LAST FALL JOI Ito, the director of the MIT Media Lab, stood onstage during the Lab’s 30th anniversary celebration and made a declaration. “Connecting science and design is the future of the Media Lab,” he told audience members, many of whom are experienced in both disciplines. The subtext of Ito’s statement was that the world is quickly changing. Science, design, art, and engineering, long considered their own areas of focus, are no longer domains to be explored in isolation, but together, in the hopes of expediting progress and discovery.
Ito’s announcement was very much in keeping with the Lab’s unorthodox approach to collaborative research. Since its inception in 1985, the Media Lab has embraced the ideals of antidisciplinary work, which is not the same thing as interdisciplinary work. As Ito himself describes it in the Journal of Design and Science (JoDS): “Interdisciplinary work is when people from different disciplines work together. But antidisciplinary is something very different; it’s about working in spaces that simply do not fit into any existing academic discipline—a specific field of study with its own particular words, frameworks, and methods.”