Launching Tech Policy Press
I’ve spent my career at the intersection of media and technology. For the past few years, I’ve been more concerned about an adjacent intersection: where media and technology intersect with democracy. Here and abroad, there are profound challenges to democracy- now is the time to tackle them.
In 2018, I helped launch Protego Press as a side project with my friend and colleague Bryan Jones. The goal was to create a platform to “provoke and participate in the critical dialogue about the relationship between technology and humanity.” As a proof of concept, the site was a success. Last year, along with wonderful contributors and a volunteer masthead we published 80 posts on everything from disinformation, social media and election security to smart cities and surveillance to technology and trust.
In Fall 2020, we decided to double down on this effort and relaunch as Tech Policy Press. The new site went live at the beginning of this year. We have a new brand, and a tighter editorial remit — to provoke new ideas, debate and discussion at the intersection of technology, democracy, and policy. This nonprofit media and community venture will host essays, opinion, reporting, events, a podcast, and other forms of content on the following topic areas:
- Concentrations of power: the role and interaction of tech platforms, governments and the media, and the future of the public sphere;
- Geopolitics of technology: how nation states approach technology in the pursuit of advantage;
- Technology and the economy: the relationship between markets, business, and labor;
- Racism, bigotry, violence & oppression: how tech exacerbates or solves such challenges;
- Ethics of Technology: how technology should be viewed alongside existing democratic ethos, especially with regard to privacy, surveillance, and personal freedoms;
- Election integrity & participation: mechanisms of democracy, problems such as disinformation, and how citizens come to consensus.
Since we launched at the beginning of January, we’ve published dozens of pieces from more than a dozen contributors, such as:
- On the Deplatforming of a Bully-in-Chief, by UCLA researcher and content moderation expert Sarah T. Roberts
- Facebook’s Revisionist History, by Duke Tech Policy Lab fellow Justin Sherman
- San Diego, Street Smarts and Surveillance, by Rutgers Law School professor Ellen Goodman and Rutgers Computer and Technology Law Journal Associate Editor Kayvon Paul
- New EU Privacy Rule May Complicate Moderation of Child Sexual Abuse Material, by Twitter data scientist Maggie Engler
- “It’s not you, Juan, it’s us”: How Facebook takes over our experience, by Liverpool University researcher Elinor Carmi
- Can a ‘nutrition label’ shape Big Tech data privacy norms?, by University of Texas researcher Joël Carter
- Facebook’s Oversight Board Just Announced Its First Cases, But It Already Needs An Overhaul, by Harvard Kennedy School Digital Platforms & Democracy Project co-director Dipayan Ghosh and myself
And a number of pieces of my own, including:
- Researchers release massive Twitter dataset of voter fraud claims
- Videos scraped from Parler reveal incitement on Capitol Hill
- Technology policy priorities for the Biden era
We also launched the first episode of our podcast, The Sunday Show, yesterday. The episode features discussions on social media, including a look at new research on what role platforms play in exacerbating teen violence, and a look at the current debate on Section 230, which celebrates its 25th anniversary on Monday, February 8th. Guests include Caitlin Elsaesser, a clinical social worker and researcher at the University of Connecticut who studies the connections between youth violence and social media, and Jeff Kosseff, a professor of cybersecurity law in the United States Naval Academy’s Cyber Science Department and author of The Twenty-Six Words That Created the Internet: A history of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, published in 2019 by Cornell University Press.
With the site launched and populated with a first volley of content, we’re focused on building an audience of technologists concerned with these issues and of course technology policy professionals, including policymakers, researchers, analysts, activists, journalists, lawmakers and other interested parties. We’re building out the masthead and board, working out a business model, and looking for initial philanthropic support. We hope to identify the right mix of philanthropic dollars to get started and a value exchange that will create sustainable of nonprofit sources revenue.
None of this would have been possible without the guidance of the incredible Entrepreneurial Journalism Creators Program at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. In this 100 day program designed specifically for journalism and media entrepreneurs focused on niche and local projects, I was able to connect to a broad variety of extremely relevant material and expertise that has helped to shape this venture. I’d like to give a big thanks to the faculty- including Jeremy Caplan, Matt MacVey, Jeff Jarvis, Jarrett Carter, Anita Zielina, Dan Oshinsky, Nancy Wang, Jeff Mignon, Mattt Kiser, Ariel Zirulnick, Diallo Hall, Michelle Young, Augustin Pasquet, Amanda McLoughlin, and Richard Gutjahr. A special thanks to my mentor, Kabir Chibber.
I’m no stranger to entrepreneurship programs- I taught dozens of them in my eight years at NYC Media Lab, where I worked with well more than 100 early stage tech and media startups. But this program was very different- designed for mission oriented journalism startups with extraordinary care and craft. I’m grateful I had the chance to be a part of it, and I learned an immense amount. It gave me structure and a rigorous curriculum to get Tech Policy Press going. It was an incredible experience learning alongside students from Germany, Brazil, Tanzania, Hong Kong, Qatar, Switzerland, Singapore, Turkey, Mexico and the United States, who had a great range of skills and experience.
I hope you will follow Tech Policy Press on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter, and that if you have ideas or resources to share you will get in touch with me. Our goal is to advance and influence the public discourse on the relationship between technology and democracy. We think this mission is urgent- and we need your help and attention. Join us!