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Why Joi Ito thinks we should eat dirt and endure hacktivism

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Hacktivist groups like Anonymous or, more broadly, groups like Wikileaks may cause big problems for institutions and companies, but overall they’re good for us and good for the internet, said Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab.

Joichi_Ito_Headshot_2007Ito likened these groups and the challenges they pose to innoculating a young child against illness. If you protect him so stringently against germs to keep him from getting sick, you can bet he will get really sick at some point. But if you let him “eat dirt” and expose him to lots of things he’ll be a healthier child, Ito said during a BBC World Service event held at MIT and broadcast live on Thursday.

The specter of groups like Anonymous lurking in the background may also encourage better behavior by people and organizations, Ito added.

These groups make us more “transparency robust” and that’s a good thing, he noted.  The thinking is: If you know someone might be poking around in your business, you’ll probably be better, more ethical, smarter about how you conduct that business in the first place.

This was a good, wide-ranging session with good insights on the maker movement and other topics. I’m sure it will be streamed later today.

Update at 3:45 p.m. PDT: Here’s the BBC stream of the event.

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