The Company You Keep

I am as shocked as anyone to find Joi Ito, the head of the MIT Media Lab, swept up in the scandal around Jeffrey Epstein’s heinous and criminal web of exploitation. Ito met Epstein in 2013 — about five years after Epstein became a convicted sex offender — and apparently, despite his record and reputation, decided to do business with him. As the extent of this affiliation has become public, Ito has issued a statement. He has apologized to MIT and the world at large.

Frankly, it’s all a bit puzzling. My path has crossed with Ito over the years as part of the technology landscape. Knowing him, this news has been unsettling, to say the least, and certainly unexpected. How could Ito willfully ignore Epstein’s documented past (not to mention the allegations that swirled around him) and not only bring him into the MIT circle but have him invest in startups Ito was backing?

This clearly didn’t sit well with Ethan Zuckerman, the much-admired head of Center for Civic Media at MIT. He took to his blog to announce that he was leaving his position.

Will Influencers kill Burning Man

Burning Man is at a crossroads. It can continue to educate the public, energize the community, encourage best practices, and protect its intellectual property. But in trying too hard to preserve itself, it risks undermining the free-spiritedness of the event and creating a kind of civil war on the playa.

After thirty three years, Burning Man is facing new challenges. Will it survive the change? More importantly will it survive the Instagrammers!

Summer’s over so let’s WeWork

I am not much for summer vacation, but occasionally I do like to take a couple of days to tune out my work life. All the travel and meetings of my trip made it difficult for me to sit down and write a coherent piece for this week’s newsletter. So rather than begin this week’s newsletter with the usual essay, I will just offer up the following observation.

What’s worth reading

The long and surprising history of Roller Derby. I have been fascinated by roller skating since I was a kid, so this was a great read for me.

“Arming the Cartels: The Inside Story of Texas Gun-Smuggling Ring” is a revealing story about how American guns end up in Mexico and cause havoc there.

This Apple is really “Made in America.”

The California coast is vanishing under the rising seas. Climate change is more real and closer. (I occasionally take photos of California coastline, and if you would like to take a look at the majestic views on offer, follow along.)

How did billions of dollars go missing from a Malaysian fund meant to help the Malaysian people? BBC Investigates.