Recent employee protests at Google, Microsoft, and other tech companies about issues such as working with the military, the addictive nature of online business models, and payments to an executive forced out by scandal highlight an important trend: a new wave of worker activism not just from the underpaid or overworked but from the most prized company employees, who are using their clout to raise ethical issues and improve company values.
Tim O’Reilly will be joined by Janet Haven, executive director of Data & Society, and Catherine Bracy, director of the TechEquity Collaborative, to discuss ways in which tech employees are flexing their muscles as the conscience of their companies.
Tim O’Reilly is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, Inc. His original business plan was simply “interesting work for interesting people,” and that’s worked out pretty well. O’Reilly Media delivers online learning, publishes books, runs conferences, urges companies to create more value than they capture, and tries to change the world by spreading and amplifying the knowledge of innovators. Tim has a history of convening conversations that reshape the computer industry. In 1998, he organized the meeting where the term “open source software” was agreed on and helped the business world understand its importance. In 2004, with the Web 2.0 Summit, he defined how “Web 2.0” represented not only the resurgence of the web after the dot-com bust but a new model for the computer industry based on big data, collective intelligence, and the internet as a platform. In 2009, with his Gov 2.0 Summit, he framed a conversation about the modernization of government technology that has shaped policy and spawned initiatives at the federal, state, and local level and around the world. He has now turned his attention to implications of AI, the on-demand economy, and other technologies that are transforming the nature of work and the future shape of the business world. This is the subject of his book from Harper Business, WTF: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us. In addition to his role at O’Reilly Media, Tim is a partner at early-stage venture firm O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV) and serves on the boards of Maker Media (which was spun out from O’Reilly Media in 2012), Code for America, PeerJ, Civis Analytics, and PopVox.
Janet Haven is the executive director of Data & Society. Previously, she was Data & Society’s director of programs and strategy; spent more than a decade at the Open Society Foundations, where she oversaw funding strategies and grant making related to technology’s role in supporting and advancing civil society, particularly in the areas of human rights and governance and accountability; and started her career in technology startups in central Europe, participating in several successful acquisitions. She sits on the board of the Public Lab for Open Science and Technology and advises a range of nonprofit organizations. Janet holds an MA from the University of Virginia and a BA from Amherst College.
Catherine Bracy is a civic technologist and community organizer whose work focuses on the intersection of technology and political and economic inequality. She is the cofounder and executive director of the TechEquity Collaborative, an organization in Oakland, CA, that seeks to build a tech-driven economy in the Bay Area that works for everyone. Previously, she was senior director of partnerships and ecosystem at Code for America, where she grew the Brigade program into a network of over 50,000 civic tech volunteers in 80+ cities across the US. She also founded Code for All, the global network of Code-for organizations with partners on six continents. Catherine built Code for America’s civic engagement focus area, creating a framework and best practices for local governments to increase public participation which has been adopted in cities across the US. During the 2012 election cycle, she was director of Obama for America’s Technology Field Office in San Francisco, the first of its kind in American political history. She was responsible for organizing technologists to volunteer their skills for the campaign’s technology and digital efforts. Prior to joining the Obama campaign, she ran the Knight Foundation’s 2011 News Challenge and was the administrative director at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. She is on the board of directors at the Data & Society Research Institute and the Public Laboratory.
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