Michael Hawley (18 November 1961 – 24 June 2020) was an educator, artist and researcher working in the field of digital media. Previously at MIT’s Media Laboratory where he was a professor and held the Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr. endowed chair, Hawley is the founder or co-founder of several major research programs and projects including MIT's GO Expeditions program, Things That Think, Toys of Tomorrow, Counter Intelligence (a culinary research effort), and founder of the nonprofit organization Friendly Planet. He notably was the scientific director of the American Expedition on Mount Everest in 1998, one of the first major scientific expeditions on Everest. Hawley's work has been featured in major media such as National Geographic, Time, The New York Times, and on numerous television networks. His work at MIT has, in his own words, “sought to creatively stretch digital infrastructures, embedding intelligence into all sorts of artifacts and advancing the web of communications.”
2 Personal life
3 Notable works
4 Advisory and founding roles
6 External links
Hawley was born in November 1961 and grew up in New Providence, NJ, a suburb of New York City. He graduated New Providence High School in 1979. As a teenager he had a job at Bell Labs (Murray Hill, New Jersey), working in the linguistics department. He did his undergraduate work at Yale University in the areas of music and computer science; he went on to do his doctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In the early 1990s, while working at NeXT, he was key in the development of the world's first digital library, creating digital versions of Shakespeare and other classics. From 1993-2002, he was on the faculty at MIT as the Dreyfoos chair, and from there he became Director of Special Projects at MIT's Media Laboratory. Musical work from this period appeared on a CD, Computing Systems Usenix Music, distributed as a supplement to the journal Computing Systems. Michael's work and research have spanned the topics of psychology, computer music, digital video editing, human-computer interfaces, documentary photography, and more.
Michael Hawley at the piano in Fort Worth, TX (2002)
Hawley was also a pianist and organist. He won first place, tying with Victoria Bragin, at the third International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, hosted by the Van Cliburn Foundation in 2002. His teachers have included Earl Wild and Ward Davenny, and he has performed solo recitals, chamber concerts and appeared as soloist with major orchestras. Notably, his competition pieces included his own piano arrangement of Leonard Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story". He also accompanied cellist Yo-Yo Ma in performing the wedding march at the marriage of TV host and scientist Bill Nye and musician and author Blair Tindall at Richard Saul Wurman’s 2006 "The Entertainment Gathering" conference (EG1). Hawley also directed EG3 in Monterey, California in 2008. He was prominently featured in the 2010 documentary Bach & Friends.
He was the scientific director of an expedition to Mount Everest in 1998.
Michael Hawley in Paro, Bhutan (November 2009)
Hawley and Cambodian-born Nina You were married in Bhutan in a traditional Bhutanese blessing ceremony held at Kyichu Lhakhang, a 7th-century temple that is considered to be one of the most sacred sites in Bhutan. Previously, he and Nina eloped privately in Venice, Italy.
Hawley and You resided with their son and daughter in a historic church in Cambridge where he owned three pianos.
Their dogs, Tashi and Karma are bjob-chis from Bhutan. All but unknown outside of the Himalayas, this working breed is an ancient Bhutanese mountain form of Tibetan mastiff and for thousands of years has been the loyal family dog of high-altitude peoples like the Brokpa seminomadic yak herders of Merak and Sakteng.
Hawley died on June 24, 2020 from colon cancer.
Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the Last Himalayan Kingdom (2003) – The world's largest published book, a photo documentary of the kingdom of Bhutan.
"Michael Hawley's Bhutan" (2003) – Article and photos for National Geographic's Traveler magazine.
Counter Intelligence project (2001:ended) – Integrating high technology into the kitchen to foster a return to the “hearth” as the center of family life.
Toys of Tomorrow project (2002:ended) – Exploring and implementing technologies with several major toy companies to improve the way children learn and play.
Things That Think project (2000) - Sponsor-driven effort to develop digitally augmented objects and environments.
Advisory and founding roles
Board of Directors, SiOnyx
Board of Directors, Eastman Kodak
Board of Directors, Color Kinetics
Founder, Friendly Planet
Board of Directors, Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies
Advisory Board, TTI/Vanguard
Fellow/Trustee, Jonathan Edwards College, Yale University
Founding US Editor, Personal and Ubiquitous Computing
About cookies on this site
ALLOW ALL COOKIES