Joichi Ito named new Media Lab Director
Joichi “Joi” Ito was named as the new director of the MIT Media Lab in an announcement yesterday. He will be the fourth director of the Media Lab, founded in 1985. Ito will take over the directorship from Franklin H. Moss PhD ’77, who has held the position for the past five years.
Despite having attended both Tufts University and the University of Chicago, Ito holds no college degrees. He studied computer science at Tufts and physics at UChicago, but ultimately left academia, citing as his motivation: “I once asked a professor to explain the solution to a problem so I could understand it more intuitively. He said, ‘You can’t understand it intuitively. Just learn the formula so you’ll get the right answer.’ That was it for me.”
Ito has held key leadership positions in internet organizations like the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and Creative Commons. Through his funding and support for a number of issues, he has established himself as a great advocate of internet freedom and privacy. Ito also sits on the board of directors of the Mozilla Foundation, WITNESS (a human rights organization), and Global Voices (a blogger network focused on free speech).
MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif said that Ito is “the right person to lead the Media Lab today,” calling him “an innovative thinker who understands the tremendous potential of technology and, in particular, the Internet, to influence education, business, and society in general.”
On his blog, Ito expresses that he is “happy and honored” to be the new director and is delighted to have finally “found [his] tribe.”
“Everyone was super-smart, driven,” and “working on very cool stuff,” he wrote in the blog. “They weren’t afraid to try anything.” He describes feeling “at home” in the lab, as it is a “place where [he] can focus … but still have a tremendous ability to work with the team … [to] impact the world in a substantial and positive way.” Ito says he is looking forward to doing outreach for the Media Lab by introducing his network of colleagues to the lab through the Internet and encouraging sponsors to visit MIT.
Ito’s blog can be found at http://joi.ito.com/.
—Jessica J. Pourian