Nowists United

Joi Ito, my favorite nowist

The selection of Joi Ito as Director of the MIT Media Lab in 2011 was a departure from the norm. A former nightclub DJ and college dropout turned venture capitalist, Ito is a selfmade entrepreneur, visionary, “adventure capitalist”, tech guru. In recent interviews, Ito has shared his approach to innovation now that he is at the helm of one of the world’s top computing science labs. Reading his words is like encountering a blueprint for how I need (and want) to be and do in my studio. Creativity is creativity after all, but it is comforting—and less isolating—when science and art spill over into each other’s worlds.

Here are some excerpts from a recent post that demonstrate some of those commonalities:

It has always been my opinion that “education” is something people do to you, whereas “learning” is something you do for yourself. Consequently, the only thing I learned in school was typing. In the old days, people like me who don’t have college degrees had a hard time thriving in society. But today, the ability to learn on your own or from your peers has become really easy. I think this change is leading to a fundamental disruption in education. Independent and lifelong learning are really starting to peak—there is an inflection point coming around how people learn.

I don’t believe in futurists that much anymore—they are usually wrong. I’m calling myself a “nowist,” and I’m trying to figure out how to build up the ability to react to anything. In other words, I want to create a certain agility. The biggest liability for companies now is having too many assets; you need to learn how to be fluid and agile.

It’s kind of a spiritual thing. You want to have your peripherals wide open and adapt as quickly as you can. I think that will be an important survival trait of people and companies in the future…What I’m searching for are people and things that don’t fit anywhere: The misfits of society.”

A nowist. What a great word to also describe what a “trust the process” artist strives for. The ability to react to anything. To be agile. Fluid. And a bit of a misfit.

And yes, I would agree with Ito: It IS kind of a spiritual thing.

2 Comment

  1. Altoon says:

    I very much like the idea of agility, of fluidity. I’m with you on it sounding like a good philosophy for the studio.

  2. deborahbarlow says:

    And the term Nowist is so beguiling (and it rhymes with Taoist!)

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