The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices: How the Digital Magicians of the MIT Media Lab Are Creating the Innovative Technologies That Will Transform Our Lives
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The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices: How the Digital Magicians of the MIT Media Lab Are Creating the Innovative Technologies That Will Transform Our Lives

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  126 ratings  ·  35 reviews
If you've ever read a book on an e-reader, unleashed your inner rock star playing Guitar Hero, built a robot with LEGO Mindstorms, or ridden in a vehicle with child-safe air bags, then you've experienced first hand just a few of the astounding innovations that have come out of the Media Lab over the past 25 years. But that’s old hat for today’s researchers, who are creatin...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by Crown Business (first published March 15th 2011)
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D.w.
Frank Moss can write about the Media Labs of MIT where he is the director, but he has a lot to learn about telling a compelling story. Their are far too many errors of English that the man should not have found a literature major in all the colleges of the Boston area to correct his work.

Added to that, as a story, the Media Labs are done a disservice for someone who is not drinking the cool-aid should have taken a look at the work. 8 chapters to tell the tale of what should be one of the greates...more
William Torgerson
This book helps me think about my teaching. The writer's phrase "antidiscipline" grabbed my attention. Sometimes I'm not sure about my professional move toward being interdisciplinary rather than an "expert" on a really narrow topic. This book helps me take confidence in the direction I'm headed as a writer, teacher, and filmmaker.
Gaby
Rather than focusing too much energy on building machines that behave as smart as or smarter than humans, we should devote most of our efforts to building machines that help us to be the best human being we can be for ourselves and others. - Frank Moss

In The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices: How the Digital Magicians of the MIT Media Lab Are Creating the Innovative Technologies That Will Transform Our Lives, Frank Moss shares anecdotes from the unique and deeply innovative MIT Media Lab. He give...more
Mike Barretta
Very little to this book. Once you learn (which most know) the iterative, freewheeling, interdisciplinary approach to the Media Lab, the book provides you with nothing else but stories about a few of the projects that have been done and are currently being done. Most of this could be gleaned from press releases or by browsing the media lab website.
Bigmg
The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices is an amazing journey into perhaps the most famous workshops in the world: The MIT Media Lab.
At first I was expecting a rather dry run-through of another CEO’s tenure at an institution that produced cool gadgets. Boy, was I surprised. The behind the scenes story of some the most ground breaking technological advances is riveting.
Most of the book covers several projects and how the private sector has collaborated and hugely funded many of these projects. Prosth...more
Artur Coelho
O título é sugestivo, e o conteúdo não lhe fica atrás. Mas se esperamos pegar neste livro e ver impactos directos dos projectos do Media Lab na sociedade contemporânea esta não é a obra para isso. Escrita por um ex-director do centro de investigações, traça um panorama dos vários grupos de pesquisa salientando alguns dos mais intrigantes projectos saídos de um laboratório concebido de raiz como um recreio de sabedoria. O aspecto mais reforçado é o carácter interdisciplinar - descrito pelo autor...more
Peter Skillen
Ok. This is one of my all time favourite reads -- not just because I have had some connections with both the Media Lab and some of its people over the years -- but because the educational philosophies embodied in their practices and 'reasons for being' are ones I would love to see adopted widely throughout both educational systems and other organizations.

And, yes, it's lovely to see and read about Seymour Papert, Mitch Resnick, Brian Silverman, Paula Bonta, Fred Martin and others. What Fred does...more
Sarah
The work being done at the MIT Media Lab is fascinating and makes this book worth considering. I just wish it had be written by someone else-- the writing style is heinously repetitive and shamelessly arrogant. The author and his colleagues are certainly innovative and deserving of high praise, but proclaiming your own awesomeness and avant-garde workplace dynamic on every page is both tacky and distracting.
María Teresa
I think this book was really good. it really made me think about the inventions that we will have in the future and all the great ideas that are being developed and we don't even know about. What I liked the most is that you get a really good idea of how the culture on the lab is and how all those inventions can change people's lives. At first I wasn't that interested on the media lab but after reading this book I would really like to go there and see all this innovative ideas in action. I would...more
Jen Beuning
Pretty good. Very interesting to read about all of the new technologies in the works at the MIT Media Lab, particularly the CityCar and the different things being developed to help autistic people in their everyday lives. I would have liked to see more storytelling, however. So many names of so many different people were mentioned, and I found that to be a lot of extra fodder for the brain. Now don't get me wrong; I do believe in giving credit where credit is due, but couldn't some of these peop...more
Geoff
An interesting, very accessible overview of current and past research at MIT's Media Lab. This is the place where Lego Mindstorms, the Lilypad Arduino, the Opera of the Future, and dozens of other, less well-known projects originated. The author was the lab's director from 2006 to 2011, so he has a deep understanding of both the individual research projects he describes, as well as how they fit into the lab's unique culture and purpose. I would have preferred slightly more technical explanations...more
MikeFromQueens
Light reading and full of ideas but nothing that grabbed me. An interesting part was the social networking and web-site as part of the solutions to solve certain puzzles. Example: a disease/health condition not significant enough for serious research by big pharma; create a web site for people to log their experiences in dealing with these disease/condition, such as what foods worked/didn't work. It reminds me of the concept of "evidence-based medicine" which the health-care industry hates. So i...more
Chris Bates
Frank Moss, as former director, highlighted some of the inventions and innovative products from MIT's Media Lab. As a result I was inspired to start my own inventors workshop where I live. I just need more funding. Our jr. high school's FIRST Lego League robotics team does similar research and prototyping using students and local scientists and engineering mentors. There's even an opportunity for students to get an Innovation Award which includes applying for a patent and building a better proto...more
Lisa Kurt
I love the MIT Media Lab and this was a great book in terms of discussing both the projects and the philosophies that the MIT Media Lab embodies. My one criticism would be that the organization of the book could've been better. I am a huge fan of the work done- the creative thinking. innovation, and spirit that comes out of the Media Lab but it lost steam for me about halfway through. Maybe if it was edited down a bit more- it felt a little repetitive here and there though I would still recommen...more
Leif
This book wasn't as interesting as I thought it would be, but it was still pretty damned interesting. I loved the parts where Moss talks about the projects and their potential impact, but I could have done without all the talkiness about his involvement with the lab and the pains he took to convince the reader that the Media Lab is a cool place. That's obvious and could have been handled in the introduction, leaving the rest of the book to cram with cool technology.
darla
This book has some REALLY interesting stories, but unfortunately you spend most of your time wading through writing that is highly repetitive with little to no continuity.

There were not a few times I had to set down the book because the author felt the need to AGAIN explain that the departments at the MIT media lab are inter-disciplinary, like this is a concept so hard to grasp that it needs to be explained to the reader every 12 pages.
Brandur
Fast read that describes many up coming technologies developed by the MIT Media Lab. Some parts, such as the next steps in medical diagnosis and technology, were extremely interesting. On the whole, it seemed like some of MIT Lab's contributions to modern technology and life were slightly exaggerated, but this should be expected to some degree.
Norah
Amazing -- the people at the MIT Media Lab are doing very cool, important, imaginative work, and there's something for everyone in what they're doing. It took me a long time to get all the way through this book, as I couldn't absorb all of the amazing projects at one time. But I think about and talk about what they're doing often. So cool!
Brad Feld
Solid exploration of the MIT Media Lab

Frank Moss takes us on a tour of the amazing MIT Media Lab by telling a dozen stories about different projects happening there under his tenure. While rich in detail, he never really gets to the root of the magic and why it is happening. Nevertheless the stories are fun and inspiring.
Ahdavidson
I started this new book about the Media Lab but doubt I will finish it as a book to read, but only as a quick look at the stories. The writing and story-telling is pretty banal. So far, it is relentlessly 1st person and his voice is just not that interesting and seems rather prosaic. I expected a lot more given the subject.
Hadrian
A wonderfully interesting book briefly outlining the type of creativity and ingenuity and one of the world's most famous labs. Remarkable achievements in artificial intelligence, robotics, biomechanics, etc. Inspiring - one of the few books nowadays that can assure you that the future will be brighter.
Jeremy Winaker
This book is at least a twofer. 1 on the collaborative methodology & setup; 2 on technology's place in the future flourishing of all humans. Mosses examples seem more driven by bragging rights than coherent storytelling but the stories are immensely thought provoking. A must read for the 21st Century.
Lisa
Quick read about what the boys and girls at MIT are up to. (Well, some of them, anyway.) A little repetitive in its emphasis on the lab's multidisciplinary approach, but otherwise good. Probably more interesting for those not already familiar with the Media Lab.
Pearl Mattenson
If you believe in a world of "what if.." And "why not?" Then you will love this book. Our schools and workplaces would be such powerful generative sources of creativity and possibilities if we could adopt. But a few of the principles that animate MIT's Media Lab.
Mike McGinniss
Fascinating and inspiring. Makes you feel like there is nothing we can't dream up and create. A foldable car. Dialing your cell phone on a projected keypad on the palm of your hand, and other incredible thought experiments that end up truly existing.
Fred
Poorly written, but great stories. I was interested in the process of creativity and the process of exploring the options the result in a tangible outcome. Author too often inserted himself into the narrative and was repetitious on many points.
Alon Gutman
Media Lab is an amazing place, many innovative product like: E-ink(Kindle), Guitar Hero and more came from
I would recommend to just type Media Lab in Ted search to see some crazy stuff they do there and then if you want more read the book.
Monika
I really enjoyed reading this book. It's a very nice overview of research at the Media Lab. I was at Media Lab a long time ago and I am very happy to see that the research is still very interesting and multidisciplinary.
Charles-Antoine
A little too long and too much of an enumeration of experiments. Nevertheless it gives a very clear view on how amazing it can be to visit or even more to work at the MIT Media Lab!
Charles Cohen
I want to go there. I want to use the Media Lab model to solve all of the problems facing the Jewish community, and I want a big ol' laboratory to rival MIT's in which to do it.

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“Several of her students were engrossed in their work, but when she asked one of them, a PhD student named David Merrill, to give me a quick demo of his project, he readily agreed. Merrill walked us over to a three-foot-wide mockup of a supermarket shelf stocked with cartons of butter, Egg Beaters, and cereal, and he happily slipped on a Bluetooth-enabled ring he had been tinkering with when we interrupted him. He pointed directly at a box of cereal, and a light on the shelf directly below it glowed red. This meant, he told us, that the food didn’t fit the nutritional profile that he had programmed into the device. Perhaps it contained nuts or not enough fiber. He told me that there were a lot of “really cool technologies” making this happen—an infrared transmitter/receiver mounted on the ring, a transponder on the shelf with which it communicated, and a Bluetooth connection to a smart phone that could access the wearer’s profile in real time, to name a few. It was easy to see how this “augmented reality interface,” as Merrill called it, could change the experience of in-store shopping in truly a profound way. But what really impressed me during this visit was the close working relationship he clearly enjoyed with Maes. He called her “Pattie,” and my impression was that they engaged in give-and-take like true collaborators and colleagues.” 0 likes
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