On March 10, 2011, Joi Ito was in the MIT Media Lab, in discussions about whether he should be the next director of the mythical innovation space, when he heard that a major earthquake had hit the Pacific coast of Japan.
“My wife and family were in Japan,” he says. “As news was coming in, I was panicking. Listening to the press conference and hearing about the explosion at the nuclear power plant, all I could think about was how our house was 200 kilometers away.”
Ito wasn’t hearing useful information on the news. “So I got on the internet and tried to find out if I could take matters into my own hands,” he says.
There, Ito found others concerned, with bold technological ideas about how to get information out to the people about the situation in Japan. They formed a group called Safecast that created…