February 16, 2006 6:02 AM PST

New MIT Media Lab head roots for grassroots

Technology innovations are more likely to come from someone's living room than from the corporate boardroom or even an entrepreneur's garage, says Frank Moss, the newly named director of the MIT Media Lab.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced Wednesday that Moss is heading its Media Lab. He joins the high-profile lab after starting several companies, including software maker Tivoli Systems, Web services firm Bowstreet and, most recently, cancer drug company Infinity Pharmaceuticals.

Moss
Frank Moss

But in his mind, technology users are increasingly setting the direction of inventions, rather than corporate research labs or venture capital-funded start-ups.

"I think a lot of innovation will come from a different place. It will trickle down further so that innovation will come from the consumer, whereas in the past they were the recipient" of new technologies, Moss said Wednesday.

As examples, he points to the development of file-sharing in universities and of open-source software. He also cited the creation of online communities with a common interest, such as a Boston-area senior network of older people.

"Today with the convergence of media and technology, the digital lifestyle is really mainstream," he said. "This will change the dynamics of how ideas come to market."

The MIT Media Lab will continue doing research in a number of areas, as it already does. But Moss said that he would like to have participants take their ideas beyond the "demo," or demonstration, phases.

Instead, Moss thinks that the Media Lab should be involved in making prototypes, which will help the lab make a broader impact.

The Media Lab has already spun off some of its work.

Last month, Nicholas Negroponte, the Media Lab's co-founder whose resignation was also announced Wednesday, created a nonprofit foundation focused on creating and distributing $100 laptop computers to children in developing countries. It's an idea that originated at the lab.

"It used to be 'demo or die' here," Moss said. "Now maybe we'll say 'prototype or perish.'"

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Forum Platforms:ideas v. mechanics
We need to start thinking about how to have better access to the 'brains' of places like MIT FROM THEt BOTTOM UP, not just have MIT, etc., come down among us, the hoi-poloi. THIS IS THE CHALLENGE that has to be solved: how to get millions of voices of idea-makers to those who can execute those ideas. [http://We forget that the most holy of holies has been those who CAN MAKE the ideas happen, the 'mechanics', not necessarily those who ideate or IMAGINE.|http://We forget that the most holy of holies has been those who CAN MAKE the ideas happen, the 'mechanics', not necessarily those who ideate or IMAGINE.]

I think this is the holy grail of the Internet, for instance. The Net and all of the 'community' permutaions that have evolved over the last 15 years are striving to figure out an efficient system to allow like minds and those who have the ability to 'make it so' get together, in a meaningful way - where millions of people can actually 'talk' to one another, somehow. This is what the search engines are groping at. If MIT would get to cracking on this, THIS would be the greatest service to humankind that I can imagine - not only for the forum-like platforms that would be developed from your fertile young minds, but also from the necessary corollary systems of action/interaction tools that would develop. Conceivably, billions of people will have to be allowed to interact with each other. Whew!

Good luck?!
Posted by interested2 (1 comment )
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Is there a future for the labs?
It used to be that the Media Lab or HP Labs or IBM labs would come up with an idea for a product or gizmo and prototype it and hand it out to a few colleagues and friends and see how they use it. And then it might make it into product development, etc. But these days that approach doesn't work because the online communities have shown us that the power of large numbers creates behaviours and groups that could not have been predicted b a few researchers in their ivory towers. I think the question is: Is there a future for organisations such as MIT Media Labs? The academic organisations seem so far behind what is happening. By the time the academics notice something, and explore it, it has moved on...
Posted by tomforemski (18 comments )
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I HAVE A QUESTION FOR YOU SINCE YOU CREATED THE MIND READING DEVICE .WELL I'M IMPLANTED WITH ONE OF YOUR DEVICES ,AND I'M BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF BECAUSE THE PERSON THAT I AM CONNECTED TO DOESN'T WANT TO LET ME GO. JANE DOE IS MAKING ALOT OF MONEY OFF ME . JANE DOE IS CONNECTED TO ME WITHOUT PERMISSION .NOW IS SEEMS LIKE THE ONLY OPTION IS TO TAKE IT TO COURT . . AND YES I DO HAVE A RIGHT TO MY OWN MIND.THANKS TISHINA
Posted by NOPERMISSION (1 comment )
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