MIT Media Lab

CC Chairman Joi Ito named new director of MIT Media Lab

Jane Park, April 27th, 2011


Joi ito by Dean Ornish / CC BY

The MIT Media Lab, known for its innovative, hands-on approaches in design, multimedia, and technology, has named Creative Commons Chairman and former CEO Joi Ito as its new executive director. In its article about the announcement, the New York Times notes Joi’s long-time support of open culture:

“Raised in both Tokyo and Silicon Valley, Mr. Ito was part of the first generation to grow up with the Internet. …[Joi] was also an early participant in the open-source software movement and is a board member of the Mozilla Foundation, which oversees the development of the Firefox Web [browser], as well as being the co-founder and chairman of Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that has sought to create a middle ground to promote the sharing of digital information.”

Joi also blogs about his new appointment, describing MIT Media Lab as a great fit:

“I really felt at home for the first time in many ways. It felt like a place where I could focus – focus on everything – but still have a tremendous ability to work with the team as well as my network and broader extended network to execute and impact the world in a substantial and positive way.”

Learn more about the Media Lab and Joi’s appointment at his blog.

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Scratch.mit.edu now at 400,000+ projects

Jane Park, May 7th, 2009

A couple years ago, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT Media Lab developed a Web 2.0 programming platform for kids called Scratch. Scratch allows kids, and virtually anyone else, to create and remix rich media of all kinds—video, video games, even simple photo animations. The programming behind Scratch focuses on building blocks, like Legos, to get kids not only friendly, but adept at the technology that dominates our world. Each user can create a project, whether it be a video or a video game, and upload it to share on the Scratch website. Scratch currently exceeds more than 400,000 projects, all licensed CC BY-SA, allowing any youth to flex her creative muscles and enhance a peer’s project by remixing it with her own.

The School Library Journal wrote up an excellent article about them last week, emphasizing that “Literacy in the 21st century encompasses the full range of skills needed to engage in our global society—computer, information technology, media, and information literacy skills.” The SLJ reports that Scratch is now being tested in libraries in the Minneapolis area, “to determine if the workshops and classes for young people are replicable and sustainable for a range of libraries.” Unsurprisingly, library staff are finding that kids quickly learn the program on their own, and are guided more by their own intuitions than an “expert’s” instruction.

I decided to try out Scratch myself, and found some cool projects along the way. One project by “cougars” is a photo animation of a human skateboard. Another is a video game simulation of the Buggers war from Ender’s Game by PetertheGeek. (How cool is that?)

What’s more, the Scratch program is global, available in more than 40 languages, and the code itself is free for anyone to copy, publish, or distribute.

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