07:50 AM

Joichi Ito To Take Over MIT's Media Lab

I'm a big fan of Joichi Ito so it was a pleasure to hear that he will become the next head of the iconic MIT Media Lab.

John Markoff reported in the NYTimes today, that the 44 year old Japanese venture capitalist will become the fourth director of the Lab:

Raised in both Tokyo and Silicon Valley, Mr. Ito was part of the first generation to grow up with the Internet. His career includes serving as a board member of Icann, the Internet's governance organization; ... and more than a dozen investments in start-ups like Flickr, Last.fm and Twitter.

...He 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 browse, 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.

The MIT Media Lab was an important place in the 1990s, and many looked to its research for potentially breakthrough technologies that could boost US tech in its then battle with Japan. But it never lived up to its expectations and it hasn't contributed much in the past decade, a time of enormous advances in media technologies.

Mr Ito's challenge will be to direct the Lab's $35 million budget into research that will be relevant to the industry's future; and help train a new generation of what I like to describe as "media engineers" -- part software engineer and part journalist -- able to use cutting edge publishing technologies to craft new types of publications/applications.

Mr Ito, with his experience in Silicon Valley, and his ability to spot tech stars early in their development, will be invaluable in helping MIT's Media Lab regain some of its past glory. It's a great choice.