I'm Joining the MIT Media Lab this Autumn

17 April, 2011. Cambridge, UK.

Dear Internet Friends,

I have recently accepted a fully-funded offer from the MIT Media Lab for an MA in Media Arts and Sciences at the Center for Future Civic Media. This two year degree, supervised by Ethan Zuckerman (founder of Global Voices and GeekCorps), may potentially continue into a PhD.

In the Media Lab, I expect to apply technology to community organising, journalism, and civil society worldwide. I will spend my time listening, writing, traveling, and making technology. All of my work will be open source; anyone will be able to freely copy and adapt my MIT projects within their community.

The Center for Future Civic Media, and therefore my Research Assistantship, is funded by the Knight Foundation. My fellow students will be Matt Stempeck (New Organising Institute) and Dan Schultz, who is a current gradstudent at the Media Lab. Dan writes about Civic Media and the MIT Media Lab for PBS's IdeaLab.

More generally, I am excited about the prospect of working in an innovative lab which has developed many amazing projects (One Laptop per Child, for example). The lab's building and logos are beautiful (labcast videos).

I expect to be leaving the UK in mid July, although final details have yet to be arranged.

While in the Boston area, I hope to strengthen transatlantic ties among innovators in technology, civic media, charities, the arts, and community organising. Please email me if you have an idea or a relevant contact. Since I am also preparing to move countries, I can't guarantee an instant response.

I grew up in rural Pennsylvania and have lived half of my adult life in Cambridge, UK. As I prepare to move to the US, I'm slightly afraid to relearn American spelling. But I'll never let them take away my electric kettle and Doctor Who. Do Americans Ceilidh?

The art of losing is hard to master. In the next few months, I will leave behind a brilliant company, a loving community, a large number of projects which inspire me, many dear friends, and a culture I love. I hope to retain some of those projects and relationships. However, I need your patience as I learn more about what to expect and bumble my way through partings.


J. Nathan Matias