Friday, June 22, 2012

joi ito

John Brockman (@edge)
6/21/12 6:00 PM
"Innovation On The Edges" An EDGE Conversation/Video with Joi Ito (@joi) MIT Media Lab Director & new member NYT Board

from his talk/video
In the old days, you'd have to have an idea and then you'd write a proposal for a grant or a VC, and then you'd raise the money, you'd plan the thing, you would hire the people and build it. Today, what you do is you build the thing, you raise the money and then you figure out the plan and then you figure out the business model. It's completely the opposite, you don't have to ask permission to innovate anymore. 
What's really important about that is that when you started thinking about how we used to innovate was we used to raise money and we would make plans. Well, it's an interesting coincidence because the world is now so complex, so fast, so unpredictable, that you can't. Your plans don't really work that well. Every single major thing that's happened, both good and bad, was probably unpredicted, and most of our plans failed.
What does it mean, innovation on the edges? If you sit there and you write a graph proposal, basically what you're doing is you're saying, okay, I'm going to build this, so give me money. By definition of incremental because first of all, you've got to be able to explain what it is you're going to make, and you've got to say it in a way that's dumbed-down enough that the person who's giving you money can understand it. By definition, incremental research isn't going to be very disruptive. Scholarship is somewhat incremental. The fact that if you have a peer review journal, it means five other people have to believe that what you're doing is an interesting thing. Some of the most interesting innovations that happen, happen when the person doing it doesn't even know what's going on. True discovery, I think, happens in a very undirected way, when you figure it out as you go along.
if you apply that to what I'm trying to do at the Media Lab, the key thing about the Media Lab is that we have undirected funds. So if a kid wants to try something, he doesn't have to write me a proposal. He doesn't have to explain to me what he wants to do. He can just go, or she can just go, and do whatever they want, and that's really important, this undirected research.
no- strings attached moneys.. collaboratory - via undirected funds via bmif

I think it's got to be the opposite. You don't need to have theory. If a thing works, you sort of figure it out later. It's kind of like innovation at the seat of your pants. I don't think everybody should be using it. You can't only realize peripheral vision. You don't want the mushroom hunter to not be looking at the road when they're driving. So it's okay if most of society has plans. 
One of the things that I'm trying to understand and trying to turn into practice is like the mushroom hunter, how do you create a practice where you can unfocus and you can start picking out those really important patterns? 

what if people grew up with validation for their natural curiosity - aren't those important patterns natural - if we are left in a natural space ?

imagine this: a quite revolution - media lab at a city level? because don't we need - not only the eclectic-ness of mit media lab - but of a city/village - of a people

so yes - this:
What I am very interested in is how do you create a group of people who are given the complete freedom to come up with these crazy ideas. Most of them, just like a venture fund, are stupid ideas and aren't worth making. But when we find those few ideas, and we can demonstrate the importance of those ideas, then what happens is those scholars and those engineers and those companies then turn those things into intellectual property and products and things like that.
  I will add that we have a healthy respect for all the other institutions that turn our ideas into stuff. But I think that people underestimate the importance of the freethinking.
What's different now that we have the Internet is that the emphasis is no longer on man/machine; it's on the community, it's on the network. The pivot that we need to make at the Media Lab, and which is sort of happening at the student level already, is stop focusing on things and start focusing on the network. Stop focusing on individuals and start focusing on communities. Stop focusing on top-down and focus more on bottom-up. Stop focusing on single experts and start focusing on the crowd.  
The big shift that we're doing at the Media Lab right now is to pivot from this man/machine individual thing to the network thing.
I want it to be much more of: how do we design an ecosystem together. 
emergent by design
 One of the key things that we say for both faculty and students is, if you could do what you wanted to do in any other place, you shouldn't be at the Media Lab. 
The other point about this is it's not interdisciplinary. Interdisciplinary is you've got an engineer and a physicist and a designer and they work on a project together. That's an interdisciplinary project. An anti-disciplinary project is when you can't tell who the designer is and who the engineer is, and the engineer knows designing, and the person who's dancing is going to be the one also doing the molecular biology.  
It turns out the world has a lot of misfits. I think we probably only accept like two percent of the students who apply, and sometimes even less. Some groups have 300 applicants for one position, and we benefit a lot from the MIT brand. MIT gives the parents the comfort that their student is going to MIT, but then they end up with the opportunity where they can do anything they want, and so we get a really interesting group of students.
nice - comfort of brand - with freedom.. goes with the undirected funds.. no strings attached

But the Media Lab is kind of a uniquely unstructured place.
There's another group working with Sandy Pentland's group where they did, there's this thing called 'social investing.'
sociometer - honest signals 
Unless we get America working, the rest of the world, they're not going to follow America. 
Carol Black - schooling the world - no?
How could I butt myself out of my comfort zone and attack a real problem? Or do something really interesting. 
I think best when I'm not in my comfort zone. I think most people do, but they don't realize

now thinking Queen Noor of jordan.. et al

the edge..
getting people to use their heads..
we can exponentiate... this revolution..

bravo Joi