By David Rowan
Joi Ito plans a radical reinvention of MIT’s Media Lab –-
Joi Ito, 46-year-old director of MIT's Media Lab since last September, has just selected the faculty's newest outpost: the troubled streets of downtown Detroit. "I was in a rough neighbourhood there yesterday, where there are miles and miles of bombed out buildings, and it just blows your mind to see a bunch of kids building urban farms," he says back in his office in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "They have no streetlights. If you connect a streetlight to the grid, it gets controlled by the city and regulated. So they're thinking, how can we create solar-powered low-cost streetlights, as that will lower crime? They have a maker space in a church, a place where the kids can learn how to build a computer, a bike shop where they can learn how to do repairs. The kid who runs this place, Jeff Sturges, is awesome.We're sending a bunch of Media Lab people to Detroit to work with local innovators already doing stuff on the ground."