Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

At SXSW, Joi Ito Invites Tech Entrepreneurs Into the MIT Media Lab

New MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito today invited a packed room at SXSW Interactive to take a more active role in the human-machine research group’s ongoing projects.

Ito said he is undertaking a bit of a rebranding for the 25-year-old institution to better reflect the Internet age. Sponsors will now be called “members,” as part of a larger “Media Lab Network.” The idea is to open discussion and collaboration between researchers and entrepreneurs.

Ito said that both parties have a lot to offer each other, on everything from discussions about online privacy to prototyping new hardware products.

“All the standards come from MIT,” he said. “All the people who use the standards and make shitloads of money are on the West Coast — but they don’t like standards.” He’d like to help bring the two sides together.

The Media Lab has a $35 million annual budget, 350 ongoing projects and a team of 400 people. Ito said he is looking to bring in “antidisciplinary” people, who “work in fields we don’t yet know about.”

Ito and researchers from the Lab showed off some examples of things they’re working on:


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus