Image: Joi Ito/Flickr CC by 2.0 license
Image: Joi Ito/Flickr CC by 2.0 license

Who cares what Joi Ito thinks? Lots of people, it seems—the head of the MIT Media Lab is a popular interviewee, speaker, and blogger who freely shares his opinions on innovation, global technology policy, and the role of the Internet in transforming society in substantial and positive ways.

Why do people care what Joi Ito thinks? Some highlights from his bio: in addition to his work at the Media Lab, he’s been CEO of Creative Commons; helped establish Japan’s first commercial Internet service provider; was an early investor in more than 40 companies, including Flickr, Kickstarter, and Twitter; and in 1997, at age 31, made TIME magazine’s “Cyber-Elite” listing.

So what is Joi Ito thinking about lately? A sampling:


“I don’t know if we can modify education to accommodate creativity. I think we may just need to rethink it entirely… A lot of studies show that if you give financial rewards or use pressure to make people work, they will be more productive—but only in uncreative work. If you want creative work, you have to give people space to play.”
(interview, How We Get to Next)

“As we engage in tackling harder and harder problems that require many fields and perspectives, the separation of disciplines appears to be causing more and more damage. The complex system that is the human body has become impossibly multidisciplinary. We should really be working on ‘One Science,’ but instead we are a mosaic of different disciplines, sometimes not even recognizing when we are looking at the same problem because our language is so different and microscopes are set so differently.”
(blog post,

“Security is like an immune system: you don’t get stronger by completely shielding yourself from any germs. You have to stress the system to make it better.”
(article, Asian Scientist)


“The cost of failure has gone down. What I mean by that is—to start a website costs almost nothing. To start something that would have been like a website before the Internet would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars. So, since the cost of failure is so cheap, the cost of sitting around trying to decide whether to do something or not actually is higher in many cases than the cost of actually just trying it.”
(interview, “Innovation Hub”)


“I think the good news is that even though the world is extremely complex, what you need to do is very simple. I think it’s about stopping this notion that you need to plan everything, you need to stock everything, and you need to be so prepared, and focus on being connected, always learning, fully aware, and super present.”
(talk, TED2014)

“You don’t get a Nobel Prize for doing what you’re told. You get a Nobel Prize for questioning authority and thinking for yourself.”
(talk, PopTech 2014)

“The maker movement is great, but a lot of it is about super-customization, about making stuff for yourself and your friends. To go into different kinds of manufacturing, but at a street level—”street manufacturing” may be the name for it—that’s what I’m excited about now.”
(conversation with Solid Conference co-chair Jon Bruner)

Related Topics

Share your thoughts

Thank you for your comments and for your role in creating a safe and dynamic online environment. MIT Spectrum reserves the right to remove any content that is deemed, in our sole view, commercial, harmful, or otherwise inappropriate.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *