Nicholas Negroponte (born 1943) is a Greek-American computer scientist best known as founder and director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab. Thanks to his personal charisma and his aura of a technological visionary, he has been very successful at attracting corporate sponsors for the Media Lab, a skill for which he is greatly admired. He is the brother of United States Ambassador John Negroponte.
Born the son of a Greek ship owner on New York City's Upper East Side, Negroponte studied at MIT, where as a graduate student he specialized in the field of computer-aided design. He joined the faculty of MIT in 1966. For several years thereafter he divided his teaching time between MIT and visiting professorships at Yale, Michigan, and the University of California, Berkeley.
In 1985, Negroponte piloted MIT's Media Lab into existence. It developed into a famous and generously-funded computer science laboratory for new media and a high-tech playground for investigating the human-computer interface.
In 1992, he became involved in the creation of Wired Magazine as a minority investor. From 1993 to 1998, he contributed a monthly column to the magazine in which he reiterated a basic theme, his credo "Move bits, not atoms."
Negroponte expanded many of the ideas he wrote about in his Wired columns to a bestselling book Being Digital (1995), in which he surveyed the recent history of media technology, his now rehashing well-known forecast that the interactive world, the entertainment world, and the information world would eventually merge.
Being Digital sold well and was translated into some twenty languages. However, critics faulted his techno-utopian ideas for failing to consider the historical, political, cultural realities with which new technologies should be viewed. In the years following dot-com bust, the book dated quickly. Yet one can still appreciate the unique quality of the author's vision, and draw inspiration from the sense of speculative possibility that washes over the reader.
- Negroponte, N. (1995). Being Digital. Knopf. (Paperback edition, 1996, Vintage Books, ISBN 0679762906)