about the whir of copy machines, the churn of CPUs and the click-clack of fingers typing?
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
Feb 23, 2000
Private eyes
On the Net and off, personal data is a currency, an entity that can be bought, sold, bartered and, yes, stolen. Ideally, this information connects companies with potential clients and consumers with products and services. Ads with the precision of surgical airstrikes are swell for advertisers, but on the flip side are personalized services that can actually make online life easier. If the maitre d' knows your face and your preferences, he can make sure that your meal will be enjoyable. Because Web sites can't see your face (and wouldn't recognize it even if they did), they employ various methods of recognition. One of these is known as a cookie file.
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
Feb 9, 2000
Enemy of the corporate state
A few months ago while shopping for an iMac DV, I faced a dilemma. It wasn't the matter of sticking with Apple, but about whether I should buy it locally. Aside from issues of availability, price and OS language, there was the DVD bugaboo.
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
Jan 19, 2000
Space on the range
When the deliciously innovative iMacs were unveiled last year there was a collective gasp: What?! No floppy drive? How do I transfer files?
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
Dec 22, 1999
The accidental ambassador
Stop me if you've heard this one: A mustachioed fun-loving Turkish guy throws up a personal Web page that, in simple, bad English, depicts him as a regular Renaissance stud muffin, who loves to travel, plays numerous instruments, is single, and -- the kicker -- he states, "I like sex." He offers a picture of himself in a tight red Speedo bathing suit and headlines his page "I KISS YOU!!!!!!" "I like to be friendship from different country," he says on his page, and I quote. "Who is want to come Turkey I can invitate ... She can stay my home ..."
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
Dec 8, 1999
May we help you?
They say this might be the year that online Christmas sales in the U.S. actually live up to past promises of e-commerce's ascendancy. Hurrahs could be heard when it was reported that online transactions over Thanksgiving were up 10-fold (and groans could be heard as servers started overloading with the traffic). On the other, more sober hand, it's been pointed out that online vendors will get only 10 percent of the $185 billion retail pie. Still, it's a start.
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
Nov 24, 1999
Web's blog, stardate 1999
The Internet could be blamed for empowering armies of blowhards, chatterboxes and gas bags. While you probably have no shortage of these around you in the real world, you are just as likely to bump into them online, boasting, preaching, whining, ranting, blathering on about whatever has crossed their radars. With the promise of a massive audience, the Internet fosters such logorrhea
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
Nov 17, 1999
A Web DJ saved my life
Let's look at the headlines from Net music news. Maestro, hit the rewind:
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
Nov 3, 1999
Marketing witchcraft
"The Blair Witch Project," which will finally appear at a theater near you this month, is one of the scariest movies of the '90s.
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
Oct 20, 1999
The comfort of strangers
"Susunu Denpa Shonen," which airs every Sunday night on NTV, has become a bona fide phenomenon partly by tweaking noses and partly by joining hands -- call it cynicism cut with altruism
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
Oct 6, 1999
The future is in the air
I have written and read e-mail during my commute, beamed my virtual meishi to new acquaintances, played cards in taxis, and once in a shameless display of computing on my feet I consulted a database of Tokyo restaurants, which I had downloaded from, and located a great Indonesian joint in five minutes, ready and able to feed a party of 10
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
Sep 22, 1999
Where the women are
No presses need to be stopped to inform you of the growing number of women on the Internet in Japan. And the sizes of our headlines won't increase to tell you that number will continue to rise steadily, if not dramatically, over the next few years
LIFE / Digital / CYBERIA
Aug 11, 1999
What's that sound?
Two years ago I wrote about how the Fuji Rock Festival's website saved me a two-hour trip to the festival. Early reports accurately painted a grim picture of chaos created by a freak typhoon, so I decided to stay in Tokyo.


Historically, kabuki was considered the entertainment of the merchant and peasant classes, a far cry from how it is regarded today.
For Japan's oldest kabuki theater, the show must go on