Michael Hawley

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Michael Hawley
Michael Hawley in Siem Reap 2002
Born (1961-11-18) November 18, 1961 (age 57)
ResidenceCambridge, MA
Alma materYale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
AwardsTetelman Fellow, Van Cliburn competition, Kilby International Awards
Scientific career
FieldsComputer Science
Doctoral advisorMarvin Minsky

Michael Hawley (born 18 November 1961) is 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.”


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 90's, 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.[citation needed][dubious ] 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.[1] 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 is 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.[2] 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).[3] Hawley also directed EG3 in Monterey, California in 2008.[4] He was prominently featured in the 2010 documentary Bach & Friends.[5][6]

Personal life[edit]

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 reside with their daughter Choki[4] in the oldest church in East Cambridge, a state-registered historic landmark dating from 1827.

Their dog, Tashi,[4] is a bjob-chi 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.

Notable works[edit]

  • Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the Last Himalayan Kingdom (2003) – The world's largest published book, a photo documentary of the kingdom of Bhutan.[7]
  • "Michael Hawley's Bhutan" (2003) – Article and photos for National Geographic's Traveler magazine.[8]
  • Counter Intelligence project (2001:ended)[9] – 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)[10] – 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.[11]

Advisory and founding roles[edit]


  1. ^ Langston, Peter S.; Hawley, Michael (1990). "Computing Systems Usenix Music". Computing Systems. 3 (2). ISSN 0895-6340.
  2. ^ "Third International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs". Van Cliburn Foundation. Archived from the original on 2013-05-12. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ "Archive: EG1 Program". EG Conference. 2006. Archived from the original on 2012-01-14. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  4. ^ a b c "Biography: Michael Hawley – EG Director, Pianist". EG Conference. 2008. Archived from the original on 2013-04-29. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  5. ^ "Bach Project". Michael Lawrence Films.
  6. ^ "Bach Project – Mike Hawley". Michael Lawrence Films.
  7. ^ "FACT SHEET: MIT and FRIENDLY PLANET Present BHUTAN --- the World's Largest Published Book". MIT Media Lab. Archived from the original on 2013-01-13. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. ^ Hawley, Michael (May–June 2003). "Place of a Lifetime: Bhutan" (PDF). Traveler.
  9. ^ "counter intelligence". MIT Media Lab.
  10. ^ "Toys of Tomorrow". MIT Media Lab.
  11. ^ "Things That Think". MIT Media Lab.
  12. ^ "About SiOnyx: Directors". SiOnyx Inc. Archived from the original on 22 January 2013. Retrieved 6 February 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  13. ^ "COLOR KINETICS ELECTS JAMES F. O'CONNOR TO BOARD OF DIRECTORS" (Press release). Boston, MA: Color Kinetics Incorporated. 10 June 2004.
  14. ^ Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University
  15. ^ "TTI/Vanguard's Advisory Board". TTI/Vanguard. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  16. ^ Frohlich, David; Thomas, Peter; Hawley, Mike; Hirade, Kenkichi (1997). "Inaugural issue editorial: Future personal computing". Personal Technologies. 1 (1): 1–5. doi:10.1007/BF01317881.

External links[edit]