Negroponte on spectrum, international media labs

Last week I went to an MIT alum event at which Nicholas Negroponte, founding director of the MIT Media Lab, spoke. It was less… revelatory than I would have expected. In fact, Negroponte, who said he doesn’t do that sort of stand up talking very often, largely eschewed the techno-prognostication that made him famous except for a discussion on the merits of open spectrum.

Instead, he talked about:

  • The Wired article (“You’d think that they could have chosen a more flattering photo… however, the article was substantially true.”)
  • Efforts associated with or partly sponsored by the Media Lab to wire third world classrooms (the Digital Nations project)
  • The international expansion of the Media Lab
  • The growth of the Media Lab from an organization funded, in no small part, from UROP fees to the heights of the late 90s, and the difficulty of raising the last bit of cash for the new building now that sober fiscal reality has settled in
  • On working with corporate research sponsors (“The only complaint I ever heard from the corporations was that we weren’t crazy enough… Have you seen what really creative people look like and how they act? Would they survive in a corporate environment? They were outsourcing that uncontrollable creative energy to us.”)

A great talk. I need to come back and blog more of the things he said about Digital Nations and about WiFi and mesh networks, but that can wait until later.