Monday, January 16, 2017

"Whiplash" by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe - The MIT Media Lab Explains How To Survive Our Faster Future

This book is a MUST READ for anyone who needs to think about innovation and the rapid pace of change leading to an uncertain future. Authors Joi Ito, Director of MIT's iconic Media Lab, and Jeff Howe, a visiting scholar at the Media Lab, have opened a window into the principles that drive innovation and research at the Lab. The structure of the book introduces each of the 9 principles and how they impact the setting of research priorities. The principles are illustrated and elucidated through vignettes that tell how researchers at MIT and beyond have employed the antidisciplinary ethos of the Lab to forge teams of women and men from a wide and disparate set of fields of study and expertise.

The 9 principles are:

Emergence Over Authority
Pull Over Push
Compasses Over MAps
Risk Over Safety
Disobedience Over Compliance
Practice Over Theory
Diversity Over Ability
Resilience Over Strength
Systems Over Objects
Systems Over Objects

I have had some personal interactions with scholars at the Media Lab, so I have had the privilege of seeing these principles in operation on the research bench and in prototypes. Several years ago, I was invited to be an outside set of eyes and ears and voice at the weekly luncheons that were held by the City Science initiative within the Media Lab. The level of creativity and cross-disciplinary innovation (Joi Ito prefers the terms "antidisciplinary") is without equal.

Ito and Howe make the point that much of future innovation will take place in the interstitial spaces - in the white space - between recognized academic disciplines. This book offers a robust examination of how we will get to an era when the walls that keep disciples isolated from each other have dissolved.

The book is appropriate for academics as well as for lay readers who are intrigued with how we will get to the uncertain future that is dawning faster than we can assimilate the changes.



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