By Joi Ito
When we first opened nominations for the MIT Media Lab Disobedience Award, journalists asked whether the current political climate had a role in its creation. It did not. We announced the award at our Forbidden Research event last summer. But the atmosphere of unrest and anxiety that we’re seeing and feeling now has fueled protests across the country and—to some degree—interest in this award.
Our nominations page was open for six weeks. In that time, we received 7,826 submissions from every continent except Antarctica. Many popular nominations, such as Edward Snowden and the Black Lives Matter movement, are well-known and debated. Less so are the thousands of activists, whistleblowers, scientists, artists, and others who were included in our nominations stream. These include Tibetan activist and blogger Tsering Woeser, Hawaiian homeless advocate Twinkle Borge, Muslim rapper and activist Sofia Ashraf, and the US National Park Service, for advocating environmental stewardship.*
There has been speculation about the winner and finalists in online forums, global news outlets, and social media. But in fact, our choice wasn’t final until recently. I am pleased to say that after a great deal of thought and discussion, the selection committee has determined this year’s winner and three finalists, and all have accepted our invitation to participate in the Lab’s summer event, Defiance.
The event will be livestreamed, including the Disobedience Award announcement. We welcome and encourage you to tune in on July 21 to watch a day of Defiance.
* The names are intended to show the diversity in the nominations, not as an indicator of standing in the process.