Saturday, December 3, 2011

Inspiring words from the Media Lab

I pulled this from a PopSci interview with Joi Ito, who is the new director of MIT's media lab. I thought they were pretty inspiring words, and in line with a mentality that I'm learning more and more to embrace. 

MJ: How do you find people who can embrace this “just do it” mentality?

JI: You have to pick people who are inclined to think big and to be risk-takers but also tend to be very collaborative and open. And they really have to be self-learners, self-motivated, and people who question authority and think for themselves. Because a lot of people want to be told what to do and like to feel like they’re being productive by doing repetitive tasks.

MJ: Your investment fund is named Neoteny. What does that mean?

JI: “Neoteny” is the retention of childlike attributes in adulthood. As a child you learn, you have wonder, you’re curious, and every day’s a new day. But at some point you become an adult. And as an adult you focus on producing, reproducing, protecting. In the old days, the world didn’t change very much, so once you became a plumber, you didn’t really need to learn that much more about plumbing. Today you have to keep learning, and learning is somewhat of a childlike behavior. We want the Media Lab to be more like kindergarten and less like a lumber mill.

MJ: This acceleration of change in which we have to be lifelong learners to survive is presumably going to continue. This doesn’t slow down, does it?

JI: I don’t know for sure that it’s not going to get crazy or worse or that we’re not all go- ing to go insane. But I think the speed and chaos is only scary when you are trying to be in control. You need to give up the idea of control and be confident in your ability to pull things together as you go. There’s so much information now that you can’t get any more information overload. Drowning in 10 feet of water isn’t any different than drowning in a million feet. And if you can swim, it doesn’t matter how deep the ocean is. At some level, once you realize you’re in water that’s too deep to stand, you have to have a very different approach, which is basically: Plans don’t work, mapping doesn’t work. You need a compass and a trajectory and some values to figure it out as you go along.

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