Joichi Ito

Director, MIT Media Lab

Innovation in Open Networks and the Media Lab
12 minutes, 5.6mb, recorded 2011-10-11
Joichi Ito

The MIT Media Lab was founded in 1985 by MIT Professor Nicholas Negroponte with the vision of making it a center for research on a variety of areas.  Reflected through his book ‘Being Digital,’ Prof. Negroponte’s incredibly accurate foresight of the digital world we live in today was the force behind establishing this elite research institution over two decades ago. With the theme "Inventing a better future,” the MIT Media Lab today provides scientists with the opportunity to pursue research on diverse areas ranging from social computing to biomechatronics.

Joichi Ito, the new director at the MIT Media Lab, spoke during the recently held Web 2.0 Expo, an event co-produced by O'Reilly Media and UBM TechWeb. As the internet ecosystem evolves, intellectual property is becoming less of a burden for internet start-ups, thanks to innovation coming from new quarters like academia and non-profit organizations. The appetite to take risk and innovate remains the key aspect for success of new internet businesses and hence a number of ‘Lean Startups’ are beginning to emerge.

Ito discusses how the “The power of pull” gives companies the much needed agility during the inception stage and points out how a large number of internet start-ups have realized that embracing serendipity is inevitable to remain agile in today’s rapidly changing business environment. He cites several companies like YouTube and PayPal to explain how businesses adapt to changing technology trends and consumer needs.

Ito outlines the importance of creating a ‘build’ culture within the organization. Unlike other institutions, MIT Media Lab’s strong ‘build’ culture among the faculty and students necessitates building products and services based on their innovation and not just publish academic papers related to their ideas. Ito also talks about his plans for the Media Lab and discusses how several initiatives like the Media Lab blog and Creative Commons have come along in the recent years.

Joichi Ito, the director of MIT Media Lab, is a leading thinker and writer on innovation, global technology policy, and the role of the Internet in transforming society in substantial and positive ways. A vocal advocate of emergent democracy, privacy, and Internet freedom, Ito is board chair (and former CEO) of Creative Commons, and sits on the boards of the Mozilla Foundation, WITNESS, and Global Voices. In Japan, he was a founder of Digital Garage, and helped establish and later became CEO of the country’s first commercial Internet service provider. He was an early investor in more than 40 companies, including Flickr, Six Apart,, Kongregate, Kickstarter, and Twitter. Ito’s honors include TIME magazine’s “Cyber-Elite” listing in 1997 (at age 31) and selection as one of the “Global Leaders for Tomorrow” by the World Economic Forum (2001). In 2008, BusinessWeek named him one of the “25 Most Influential People on the Web.” In 2011, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oxford Internet Institute.


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