Michael Hawley

Digital media expert

One of the most brilliant, versatile and compelling speakers available today, Hawley has a passion for exploration of all kinds and a gift for bringing his arranging material into practical focus for individual audiences. As MIT’s Director of Special Projects, as a long-time faculty member at the Media Lab, and as a pioneer of digital life at Lucasfi lm and Bell Labs, he speaks with unparalleled authority on digital media and its social and business applications and implications. But Michael is also a Van Cliburn competition-winning concert pianist with a truly unique program that combines gorgeous pianism with discussion on creativity and innovation in organizations. And as the founder of Friendly Planet, he tours with the world’s largest published book of photographs, speaking on cultural change and education in places like Bhutan, Cambodia, and the greater developing world.

A true renaissance thinker, Hawley is one of those rare innovators who can express his passion and insight into science, technology, art, and design with fluency and flair. These skills come together in presentations that map some of music’s most trenchant lessons to the worlds of science, technology and global business. Hawley never fails to touch a powerful chord in audiences.

In collaboration with Jeff Bezos at Amazon and business leaders, Michael produced Growing Up In Bhutan, a 40-inch by 60-inch book of photos recently admitted into the Guinness Book of Records as the World’s Largest Published Book. Along with Growing Up In Cambodia, the book is the beginning of a series on what it’s like to grow up in some of the world’s most extraordinary cultures.

On the faculty of MIT for nearly a decade, Michael has worked on a wide array of creative projects to creatively stretch digital infrastructures, advance the web of communications, and embed intelligence into all sorts of artifacts, and pioneer eclectic research in psychology and humancomputer interfaces. He is the founder of MIT’s Go Expeditions program and cofounded Things That Think, a groundbreaking research project exploring the ways digital media will infuse everyday objects.

Michael's Credentials include:

  • Director, Special Projects, MIT
  • Founder, MIT's "Go Expeditions" program
  • Co-founder and principal investigator, Things That Think, MIT Media Lab
  • Founder, Friendly Planet
  • First Prize winner, Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs
  • Jack Kilby Award for innovation in science
  • Dreyfoos Professor of Media Technology at MIT
  • One-time Duncan Yo-Yo champion
  • Former luge racer and member of U.S. Bobsled Federation