30 November 2007

High Technology; Massive Impact

At tonight's Deshpande Center gathering, I connected with both Charlie Cooney, Faculty Director of the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, and Alec Dingee, Founder of the MIT Venture Mentoring Service. Both rockstars in the MIT venture ferment.

I shared our latest Howtoons with both of them, especially our new book HOWTOONS: The Possibilities Are Endless published by Harper Collins.

Also connected MIT Nuclear Engineering Research Scientist Dick Lanza with MIT HST Professor Utkan Demirci. Lanza's first Deshpande grant for Low Cost X-Rays remains a really great open opportunity. Demirci's Health Technology Innovations class in Spring 2008 might be just the venue for escalating this idea!

Afterwards went to the MIT Muddy Charles Pub for chat with Cory Kidd, imminent alumnus from the MIT Media Lab Robotic Life Group.

Beyond that was a crazy extended interlude best left undocumented...

29 November 2007

Urban Innovations & Developmental Entrepreneurship

I interviewed Kareem Howard, founder of VehicleSense, on my TV show today. His technology allows tracking cars and trucks for the purpose of managing parking spaces and spreading information about spot availability. This is a great example of an urban innovation, something which will enable ever more responsive cities which are both economically viable and ecologically sustainable. This is a powerful theme, one which forms the basis for a new seminar I'm incubating together with MIT Professors Bill Mitchell and Kent Larson for Spring 2008.

I then went to the MIT Stata Center for the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition's Development Track mixer. Guest speaker Illac Diaz -- formerly of MIT SPURS, now a KSG Mason Fellow -- spotlighted his four (4) winning entries in both IDEAS and MIT $100K! Amazing stuff and evidence of the tremendous entrepreneurial vitality of Illac and his Filipino teammates. This kind of venture crafting and innovative leadership is just what we are seeking to support through our Developmental Entrepreneurship initiatives.

Afterwards Illac and I headed to the MIT Muddy Charles Pub where we met with MIT Sloan MBA First-Year Jenny Kwan to talk shop about her efforts with SEID, energy in China, and a new ultra stealth-mode solar-thermal venture. They were both in good humor so it turned into Roast Joost night.

Even newly minted PhD Dave Danielson weighed in (presumably to maintain his cred as a "minor Muddy legend").

27 November 2007

MIT Campus as Living Learning Lab

I had a great chat with Jason Jay and Elsa Olivetti at the MIT Muddy Charles Pub this evening about "Greening MIT" and turning the MIT campus into a Living Learning Laboratory for exploring energy and sustainability innovations. Rather than just studying or helping others be sustainable, the idea is to Walk the Talk and actually be ever more sustainable. Inspired by the new MIT Sloan Porter Building, which will achieve the highest level of LEED on campus, I suggested we try to generalize and begin to think about creating a LEED Campus (and for that matter aspiring towards LEED Cities, LEED Countries, and indeed, a LEED Planet).

Just a few hours earlier I hosted Professor Steven Lerman as guest speaker at our Understanding MIT seminar. Dean Lerman shared with us his experience starting and running Project Athena, a 1980's campus computing initiative. Project Athena was a remarkable technology testbed which also incubated several key inventions, including Kerberos authentication, X windowing system, and Zephyr instant messaging. Athena made it possible for MIT students to be among the first and fastest adopters of the web in the early 1990's. The key thing is that any anthropologist (or market researcher) observing student behavior would have seen the future first. Athena made MIT a predictive microcosm of the world to-come with people experiencing web-equivalent services -- e.g. anywhere email, online file storage, served applications, pervasive IM -- roughly 5-10 years before people in the rest of the OECD.

The ambitious Living The Future initiative (f.k.a. MIT Project Mercury) seeks to do the same thing at MIT for all things mobile and wireless.

This is starting to happen with energy and sustainability at MIT. Elsa's own efforts to document and minimize energy use in research labs lead to tangible efficiency gains. Other students are pushing for using biodiesel in campus vehicles. And more. But more coherent and faculty-driven support is needed to take this from being fragmented and extracurricular to central and enduring.