Colin M. Maclay is research professor of communication and executive director of the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab. Situated at the intersections of disciplines, sectors and communities, AnnLab takes a think-and-do approach to exploring the interaction of society’s wicked problems — and opportunities — with media, technology and culture. Maclay has long been motivated to understand how radical changes in information and communications affect otherwise immutable organizations and institutions, including their complex interaction with people. Ultimately, his work asks what areas of understanding and associated actions can help emerging technologies and practices to work for people and society broadly.
Maclay’s research is exploratory and participatory, taking diverse forms and leveraging novel collaborations to generate data that reveals opportunities, advances discovery and informs strategic intervention. Recent work explores digitization and the challenges of change in industries like public media, music, education and Nigerian film. Ongoing interests include civic media and public entrepreneurship, online free expression and privacy, policy and technology infrastructures and emerging institutions and governance. Previous work includes research and policy development around the intersection of new technology and national technology strategy, democracy and civic engagement, learning, rural access, and entrepreneurship.
Previously, he was founding director of the Digital Initiative at the Harvard Business School. He remains a senior researcher and member of the center’s Fellows Advisory Board. He helped found the Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder effort to protect and advance freedom of expression and privacy online. He has advised and served on the boards of numerous private and civil society organizations and previously taught at Harvard.
Maclay holds a PhD from Northeastern University.
Maclay is also affiliated with the Civic Imagination Project; Race, Arts and Placemaking; and Emergent Cities, and hosts the podcast How do You Like It So Far? with Henry Jenkins.