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MIT Media Lab Director Joichi Ito Finally Receives Degree

The New School has awarded Joi Ito, executive director of the MIT Media Lab, an honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) degree.

| May 27, 2013 | Academia

AsianScientist (May 27, 2013) - On May 24, The New School in New York City awarded Joichi Ito, executive director of the MIT Media Lab, an honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) degree.

Joichi (Joi) Ito, 46, is the founder of Digital Garage, PsiNet Japan, Infoseek Japan, and early investor to more than 40 companies, which include Flickr, Twitter, Kickstarter, and Technorati. He is the CEO and founder of venture capital firm Neoteny, and sits on the boards of ICANN, Mozilla Foundation, The New York Times, WITNESS, Global Voices, and Creative Commons, among others.

The Friday ceremony was held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. Ito was honored along with statistician Nate Silver, Flickr founder Caterina Fake, and Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Khalil Gibran Muhammad.

Ito took to his blog, Joi Ito's web, to share the good news with his colleagues and friends:

"It turns out that I'm actually an alum of The New School. Back in the fall of 1985, I took and completed two online courses - "Artificial Intelligence & Life" and "Propaganda: Lit Science" which were part of a batch of the first fully online graduate school courses for credit. (MOOC schMOOC!) It used a pre-World Wide Web system called EIES. I remember these courses fondly, especially the Propaganda course. They were really engaging and involved a lot of peer learning," writes Ito on his blog.

He shares that he was asked in 2012 by MIT to walk with the faculty during commencement, but declined as he didn't have an academic robe. Despite offers by MIT to lend him a robe, he felt it would be "grammatically incorrect" for him to wear a robe posing as a college graduate. Ito adds that he is proud that this year he will be able to walk with the faculty proudly wearing his gown from The New School.

In May 2011, Asian Scientist Magazine was fortunate to get the opportunity to interview Ito, who then had just been appointed as executive director of the MIT Media Lab.

Hailed as an "unusual choice" by The New York Times because Ito did not finish his college degrees in computer science and physics, his appointment was seen as a bold move by a university known for its rankings and formal education.

In a wide-ranging interview with Asian Scientist Magazine, Ito shared some of the reasons that led him - and perhaps others like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates - to leave college.

"I think that many of us dropouts dropped out because traditional colleges didn’t have the right program for us. I believe that the Media Lab is and can become even more the kind of place that would attract people who might otherwise drop out. I do think that the way we “educate” in this new environment needs to evolve. Great professors already do this, but I think it’s a lot more about coaching and mentoring and a lot less about lecturing facts," he told Asian Scientist Magazine.

With his latest recognition from The New School, should we now address the MIT Media Lab executive director as Dr. Ito? Apparently not, says Ito, who has pre-empted the discussion with an advisory on his blog, presumably for his students at MIT:

"And no, I won't make you call me "Doctor Ito". Ha!"


Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: bostinno.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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