Margaret O’Mara will give a talk titled “In Data We Trust: modern political history and the triumph of tech.”
Although often presenting itself as proudly indifferent — even hostile — toward government institutions and the politicians who lead them, the American technology industry’s seven-decade rise and resilience has been inextricably connected to broader currents of policy and partisan politics. As trust in government and political leadership eroded in the post-Vietnam era, the products, entrepreneurs, and data-centric promises of Silicon Valley filled the breach. Drawing from her forthcoming history of Silicon Valley, The Code (Penguin Press 2019), Margaret O’Mara explores how America’s modern political transformations both directly and indirectly contributed to the rise and triumphs of big tech, focusing on two pivotal political moments that laid out critical ground rules for the information economy to come: the debates over the regulation of data privacy in the late 1960s and early 1970s; and the commercialization and regulation of the Internet during the early to mid 1990s.
Margaret O’Mara (pronounced “O-mehr-rah”) is the Howard & Frances Keller Professor of History at the University of Washington. She writes and teaches about the history of U.S. politics, the growth of the high-tech economy, and the connections between the two. She is the author of Cities of Knowledge (Princeton, 2005) and Pivotal Tuesdays (Penn Press, 2015). Her next book, The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America, will be published in July 2019 by Penguin Press. O’Mara is a Distinguished Lecturer of the Organization of American Historians and a past fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education. She received her MA/PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and her BA from Northwestern University. Prior to her academic career, she worked in the Clinton White House and served as a contributing researcher at the Brookings Institution. She lives in the Seattle area with her husband Jeff and their two daughters. Website: http://margaretomara.com.
This event is open to the public.