Long Title: The Case for Public Ownership of Twitter: the Future of Digital Services, Civic Participation, and the Dissemination of Techno-Scientific Knowledge

Speaker: Gregg P. Zachary

Affiliation: Independent Researcher

Other Affiliation: 

Previously Professor of Practice at Arizona State University, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, chief reporter to Silicon Valley for the Wall Street Journal, and writer for IEEE Spectrum to name a few organizations.

Elon Musk’s attempt this year to purchase Twitter and privately manage the social media company highlights anew tensions between public benefits and private control of this popular public-media platform. In my talk, I present a novel way of thinking about how to sustain Twitter for publics around the world. Public ownership is not a panacea and may include significant participation by civic actors and philanthropic foundations. A “public option” for Twitter may enable a company struggling to survive on a for-profit basis to continue to produce public good while enhancing Twitter’s commitment to fairness and accuracy in information.

G. (Gregg) Pascal Zachary has worked in journalism (essays for The New York Times, IEEE’s Spectrum magazine, Technology Review, Wired and others) and at universities (Stanford, UC Berkeley and Arizona State) where he taught and published on the history of technological change, emphasizing the relationship between innovation and national security as well as the history of computing and software. He is the author of “Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American Century” and “Showstopper,” on the making of Windows NT at Microsoft. In 2022, Zachary’s edited volume, “The Essential Writings of Vannevar Bush,” was published by Columbia University Press. Born in Brooklyn and educated in New York, Zachary has lived in Northern California since 1978 and, in the 1990s, served as the chief Silicon Valley reporter for the Wall Street Journal.