Reinventing MIT's Media Lab

From Emergent Africa Thu Nov 29 2012, 06:00:00

In Wired, Joi Ito's next steps for the Media Lab:

-- a lot of the kids at the Media Lab today don't want to make more money, don't want to become immortal, they just want to figure out how to fix this unhealthy system we have. There are lots of kids who are not happy with this massive consumerism, this unsustainable growth, but who have really smart science and technology values. That's a type of person we can draw into what I think will become a movement."

And that will come from pursuing distinctly unconventional research goals. "We aim to capture serendipity. You don't get lucky if you plan everything -- and you don't get serendipity unless you have peripheral vision and creativity. [Conventional] peer review and scholarship play by predetermined rules -- that five other people agree that what you're doing is interesting. Here, even if you're the only person in the world who thinks something's interesting, you can do it. Our funding model allows our students to do anything they want without asking permission. It's like venture capital: we don't expect every experiment to succeed -- in fact, a lot are failures. But that's great -- failure is another word for discovery. We're very much against incrementalism -- we look for unexplored spaces, and our key metrics for defining a good project are uniqueness, impact and magic." Its not about scholars:

"Today any kind of science that's used to predict the future becomes useless. The world is no longer incremental or linear. A lot of risks come from the periphery, not what you're focused on. In the ...

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