Future Histories: What Ada Lovelace, Tom Paine, and the Paris Commune Can Teach Us About Digital Technology | Mechanics' Institute

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Future Histories: What Ada Lovelace, Tom Paine, and the Paris Commune Can Teach Us About Digital Technology
Author Lizzie O’Shea in conversation with tech writer Wendy Liu

When we talk about technology we always talk about tomorrow and the future -- which makes it hard to figure out how to even get there. With engaging, sparkling prose, public interest lawyer and digital specialist Lizzie O'Shea argues that we need to stop looking forward and start looking backwards. Weaving together histories of computing and progressive social movements with modern theories of the mind, society, and self, O'Shea constructs a "usable past" that can help us determine our digital future. Future Histories is for all of us--makers, coders, hacktivists, Facebook-users, self-styled Luddites--who find ourselves in a brave new world.


Lizzie O’Shea is a lawyer, writer, and broadcaster. Her commentary is featured regularly on national television programs and radio, and she is usually talking about law, digital technology, corporate responsibility, or human rights. In print, her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Guardian, and Sydney Morning Herald, among others. She is a founder and board member of Digital Rights Watch, which advocates for human rights online. She also sits on the board of the National Justice Project, Blueprint for Free Speech and the Alliance for Gambling Reform. In 2019, she was recognized as an Access Now Human Rights Hero in 2019.

Wendy Liu is a former startup founder and the author of the forthcoming Abolish Silicon Valley: How to Liberate Technology from Capitalism (Repeater, 2020). She lives in San Francisco.

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